Thursday, 6 October 2011

Taking on a Vintage Dress

I'll be off the "I had a holiday" posts soon, but I do have just one show and tell - this is a TLC sort of project rather than a sewing from scratch project. I won't do the actual sewing etc until I have a better understanding of exactly what I should be doing, so if you are reading this and you know a bit about caring for vintage clothes I would welcome your advice...

So - this is a dress that I bought from a small vintage dress shop in Lismore called The Black Angel (not currently online, but the owner was seeking advice as how to set up an online shop, so look out for it) which had a rack of mostly 1950s and on dresses. This green silk dress is the one that really caught my eye.  It felt a bit tight when I tried it on but the zip coped and the seam allowances looked generous - so I bought it. 

BUT while I was checking out the seam allowances, look what I found (and yes, in case you're wondering, this little surprise did mean a discount on the original price):

A total mess! Someone had hacked out the lining - chop, chop!  I guess the dress got a little tight for the previous owner and this was their quick solution.

Evidently the dress needs to be completely relined. Some of the stitching around the facings for the neckline and sleeves is also coming undone.

I'd like to see if I can let out side seams without leaving stitch marks behind too.

And there are some stains down the front and around the neckline, so the dress needs some kind of a bath:

I think this is going to become a sort of TLC and sewing repair project.  If you can suggest how I should clean a vintage silk dress, or you have any views on how I should go about relining it, I'd love to hear from you - I am not rushing into this project by any means!


  1. My advice would be to take it to a professional cleaner... but you know what? if it didn't cost so much then I say just wear it and enjoy it. It is just a dress, and not a museum piece, and I'm sure the original dressmaker would be glad to think it is still being appreciated!

  2. What a great find! I agree, you should wear it and enjoy!

  3. I must confess that I have removed linings in dresses before, but because they were too hot or created too much static.

    I have not had a lot of luck removing old stains or perspiration stains from clothing, so no advice there.

    That dress has some truly gorgeous details. Great find!

  4. I'm from Lismore and I have to say I love The Black Angel. I've found some real gems there and I hope to keep finding some more in the future. Your dress is stunning, fingers crossed your repairs go well.

  5. Thanks for your comments Carolyn, Karin, Katherine and Joesphine. I thought I had replied in the comments here but perhaps Blogger ate my response!

    I think you're right, I will just give it a gentle bath, take out a few seams and make minor repairs as necessary and that's it. No need to give it the regal treatment. I may have got over-excited as it's been a very long time since I've found a vintage piece of clothing that I really liked and that fit me too!

    Joesphine - lucky you - I really REALLY like Lismore town, and the countryside is beautiful. We're already planning another visit in summer!


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