Sunday, October 20, 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two: Halloween Refashion

I've awaken from the dead (a dead sleep, that is) to provide you with some details about this week's Halloween refashion challenge.  For me, it was perfect for Halloween... a nightmare.

I returned from my trip to Oklahoma on Sunday and spent the next five days in a foggy jet lag haze.  Although I had looked forward to this week's challenge from the beginning, I had no idea what I wanted to create.  So, I gathered as many black and orange pieces that I could collect and began making a dress that started to resemble something that I might wear to an Oklahoma State football game.  It didn't quite sit well with me.  Midweek, I scrapped the dress and decided to make a butterfly costume.

My vision for this refashion far outweighed my sewing ability, and as I burned the midnight oil trying to complete it, I stumbled across challenge after challenge.  Throughout this process, there was a little voice in the back of my head telling me to just let it go – throw in the towel.  Yet, I couldn’t.  I had imagined a butterfly dress fitted with long silk chiffon sleeves and a wing skirt, and I wasn’t going to stop until it resembled the picture in my head. I stayed up late and got up at the crack of dawn.  My very supportive husband stepped in to pick up the slack.  It took up until the last minute on Friday to complete this butterfly dress, but I am proud of my creation.


While I was in Oklahoma, I purchased two dresses (one silk and the other polyester crepe) from an estate sale for $0.25 each.  I had planned to use them for another refashion, but since I had no other options for my butterfly dress, they had to be used.  Also, I had recently purchased a silk chiffon scarf from Goodwill for $2 (it was half off of $3.99), which I had originally planned to use for flowers for my first Halloween dress.  I decided to challenge myself and create a top and sleeves from this beautiful slinky fabric.

The black dress is silk and the green dress is polyester crepe.

The creation of this dress involved quite a lot of work.  In order to break it up a bit, I've included the process in steps according to the parts of the dress.

Wing Skirt
I used newspaper to draw the large and small wing patterns.

Large Wing Pattern

Small Wing Pattern

Once the basic wing patterns were created, I designed the details for the wings on newspaper and cut them out from the black silk dress.

After trying several applique options, I decided to stitch around the raw edges of each detail piece. It would have taken me too long to fold all the edges under, and a zigzag stitch didn't look good with this design.  I figured that if the edges frayed, it would add some artistic value.

To add some more detail to the wings, I had originally planned to use a bleach pen.  However, bleach pens do not work on silk or crepe.  I then had an idea to add more applique from white fabric, but I soon decided it would be impossible to finish.  So... I took the easy way and painted on the details with Americana multi-surface paint.  I think it turned out quite nicely.

I tried to sprinkle on some glitter, but it didn't really stick.

I'm sorry to say that I do not have any photos of creating the wing skirt.  I was finishing it up at 3:30 am on Friday morning, and forgot to take them.  I used a strip of the crepe dress lining to create a band for the skirt.  I then sewed the wings on around it, making sure to overlap them.

Here you can see where I pinned on the wings.

Here is where I faced my refashion nightmare.  The silk chiffon top portion was surprisingly easy.  I really enjoyed sewing this fabric, and it looked beautiful.  The crepe, on the other hand, proved to be more of a challenge.  I had the most difficult time adding darts, and I just could not get the lining to work.

For the chiffon top, I used a tight fitting t-shirt to create a pattern.

In this photo, the sides weren't stitched yet.
Next, I created the crepe portion of the top.  I used the pattern for the chiffon and cut out a sweetheart neckline.

Once the pattern was cut, I attempted to add darts on the crepe top and lining using my dress form. The result ended up looking very pointy and crooked.  Also, it was hard to get the lining to lay flat behind the crepe.  So, I ended up cutting a line from top to bottom on the crepe and sewing the parts together.  This created a smoother line. I ditched the lining and wore a black tube top underneath.

I don't have any other photos of this process, so I'll move on to the sleeves.  Again, I used the t-shirt as a pattern and drew the sleeves onto the newspaper.  As I was cutting it out, I realized that I needed to add a rounded edge at the top.

This pointy edge was rounded off after I opened up the silk sleeve.
First, I stitched on the crepe top, then I added the sleeves.  If I were to work with silk chiffon again, I would use a French seam.  Because of my foggy brain, I thought of this after the project was completed.  

I added a black band around the middle with silk flowers (I will provide a tutorial in another post).  This band was attached to the wing skirt, and I added a zipper in the back.  Finally, after many hours of hard work and frustrations, this beautiful butterfly dress is complete. Now I have a gorgeous Halloween costume that only cost me $2.50.


  1. Beautiful! I commend your artistry and vision. You make a very pretty butterfly!

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Zibergirl. Although it was a very challenging project, I really liked painting the wings. It was sort of a stress relief from all the sewing. : )

  2. Wow! You worked sooo hard! I understand the frustration you felt when the fabric wasn't working like you wanted it to. That's so hard! And, I understand those late night hours. Sometimes its the only time of day available for sewing! But, the end result is fantastic! I love the colors especially. My favorite picture is the one of you sitting down with the skirt fanned out around you....BEAUTIFUL!

    1. Susan, your comments warmed my heart. Thank you. I really admire all that you are able to do. Your costume is outstanding. I can't believe you even made your hat. I've shown all of my coworkers, and they are astounded by how you made the curly points on your shoes.

  3. You did an incredible job! That doesn't even look like a 're-bound' project, you put so much work and detail into it! Bravo for you! The color combination is gorgeous! Just wonderful. :) I'm so glad you pushed through and brought us this wonderful costume!

    1. This comment made my day, Desarae. Thank you for being so sweet. I don't know about you, but these refashions are wearing me out! : ) I am learning a lot, though. Like I said, your costume is so creative, and I love, love your photos.

  4. This turned out lovely in spite of the many challenges, and it is so unique! I get comfort from hearing that even accomplished refashioners can have problems sometimes. It keeps me going because as a beginner I have lots of them - lol.

  5. Jenny, thank you for your kind comment. I can honestly say that I make at least one major mistake every time I refashion a piece. I'm learning as I go. I'm so glad that you are refashioning. I'd love to see some photos of your work!

  6. You did great. I know how frustrating it is, I felt that with the peplum challenge, but you did a great job and really should be proud of the late nights and not giving up. Congratulations!

    1. It was really hard, as I'm sure you know. I know that you also have a little one. It's hard to find time and then get everything together in just one week. Thank you. You should be proud of yourself as well. You completed two refashions for the peplum, and they were both very cute!


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