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redoing a dress

amapola | Posted in General Discussion on

Can someone tell me the benefits of buying a dress from a thrift store and

ripping all the seams and sewing it back together again.  It just seems like a waste of time to me but would like to know what the benefits are. Thanks, Amapola



  1. mimi | | #1

    Can't think of any reason that this would be a good idea, unless it was a designer dress that you wanted to alter to fit.  It would have to be a gently worn dress at that!

    On the other hand, it might be a good exercise in technique, if it was well made:)


  2. PASDENOM | | #2

    If it has especially nice fabric, in good condition. If you can save the challenging parts, like the collar, especially if you can keep it attached to the neckline. It's easier to re work something at the side seams than to construct collar, buttonholes, etc. Good quality fabric is very expensive, but thrift store garments are inexpensive.

  3. Teaf5 | | #3

    I would take it apart only if I wanted to use the pieces as a pattern but hated the original fabric.  Otherwise, I would cut a pattern off the original, leaving it intact.  Especially from a dress, you can learn techniques of construction without dismantling it, and any time you rip out and resew a seam, you're likely to weaken it, so it doesn't make a lot of sense.

    However, jackets have a lot of hidden construction that you can't see without at least removing part of the lining; still, I doubt you'd need to completely dismantle it to learn a lot!

  4. User avater
    Becky-book | | #4

    A long, long time ago... good wool fabric was very expensive, and when a garment got worn looking, you could take it apart and turn each piece over.  The wrong sides became the new right sides, and were not so worn.  It was called 'turning' a dress.

    I might buy a thrift store dress and cut it down to fit a Grandchild or use the cloth for some other project; but I don't see and need to reconstruct the same dress!


    1. jkimes | | #5

      There was a very detailed description of this in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. She described taking the dress entirely apart, pressing the pieces, mending it, then putting it all back together inside out.My mom used to make me dresses (when I was 3 or so) out of my aunt's trendy dresses. It was a great use of the fabric, especially if the collar/cuffs were worn, but the main body of the dress was still in good condition.
      I've bought linen tablecloths on clearance and cut skirts out of them, using the hem stitch for the hem of the skirt. It's great fabric and dyes nicely.Juliette

      1. Teaf5 | | #6

        Your posts reminded me of my own mom, who re-fashioned my oldest sister's pleated wool skirts into skirts for her three younger daughters.  The wools were lovely and soft, and once mini-skirts became the rage for us, we wore those skirts for years! 

        One yellow and grey plaid piece was in nearly constant use from 1954 through 1980, and my youngest sister had three different sizes to grow through.  Re-working can truly extend the life of a garment if the fabric is worth it!

  5. mainestitcher | | #7

    It would be an inexpensive way to try a new technique, maybe.

    I've purchased garments and tried to re-work them, but never got anything I'd actually wear out of it.

  6. cat42 | | #8

    Back in the 70s I wanted to have a collection of vintage clothes to wear, but most of what I found was like size 22, and I was a 12. The fabric and styles were gorgeous, so I took them apart and remade them to fit me. I learned a lot from this about quality garment construction, and I got an incredible collection of dresses and suits from the 20s through the 40s. Now I wish I'd kept some of the size 22 as they were, because I'm rapidly approaching that size....

    1. MaryinColorado | | #9

      Are you interested in selling some of these?  I might be interested and am a size 12!  My mother and aunts had beautiful clothing that was expertly tailored and fitted, many suits that my grandmother made on her treadle machine and by hand.  I still look at the photos and wish those gorgeous items were still in the family! Alas, I do not have the fortitude or talent to make them myself. Mary

      1. cat42 | | #10

        I'm sorry, I've given most of them away, and kept a few for old-times sake, ones I can't part with.

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