Sunday, 23 August 2009

Stained dress = pintucked top tutorial

There’s a story about this dress. When I was about 16, I went on a shopping trip to Leeds with a friend and stumbled into a shop selling the cutest frocks. I picked this one up – it was the mid-90’s and Indie was the thing – I knew it would go great with my brown cord jacket and duffed-up trainers. I tried it on in the shop, and when I came out of the changing room, the shoplady seemed surprised it fit. I wasn’t a tiny girl so I was a bit miffed but bought it anyway. When we left the shop, I had a bit of a rant about the sizeist shoplady, she wasn’t so tiny herself. My friend calmly told me it was a transvestite dress shop, that the shoplady was a shopman, and that my dress was made for a bloke.
Being 16, and an art student, of course I thought that was the coolest thing ever (after I got over the fact that I was the same shape as a bloke) and I wore it a lot. Until I spilt India ink on it :( I couldn’t throw it away because I loved the fabric, so it got shoved in a drawer until today, when I decided to refashion it into something wearable.
I needed to get rid of this stain, so here’s what I did:
I first cut the top part away.
Then I cut the bottom hem off, so I was left with a tube of fabric. (I measured the top first to make sure that the new hem would fit on my hips) I then cut a strip out of the top 4 inches wide, to remove the stained bit in the front.
The strip of fabric I cut off the bottom was to become an infill section and was approx 6 inches wide. I cut it to a length slightly longer than the strip I removed just to be on the safe side.
Now I made pintucks along the new strip. Now I’m not much of a measurer, it’s a failing, so I used the pattern of the fabric as a guide. I folded the strip in half, which just happened to be along the centre of the flowers (woohoo), pinned and ironed it flat.
I then sewed along the fold, a presser-foot’s width from the edge.
I then used the pattern as a guide and sewed pintucks the same as the first one, with the fold along the centre of the flower, following the pattern repeat. If you’re a lot more organised/less lazy than me or you don’t have a pattern repeat to follow, you should measure and mark the pintucks before sewing.
I did keep measuring the width of the insert, to make sure it would still fit the gap – I had to sew it back to the top part after all.
When I had finished, I ironed the pintucks to one side, then flipped it over and ironed the back.
I then used the pattern a a guide again to sew across the insert to flatten the pintucks. It’s easier to do if you sew them down one at a time. So, do the first one in the direction you ironed them down. Then do the second one, turning the piece around and ironing the tucks in the opposite direction first. Turn it round again, iron, sew, turn, iron, sew…
When I finished the insert it looked like this:
I then sewed the insert into the gap.
And reattached the top part.
All that was left to do was hem the bottom and it was done.
I think it might need something else doing to that top seam –I have a few scraps left over. If I were making this top from scratch I would make the front in one piece, with extra fabric in the front so I could make the tucks and avoid all those seams.
I couldn’t avoid the top seam with this because the strip I cut from the bottom didn’t have a long enough seam-free piece (and those tucks wouldn’t have worked with a seam in the way!) but if you have a long enough piece, you could extend it all the way to the top – this would be a good way to ease a slightly tight top, just make the insert wider than the gap.
You could also insert a contrasting strip of fabric, there are lots of options!


  1. ah! I see where the rest of the fabric went! Genius!!

  2. Wow. Very cute & clever.

    (saw you on wardrobe refashion.)

  3. Very smart! I like it! I plan on using this in the future. If not for me, then for my mess-prone 2 year old daughter.

  4. This is such a smart way to recreate the stained dress into something new! And I remember those dresses from the 90s!!

    I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:

  5. Very clever--and I like your top much better than the original dress (which wasn't half bad). Thanks for the great idea!

  6. Very nice! I totally understand why you hung onto the dress-gorgeous fabric! Very clever idea. Thanks for the Twitter follow too. ;)

  7. Love your transformation of blokedress to ladytop. Kind of perfect given its origins :-)

  8. Clever and cute...I have two stained knit tops that I'm going to have to try this on. Thanks for the idea.

  9. This is sooo CUTE!!
    How inventive you are!
    Thank-you for sharing!

  10. That is adorable and I *love* the pintucks. Thanks so much for sharing, I'll be linking to this.

  11. Whata great idea!
    am so loving your blog!

  12. You are so clever! And I'm sure you are not shaped like a man!