Deconstructing the Dress


CYMERA_20131018_121504[1]Awhile back (ok, a couple of years ago) I ran across this amazing beaded dress at the thrift store. Allow me to clarify: the beadwork was fabulous. The dress? Not so much….imagine if you will a Mrs. Roper mumu with a ton of really intricate beadwork, definitely circa late 70’s early 80’s. The parts were definitely greater than the sum in this case.

At any rate, I knew it had future fabulousness written all over it so I snatched it up, brought it home and immediately…..put it in to a Rubbermaid tote. I do this a lot….and so far it’s working for me. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. It’s definitely working out for the guy that owns the storage unit I rent, but that’s another story for another time.

Back to the dress, two years and one move later. Last weekend as I was trying valiantly to organize my hoarded treasures I ran across this gem, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I am trying to build my inventory to open my Etsy shop, but it seems as though as soon as I get a piece done, it sells. This is a monumental blessing no doubt, and I am so grateful to my friends and family who are supporting my creative endeavors by purchasing my pieces. Lesson learned, however….no more posting pictures on Facebook until I am ready to sell it all.

I knew all along that the collar of the dress would become a bib necklace and that the tassels would become earrings. As I started hacking away at the dress, however, I started to wonder what I would do with what was left over. I decided to challenge myself and see if I could use every part of the dress in some way – and no, storing the fabric for future use was against the rules in this case.


The cuffs of the dress ended up being a pleasant surprise. I had initially thought they would make beautiful bracelets but truth be told they were far too large. I thought about sewing some snaps to make them adjustable but it seemed as though the extra beadwork and material would make it far too bulky. When I cut the first cuff off I made sure to leave a very large edge as I didn’t want to snip in to the beading and as I cut the edges of the fabric became marvelously ruffled…..and then it occurred to me that it looked like a gloriously beaded quasi Victorian choker or neck corset…gasp! Some d-rings and lacing and this baby will be good to go.


The tassels for the earrings proved to be a bit of a challenge as they were strung with, well, string and needed to be reinforced. But I managed and they are seriously delectable.


So to recap thus far, the collar became a necklace, the cuffs became chokers and the tassels were transformed in to earrings. But what of the rest?

There were these horrible epaulet style bands on both shoulders. One is being set on the waistband of a skirt and the other is being gifted to a very dear old friend I am about to see within the week…but she doesn’t know yet, so shhhh….

At this point what I had left was basically fabric…a lovely, silky-satiny I don’t know what kind of fabric this is because the tag has been cut out. WOMEN. Stop doing this…..WHY are you doing this? Is there some crazy person running around checking the inside of your garments for its size? Please stop now. This is insane. Sorry….back to the fabric.

I have been making tshirt scarves for my spoon pendants for awhile and decided to cut the bottom of the dress off and give it a whirl….I left the edges raw because for one I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to drag out the sewing machine, but two, I actually do like the look of the raw edge. Had I been more motivated, I could have run a loose stitch on the edges and ruffled them or finished them with a serger. IF I had a serger. The scarf I am keeping for myself.


After getting all Edward Scissorhands on the bottom of the dress, all that remained was a tank toppish sort of thing. It needs to be finished, tucked and pinned with a bit of sewing (this I will drag the sewing machine out for). I’m keeping this one too 😉


There you have it….I figured out a way to successfully use every bit of the dress!

So please, dear reader…should you happen upon a hideous mumu with beautimous beading on your next thrifting excursion, do not shun its current hideousness. Think of the possibilities….or at least let me know where it is so I can take a crack at it 🙂

Peace, love and blessings to all,