Right now I’m in that awkward in-between phase in which my “regular” clothes don’t fit again yet, but my maternity clothes are too big and loose. Starting soon, I’m going to need to look decently presentable at least two days per week, and so I’m trying to figure out some clothing to wear without having to buy too many pieces (especially pants) for my (hopefully) temporarily larger size. In addition, if at all possible, I’d like to have tops that are suitable for easily nursing my baby. It’s a tall order!
I realized that I have leggings that are pretty comfortable to wear– especially if I’m sitting on the floor (and I am on the floor a lot, playing with my 2.5-year-old and baby!). I’d love to buy more tops that are long enough to cover me properly, but I don’t have very much time to do clothes shopping these days! As I brainstormed ideas, I started thinking about what I might already have on hand in my own closet.
Soon after I had my baby, I was in my brother’s wedding, and I wanted to get a dress that I could nurse in to wear to the rehearsal and dinner. I found a cross-front dress at Old Navy that was about $30. I was kind of desperate and it was the best I’d found so far. I figured I could return it if I found something better. When I got to checkout, the salesgirl told me that it was an online item that had been returned to the store. If I agreed to take a no-return policy on the dress, I would get 50% off. I guess I thought it was worth it for $15. I can’t think what made me think that this dress looked good on me when I tried it on in the store: it has exactly the features that I know are bad for my body shape– especially a waistband (elastic, no less!) right at the natural waist. I wore the dress once and felt awkward in it and then every other time I put it on in hopes that it would look better, I regretted buying it.
The worst part of the dress is that elastic waistband. It hit me at a very bad place unless I scootched it up more empire style, and then the bodice sagged in a funny way. I also really disliked the high/low hemline. (Seriously, I can’t believe I bought this dress!!!) I decided to chop the dress to tunic length and adjust the waistline with some sort of a wide belt or sash, most likely made from the fabric I cut off. In bits of spare moments, I started refashioning the dress into a tunic.
The first thing I did was re-hem the dress. (Hooray for a cover-stitching serger!) It already looks worlds better, even without a belt!
I sent the photo above to my mom (who taught me how to sew! Thank you, mom!) and we had a really good conversation about how I might adjust it. She suggested taking up the shoulder seams to alleviate the awkward sagging in the bodice (which I ended up not having to do), and she also suggested some sort of a shirred belt. The shirring idea made my brain fizz with hope!
During the next bits of stolen time, I cut an even 7″ wide strip out of the fabric I’d chopped off of the bottom of the dress. After a bit of experimenting and discarding some bad ideas, I ended up hemming the long edges of the strip (cover stitch again!) and then stitching it into a belt to fit my waist. I gathered the side seams to shirr it to a 4″ width, and reinforced them by stitching the gathers to some bias tape on the wrong side. The belt covers the elastic at the tunic waist and sits high enough to effectively give the tunic an empire waistline, which is much more flattering to my body shape. Maybe someday I’ll figure out the best way to remove the elastic altogether (it would be more comfortable if it weren’t there), but for now, I am pleased with how this refashion turned out.
I’m so thankful for the sewing skills to turn what was a bummer of a dress into a useful, comfortable, and much more flattering tunic!