"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Frock Rehab

Green wool Madeline dress by J.Crew.
Green silk charmeuse fabric, on the right,  sourced on ebay.
 Some of my frocks have started trickling into rehab and we're feeling slightly hopeful.
You can see the silk charmeuse has a nice soft hand even in this photo.
 Not overly hopeful however, and the reason?  Rehabilitation is complicated, well the tailor says so anyway.  She's the expert and she was none too pleased to take charge of my frocks.  As she puts it, and of course I knew this, "you have to basically build the dress again".
She's agreed to try to replace the lining of this green wool dress, which she has seen before as she  has already shortened it to knee length for me.
The lining needs to be ripped out piece by piece, replicated, and then sewn back in.  This means that frocks with lots of draping and whatnot are even more complicated to rehabilitate.
My green wool dress with accessories.
 I am hopeful for the green wool as the bodice is fairly straightforward and the skirt has a simple gather at the interior lining.  Well, we'll see, she's told me to come back in three weeks.

If it was lined in silk it would be as comfortable as this dress:
J.Crew silk Giverny dress.
Fully lined in silk.
 In my enthusiasm I brought in three frocks but my tailor would only take on two (the third had a drapey bodice).
The second frock is a gorgeous silk taffeta with a fitted bodice and full skirt from 2008.
Silk taffeta dress with full skirt in coral from J.Crew.
That's the silk charmeuse I've purchased for the lining on the right.
 I've had it for years and I have never worn it because of the uncomfortable lining which is so unsuited to summer wear.  I found some silk charmeuse in a coral tone with a slight shade of melon to it, it's fairly close in colour.
Again the bodice on it is fairly simple as is the skirt, crossing fingers some magic can be worked!

I know what you're thinking, how much?  Well she couldn't exactly say so the surprises will be plentiful in three weeks time:  have the frocks been re-lined at all?  How difficult was it?  How much is the bill?  Will any more frocks be skipping down the silk-lining path?

This is the dress that started the whole process:
Sequin tweed dress J.Crew 2007.
Fully lined in silk charmeuse.
My tweed sequin dress, which I wear over and over again, is completely comfortable.  Let me tell you something else:  it's all about the lining.  The fabric of this dress is some strange mix of wool, poly-something, acrylic and sewn in sequins, yet the silk makes it entirely comfortable and warm to wear.
That fabulous silk lining, the inspiration for the whole commotion.
I didn't even buy this dress new, I bought it second-hand on the JCA exchange two years ago yet still it goes strong, comfortable, sturdy and worth every penny.

I'll keep you posted on Frock Rehab.  In the meantime I've decided to try taking the lining out of a silk taffeta frock by myself, finish the interior seams and then simply wear it with a silk slip.  It could be a complete disaster but I'll own up to it either way!

I hope your Sunday is fabulous.  It's the Superbowl and you know what that means: Snacks.  Have fun!
xoxDani

46 comments:

  1. The silk slip option might actually be the easiest all round option. I do envy you, around here, all I can trust tailors to do is take hems up by an inch, they have ruined so many things. I do love that green dress, that and the encore trench were great lust afters for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tabs, the green dress looks so pretty under the encore trench. you know I love those full-skirted silhouettes!
      You're right about the slip, definitely the easiest option!

      Delete
  2. You are lucky to have a great tailor,i dont think mine would/could do that.
    Love the green dress,hopefully it will be perfect when you get it in three weeks!

    No superbowl here,but we have some major decisions coming up(concerning relocation),so the weekend will be spent talking and discussing and more talking:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ina, very best with that convo, we've had our share of similar.

      Delete
    2. Ina I wish you luck with this, it is a hard topic!
      I don't think my tailor wanted the job and I hope it's easier for her than I think. She is very kind to me and we always like talking fabrics together.

      Delete
  3. I am curious how this will turn out, what a great match in color for the green lining, I can't believe you got it on ebay! I have a great tailor but I know it would cost a fortune. But then, I am bothered by poly lining. I think the key here is that it is very important to you so it is worth the price and it is almost impossible to find items lined in silk nowadays, even at much higher price point, so relining may be the only option. I think with some dresses you can get away with ripping off the lining and wearing a slip but it will be a challenge to find the slip. Or maybe your tailor can make you couple of slips with different silhouettes, fuller skirt, straight skirt etc. Now, I wonder, could you just wear a slip under lined dress?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wanted to say I am NOT bothered by poly lining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ajc I've tried wearing a slip under a poly or acetate lining but it is very uncomfortable for me, it seems that it is the non-breathing fabric that causes hives etc. It's not pretty!
      I have a white slip and a black slip, both in silk, I bought them at my lingerie store. They are very nice but even the ladies in my shop agree that silk is a rarity. I see plenty of pretty things in my shop I can't wear. Oh well I guess it will save me money eventually!

      Delete
  5. TOE THE LINING Dani, fingers crossed for your stitchy wizard! Un-Martha always smiles when you say you don't have any patience for "that kind of stuff" and then you end up painstakingly stitch-ripping the lining out of a frock (or tweezing metallic gold fabric out of a blouse.) Must be because it's wardrobe ;-)
    If you need more very practical silk slips try www.wintersilks.blair.com As per earlier comments, Abby and I both fans (although I haven't bought for a couple years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Correct address: http://wintersilks.blair.com/home.jsp

      Delete
    2. Oh, and my other thing about the slip would be the sleeves and the back area a slip does not cover? Or will you just leave sleeves alone? I'd be afraid of the wool itch or the taffeta stick.

      Delete
    3. GF OH MY GOSH remember when I took the itchy gold threads out of that blouse, thread by thread? That took hours. Hmph I guess I can do the fiddly things. Only with clothes though you've got it!
      I think the slip will only work on the sleeveless silk taffeta frocks. Wool forget it . I don't know what to do about my treasured Lilabeth dresses that I can't even wear. Brought the silver gray version of that dress to consignment today.

      Delete
  6. Oh Dani, you poor thing having to go to such lengths! Your skin must be so very sensitive. Those dresses look worth every bit of effort. The very best of luck with the results (and cost!!). Thank you so much for sharing all the ins-and-outs of your resourceful rehabilitation rounds...I'd never have thought to look on eBay for the silk!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca, if you'd like the ebay link I'll send it! If you search for silk charmeuse you can find a couple of sellers, not many. Mine came from California and were about $25 a yard.
      Yes we'll see, I'd like to save these two dresses as I love the silhouette. The green is perfect for March-April-May, the coral silk dress would be lovely to wear in summer. I have a silk clutch party purse that matches the coral perfectly. Oh and I have shoes for it, would love to be able to wear it!

      Delete
    2. Oh....those colours are perfect for you...I don't think you'll regret it one bit! I've got fingers & toes crossed for you!! Thanks for the tips on finding the silk charmeuse...I'll think about that! Just saying the words "silk charmeuse" makes me feel happy!

      Delete
  7. My first reaction, like Tabitha's was to have the linings removed, and then invest in a lovely silk slip. Or, alternatively, indulge your creativity and your tailor's talent and have her create a new dress for you. Liberty sells gorgeous yard goods- and after all, couture is nothing but handmade garments. It is easier to sew a garment than it is to retrofit one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry AJC and Get Fresh- I just saw that you said the same thing about a slip.

      Delete
    2. Knityarns I need to find a dressmaker to make me a frock when needed, then I can choose the fabrics and lining, that is the ideal solution!

      Delete
  8. I'd have to agree that a slip might be your answer...
    I suppose that linings should always be soft and comfortable as they sit next to ones skin and who wants to perspire in synthetics in the heat of summer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Hostess, I agree a slip could be the answer, I've noticed many vintage frocks were unlined with seams fairly unfinished on the inside, back in the days when every woman wore slips under their dresses.
      I actually break out in hives from synthetics now, it's no longer an option for me. I feel clammy, start sweating, then hives, sorry for the TMI!

      Delete
  9. What a palaver, Dani. Are you just going to stick to silk linings going forward? I can see why you'd want to try and throw a lifebelt to those two dresses, but it might end up just costing too much.Great matches with the silk linings, I do hope they are returned to you in perfect order. (The rest of your dresses must be having fits wondering who's next for "the treatment").

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sulky the other frocks are quivering, they know they're on the way out! I'm not buying any more uncomfy linings. I'm going to wear the stuff I have because trust me the kinds of clothes I like to wear aren't readily available. Brora doesn't do poly thank heavens, the silk dresses I have are heaven.
      I think I need less clothes now, we're not travelling for a couple of years and I know what my wardrobe needs are at home, I'll never be a frock minimalist but I can feel a change coming!

      Delete
  10. There wasa time in my life when I sewed compulsively -- big eyes, little wallet. Making something that's all your own is much more satisfying than mending. Hate mending, hate hemming. But that wonderful moment in a fabric store - and there are some great ones around, I've found offcuts from couture houses that are just big enough to make a jacket - when you see what something can become, choose its lining, decide on silk thread for the hem, force yourself not to buy any trimmings for it till it's done - even if you're making something with straight seams, no buttonholes, no panels or insets, you feel like a defiant little Gabrielle C. when she picked up a scissors and said "Ya think?"

    What's important about any lining is that it moves with the garment, which is why I hesitate to suggest a universal solution for the poly problem. Silk undergarments are a solution for some things, adding a silk tee under a dress with a high armhole could add bulk... I use a JC silk camisole under sweaters, because I find the itchiest parts of my upper body are waist and ribcage (tmi? sorry).

    I'm hoping your lining venture is successful, I think it sounds like a creative way to hold on to something g you love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fred, I didn't know you could sew like that. I think it would be very satisfying. My mother is a talented seamstress, so is my Nana, and my great grandmother was as well. Not much was passed down sadly but I've also been so busy for so many years with my family, now I have time to think about a few fabric projects.
      There is no universal solution except to hang on to the comfortable dresses and wear them to death!

      Delete
    2. I made a lot of things at a time when my ideas and wants were in advance of available fashion, now I find myself wishing I still could. For me to sew, I need ironing board and iron out & ready, table available to spread out for cutting, pinning, etc - it's a messy business! I no longer have a room I can dedicate to "couture" which means that out of every hour dedicated to sewing, 45 minutes are spent taking the project out, setting up, and then putting everything back and cleaning up. Not fun, might still be sewing if I could just close a door.

      Your post struck a chord because I loved finding, say, a little flowered print silk to line a navy pinstripe jacket, or shocking pink dotted silk to line a gray/green tweed skirt.

      I'm typing on phone at airport , we're on the way to Oahu !

      Delete
  11. Oh good luck - am very curious! I have the same Giverny dress that I got from a fellow JCA and it is divine! Soo much nicer than other pieces I have gotten since. Nougat london lines their summer frocks in a lightweight cotton which is wonderful and fresh!

    I don't know who I want to win - but I get to eat chicken wings, so who can complain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WMM oh the Giverny dress. I bought mine from a dear JCA we know and love. And I love that dress, I've worn it often and get loads of compliments.
      We have chicken wings too, and all kinds of other things... everyone loves Superbowl!
      I was just watching President Obama, he's having chicken wings too.

      Delete
  12. I hear you about tailors - I have some garments they have done wonders with, and some they just don't get it and have either ruined them or isn't quite good enough - I felt they could have done more. Good luck with the dresses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi LR, I have to say I'm a bit nervous about the dresses. At least the linings are interior so can't be seen.
      I think it is a difficult thing to change a frock so entirely. I certainly won't be buying anything in future thinking I can "better it"!

      Delete
  13. I do hope the lovely frocks survive their treatments and become more user friendly for you. I used to sew a lot, now just the rare curtain; I like to mend on a winter's evening and just finished a pile I found cleaning out the closet. Buttons, darning,bring it on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lane, I've been doing a wee bit of mending and it is satisfying.
      This whole thing could fail miserably. In the end I think I need to be happy with the few silk lined things I have and just completely avoid buying clothes that could be uncomfortable. What a fusserbudget!

      Delete
  14. Hi Dani-Good luck with your lining rehab. I, too, vote for getting a few nice slips, or perhaps your tailor would consider just removing the lining from your dresses and making a custom silk slip for each one with luscious dressmaker details. That might be something she'd be more willing to take on and less expensive in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David that is a really good suggestion! I'm going to look into that for the other frocks I have in mind.

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I still follow you on the lining... I brought a lovely skirt to my Mum so she can replace the lining with silk... And I have decided that I will slowly get rid of anything with synthetic lining... I don't like it, feel so uncomfortable in it... Let us know how it goes for your dresses... I have decided to start a new project and to challenge myself to reduce my belongings to 150... Wish me strength!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steph, 150: how did you come to this number? I like the challenge of reducing, let me know more about it I just may join you!

      Delete
    2. Hi Dani, I am working on a post on this, I will send you the link when completed. I would be delighted if you join me as I think it is always easier to travel on a path when not alone!

      Delete
  17. Thank you for sharing this process, Dani, I find it really helpful and interesting.

    I hope your frocks make it.

    I have also been trying a similar experiment in extending the life of my items, and changing them to suit me better. I haven't started in on the tailoring aspect yet, but I took some shoes into the cobbler to have the heel fixed and a rubber sole added (they were treacherous to wear before!).

    It was quite costly (60 Francs, which are similar to dollars - I wonder how that compares to N. America), but he did a perfect job.

    It got me thinking, though, that to put that kind of care and money into your existing clothing, you truly need to own and buy less. I can't spend 60 Francs a year on too many pairs of shoes, nor do I want to spend the time cleaning and polishing too many pairs either! Too much work.

    It is very interesting to learn more about what can be altered/repaired - ruined heels on shoes vs tricky dress linings - as that definitely affects shopping (especially if you're a second hand shopper - I paid about two dollars for the shoes in question and they are beautiful now!).

    Long comment! These things are on my mind :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. dani you got me thinking the same thing. do you have to take the lining out of the dress? can't you just wear a silk slip with the current lining?
    let me know b/c i think anything that can be done to save such beautiful dresses is important.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Dani, this is fascinating - I have always thought about replacing the lining of some of my dresses and replacing it with silk but it always seemed like such a major undertaking. A series of silk slips might be the easiest way to go, or perhaps have your tailor make some silk shifts and shells to wear under the dresses. Silk underpinnings are a rarity these days - I always look out for silk slips whenever I am in the vintage shops on Queen St., but it has been years since I have seen any. I am really looking forward to seeing how your frock rehab goes.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here in Australia, the labour costs are so high that it just wouldn't be worth relining a dress - it would cost as much as buying a new designer dress. I try to find things that are well made to start with, heavily reduced on sale....but sometimes you can be surprised. Like the Chloe dress I bought that is all beautifully drapey in black chiffon, had originally been 1700 English Pounds (it was 70% off, so still in my estimation quite expensive), and has the most hideous and cheap black poly lining, which due to the draping can be seen in places. Why it's not in a heavy black silk satin is beyond me. I did keep it, but every time I wear it I absolutely loath the flimsy underside of it, with the chiffon over the top it's so light it feels like it's going to blow away. I get a lot of compliments in the dress, but I don't feel great in it myself - lots of adjusting. And really, it's all about how you feel in your clothes in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Dani,
    Yesterday I was being lazy and took Charlie's pea jacket to our tailor to sew on two buttons. The charge was $10.00 and it took her under 5 minutes. Just to take in the backside of the waistband is $25.00 . Alterations are necessary but very costly here. I couldn't imagine what a re-lining would cost . I hope it goes well and you get the perfect frock for all your effort. J Crew should have silk linings for the Collection pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have the best tailor on the planet. Her charges are not low, but reasonable. I've had many things tailored and the test of the worth of that is how much I wear them after that. Without exception it has been well worth it. I can't wait to see the results of your rehab!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I agree with Tabitha, that for you, it would be great to find a few really nice, comfortable silk charmeuse slips. I hope your lining rehab goes well - could be a bit tricky.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I hope the dress rehab works for you Dani, it can be a challenge with a complex pattern. You may want to consider having a dressmaker make your dresses based on the look of brand name dresses you like. It may end up a better result in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I used to sew all my own clothes and I shuddered thinking about replacing the lining of your dress. But I was hoping a professional had some tricks that made doing so easier than I can imagine. I agree with xoxo, maybe choose a couple of your favorite dresses to be made in other colors and fabrics. I wonder if the cost of the work would not be all that different since "you have to basically build the dress again."

    ReplyDelete