Just Another Mod-Up Monday – The Ugly Dress Makeover


I have this thing for lost causes.  There are plenty of examples well known to those who have known me long.  Here are a few.

My refusal to say never when asked if I would do something, consistently throwing out 98% as my stance.

Person, to 21 year old me:
“Hey Talitha, do you ever think you and Travis Seibel will get back together.”
“Well, I don’t say never but I’m 98% sure… not.”

Yes.  I did marry that man.

“Do you think you’ll end up with a ton of kids and homeschool?  Are you going to be just like your mother?”
“No, I’m going to live in South America working with orphans and writing fantastic books that make enough money to support them all!”

Yes, I still dream of doing exactly that, with the whole family in tow.

Take this house that we purchased over 10 years ago and are still working on, every weekend.  I mean, we’ve had plenty of breaks from construction but it’s been an overall theme for, well, that would be 547 weekends since closing in February 2004.  But who’s counting. I blame this all on our discovery of Dave Ramsey within our first year here. Cash is king, right?  Whew… we’re livin’ that and it’s worth it. I swear to you it is.

You could include my current situation, here this moment,  insisting on still calling this a Monday post when I’ve just begun to bang on my keyboard at 11:57pm on Monday night.

It’s still Monday.  Heck, if I were on the west coast I would still have a few hours.

It’s Monday.

Alright… enough rambling.  We all know why you are here.   Last week in a stolen moment between errands I ran into my favorite thrift store with the whole gaggle of kids to see what I could find.  I love that this store has several racks of $1 clothes and if you catch them on the right day the racks have a bright little placard on top of each rack that says 75% off!!

That’s right.  $.25.
A quarter.

Last Thursday was such a day and I knew I had an event this weekend that I wanted something fun for.  We were getting away from the kiddos to attend a silent auction at a local art gallery.

People, this is adult stuff.  I needed a dress!

But as I have said many times before, I have Anthropologie taste on a Dollar Tree budget and while beggars can’t be choosers this mama simply decides to be uber determined and resourceful.  I needed something to inspire me.

What did I find?

This dress.
At first glance, it may look ok to you.  Well, it did not to me but I had a couple people say it was cute and I believe the word prairie came up a few times.
You may be distracted by the good lighting and the adorable photo of my kids as well as my rustic wall.  That actually makes it look passable. Now picture me walking down the street in this.  It almost requires those old fashioned white, thick soled nurses shoes.  Am I right?

Look at these detail shots.


The neck was so tight it almost choked me, yet the dress is actually a size too big.  My husband’s favorite part was that poofy sleeve and shoulder pad.  He asked if I was going to change that.  Twice.
IMG_9187I actually love the little button detail of the neck and this belt/band thingy. I call it a thingy because the band around the waist is actually padded and overstitched. Like a quilt. A quilt to add girth to your waist.  Yep.

This dress needed me.

Not only did it need me, I saw it’s potential to be my $.25 answer to a cheap dress I have been eyeing all summer but didn’t every find an extra $20 to buy.

This one.
Don’t believe me? Just keep reading. (p.s. The above dress can be found HERE.  But I don’t recommend it. The quality barely matches the price. I’ll post more on that soon. but this dress did inspire me.)

After walking out with my $ .25 find I realized what I had just mentally committed to. I have 3 days and they are full of activity for the family.   This needed to be a quick easy job.  I planned it out while driving back and forth to homeschool soccer.

First, I decided this color, while pretty and somewhat en vogue, didn’t suit me at all. Also, we’re heading into fall and the bright blues are just too summerific.

I dyed.  Really. I dyed.


While I happen to have a rainbow of dye colors on hand, this dress is 100% polyester.  Take my advice and do NOT try to dye a synthetic fabric with Rit.  You need iDye Poly for this to work and it is really simple to use.  Because I had to wait for Amazon. I didn’t dye until Saturday with 24 hours to the par-tay…

Boil water and throw the dye packet in.  Add dress.IMG_9197

Stir in boiling pot for 30 minutes.IMG_9202

It looked like this when it was done boiling,. I used a long bamboo stick from the back yard to keep my face out of the fumes.  Oh. Wear rubber gloves. You’ll thank me for that.IMG_9203Bamboo stick doing double duty across the top of two rain barrels for me to spray it down with the hose. It only took a few minutes to hose it off until the water ran clear. After that I put it through the wash on it’s own to be sure it didn’t bleed onto anything else.

The entire dye process took about an hour and then I had to wash and dry which took an eternity due to our clothes dryer that has been sputtering for the past year and a half, constantly threatening to end itself on the current load. I threw it in on Saturday night and the family headed out to family game night with friends, where I took my craft bag with me to work on a necklace and ring I had promised out. During a rousing game of Apples to Apples in which I did NOT win,  my friend LaPrecious threw on one of my rings and let me take a photo.  Her hands are a beautiful as her heart, people.  Really.

Upon returning home, I took the dress out and ironed it.

In. The. Middle. Of. The. Night.

Every home seamstress knows this gig. It’s like our magic hour. Silence. Bliss.

Then I crashed.  I realized that taking scissors to the dress in my delirium and exhaustion may come at a cost of more than the $ .25 if I ruined this and had to find something else to wear.

So, I slept.

The next morning, I  cut.

Between attending church, feeding the family and an afternoon mandatory parent’s meeting for the international choir that my children are a part of,  I had 45 minutes with scissors, thread and my machine.

Did I mention that we had also offered up our home as the landing site for any other children who parents hadn’t found sitters for?  They would descend any minute and here I was, a-sewin’ like a fiend.

No, really. It was quick and simple.  I ripped that belted waist-cushion thing off.  I made sweetheart sleeve and I took the neckline down to an airy, modest v-neck.

I had 10 minutes to spare. I got to paint my toe nails!
Which is good, since I also had found these Enzo Angiolini strappy heels at the thrift store.

For another quarter.

IMG_9210Sure, they were missing one ankle strap but do you see that nice wound up leather strap to the left?  I took that off of a dress about three years ago and threw it in my trimmings bin. Thank goodness I finally have a use for that. So sick of looking at it every time I go in there.

So, here ya go.

photo 1 (4)

Neckline, waist with a thrifted belt from several months back, and Lil Bit making a guest appearance.photo 2 (4)

And the final product. My dress!!
photo (28)

We had a great time out, even if I got so excited about getting my nails painted that I didn’t do my hair first.  Ehh… I get to see my pretty nails and everyone else can deal with the 80’s bouffant.
And we won a few bids at the auction that were fabulous, including a gift basket with this gem of a unicorn-rainbows and laser eyes tank top.


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So, tell me. What do you think of my dress? Would you wear this?


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