Old Dress Inspiration

Spring cleaning is one of those jobs that I never quite manage to begin let alone complete in spring and this year, well, as we all know life took on all kinds of other new directions. Eventually, however when the second lockdown came along, I found myself sorting out my understairs cupboard. This is where I keep all my craft fair paraphernalia and as this November there was no ‘British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn’ I thought I’d take the opportunity to reorganise all the gear.

Of course with any sorting, cleaning and clearing-out there comes that moment when you find something tucked away you’d completely forgotten about. As you may have guessed I have a fair amount of fabric stored around my house. Most of it is in boxes and despite my attempts to keep track of what is where, my hastily labelled boxes approach has much to be desired.

My sloppy ‘filing’ system.

I am appalled at the time I waste looking for some offcut I know I have somewhere, opening and digging around in boxes and wishing I had kept the contents list up-to-date, but then comes the moment for a nice surprise.

An old dress also known as a ‘vintage silk shift’!

One of the understairs boxes contained a favourite silk I painted in 1980s. I have long since stopped wearing uber-short, sleeveless shift dresses, but have not been able to part with this one.

Painted mask inspired by my 32 year old silk dress.

When I rediscovered it, screwed up at the bottom of a box, I thought, oh yes I’d like to work with these colours again. However, when I came to use the pattern and colour combination I didn’t think it worked for a large scarf, so I scaled it down and instead painted silk for face masks.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

20 thoughts on “Old Dress Inspiration”

    1. I have kept and stored stuff (bit of a hoarder) that was reasonable quality and natural fibres. I kept an orange, and I do mean orange, wool coat I bought in the 80s that last year my daughter decided she absolutely loved. She wore it when she was out in Vancouver for New Year’s Eve and it was stolen from the coat check. Rather ruined her trip. She is more sentimental than me, in the end stuff is stuff.

      1. I know stuff is stuff. But memories are woven into its fabric. My old jumper (not the one I mentioned yesterday) is now 40 years old, bought just as we moved from Sheffield to Leeds. The act of putting it on accesses a host of memories from that time and later. I’d have been as distraught as your daughter about the coat. I however left a handbag on a bus in Vancouver. The driver went to some trouble to work out whose it was and how to contact me (pre-mobiles then), and waited at the bus terminus at the end of his shift to hand it over to me.

      2. Yes, I totally recognise the sentimental value and associated memories of a special item of clothing. How kind and amazing of that bus driver. It is always good to hear of positive acts of kindness.

  1. Oooh I had a HUGE wardrobe cleanout a few months back, and now must put together outfits from the remainders, which forces me in to being inventive with that whole mix and match theme. There are a couple of 20 year+ outfits which survived the cull, but nothing as exotic as this wonderful dress. I hope people snap up the masks inspired by this rediscovery.

    1. I really, really want to do that. The silk lilac dress listed in the box photo I made when I was 19. Hasn’t fitted me for decades, but I just can’t let it go. Trouble is I think maybe I could reuse the cloth for something else, but, laughably, I haven’t come up with anything yet in 40 years!

      1. Well, I’m sure nothing I still owned was as precious as yours. But I was SO strict with myself this time. Under self-pressure I questioned whether my former hard-up-for-cash self would have wanted to buy certain things in a charity shop. That meant the faded, well-worn, etc, had no place to go other than land-fill (and that took a LOT of self-convincing – have never done that before). Some stuff was top-notch enough to go to one of the neighbours who volunteers at a highly selective charity; a few things appealed to other neighbours; a niece who has just lost 50kg (!) loved some other vintage pieces; my 84 year old petite step-mother grabbed a couple of my more expensive designer pieces, and the remainder went to charity shops e.g. since allowing myself to be my natural grey-white hair colour I dispensed with all my beige, fawn, camel outfits – even if they looked good hanging on the coathanger together, they did absolutely nothing for my personal colouring. It was ruthless, let me tell you!!! LOL

      2. Thanks for that. Yes, sharing round the good stuff is great and wow congrats to your niece on her weight loss. Changes in weight and changes in personal colouring as we age is a big factor isn’t it?
        That’s a good yardstick to consider if an item could be sold in a charity shop. I will certainly use that one when I consider the keep or not keep question. I don’t know what they do in Australia, but here the charity people sort the sellable from the worn out, then bag up the worn out which is mostly sold on by the bag as textile fibres. My mother was a manager for a Sue Ryder for a while and she used to do the first sort of donations. She always wore rubber gloves and was shocked at one or two truly filthy items some folk donated, but most donations were able to be sold or recycled. With my daughter’s generation buying vintage and charity shop gear is really big and, of course, so is raiding my wardrobe and old boxes.

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