I already mentioned the small antiques Shop “das Puppenhaus” in my hometown quite a few times.
In front of the actual shop the owner installed a shelf with modern, less valuable or broken things. Everything in this shelf is 1€, if you fill one of the plastic bags next to the shelf, it is 3€ total. Of course, what you find there is rarely more than rummage, but if you search for chipped plates, cheesy 70ies novels and other stuff, this is the place to go.
Obviously, you only need to be interested in a very few things to start thinking “mh, maybe I should fill a bag”. What I usually filled the gaps with was clothing, you can always use it as a fabric resource. I found a Korn-Bandshirt, a skirt that now forms part of my quilt and a hilarious 1970ies (?) nightgown.
This colour is very difficult to describe and even more difficult to photograph. It lies somewhere between “very-light-shade-of-pink” and “I-forgot-a-red-sock-in-the-white-laundry”. As you see, it is very wide, label says size 50 (though sizing has changed in the last 40 years, 50 must have been pretty large already back then). The fabric is a very light, sheer cotton with machine embroidery in the front, the back is plain.
Now, this dreadfullness has been in my stock for a rather long time, maybe around 6 years. I always planned to turn it into something wearable, adjust it to my size, make something completely different out of it, I had plenty of ideas. But then, everytime I looked at it I shook my head and put it back.
Finally I faced the monster.
First I cut away all the seams, but kept the hem and the buttonband.
The sleeves’ fabric was very worn and threadbare, I was close to throwing it away (but I didn’t, as you’ll see later). The front and back were each made from one large sheet of fabric without any darts or similar (but for the buttonband). Because the original cut had raglan sleeves, the fabric was much narrower on the top end than at the hem.
I chose a pattern for a nightgown I found in a 1937 schoolbook I bought in april 2013.
I copied the upper parts of the front and back and placed them onto my fabric as high as possible (remember, the raglan cut). The resulting pieces I sewed together, using french seams. The sleeveless gown was much shorter than I had hoped for, but at least it was already hemmed.
What was left of the fabric were the bits cut away to form the armholes in the front, a larger piece from the back and the sleeves. I cut away all the fabric that was too worn to be used, turning the rest into more or less straight stripes. These stripes, eight in total, I patched together to two rectagles of four, having one embroidered stripe in each of it. I formed kind of a halfcircle to turn them into sleeves. The hem I decorated with a polyester lace, that is in no way less horrible than the original nightgown had been. I set the sleeves in and finished the neckline with white bias binding on the inside (it is a little stiff, I hope it gets better after having been washed a couple of times). I re-attached the ribbon (not before re-sewing it, the thread was more brittle than the fabric itself, and yes, it is off-centre, don’t tell me 😉 ) and found a button in the exact same hilarious pale shade of pink (maybe it even came from this nightgown, I can’t remember if the buttons were already missing or if I took them off).
Well yes, and now it looks like a late 1950ies babydoll-dress, though I made no alterations to the pattern at all. Well, except for the length, the sleeves and the already given buttonband and ribbon.
The Challenge: #1 Make do & Mend
Fabric: pale pink cotton with machine embroidery
Pattern: basic nightgown pattern from a schoolbook
Notions: thread, polyester lace, plastic button, bias binding
How historically accurate is it? well, the pattern is an original one, the fabric is imaginable in the 1930ies. But the machine embroidery, the length and the overall impression it gives aren’t suitable for this decade at all, so let’s say 20-30%
Hours to complete: 4
First worn: january 3, 2014
Total cost: maybe less than 1€ (3m bias binding cost 0,80€, I used less than 1m, lace surely was part of a convolute bought somewhere at a flea market, button as well. Costs for the nightgown I already explained above)
And a funny work-in-progress-photo featuring the lady of the house. I had searched for inspiration for the next challenge when I didn’t work on the nightgown (lying in the background), that’s why the magazines still lay on the sofa. Seems as if they have their own bobyguard now. She even stares like an aged librarian.
See you soon, love,