Yep, that’s right. Now that Christmas is past, it’s time to think about Easter dresses! Easter comes early this year – April 1st. With that in mind, I chose to work on a dress that I started considering months ago.
Last year (maybe the year before) I found a beautiful Strasburg lace dress at a thrift shop for $4. Why was it there? Well, there was a section of melted lace. 😕 Strasburg lace dresses have always been beautiful. They are made from quality fabrics and have beautiful smocking and/or hand embroidery on them. However, although the laces are soft and look very much like the cotton heirloom laces that are typically used on heirloom dresses, the lace is a man-made material – probably nylon. To iron these dresses, high heat is needed for the cotton, but if the heat is too high, the lace melts, rendering the dress useless.
I snatched up the dress and immediately removed the lace collar, including the lace around the collar that had been attached with a perfectly executed fagoting stitch. Then I removed the embroidered panel around the hem of the dress. It was surrounded with a cheap beading, which was also at the edge of the sleeves. At this point I set it aside to work on later…….
Months and months later, I rediscovered the dress as I cleaned up in my sewing room. I pulled out my stash of white fabrics and found a cotton lawn that was the closest match in color and weight to the fabric used in the original dress. I’m so pleased with the finished dress!!!
The original dress appeared to be around a size 6, so I made a size 7 dress for Ella to wear this Easter. I used the Children’s Corner “Margaret” pattern (out of print) and shortened the bodice by 1″ and redrafted the sleeve to be less full. The original dress was a float dress with a high bodice, but I chose a lower one since Ella will be 8 this spring. It seemed more appropriate for her age.
The collar has beautiful shadow work and surface embroidery all around the collar. I replaced the plastic lace with heirloom lace that was the same width and kept the same look, attaching the lace with #12 pearl cotton and the fagoting stitch. I was very happy with the results.
The hem also had matching shadow work and surface embroidery and was well worth the effort to remove it and use it again. I chose to use Swiss beading to attach the lace as I felt it would hold up better than using a soft, French Val lace. I like the way that it looks without any ribbon running through the beading, so I may leave it that way. I used the same Swiss beading for the arms, but did use ribbon there.
The embroidery design on the collar and hem band alternate with a shadow work bow design and then a surface embroidery design – both are beautiful.
I am so pleased with the finished dress. It was a quick project with the use of the already embroidered collar and hem band.
With the dress finished, I realized that a slip was needed. That was today’s snow day project. Now I have the Easter dress and slip finished and have a beautiful dress with a minimum amount of effort! Win!!!
I did take a picture of the sleeve from the Strasburg dress as I found it interesting. The sleeve is not gathered at the bottom edge of the sleeve, rather the beading is attached flat and the sleeve is then pulled up with the ribbons.
Upcycling a beautiful, but damaged dress has been a fun project! Now I need to decide what I will do for the other 2 girls. What will you be working on for Easter? It’s time to start!