The Acton Dress: a refashion

Hello there!

Last month, while visiting my favorite vintage kimono store, the shop assistant came up to me with star shaped eyes and a summer kimono. There were several holes, especially in the back, which sadly meant this hand-stiched gorgeousness had ended up in the “remake&recycle” section of the store. Since she knows I mostly wear black, both in and out of Wafuku (Japanese-style clothing), and that I sew, she immediately thought I would be interested in this piece.

She was not wrong!

Now, I am not generally a fan of botanical prints. All my kimono feature geometric patterns or no patterns at all. When it comes to Western clothes, I mostly wear solids (go figure) though I have over the years made a few pieces with a pattern. These are all very special pieces I cherish, as I found prints I truly love and that speak to me.

Having said that, many circumstances came together this time to create the perfect storm. The chance to make something out of kimono for myself, the fact that the lady of the store thought of me specifically, and the idea of saving it from the landfill all but convinced me I indeed needed this kimono. The rest is history.

Once home, I started carefully marking all the holes and snags. Sadly, that meant I could not make a zero waste pattern – which is what I generally do when people bring me their old kimono to refashion, like in the photos above. The sheerness of the fabric also meant a lining was necessary, therefore ruling out separates (I mean, one could line a pants and shirt combo, but should they?). I decided to make a dress. If you have been following my personal dress saga, you know I am very particular when it comes to dresses. However, I do have a favorite pattern of all times, one of the few standalone pieces I have always said I’d make multiples of: the Acton Dress by the one and only Emily of In the Folds.

I have previously made view B of the dress in a lovely Nani Iro linen (see what I meant for “prints that really speak to me”?). I have worn it so much one of my friends actually asked me recently where the dress was, since I have not worn it yet this year.

My first take on the Acton Dress, view B, in a lovely Nani Iro linen.

After some careful planning, I was pleased to discover I would indeed fit the pattern on the kimono AND avoid all the holes. The only caveat: I needed to disassemble and shuffle around the panels of the kimono to fit the skirt pieces. As a result, the dress is what I call a “panel bonanza”: the skirt features eight (8!) independent panels all stitches together.

Basting basting and more basting.

In addition to this panelling madness, I also decided to underline the skirt. I opted for underlining instead of lining (the obvious choice for this chiffon-like silk) because the fabric is very fragile and the Bemberg underlining added structure without disturbing the drape, making the assembly of the pieces much easier. I did, however, spent the better part of the weekend basting all the pieces together, as all the layers were independently moving in different directions.

The underlining ends about 5 cm higher that the self fabric. Besides French seams, I also finished the center back seam, where the zipper is placed, with satin bias tape, and interfaced the straps with self fabric. Ideally, I should have used sheer interfacing, but I only had it in white, and was too determine to finish the dress.

Last, I decided to do a serger rolled hem to finish off the skirt. I recently got a serger-coversitcher combo – the JUKI MO-345DC – and saying I yet have to master it is an understatement. Anyways, after more or less translating the manual from Japanese into English, 5 broken threads, and about 1 hour of coursing I managed to get it right. The result is very pleasing to the eye, IMO.

This is all, folks! Hope you like this make as much as I do. Can’t wait to wear it again and again and again.

Cheers

E

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