I have a loiterer- I’m sure you have them too. This is the item or project that lingers in a pile with great intentions and every time you do a clear out headed for the charity shop, it goes in the bag, then out the bag, back in the bag and then out again.
I got this dress of eBay maybe five years ago and have never been able to let go if it since. I have worn it a few times in it’s natural state but the pale blue plus the white piping detail, plus the shirt dress shape has attracted too many ‘Carry on Nursey’ type comments.
On paper I love a shirt dress, it ticks a lot of positive boxes in dressing for my shape (the cinched waist, the v-neck, the full skirt) but despite all these things, one has yet to make it into my regular dress rotation. This dress has all of those things and the makings of a great casual summer work dress.
I find it hard to dress for work in summer, granted my workplace is very casual, but in the heat, the midpoint between professional/ not sweltering/ looking like I’m strolling down Copa Cabana beach, is still a tricky one to hit.
This dress is cotton…and has cap sleeves…and is long enough to provide modesty when sitting crossed legged, bare legged.
I knew this dress could be the one to break into my wardrobe and I owed it one last try at the rodeo before it was sent to pasture.
I toyed with a number of revamp options…
1. embroidered yoke, collar and hem detail in bright colours to give an Appalachian come Dolly Parton come Mexicana look, to wear casually around the ranch, with battered tan leather boots. This would be easy, I would use waste canvas (excellent tutorial here ) to embroider cross stitch designs and I could use the amazing neon embroidery floss I picked up from Fred Aldous to do it. This might have been and option apart from I am half way through another well intended, mega embroidery project, that I will finish godammit or so help me Sweet baby Jesus, ti will be the death of me, bloody hell.
2. Make it into a two piece coordination dream team. I have seen so many sewists do lovely coord skirts and tops and goodness knows I love a crop top. I could have cut the dress into two and made a 50’s rockabilty crop top- shirt and a skirt with a nice sturdy waistband. However I felt this would still leave me with the nurse feeling, just a slightly more trendy nurse than I was before. I will save a project like this for some gaudy floral fabric and then I can fulfil all my Lana Del Rae outfit fantasies.
3. A colour change would be the best way to really change the look very quickly. I have a complicated relationship with fabric dye. Successes include, the teenage tie dye frenzy, a load of marbles in one hand and elastic bands in the other, or a heroic saving of some white bed sheets from a particularly vicious Ribena attack.
Failures include, making my absolute favourite, worn 14782 times jeans look like they were made from royal blue plasticine and would fit in that 90’s Levi’s advert with Shaggy’s ‘Mr Boombastic’ and a purple dress that was destined to become a regal burgndy but now is brown, poopy brown.
I wanted a quick fix (no one wants a long time consuming fix do they?) and I had some forrest green Dylon machine dye already- what the heck, we must live by our successes not our failures!
I have always favoured the machine dyes, for being simpler and much more contained in comparison to the cold water ‘mix in a bucket with a chopstick, wearing rubber gloves’ faff, (buuuuuttt the cold water dyes mean you can do some really clever, dreamy, gradient dip dyes…one another revamp me thinks) .
The downside of the machine dyes is that you have to try and guess how the end garment will come out- until the cycle has finished you can’t take a peak, unless you have the luxury of being able to test.
Always remember that the dye is on top of what you already have, e.g blue dye on a red shirt will make a purple shirt, or burgundy on a purple dress will make poopy poopy brown. The second thing to remember is the more items your put in the further the dye has to spread so will come out a lighter shade.
With this dress the pale blue + forrest green was destined to come out, somewhere in the green, maybe teal region and that was ok by me.
Follow the instructions on the pack from this point- although they make the promise that if you follow the instructions the dye won’t affect future washes, I still advise a quick washing machine scrub just to ensure you don’t end up with green undies.
And here is how my dress came out….
I am pleased with the colour the intensity of the green, the darker shade means it might make it’s way into winter wear too with tights and a jumper for ivy league preppy feel. If I’m honest there were a few things I wasn’t expecting, such as the piping on the pockets coming out a lighter shade and the thread not taking the dye, BUT THIS IS THE MAGICAL MYSTERY OF DYE and now I have some ‘design features’ to boot.
I am getting a 70’s Wimbledon vibe and will wear with tan leather clogs, voluminous hair, massive sunglasses and a gallon of pimms and giving John McEnroe the eye.