Introducing.... my first make do & mend project for the month! This one is a "go big or go home" project to start off the series with a bang. I have this 1930s gray suit that I bought on Etsy. It has a lot off issues including missing buttons, fraying seams, weird fading, and it doesn't fit me quite right. However, it's close to my size, has lovely fabric, and it's a perfect basic piece to fit in my wardrobe... if I can restore it to glory!
This post is going to be the first of several as I go step-by-step in my revamping process. I'll be utilizing the info from my 1938 book by Mary Brooks Picken, creator of a college for women that taught them lots of life skills. This book is part of a mail order course on dressmaking, and it is entirely focused on dyeing and refinishing garments. I'll be sharing snippets from the book and following the steps it recommends in making over this 1930s suit. I plan on repairing, dyeing, and slightly altering the size of this suit. I may also be adding some decorative elements at the end.
So, first up, you've got to prepare your garment for revamping. Remove any buttons or sequins and save them for later. (This will also keep them from being damaged in the steps ahead.) Treat the garment for any stains it may have and wash it according to its fabric. This suit is rayon crepe, so I washed it on a very gentle cycle with cold water in the washing machine and let it air dry. (This step is especially important if you're dyeing a garment. Oils and residues can mess up the dyeing process and leave splotches on a garment.) The instructions from the book below say to leave the garment wet until it goes in the dye bath, but since I'm making this into a several-day process, it'll be more practical for me to just re-wet it later.
For future steps that will make sense later, I am now going to measure the dried garment. I drew a diagram of the suit pieces and filled in the measurements as I found them. I measured:
- bust and waist of both the jacket and dress
- hips of the dress
- total length and torso length of the dress (just the total length on the jacket)
- shoulder width of both pieces
- sleeve length of the jacket
- jacket cuff circumference
- average seam allowance width on both pieces
- hem depth of both pieces (mine was just 1/2" like the seam allowances)
Next is the gut-wrenching part. As recommended by the 1930s book, it is best to unpick all the stitches in a garment and get it back down to its individual pattern pieces.
So, I'm going to pop in a movie, pour myself a cup of tea and settle in for the night! My seam ripper and I are going to have a lovely evening.
In the next post I'll be talking about tracing the garment pieces and the dyeing process, so stay tuned!
(And in case you are interested, here are the original instructions from the book shown at the top that I'm basing this project on! They go a bit more in depth for other types of projects and fabrics, too. I didn't know about old silks having tin in them!)