Mid last year saw me trot off to a Take2Market at the Northcote Town Hall, in search of a vintage gem or two.
I came home with this, not so glittering number...
Whilst she could have once been called a chic 1940s silk day dress, she was certainly currently a little worse for wear.
The dress came from a stall run by a lady who has a successful vintage clothing boutique here in Melbourne. I think she was at this market to sell off all the slightly broken and damaged vintage that she had accumulated, but couldn't sell in her shop.
Anyway, for some unknown reason, I saw this dress as a make-over/renovation waiting to happen. It has been almost a year in the making, but i think i'm almost done! Here are a few 'before' images, just so you can really see the state that this dress was in. It had everything; fraying fabric, dodgy hand sewn seams, gaping rips and holes, broken and missing buttons, dark stains and a general dishevelled appearance!
These photos are pretty over exposed. The colour of the dress is more dark blue than faded blueish grey.
Both the buttons and the button loops were removed and washed. I like the button-loop detailing at the top of the neck edge, where they are crossing over one another. I have saved all that has come off the dress, and have heaps of these loops, so i may go back and re-attach them like above.
Big section of fraying fabric. I have stabilised the back of it, but unfortunately there isn't much else I can do.
Huge rip at the back under the collar. But because the collar was in bad nick too, it had to come off. I carefully sewed up the rip, so it is now just a thin line of stitching.
Most of the dark stains came out after a careful hand wash. The water, after washing, was brownish grey. Nice.
Frayed and stained collar. I decided that this had to go. I used the fabric of the underside of the collar (not as stained) to make some new self-covered buttons, so its removal didn't go to complete waste.
Dodgy hand sewing all over the dress, using, oddly enough, a very very thick thread (and black in colour), which was very visible everywhere. In repaired all the seams, I hand sewed everything in a silk thread, matching the colour of the dress.
The front skirt section was a little worse for wear too. The fabric is quite a heavy silk, so seams like these had taken a battering and appeared to be struggling to stay together.
I think i purchased the dress for $40 or $50, and i remember the lady saying how it would only need some buttons replaced, and it would be perfectly wearable. That she hadn't done it herself as she was too busy. I remember being bemused hearing this, as it was obvious that the dress needed much more than just a few buttons replaced! And what is more, the price of such a dress like this, in great condition, would have fetched $150-$200, easily, but in a condition like this, it was pretty much unsalable in a renowned boutique like hers.
But anyway, I saw this dress as a challenge, and as the basic 1940s shape and style was still intact, and the blue silk was gorgeous, I parted with my money, with both parties happy (her probably happy she had offloaded a broken, unsalable dress, and me happy that i had gotten a 1940s silk dress so cheap!)
Stay tuned for the big reveal!