Purple Picnic Dress

I hope you can forgive my short hiatus. I’ve been hard at work, seam ripping, sewing and planning…but mostly seam ripping.

I’ve been making progress on several of the reconstruction pieces for the Project Runway Remake Challenge on Burdastyle, and today I can finally show you one of the finished products.

I’m sure you were wondering what I would do with this robe.

My husband's robe (which he has never worn)

I liked the stripes, but the colors wouldn’t do. I think they would’ve reminded me of the robe, no matter what I made with it. So, before initiating the reconstruction process, I dyed the robe a different color.

I used my washing machine, some hot water and some purple RIT dye to make the color more interesting.

Agitating the dye bath

I threw the dress below in the dye bath as well.

Boring, sack of a dress

I’ll do something with it later.


As shown above, the robe came out a light purple/violet color. It’s not bright because the material is only 60% cotton.

On to the reconstruction process.

First, it was time for some robe deconstruction with my seam ripper. There was facing, from the collar all the way down the front edges of the robe. I almost went insane with boredom while I was detaching it. As I grew more impatient, the process turned into what can only be described as demolition (I began just ripping it apart with my hands).

The robe, post-deconstruction

My plan was to create a new dress for myself.

I used a bodice pattern from my vintage dress pattern stash.

It was way too small for my bust and waist, so I had to grade it up. However, when I did that, I really had some fitting issues. I was far to lazy to make a muslin, so I (as expected) had fitting issues with the bodice.

Anyhow, the pattern I had cut out had darts coming from the waistline up on a diagonal. When I pinned it and placed it on my body, it was looking awful. So, since I had to shorten the length of the bodice anyway (because of my height and my plan for a band along the waist), I just pinned the pieces together and marked where I needed to add darts at the sides and shorten the length of the bodice. I suppose I could have used my dress form for this step, but I really wanted to make sure it would fit me like a glove.

Don't worry, I knew that I had one right side, and one wrong side together. It just made it easier to examine the look of the darts.

When adding the darts to the bodice, and re-cutting the side seam of the bodice, I had to make sure I placed the darts in a place they worked with the stripes of the bodice. I also had to change the shape of the bodice altogether, because the surplice neckline would no longer suit my re-worked bodice pieces.

Using the dress form to determine how to gather the bust-line and add a v-neck

So, basically after all the re-cutting and fitting adjustments, I had created my own bodice pattern. I changed the surplice to a v-neck, re-cut the armholes and shoulders, and shortened the length. I will probably end up taking the bodice apart to make a pattern from it.

Pinning bodice pieces -- I got another pin cushion for my collection. It was on clearance on ModCloth recently, and I love it! I thought it would annoy me to have something like that around my wrist, but it is so convenient.

I used one of my simple skirt patterns for the skirt of my new dress. I also measured and cut some strips for a waistband. I used what was once the collar of the robe, since it already had facing and interfacing.

After I cut all of the pieces out, I sat down at the sewing machine.

I sewed all of the darts, and pressed them—an absolute necessity to create clean lines.  I then sewed up the shoulder seams, basted the waist pieces and their facings together, and sewed them to the front and back bodice pieces.

Pressing the darts

I attached the front and back of the bodice and waistband at the side seams.

Next, I sewed the side seams of the skirt, and the back of the skirt up to the point I’d marked where the zipper would be inserted.

I gathered the top of the skirt, and pinned it to the waist piece all of the way around the dress, matching up the side seams and evening the gathers.

Once all of those pieces were sewn together, I added a 22” zipper (which I’d previously recycled from another dress) to the back, and finished the neckline.

Zipper attachment in progress

I used the old sleeves from the robe to make new ones. I separated the cuff from the sleeve, and created a new, smaller cuff to reattach around my sleeves.

I placed the armholes of the dress bodice over the sleeves to measure and cut the new sleeves, making sure to add seam allowances. I then attached the cuffs to the sleeves, and the sleeves to the dress.

I wasn’t quite finished, but I wanted to wear it last night on my date night with hubby. Here’s a picture of my ensemble.

C’est une robe parfait pour l’automne! -- Paired with boots and a cardigan, this dress is the perfect addition to a fall wardrobe.

Sorry for the angle of the picture. I had my husband take it; he’s pretty tall, and as you can see from the picture, I’m not. 😉

This morning, I finished the dress up by adding the patch pockets.

Measuring and pinning the pockets on

Sewing the pockets on

The garment has gone from an ugly blue robe to une belle robe pourpre.

Here it is without a belt. I like it both ways.

I love the retro feel of the dress.

The back- There are darts at the shoulders and at the waistline, on both sides.

I really cut it close with the skirt on this dress. My hips are really big, and the robe was barely large enough for me to make a skirt that didn’t hug them.

All in all, I am extremely happy with the final product.

Here’s a preview of the next reconstruction project (currently in progress).

Green, green and more green.

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, indie, recycled, repurposed, retro, sewing, thrifted, Uncategorized, vintage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Purple Picnic Dress

  1. Candy says:

    I love the retro look of your purple dress! Not sure if that’s what you were going for, but it’s so pretty and looks so comfortable to wear. The dye job really brings out the pattern, and it’s a nice color on you. Great job!

  2. gigi says:

    So cute, much nicer looking without the cardi, looks like it fits you perfectly well! Adding the pockets made a huge difference made your hips look teeny tiny.

  3. Sarah Lewis says:

    I suspect your hubby loves his bathrobe much better now that you are in it!!! :o)

  4. Christy says:

    You did a wonderful job!!! It looks great on you!

  5. Fabi says:

    It seems like it was a lot of work, but worth it. It is beautiful and it you look adorable. Great job again!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I’m super impressed!

  7. jillian416 says:

    I love seeing each and every piece that you create. When I see a new blog post from you on my reader, I can’t click on it quick enough!

    Bc of that, here’s a blog award for you!

  8. just found your blog, it is so great! i have you bookmarked now and thank you for linking to us!

  9. I have a question about the rit….how do you get it out of your washing machine so it doesn’t color the next load? I’m so afraid to try it but I have some jeans that need dying.

    • After doing the RIT bath, you should add bleach and run your washer at the hottest setting for a full cycle. (I know, it’s a bummer because it feels like a waste of water, but the washing machine is really the only option I have for dyeing things.) I usually run some scraps through, or some darks for the first batch after that just to make sure there’s no dye hiding somewhere. I haven’t had any laundry mishaps yet. 🙂

      It may stain some parts of the washer, depending on how dark the dye is. Once you dye something you should wash it separately or with very like colors for the first few times, because it can sometimes leak color.

      Hope that helps!

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