Monday, April 23, 2012

Gigi Dresses, part 1

If I am to wear this mourning cloak, let it be made of the fabric of love, woven by the fine thread of memory.
- Molly Fumia, in Safe Passage,
Two little dresses for two little girls, both made from my grandmother's well worn aprons. 

There's no fabric I'd rather sew with, really.  I'm a big believer in repurposing and recycling old and outgrown clothing, especially ones filled with a thousand memories.  These aprons are filled with a thousand and one memories.  They are pretty much all I remember my Gram wearing around the house when I was younger.  (She wore real shirts when we went out, I promise!)  I remember her cooking in them, cleaning, ironing next to her Hi-Fi while singing along to a Traveling Wilbury''s record.  My sister and I loved to wear them, too.  We wore them while painting, while building houses made from sawhorses and two by fours in the yard, while shucking corn on the front patio, while roller skating through the house.  Not taking them wasn't even an option.  I unfolded each one, searching for paint stains and running my fingers over the smooth mother of pearl snaps, and I knew I needed to give them some new life and some new memories.  I needed to make them part of my life again, in a completely new way.


Snip and snitch, snip and stitch.  A little from here to make a little for there.  (Bonus points if you know what book this is from!)

Dress number one, Raina's dress, was made using the Sweetheart Dress tutorial from luvinthemommyhood.  I made some modifications, since my fabric wasn't a typical flat, button free rectangle, but kept as much as I could.  I wish I could show you pictures of the process, but I'm sorry to say I can't.  I left my camera in the car on Friday, and I didn't go get it until this morning.  (Monday.)  Admitting such giant laziness is hard, but that's what happened :).  I can tell you some things, though...

1.  I used the front of the apron as the front of the dress, so the bodice on my dress is not as high-necked as in the tutorial.  I followed the original neckline of the apron, which dipped.

close up of more dipped neckline, and my not-so-perfect top-stitching

I decided to do the top-stitching in pink.  First of all, because the hot pink thread came from Gigi's sewing box!  Also, because it's pretty.  I had the blue out first, but The pink makes it more fun.

This one shows where I left the original apron gathering.  I love the girly detail it adds to the bodice!

2.  Because I was using a fabric with buttons and piping, I cut the main fabric and lining separately.  This didn't cause as many problems as I thought it might... which is a testament to my superior cutting skills, I guess :).

3.  I did not measure the bottom rectangle of fabric (skirt).  I cut off the bottom 15" of the apron, gathered it, and that was my skirt.  I wanted the edge piping, pockets, and details to all remain intact.

treasure pockets!

where bodice meets skirt.  I was very careful to make the buttons line back up!  Wanted to make this a dress my mom could stand to look at :)

I sewed in between all the buttons with pink thread, too.  Otherwise it gapped, and a little girl needs a little modesty!

original apron bottom...

means no hemming!

4.  The button loops were cut from some leftover piping.  It is really too big for the buttons (or maybe the buttons are too small?)  I know this.  I'm trying to decide whether to change it or cross my fingers when she wears it.

5.  My heart doesn't dip enough on the top for me.  On Raina, it looks more heart like than on a hanger.  Next time I know to sew further and cut more deeply into the "v."

wonky.  maybe i should have ironed?

The lining is actually a sheet!  It's a Garnet Hill sheet that I got at a thrift store for a few dollars... and it's giant!  I decided to use it, because in a ddition to flowers and the color blue, Gigi loved birds.


Fun to twirl in!

I bribed Raina with a "kid show" before nap if she'd model for me... turns out she loved it (it is incredibly soft, from all those years of washing and wearing!  Softness is typically Raina's top concern when it comes to her clothing), didn't want to take it off, and the bribe was not necessary.  Better safe than sorry!  :)  Here are some more pictures of her playing....

Good for splashing in fake puddles!

....Next installment - a Gigi dress for Lucca!


  1. Awww, turned out so cute! Thanks so much for sharing your post with me! Love that you refashioned the apron! Adorable!

  2. oh! gorgeous fabrics! gorgeous dress! shannon's sweetheart dress is genius

  3. Adorable! I've never thought of deconstructing've given me all kinds of ideas. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing at Etcetorize~