Wedding Dress Costume Make-Over

As costume designer for the upcoming home-school play, Little Women, I get to play with all kinds of fabric and clothing. As most of you Louisa May Alcott fans already know, one of the sisters, Meg, gets married during the story. This means creating a wedding dress for this character.

One of the moms of the show found this gorgeous wedding dress at Goodwill for $20. It’s vintage, but has a lot of stains and wear: the perfect candidate for re-purposing! Before you cut up clothing, check out my list of questions in one of my previous posts, Re-purposing Children’s Clothing.

Although this dress is old (and still sporting the Goodwill price tag), it’s still about 100 years off. Little Women is set in the 1860’s, which is during the Civil War time period. I was hoping for a dress more like this:

Notice the open sleeves, lower neckline and full skirt. In order to be more accurate, this dress needed some re-styling. I grabbed my scissors and started cutting. I worked with the neckline first. I wanted an open neck, but I also had a high zipper to deal with, so only a little trim was possible (still have to trim off that Goodwill tag!).

Next I trimmed the sleeves. Because the sleeves were already poofy, with some pressing, the sleeves flared out nicely to look similar to the 1860’s style.

As you can tell, the skirt itself was completely changed. I cut the original skirt off at hip length making the top a bodice. Thankfully this dress came with a very full and long train. I converted the train into a full skirt which will accommodate lots of poofy under-skirts!

I sewed the skirt onto a ribbon lined with interfacing (to keep it stiff and straight). The skirt slips over the bodice and snaps in the back for the quick change it requires during the scene.

Voila! With just a few minor changes, this outdated wedding dress is now ready for the stage. Can’t wait to see it on the actress with the crinoline and headpiece.  Oh, yeah! The headpiece. I guess I just named my next project. Off to the sewing machine!

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean


90’s jumper gets a much needed up-cycle!

I know amazing people. Recently my friend, Robin gave me a bin of treasures. For FREE. Bits of lace, embroidered pillowcases and vintage linens  – all crying out to be made into new things! It was like Christmas for this scrap junkie. On the top of the pile was this not-quite-finished jumper.

YJ 05wmRobin had made this a long time ago using a canary yellow tablecloth, an embroidered table runner and some crocheted lace doilies. In it’s time, it was very stylish and trendy. In order to live in my closet, it needed a makeover. The hem was unfinished and very long. Plus, although I do like yellow, it was a little bold for me. Robin had given me permission to do what I wanted with it, so I grabbed the scissors, extra lace and some dye and got creative!

YJ 03wm YJ 02 YJ 04wm

The first thing I did was cut off the length to about mid-thigh. I wanted this to more of a long shirt than a dress, that would work over leggings. To tie in the lace from the bodice, I dug through the treasure bin and found some lace from a pillow case to edge the hem.

YJ 08wm

After finishing the hemline, I had the straps to deal with. Although bibs usually have buttons, all the buttons I auditioned just wouldn’t make the cut. I wanted this to look classy, not so cutesy, so I ditched the buttons and sewed the straps down to the front. The sides also got snaps that didn’t show instead of visible buttons.

YJ 07wmWhen I tried on the new outfit (over my pajamas, no less), I liked the length and loved the lace, but I wanted to calm down all the colors. Nothing a little tan dye wouldn’t fix! I added a half bottle of tan Rit dye to my washer, following the directions on the bottle. Here’s the results:

YJ 16 pin

The tan dye did the trick. It calmed down the yellow to a nice mustard color. It also antiqued the embroidery and helped tie the ensemble together, making a new, stylish top.

YJ 15wm

YJ 11wm

YJ 12wm

If you like my chicken wire dress form, check out how I made it here: DIY Dress Form from Chicken Wire.

YJ 13 wm

YJ 17wm

This outfit is now complete with a denim blue shirt, brown leggings and boots accented with a long, lacy scarf.

Now back to the treasure bin to find something else to create!

       Artfully sewing,


Goodbye, Chicken Apron <>

Sometimes selling something on Etsy is a bittersweet experience. That goes for this apron I sold from my shop yesterday. I made it from a vintage tablecloth I bought at flea market a few years ago. I will write about the process another day. I made 4 aprons from the four corners, two with the chickens and lady, the other with a horse and buggy carriage. The other chicken apron I’m keeping, of course, but the two horse and buggy aprons are still for sale. Just click on the photo of it below to purchase.

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean


Chicken Apron made from a hand stenciled vintage table cloth


All ready for cooking and baking!


This tablecloth was hand-stamped with a stencil, I believe. The other panel has slightly different colors.


Back view plus a peek at the   cool Artfully Sew tag.

Old Clothing saved from Goodwill pile by Upcyling

I have been going crazy on Pinterest again. One of my newest boards is Clothing Upcycle where I collect pictures of clothing that has been made by combining old pieces of clothing to make something new. It was time for me to rummage through my closet, get brave and cut up some clothes.

I love the color of this shirt, but it’s a little bit short on me. It’s been hanging so lonely in my closet for quite a while. Plus I don’t really like the tie in the front.


This colorful skirt that is a tad bit tight for someone in her forties. The fabric is so cheery and just my style – so worthy of a clothing updo.


These two pieces coordinate well and will make a great new piece!


I cut about 7 inches off the bottom of the skirt and gathered it to fit the bottom of the shirt. I attached it and covered up the seam with a piece of scrap lace.


The ties were removed and a piece of the skirt fabric was patched into the front.


Voila!! I Have a new top that will look great with a pair of leggings and trendy boots. I may even wear it Friday night for our first family band gig. If you live in central Wisconsin, come check us out at Mugs Coffeehouse in Ripon. Here’s our publicity picture drawn by my 11 year old daughter, NJ:


Daniel, Nora, Tom, Jonah and me.

Artfully sewing (and practicing for Friday),

Angela Jean

Another Shirt Apron


This is so fun! I transformed another extra-large men’s dress shirt from Goodwill into a farmy apron. The lace came from my bin of scraps. The process is getting easier, now that I’ve got the hang of it.

I tried something new with this one. For the straps I kept the sleeves as they were and attached them to the back, cuffs and all. All I have left is adding the buttons and holes.

Off to the Janome!


Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean