Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Dress I Sewed in Africa

A free afternoon, a hand-crank sewing machine, and a dress that resembles a sack. Put it all together and what do you get? One very happy Alyssa! I had a plan and it worked out better than I expected.

It started with the sewing machine I found at the pastor's house where I'm staying this month. These hand-crank sewing machines are quite popular here in Ghana. When the pastor's wife learned of my love of sewing, she offered me use of her daughter's sewing machine. So, all month I've been looking for an excuse to use it.

The perfect excuse came when I commented on some pretty fabric one of my squad-mates had in her stack of clean laundry. She told me it was a dress she'd been gifted last month, and I was welcome to it if I wanted it. She didn't want it any more. So, I grabbed the pretty "fabric" off the pile and this is what I found.

The creative wheels in my mind started turning, so I took the dress home. About a week later I had a free afternoon, so out came the sewing machine and the scissors.

I cut the dress apart right above the pockets (because of course I had to save those!), and right below the zipper (because I needed that too). The half with the pockets just needed to be gathered up and it would be my new skirt. The other half? Well, it needed some help.

First off, there was a zipper down the center front. So, the center front would become the center back. Second, clearly this "bodice" was way to big for me. To fix that out came the scissors again, along with a great fitting woven shirt I happen to have. 
I used the shirt as my pattern. I laid it out on top of the bodice and traced around it, then cut out my sew bodice. Next I pinned the bodice together and tried it on. It fit, but could use some adjustments. So, I stood in front of the mirror and pinned some darts in place until the fit was perfect. Then I took my new bodice to the sewing machine.

The hand-crank sewing machine proved easy to use as I sewed the darts, side seams, and arm hole facings. It wasn't long before I had a bodice ready to attach to the skirt!
So I gathered up the skirt, sewed it to the bodice and checked to make sure the zipper worked (it did!). After a new hem (done while I watched the new Beauty and the Beast movie with my team) my dress was done!

I wore it to church on Sunday, and the previous owner of the dress was quite impressed.

 I must say I'm pretty impressed too! Despite my lack of a pattern and an electric sewing machine, the dress turned out fabulous! And it was a ton of fun to make.

Now who would have thought I'd figure out a way to make myself a new dress while in Africa? Certainly not me!

* Huge thank yous to my squad-mate for the original dress, the pastor's wife for use of the sewing machine, and Katy Herder for taking pictures for me!