“Day at the fair” dress

An afternoon of thrift store browsing yesterday brought some exciting and inspiring discoveries. I will be reconstructing many of these beauties over the next few blogs.

Fun, fun, fun!

On today’s agenda was this dress…

Getting ready to do a little country square dancin’

It looks like it belongs in a production of State Fair.

Maybe it was inspired by 1940s Kentucky Derby fashion. I can’t explain why, but the Kentucky derby was what first popped into my mind when I saw this dress.

This dress was huge and just absolutely atrocious, but I loved the lavender and white stripes and the belt.

It is definitely a product of the 80’s—complete with the thick shoulder pads, which were removed immediately, along with the huge collar.

The shoulder pads and sleeves made up the bulk of the weight of this dress. Once they were removed, the dress felt five pounds lighter.

Once I removed the shoulder pads, I saw that there was another pad of just fabric to give the sleeves even more puff action.

Extra shoulder padding! What!?

So, rather than do a bunch of seam ripping, I just chopped the bad boys off. While I was at it, I chopped some of the length of as well (maybe I can create a little ruffle along the neckline with the excess fabric in the future).

Sleeve chopping

The dress is a wrap style, with hooks and eyes rather than ties. I decided that I wanted to leave it that way.

Since I had to cut the collar off, I had to reattach the hooks and eyes once I finished the edges of the surplice neckline. Then, there was the matter of taking the sides in a bit, and shaping the bodice portion into a nice surplice tank style.  This meant cutting the top portion of the bodice off, creating a new shoulder seam and moving the armholes down.

Once everything was shaped, cut and pinned, I sewed it all up and finished the edges. I also added a gather at the shoulders.

Fire up the sewing machine!

Now… on to the belt. It was much too big to do any good.  First, I had to open up the seam of the belt in the center, measure and cut as much off as needed.

Cutting the belt to make it fit

Then I sewed the right sides back together.

Pinned and ready to be sewn

Next, I folded the belt back together (wrong sides together), and sewed the seam back up.


Voila! This dress is ready for a fun summery day, and perhaps, a day at the fair. 🙂

Close up!


About Becca

I am a self-taught seamstress, and I love to create unique women’s clothing. This blog is a record of the hodgepodge of sewing projects that occupy my time. Reconstruction projects are my favorite, but I also create clothing from my own designs using both recycled and new materials.
This entry was posted in clothing, diy, dress, recycled, repurposed, retro, sewing, Uncategorized, upcycled, vintage and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “Day at the fair” dress

  1. Aunt Anne says:

    Reconstruction has never been my fav but sometimes it was a necessity! You’ve done a magnificent job, Rebecca! You’ve passed me up with your talent!! At least in this area ~ lol. Getting it on here with such clarity is a trick in itself and that’s something I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to do! So congratulations on a job beautifully done!

  2. Leanne says:

    ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Going backward through your blog, and this is my favorite yet. I saw the after picture and said NO WAY! You are extremely talented! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I absolutely love love love all your projects! 🙂

  4. lasandrou says:

    I love how you reconstruct this dress ! It’s beautiful I’ve made some minor reconstructing of dress I found in thrift shop ( here in france) but you inspire me to made more reconstructing !

    • Thanks! I can’t wait to see more of your projects on your blog, and I’ve added your blog to my Stuff I Love page on my blog. It’s great because I get to see your amazing creations, and keep up my French. 🙂 Though I’m too embarrassed about my skill level to comment much, I have been enjoying reading through your entries.

  5. hannahjade27 says:

    This is gorgeous! Just discovered your log and am working backwards – very inspiring and lovely to see how someone else dresses their curves.

  6. hannahjade27 says:

    And I did, of course, mean blog!

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