Reconstructed 80s Bow Print Dress

Before and after

Before and after

It’s been a while since I’ve done a complete reconstruction, but I did the one above a couple of weeks ago.

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Ahh, yeah! Rocking the choir robe style dress!

When I saw the purple bow print material on the dress above, I immediately thought of my youngest sister. She loves purple. Plus, what teenage girl doesn’t love a colorful bow print?

So, I reconstructed the dress into a little summer frock. Here is the dress, pictured on my adorable baby sis’ (she’s seventeen, but she’s still the baby).

She's such a skinny minnie.

She’s such a skinny Minnie! And let me tell you, this girl can EAT! She regularly shovels down a Gotta Have It size ice cream from Coldstone (or from a carton). If I did that, I’d gain weight rapidly. So not fair!

The belt came out of my belt stash. It matches the turquoise bows in the print perfectly.

The back has a racerback with a bow

The back has a racerback with a bow

The Reconstruction Process

Behold, the thrifted dress in all its former glory.

Ooh, Foxy Lady! Hahaha!

Ooh, Foxy Lady! Hahaha!

On to the process…

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The first step was to remove the shoulder pads, separate the skirt from the bodice and cut the sleeve cuffs off.

The next step was to cut and sew the bodice.

The next step was to cut the bodice, sew the shoulder seams, right side seam and center seam.

I cut a racerback shape on the back bodice piece

I cut a racerback shape on the back bodice piece

I cut the skirt away from the waistband

I cut the skirt away from the waistband…

and cut a new skirt from the original skirt along a carefully pinned cutting line (the material was very slippery)

and cut a new skirt from the original skirt along a carefully pinned cutting line (the material was very slippery).  I then sewed up the right skirt seam and the left skirt seam up to the point of the future zipper insertion.

From the leftover skirt material, I cut strips for finishing the armholes.

From the leftover skirt material, I cut strips for finishing the armholes and the neckline.

For the bow piece, I cut rectangles from the old facing and a piece of the sleeve.

For the bow piece, I cut rectangles from the old facing and a piece of the sleeve. I also made a small strip to go around the center of the bow.

I cut the collar pieces from the sleeve cuffs.

I cut the collar pieces from the sleeve cuffs, and added interfacing to the pieces that weren’t already interfaced.

Here's a picture of all the bodice pieces

Here’s a picture of all the dress pieces. In the middle on the far right, you’ll see that I sewed the two rectangles for my bow and bow ring together and turned them right side out. I also sewed the ends of the ring piece to make a ring.

Once I slipped the ring around my bow, I messed around with the placement of the bow and basted it to the edges of the racerback.

Once I slipped the ring around my bow, I messed around with the placement of the bow, basted it to the edges of the racerback, and trimmed it to match the armhole edges.

I attached the skirt to the bodice, right sides together, leaving one side open for a zipper.

I gathered sections of the bodice and the skirt to make the proper waist measurement.

Then, I attached the skirt to the bodice, right sides together, leaving one side open for a zipper.

Then, I attached the skirt to the bodice, right sides together, leaving one side open for a zipper.

I sewed the collar pieces along the outside edge (right sides together), trimmed and notched the seam allowances, turned the collar out and pressed it.

I sewed the collar pieces along the outside edge (right sides together), trimmed and notched the seam allowances, turned the collar out and pressed it.

Next, I basted the collar along the neckline

Next, I basted the collar along the neckline

With the bias strip pinned around the neckline, I sewed the bodice, collar and bias strip together. Then I trimmed and notched the seam allowances, folded the bias strip in and handstitched the bias strip down inside along the neckline.

With the bias strip pinned around the neckline, I sewed the bodice, collar and bias strip together. Then, I trimmed the seam allowances, folded the bias strip in and handstitched the bias strip down inside along the neckline.

To finish the armholes, I sewed my other two bias strips around the armholes.

To finish the armholes, I sewed my other two bias strips around the armholes…

trimmed the seam allowances, folded and turned the strips to the inside, and handstitched the down.

trimmed the seam allowances, folded and turned the strips to the inside, and handstitched them down.

Next came the addition of a zipper and a hook on the side that I left open. I couldn't find the eye that went with the hook, so I just made thread loops.

Next came the addition of a zipper and a hook to the right side seam. I couldn’t find the eye that went with the hook, so I just made thread loops.

Finally, I stitched some buttons down the center front  to complete the dress.

Finally, I stitched some buttons down the center front to complete the dress.

Surprisingly, I had very little material left over, but I think I’m going to make a headscarf out of the remaining material.

As I said, it had been a while since I’d done a full-fledged reconstruction. I forgot how much I enjoy the challenge. I should really make an effort to work them into my sewing schedule more often.

My sister told me that she really likes the dress, so I’d say this was a successful reconstruction.

DSCN1422I love the bow in the back. I see many more of them on future makes.

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DSCN1423Remember last week how I said I’m usually pretty selfish about sewing? Well, look at me, being all unselfish, and such. :P

Do you sew or make things for others regularly, or do you stick to creating for yourself?

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19 Responses to Reconstructed 80s Bow Print Dress

  1. LLADYBIRD says:

    WHOA. This is amazing and you are my hero. I loooove the bow in the back, so perfect!

  2. MammaNene says:

    This refashion is perfect, I love it!
    MammaNene

    SergerPepper.blogspot.it

  3. ashley0107 says:

    Wow, what an amazing reconstruction! I love the bow back, it’s so cute!

  4. GA says:

    Lala looks so cute in this dress. Great job!!! Love the bow and she was able to wear it without showing straps which sometimes can spoil the look of an outfit.

    • Becca says:

      I’m sure she does. She’s adorable, no matter what! :) I’m figured she’d have a racerback bra because I’ve seen her wear a lot of racerback shirts. I agree, visible bra straps can spoil an outfit. It’s nice that they’re are so many different bra strap variations out there.

  5. Theresa says:

    Great job, I especially love the racerback/bow combo. Thanks for sharing the step by step.

  6. OOOoo! This is awesome! What a horrific first dress! You did a miracle!!! That bow back is adorable!!!!

    • Becca says:

      Thank you! The first dress was indeed horrific. Haha! The bow in the back is definitely my favorite aspect of the dress.

  7. What an amazing print, and I LOVE the bow on the racerback! It’s so cute! I don’t know anything about wearing it at 17; I’d wear it now!

    • Becca says:

      Thanks! I would wear it now too. Ha! I’m just glad that my sister liked it. Teenagers can be a bit picky about what they wear. :)

  8. Zoe says:

    I would so wear that, I’m 16, so you did a great job! I love the print. I’d like to do more thrifting but the shops in my area are rather lacking in cute (fabric-wise) finds like that dress.

    • Becca says:

      Thanks! Cool! I’m glad to hear another teenager likes it. :) You should definitely do more thrift shopping. It can be frustrating trying to find good thrift shops if you live in an area that isn’t urban. Sometimes it can be hit or miss at the thrift stores around me too. I live in an area with a pretty low population, but I’ve been surprised by the number of thrift stores around here. I’ve really had to dig to find several of them though.

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