Upcycling Granny’s dress




When I spotted this dress (left) in Reign Wear, probably my favourite vintage clothing shop in Oxford, I just knew I had to buy it.

But once at home, I eventually realized it was way too long, with an ugly plastic belt and  an uptight schoolgirl look, complete with long sleeves and rond collar.

Still, I liked the fabric, the lovely pleats that became fashionable again like two years ago –  and it was a polka-dot dress! So I just thought a little upcycling could save it from rubbish or from an indefinite, unattended stay in my wardrobe.


Problem: it is not like I do not like sewing, rather sewing does not quite like me:






To cut a long story short, and being without Cinderella mice, I took my efficient though rather unemployed  sewing machine (Janome Green) and started to work on the dress.


I eventually shortened the dress to knee-length, trimmed the sleeves adding red bias binding and above all, I got rid of the ugly belt and made a red cotton one.


To be 100% honest it is not yet perfect BUT I can wear it with a smile AND it actually matches my Almodovarish Chie Mihara pumps.


And now, a photo of me in the dress – a huge dose of old-fashioned sexism might be hinted here.






My first time

Did I tell you about my first time? I mean the first time I knitted a lace project! My first experience in the matter leads me to share some useful tips with you.



Pick up a partner pattern you really like, there is no good in feeling compelled to it. I chose Emily Ross’s Haruni shawl, which has everything a girl wants: it is pretty, it is free and it does exist in French. And it is a cultivated pattern – haruni means grandmother in Elvish – as I am teaching where Tolkien was both student and teacher, I felt I could not miss that opportunity.



Enjoy safe knitting – it is the best way to feel condident and to avoid a nasty accident. There will still be problems in the process anyway. So do buy some good quality supplies, like a good row counter and stitch-markers which are specifically designed for lace-knitting (for pattern repetitions) – mine are Hiya Hiya (bought at the Fibreworks).

More generally speaking, just go for good quality instead of cheap supplies: I took a kickass yarn – Merinos Malabrigo Lace Yarn (Sotobosque) and reliable 3mm bamboo circular needles – still Hiya Hiya.

And even with a good kit you are not safe from a terribly embarrassing moment (in my case the crochet/needle binding off was something of a massacre at the beginning – it taught me a lesson about improvising new positions)


Do it at home! One may be fond of outdoor kinky activities, but the first time demands way too much focus to be disrupted by external elements. For a while, do forget about knitting groups and outdoor sessions when knitting your lace shawl.


Show off! The first time makes you proud and rightly so! Therefore once you are done, please walk about with your new knitted project – that is what I did last Sunday in sunny Oxford.