Welcome to DIY July, Bibliotheca’s monthly theme! Make sure to check their website and sign up for their newsletter to see what all of the bloggers came up with this month!
When an acquaintance on Instagram was downsizing her j-fashion closet, she graciously reached out to me to see if I would interested in any of the items she was letting go of. One of the items was Innocent World’s Shirring OP (Polka Dot) in blue. This roomy, comfy OP looked like a great piece for summer and I happily purchased it. The seller let me know that the elastic was stretched, an understandable defect from a dress released in 2007. I was confident in my sewing skills and knew that I could make this simple fix.
I’ve worn this OP a few times now and each time I try it on I remember, “Oh yeah, I should fix this.” It looks fine as a sun dress, but the neckline is starting to creep a little too low for conventional lolita coordinates.
So on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I finally sat down to giving this OP the TLC it needed.
Step one: assess the damage.
This OP has elastic in three places: the neckline, the sleeves, and the waist. The neckline and sleeves were in most need of repair. For the time being, I’m just going to focus on the neck and sleeves. The waist has six channels of elastic and the seams are serged, so it will require a little more work.
Step two: estimate the needed elastic.
Using a measuring tape, I estimated that I would need approximately 31 cm of elastic for the sleeves to comfortably fit my arms. It’s possible that the original dress had smaller sleeves, but this is the length that will be most comfortable for me.
The neckline will take a little more guess work. I used a measuring tape to drape the neckline I would like the dress to have on myself. Then I added a few extra cm for safety (it’s easier for me to trim excess elastic than to add more later). The stock photos also make it seem like the neck was always meant to be open, with some neckties to give it shape.
Step three: gather the materials.
While I was measuring the length I needed, I also measured the width of the channels and existing elastic. I need 1/4 inch elastic. This is readily available at my local craft store and online. I also grabbed my handy seam ripper, a needle and thread, and a safety pin to thread my elastic through the channels. I cut my elastic to the appropriate lengths and got to work.
Step four: begin the surgery
The sleeves are sewn with a single seam on the underside, which is straight stitched and serged. I carefully opened the seam to allow me to remove the old elastic. The elastic was sandwiched between the lining and fashion fabric, so removed the straight stitches and serged edge to get access to the channel.
Then I attached my safety pin to the pre-cut elastic and began threading it into the channel. This is tedious, boring work, so throw on some j-fashion Youtube videos or listen to a podcast. (This is a lifestyle blog, after all). It’s also a good idea to attach the other end of your elastic to the opening with a pin so it doesn’t get lost.
When I had both ends of the elastic on either end of the open channel, I pinned them together and sew. I did this on a sewing machine, but you could easily do this with hand sewing. Then I closed the opening and repeated this for the other sleeve.
I repeated the process for the neckline. There were a few difference in the construction of the neckline channel: the raglan sleeves and the center front bow.
I ended up opening the back shoulder seam to remove the elastic then removed the bow (it had been added last, so the stitches went through all layers of the dress, including the elastic. Before I sewed the ends of the elastic together and closed the opening, I tried the dress on to make sure that it sat where I wanted it to. I made adjustments and sewed the elastic and opening.
Step five: enjoy your handiwork
With the dress newly restored, I had to try a sample coordinate. With about an hour of work and some simple handiwork, this dress fits me better than ever. And just in time for summer!
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