Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thrift Store Dress to Elven Gown

As refashions go, I'm pretty sure this is my favorite. Who knew an 80s-tastic, frumpy granny dress would make such a lovely elvish gown?
Before and after! 

Apparently, this year is the year where all my Tolkien-related dreams come true: first my birthday party, then the line party for The Hobbit, and now, it looks like Elaine and I are actually going to go to The One Expected Party on Oscar night in February! When TORn held its Oscar party for ROTK, I was still a college student on limited funds and my dad said we were not the kind of people who dropped that kind of money for celebrity parties, so Elaine went by herself and came back raving about what a great time it was. Well, now I am an independent woman, and gosh darn it, if I can't do this kind of thing now, when will I? Especially since after this year we are moving away from TCOCC and thinking about making small human beings and all. So even though it was still a significant splurge, I figure it's worth it for this once in a lifetime experience. 

Of course, this kind of thing practically requires a fancy costume. Elaine found this dark green velvet dress at a thrift store and thought that it would make a good elven gown, with some changes, of course. Since the front had buttons, I decided to have the final gown go backwards. While this made the lower armscye fit a little funny, Elaine said that it wasn't significant enough to warrant redoing the sleeves. I cut off the sleeves at the elbow and took out about two inches of ease at the underarm seam, then added bell-shaped chiffon lower sleeves from Simplicity 4940. The chiffon is slightly iridescent, which makes for a nice effect in person, if not in pictures. I also cut the neckline down significantly to get the wide, almost-falling-off-the-shoulder look that Arwen has going on in a lot of her gowns. I added a bunch of gold trim, roll-hemmed the sleeves in gold and tada! Instant elven princess!

Showing off her new sleeves.
Just because she's a princess doesn't mean she's not capable of giggling madly or stealing Gandalf's staff. 
Buttons and trim really do a lot for changing the look of the whole gown!
Enormous sleeves = enormous fun. 

Summary: 
Fabric: 2 yards of iridescent green poly-chiffon, but I have about half left because the funny shape of the sleeves required quite a bit of yardage, but left large scraps.
Notions: 2/3 yard of wide gold trim for the sleeves, 1 yard of narrow gold trim for the neckline, 4 new buttons to replace the hideous clear plastic buttons that came with the dress.
Hours: Two! Even my rolled hems didn't cause me grief, which was frankly quite shocking.
Will you make this again? I'll be perfectly honest, I'm tempted to raid all the local thrift stores for long velvet gowns that might make even remotely decent elven gowns. For such a quick project, this was remarkably satisfying. 
Total cost: About $25. The gown was $5, the trims were another $5, the buttons were $4, and I used about $10 worth of chiffon.  
Final thoughts: Both Elaine and I were extremely excited when I finished this gown, and we had entirely too much fun taking pictures of her swooshing her sleeves around. I love that such a simple refashion can have such grand results! 

I can't wait to get working on my own gown for the party...the trick is, I need to pull an epic gown out of thrifted bed sheets! Tempted as I may be to run out and buy a used velvet gown, I really want to make a Rohirric shieldmaiden gown, which eats up yardage like no other. I've managed to find three matching queen-size sheets, so here's hoping that that's enough!

22 comments:

  1. This is, without a doubt the best refashion I have ever seen. Seriously, it is gorgeous, and so elvish. I would never have seen this dress and thought elvish. Elaine has a great eye. I may start wandering through the clothing section of thrift stores looking for something similar (kidding) (sort of).

    You did good.

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    1. Hehehe I love you double parentheses (kidding) (sort of) because I feel the same way! And yes, Elaine did a great job picking out a dress with potential...I don't know that I would've spotted it either.

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  2. Absolutely lovely! What a great job! Those buttons are amazing too!
    Can't wait to see what your dress looks like!

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    1. Thanks! Aren't those buttons just the perfect compliment to the dress? And I can't wait to see what my dress looks like either, as I haven't finished designing it in my head just yet :P

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  3. Exciting! I'm so glad you are getting to live your geek-dreams! I can't wait to see your dress, and Elaine's is gorgeous - those are the best sort of sewing projects.

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    1. Thanks Leimomi! This dress refashion was definitely near the top of my list in terms of time spent/gratification received ratios!

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  4. I love it! So smart to turn the dress around and work from there. It is the best re-fashion I've seen in a long time. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you! I think turning it around wouldn't have worked if it weren't for the stretchiness of the velvet being able to accommodate the weird armscye!

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  5. You greatly improved that dress! It is so much more useful now, too. =)

    I can't wait to see what you make yourself and can't wait for the photos of the party so I can live vicariously!

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    1. Yes, because elven dresses with swirly sleeves are definitely more useful than granny dresses! And you can bet I'll take way too many photos at the party...

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  6. This is such a great dress redo! Wow! Great work!

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    1. Thanks! I'm really quite pleased with how well this translated from mental picture into real-life dress!

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  7. i am so enjoying your hobbit posts. i'm probably going to skip it in favor of a holiday weekend LOTR marathon, but your enthusiasm is so catching!! :-)

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    1. Oooh, I wish I could join you for your LOTR marathon!

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  8. So I googled "Rohirric shieldmaiden gown," and I'm still not sure what that looks like. Please post a picture!

    And love the dress redo. Seriously great!

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    1. Thanks Trisha! I'm not sure what my dress will look like yet, but I want something similar to the gowns that Eowyn wears, with the fitted bodice, gold trim, huge flappity sleeves, and very full (but still sleek) skirts.

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  9. Great re-make! Love the gold trim. Glad to see that you are having fun with the new LOTR movie!

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    1. One could argue that I'm having too much fun with it :)

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  10. I found this post on a gingerbread Hobbit hole and I immediately thought you needed to see it. If the link works it's here: http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2012/12/gingerbread-hobbit-hole.html

    It's pretty amazing!

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  11. Elaine looks beautiful; you did a lovely job. INSANELY jealous of your plans for The One Expected Party, too bad I'm 10,000 miles away. Enjoy

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