Advice needed: To alter, or to giveaway?

Dearest readers, this time round, I need some advice. On the weekend, I went charity shopping (my work wardrobe is in a dire state). Instead of In addition to buying something sensible I could wear to work, I bought a 100% dark-blue silk dress with a circle skirt. Practical, no? It’s from traid in Hammersmith, and cost me all of four pounds. The catch? Well, it’s more icing than cake, which is not a problem per se, but for icing, it doesn’t fit properly. It’s a surprisingly good fit considering I could neither find a size for it, nor did I try it on (there were queues, I was tired, it was four pounds). This means I can fit into it, and it’s not twice as large as me. But: the top is too roomy (even at the shoulders – this is very rare indeed!) and the waist sits too high, which overall makes for an unflattering fit. Apologies for the horrid pictures (hello, cloth-horse!), but you can get a good idea of the roominess of the top from this one:

The dress in all its glory.

The dress in all its glory.

The question now is, is is worth taking it apart, altering it and putting it back together, or should I do something else with it, like have it sitting on my shelf for a few months years until somebody comes along whom it happens to fit* or cut it apart to make silk pjs?

The dress is fully lined. The top is lined with the same silk, but completely interfaced; the skirt is lined with bemberg rayon.

Lining of the dress.

Lining of the dress.

The silk looks like a bit like a raw silk from texture, which you can see guess at in the pictures below. The bodice lining is understitched, so it would make for a lot of quality time with the seamripper. You can just make it out here:

Understiching, inside lining and zipper. And no, the internet address on the label leads nowhere, sadly.

Understiching, inside lining and zipper. And no, the internet address on the label leads nowhere, sadly.

In terms of its construction, it is actually really very similar to Colette’s new pattern, the lovely-looking Hawthorn: no bust darts, just waist darts, and full-circle skirt instead of half-circle. The hem is machine stitched, which makes me think not a ton of care was put into it, and makes me feel better about potentially taking it apart.

Overall, I would have to

– take out the zipper and the lining.

– take off the sleeves (I don’t really dig dresses with sleeves unless they’re knits, and I need to alter the shoulders)

– modify the sleeves into a waistband, so I can bring the waist further down and make it sit at my natural waist (I thought of hacking off some length from the hem, but it’s not on grain, and with the silk texture, that’s kind of obvious, I think).

– modify the bodice by taking in the side seams a bit, taking a bit off the shoulders and possibly making the neckline round rather than v-neck.

– make the same changes to the lining bodice

– possibly take in the skirt slightly to make it fit the waistband, if it’s smaller than the current waist, in both lining and skirt.

So my question is: is it worth it? The material is lovely, and the colour of the silk very lovely. But: Will I kill myself over this project with a not great outcome in sight? For example, will I destroy the silk in trying to unpick the darts and the understitching? Will I destroy the dress in the process, or is a four-pound dress an ok playground to test my alteration skills?

What do you think? Have you ever attempted something similar, and with which outcomes? How long will it take?


*If any of you would like it, and think it would fit, give me a shout! My top half is a size 8-10, with broad shoulders. The chest could definitely host more cleavage than mine quite easily. If you also have an averagely long upper body, this might be the dress for you! It’s quite long on me, and comes to two inches below my knee. This is despite me being over 175cms tall – definitely midi-length!