Sustainable summer dresses!

A combination of summer, winter, sustainability and sewing in one article! Intrigued? We wanted to share a couple of sewing tips and tricks with you; focusing on hems but also introducing the idea of sewing with a sustainable conscience.

So its raining and cold here in the sunshine state of QLD, so in my denial over the gloomy weather patterns, I am embarking on a couple of summery dress projects knowing that it will definitely make the sun shine again with summer inspiration? (definitely wishful thinking as we head into the Autumn season)

I recently purchased two summer dresses from a vintage/second hand store called Swop in Brisbane’s West End. I’ve linked their website so you can check out what they’re all about and see their current online collection; but essentially the company started with valuing the importance of clothing and were inspired by the exchange culture in North America, resulting in a company that’s centred around the key concepts of sustainability, affordability and anti-waste.

Stay with me here, I promise it’ll make sense! On a recent beach holiday (definitely missing those summer vibes) I bought the Peppermint magazine for a ‘bit of light reading/ flick through and look at the pictures’ but I ended up reading every word on every page instead! (I’ll link that one for you too. You're welcome. Trust me.) Peppermint = inspiring. amazing. stylish. eco friendly. The magazine is focused on style and sustainability and how they don't have to be separate from each other but can instead work together and produce beautiful things. The articles about fast fashion and their affects on the industry left me thinking about my fashion consumer footprint and how I wanted to create more sustainable habits. Starting with my wardrobe. Hence where Swop comes in with the whole recycled fashion thing. You get my drift?

In the upcoming blog posts, I plan to write a couple that focus on sustainable fashion and the fast fashion industry. But for today, I just want the sun to shine (I’m practically radiating hope of sunny weather while writing this). So. Back to the summery dresses. With sewing skills at the ready and summery thoughts inspiring.. summer weather? we wanted to share with you exactly how we altered these dresses and give you a couple of tips and tricks along the way :)

Dress numero uno is a blue gingham fitted shift dress with a round neck and some gorgeous embroidery details on the hem (pictured below). It was only $25 in Swop and fits like a glove! With the exception of it being a bit too long..

In order to hem the dress we first pinned the length we wanted it to be when it is finished. Then, marking out the cut line with chalk to be 1.5cm below the finished length, we cropped off the excess of the skirt.

Because it has the gorgeous embroidery detail at the hem which we cut through, we overlocked the hem first to make sure the embroidery stays in place. Then we simply rolled the overlocked edge up 1.5cm, pressed with an iron to ensure a perfectly straight hem and sewed it down on the overlocking.

Ta Da! One dress down, one to go!

So dress number two is also a gingham print, this time in black and white. It has a very simple structure: sleeveless and round neck bodice with two darts on the side seams and a gathered rectangular skirt. Super cute and summery! And very short.. So to lengthen this one we conveniently found some of the same black and white gingham material in our studio collection which was the perfect match!

We weren't really sure how exactly to go about lengthening the skirt in regards to style. We came up with a few ideas but we couldn't make up our minds on which idea to choose so we tried it a couple of different ways and picked our favourite! But we'll show you each way we tried it so you can see what we did.

Option 1. Frilly hem - this idea was really simple to execute, we simply cut a 10cm wide panel that was 2 1/2x the circumference of the existing skirt. Joining the 2 short edges together to form a circle we then overlocked that seam as well as the bottom edge of the strip. Once the bottom edge was overlocked, we turned it up 1cm to hem with a straight stitch. On the top edge of the strip, we ran a gathering stitch (long stitch length) and pulled the thread on one side so that the frill circumference matched the bottom edge of the existing skirt and then joined them together :)

Option 2. Black Bias - We cut a strip of black cotton fabric 4cm wide x the length of the skirt hem adding 1cm at each for seam allowance. Putting the short edges together and stitching with a 1cm seam allowance, we created a circle and folded it in half lengthwise and ironed. We also cut a 20cm wide check fabric strip to be the same length as the black one and sewed the short edges together. We then folded it in half lengthwise and ironed it as well. Then we sandwiched the black strip between the checked strip and existing hem of the skirt so that the raw edges and the hem lined up. Last step was to sew them together with a straight stitch and overlock to create the new hemline. Done!

Option 3. New skirt panel - We actually chose this option because we ended up having enough fabric to replace the entire skirt - which was good because the original had a stain on the front :(

So to do this, we simply measured the original skirt width and added the length that we wanted. Overlocking and hemming the bottom edge we then gathered the top edge to fit the bodice and stitched them together. Ta da! Easy!

Hopefully we’ve inspired you to alter your clothes and be aware of your fashion footprint more successfully than how this post has inspired the weather..

Let us know what your favorite option was for the second dress in the comments!

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts by subscribing to our mailing list, and I can’t believe I’m writing this but, stay warm in this cold weather in Qld..

Much love and sew lots


#dress #summer #winter #Toowoomba #hem #seam #stitch #gather #sustainable #Swop #Peppermintmagazine #Sewing








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