Thursday, March 20, 2014

Resurrecting A Designer Find

What a fun project I've embarked upon!  A friend of mine purchased a dress at a discount store carrying a label from a famous NYC designer. The dress was priced at $39, but due to some small tears in the back of the dress she talked the salesperson down to $35.  

What a steal! The dress at regular retail goes for almost $1000. Yes, you heard me right. She bought a dress valued at almost $1000 for 35 bucks.

The dress is rather intricate in its design. It features a patterned front panel, solid colored side panels and leather sections artfully pieced in the back and at the shoulders.  Classic yet updated in style. Its fully lined and nicely made.

The tears in the back which rendered the dress its deep discount worthy price, are in the leather sections in the back. And as we all know, you can't really mend leather.  My friend purchased a lambskin leather hide from Etsy for $22 for a piece big enough to replace all the leather sections used in the back of the dress.  So here is where I come in. I am replacing all the leather pieces and repairing the dress. In effect, resurrecting it back to it $1000 value. How cool is that!

To repair the dress the back was essentially, deconstructed by ripping out all of the leather sections and disassembling the invisible zipper. While the leather tears were in only 2 of the four leather sections, the new hide, though incredibly similar, was just different enough to make replacing every section a must if the dress was to look just right. 

None of this was terribly difficult. But, there are no do-vers when it comes to sewing with leather so great care and careful planning was necessary. Knowing how to work with leather - tools, techniques, shortcuts- also helps.  If you look closely at the dress you will see it required piecing together a number of very sharp corners and curves which were the hardest part of the repairs. 

Figuring out the sequence in which the leather sections would come together took a little planning.  

The photos don't do justice to the dress. I didn't have a dressform that fit the dress so I could only show it to you either flat or hanging - not the best.  Also, bear in mind that leather has no give so there are significant curves in the back piecing to accommodate the curves of the back and buttocks. As a result the photo, which was shot with the dress flat on my worktable, appears puckered though it is not. The hard parts were the sharp corners and matching the transitions from fabric to leather in the zipper, which all in all turned out great. 

So, for $57, the dress is back to its original state and ready for the wedding shower where my friend plans to wear it. 

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