When Amy and Pilar launched the second annual restyling exchange I was very excited. Last year, my first restyling project was such a fun and challenging project that I didn’t hesitate signing on again.
What is the annual restyling exchange? In short, you get a garment from someone to restyle and you send a garment to someone to restyle! So I received this summer dress from Rebecca and restyled it into a kimono.
Restyling: the start
When I opened the package that I received from Rebecca I was pleasantly surprised that it contained this bright summer dress with the floral embroidery. It was still new, barely worn, and it had gathered skirts. So I had a significant piece of fabric for my restyling project but not an idea yet. Initially, I wanted to go for the Kastrup top again because that pattern has several smaller pattern pieces. More, I could play with the placement of the embroidered border, which is something I like a lot. It was not until Diane, from ‘Dream. Cut. Sew.‘, posted her kimono made out of two scarfs that I had a lightbulb moment. I could restyle this dress in a kimono. I even had already the Venus Kimono pattern from ‘Sew This Pattern‘, so no extra costs were made for this challenge!
The Venus Kimono pattern
The Venus Kimono consists of 2 pattern pieces: the front and the back piece. I had the pattern already printed on A0 format so that was a huge timesaver. Although this kimono comes as a one size pattern with a relaxed fit you want to check the finished measurements. For Rebecca, the Venus kimono would have been far too big the way it is designed. So I shortened it with 14 cm and took about 1,5 cm off from the center front. These alterations were also necessary to make the pattern fit on the fabric I had available. I traced the customized pattern on to tissue paper because I wanted to keep the original pattern for a future kimono for myself.
Restyle: fitting the pattern on the dress
The first thing you do when you begin your recycle project is unpicking the seams. I started with the gathered skirt because this would give me the biggest fabric pieces. I also unpicked the hems as I needed every mm of fabric I could get. It takes a while to unpick all the overlocked seams and I was a surprised how much thread it gave.
After unpicking I gave the big pieces a good press to smooth the gathers. Then the most challenging part started, the pattern Tetris!
I put the pattern piece of the back, center back to fold line, on the front piece of the skirt. The pattern is designed with a center back seam but I cut off the 1,5 cm seam allowance. The arms were not covered but I marked this on the tissue paper and cut the pattern on this line. Also, you can see that the curve of the hem did not fit; so I adjusted that later when I hemmed it.
The front piece of the pattern went on the back piece of the skirt. Here, the length of piece fitted but for the arm, I had again to make a mark and cut the pattern piece.
To cut out the rest of the arm I lengthed the back and the front piece with other fabric fragments. Herefore I unpicked the bodice of the dress; also the shoulder straps.
After lengthening the front piece with two fragment pieces of fabric the arm I was able to cut the arm piece of the front.
For the back, I worked the same way. First, I lengthened the pattern with fragments of the dress bodice. Here I kept the side seams of the bodice.
Then I put the pattern piece of the arm on the assembled fabric. You will notice that it didn’t fit totally. As I didn’t have any substantial piece of fabric anymore I shortened the front piece to make it match.
The sewing process
After putting together the pieces of the kimono, sewing it was a piece of cake. Annie, from Sew this Pattern, has a very good sewalong on the website with clear instructions and pictures.
For the french seams, I used my 1/4 inch foot to have a guide and this helped a lot.
I finished the back neck line with bias binding because that is easier than a rolled hem.
I am super satisfied with this restyle project. It gave me a taste for more. I loved sewing a kimono, my first ever, and that also gave me a taste for more.
Thank you Amy and Pilar, for organizing this great challenge.