Retro-fitting retro style

I don’t always take notice of what’s going on trend-wise, but when it’s a trend that’s flattering AND easy to replicate, it can’t hurt to give it a try. Such as these frilly sleeves.

sixties DIY sleeve

While I wasn’t enthusiastic enough about the trend to make anything frilly-sleeved from scratch, I had the perfect candidate for retro-fitting in this shift dress that I made a few years ago (for a change, my “before” picture background is scenic, while my “after” picture background is the ubiquitous grey wall…).

xsleeve8I haven’t worn this dress much recently, so had nothing to lose by altering it and was interested to see how a small difference such as these sleeves would affect its overall look.

shift dress DIYThere was still a fair bit of fabric left over from when I made it, so I created a “loop” of fabric for each sleeve…


…and gathered around the edges, leaving the area between the pins flat as this was going under my arms and extra bulk was undesirable.  _dsc5605

I matched the loop seams with the underarm seams, drawing up the gathering stitches to sew the loops to the sleeves. Although it’s only a little bit of extra fabric, it does make quite a difference to the overall balance of the dress, don’t you think? It looks quite retro now, like something from the 1960s, and the frills create a bit of volume up the top that makes the waist section look narrower.

sewing colourful dress

Admittedly it helps that I’m also wearing slight heels (Silver! Vintage! $5 from an opshop – of course!) and have makeup on in these shots, as opposed to the “before” picture in which any vestiges of cosmetic enhancement were melting off my face thanks to the humidity in Chiang Mai… shift dress sleeve frills

…but even if you don’t have silver heels, this is a DIY worth trying to give a fairly basic shift dress or top a quick and easy bit of a freshening up. Think of the possibilities depending on the colour, volume and texture of fabric you use – you could even just use loose stitches to attach the frills temporarily, if you can’t make up your mind. Which I obviously can’t do either, given how often I refashion clothes I’ve made!