After watching this video by April/Coolirpa (one of my sewing and upcycling idols), where April takes two dresses from the thrift store and converts them into a new formal ball gown, I was inspired to upcycle/sew my own ball gown for my annual dental student association Grand Dental Ball.
I went to an op-shop and looked through everything on the racks in all the sections. Not just the dress rack but also the women’s blouses/shirts, skirts, and curtain/blanket racks (where sometimes you can find large pieces of fabric).
I found a navy blue long-sleeve top with lacy detailing and really loved how the lace looked overlaying the satin fabric. After trying it on, I could see that there would be enough material to at least make the bodice of a dress. I bought it for about $7.
I started my project with some sketches of ideas. I knew I wanted a floor length dress, but after the main ball we have an afterparty at a bar/club in the city and a full length skirt is not practical in a club setting. So I came up with the idea of a convertible ball gown with a removable full length skirt.
After finding the lacy top to make the bodice of the ball gown, I searched in a few other op-shops to try find items that I could use for the skirt. Unfortunately I was unable to find anything suitable so ended up buying fabric from Spotlight and a local fabric warehouse.
Every upcycling project generally begins with unpicking the garment. I drafted the bodice pattern pieces and cut it out from the deconstructed blouse. This dress has a high straight neckline with laced-up back and a-line skirt (I used the a-line skirt from my two-piece crop and skirt as my base pattern). The removable sheer chiffon full-length skirt is gathered with a leg slit.
A new technique I learned was how to make my own spaghetti straps. I followed a tutorial by Julia from the Contour Affair blog and successfully made matching straps for the laced-up back details. It was also my first time working with chiffon fabric. It is very easy to gather and once made into my full length skirt it was very fun to swish around. I learned about paying attention to the chiffon grain line, as you want it to run vertically so that the fabric falls nicely. And to get good hemlines, press well with an iron.
This dress took me about 3 weeks to complete. I finished sewing just two days before my ball. I also made my own tassel earrings to match! It was really lovely night at my final Grand Dental Ball.