Recycled Victor Kosta

Remember the 1980’s when we all wore taffeta dresses with poofy parts and those gala occasions that reflected style?

Well, some of my clients have not left that era…nothing wrong with a 1980’s dress as long as your figure didn’t slide south since then. But when things have dropped and the zipper won’t go up…you is in big trouble.

My new client has a gala celebration to attend on the East Coast…all the best people will be there and she is commissioning a local jewelry artist to whip her up a topaz necklace/collar to be worn as her “statement” piece. So let’s see what she found at the back of the closet in the 80’s section.

She brings in a brown paper grocery bag with a wrinkled up brown taffeta floor length ball gown inside with a pleated top that looks like it has outlived it’s life as a “crumb catcher” having caught way too many crumbs. It hangs open like a faded tulip flower ready to drop it’s petals.

That’s not the only issue…the zipper will never go up, it stops at her waist. Everything that used to be high is now down low. She explains she wants this gown cut off just above her knees and the scrap fabric used to make panels in the back along with huge rosettes to cover the panels. Again the client’s vision is not always mine or within the realm of good taste. Sure, I can put panels in the back, remove the zipper and re-attach it but making rosettes is NOT in my repertoire . She offers to make them and I say “sure but let’s wait until the panels are in”.

After she leaves, I release the lining at the zipper and realize Victor Kosta cheated her on the lining…with all the seams pinned together, this is how much smaller the lining was:01 inside


You can see where the pins are is where the old inside lining is sitting waiting for help.

At this point, I’m thinking I should have backed away from this project but it is too late.

The floor length fabric is removed and the scrap is made into center back panels with the old zipper attached…here is the sequence:1-interface-edges interface the edges for zipper insertion,4-patch-shape follow the muslin pattern,5-top-and-bottom line up the top and bottom sections,6-right-side pin top to bottom sections,7-zipper-ready zipper is ready8-right-side stitch,

9-wrong-side wrong side,10-back-patch patch pinned to dress,

It looks ok but has to be refined further so back to the pattern piece 11-patch-pattern12-cut-shape13-shaped At this point the patches are doubled so the inside can be used as a lining and can extend to the old smaller black lining. The horizontal seam must match exactly to the old seam.14-chalk-seam-linesThe raw edges are serged together down both sides and the chalk marks show the exact seaming with the dress center back edges.15-basted-patch The patch is basted in and the upper pleated section will have to be released to allow the pleats to try and meet in the center…fingers crossed!16-tucks-moved-center Thankfully, there was enough fabric inside the upper empire binding to allow the extra width.17-tucks-to-be-tacked Then all the pleats were hand tacked every couple of inches all around the bodice top…no more catching anything!2-front Top pleats are flatter and the hem is basted. The hem had to be “not pressed but kept rounded” as per request of the client so I used rayon hem facing and sewed it by hand.

18-lining Here is the inside with old lining pinned to new facings…they will lay flat eventually…ha ha. The funny thing is, when I asked the client if the dress lining ever felt tight when she wore it, she said yes, very tight…weird?

So the lady is off to the ball and she says she will send photos of herself all dressed up. Who knows whether she made those rosettes and attached them…if it were me, I sure would not want to draw attention to that huge back patch that screams “I have middle-age spread” and my seamstress did the best she could.

Before I go here is a photo of 2 strawberries from my garden…we have been getting about 4 cups per day for a month now…and the best part, no white pith inside, they are red and sweet throughout…yum!Strawberries-in-hand



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36 Responses to Recycled Victor Kosta

  1. BeaJay says:

    Oh yes, I remember the poofy taffeta – it is burned into my memory along with gigantic shoulder pads and pumpkin skirts.

    You have done a great job on the dress. Fancy making the lining that much smaller!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh BeaJay, it is always a treasure hunt once you open a dress….I love the search and the findings! If this dress had a jacket you know darn well there would have had Linda Evans/Joan Collins shoulder pads for sure!

  2. sewbussted says:

    My question is, if she can afford to commission a custom necklace, why wear an old, out of date, too small dress? Crazy.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is that old feeling that what looked good on a 30 year old body should look fabulous on a 64 yr old one. I have dresses from my 30 year old era, they are for looking at not wearing!

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Victor Kosta. Wow. I’d forgotten that name! I love the colour of the taffeta! Isn’t it nice when June rolls around and there are lovely strawberries that have been unsullied by steroids? 😀

  4. mrsmole says:

    The home-grown ones just taste so much sweeter than store bought too! You have to watch for snails and slugs and throw nets over them to discourage the robins but it is all worth it. Those little plants are already making runners for next year!

  5. Trish says:

    Ah, your patience is amazing, yet again! It seems such a waste of your talent to be helping people recycle old rubbish, but I guess you like a challenge (as do I, until I’m halfway through and tearing my hair out😏).
    That dress looked amazing at the end, and I wonder if the client had any idea what was involved?
    I’m particularly amused by the ones who say (about the really difficult jobs) ‘I could have done it myself but my machine needs servicing’. Yeah, right.
    It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one being asked to do crazy jobs!

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha, Trish…if I had a dollar for every one of those women who said they owned a machine and could have done it themselves, I’d be driving a new car!

  6. Sarah says:

    Your posts are as entertaining as ever&informative. You have the patience of a saint, Mrs Mole! Your strawberries look delicious. They wouldn’t last long with me, I would be eating them before they made it to the bowl!

  7. Sarah says:

    Oh, yes, and I have lost count of the friends who say it’s a ‘simple’ alteration. They would do it themselves but they are so busy, and they know I would enjoy doing it because I love sewing! Cue me, tearing my hair out& trying to reattach sequins etc….

  8. Monique says:

    Lovely strawberries, less lovely dress. I don’t know the brand, but I suppose it’s silk taffeta? When I didn’t know better, I bought some polyester or some such taffeta (still in my stash), but I can’t imagine me wanting to salvage a 30-something dress, not being 30-something myself. That said, I really dislike 80s fashion. And maybe in general, it’s wise to stay away from shining fabrics over a certain age?
    Respect to you again, Mrs Mole!

    • mrsmole says:

      Shiny fabric does not look good over love handles…that is all I can say! If I ever get the final photo of her in her creation and custom necklace, I will post it for sure, Monique!

  9. You did a great job, I’m constantly amazed at how you turn the impossible project into a winning outcome.
    I feel totally cheated growing up in the 80s, I can never look at my pictures from them without groaning about the trifecta of bad hair, the clothes, the makeup. Every other decade had at least one winning part of the look. lol

  10. mrsmole says:

    Leg warmers and ratted high hair not classic styles? Come on now…they may make a return engagement…then we are all in trouble! Mullets anyone?

  11. Rhonda beat me with the ‘why the old dress’ question. Thankfully you have put enough in it that the love handles shouldn’t be obvious. Larger than before/ shiny fabric. Not good 😦

  12. mrsmole says:

    This is not the dress to impress in New York! I imagine not even charity shops would be able to sell this honey but aren’t we lucky someone still lives in the 80’s? Or maybe not…ha ha The only good thing was the part I cut off the hem was tall enough to be used vertically in the back panels and not crosswise…that taffeta would have really been screaming “Patchwork”.

  13. Fashionista says:

    Hello Mrs Mole. I have just discovered your blog via poppykettle and have chuckled my way through this post. I NEVER do alterations because what precious sewing time I have is for me only. But I am in awe of sewists like yourself who have the patience to transform something. My 80s frocks are archived for posterity, there is no way known you would get me back into them! Even if they did fit.

  14. poppykettle says:

    When I was 14, my best friend and I volunteered on Saturdays at our local thrift shop run which was run by a charity organisation. That was in the mid-90s. They had a special ‘formal’ room full of 80’s ball gowns, party frocks, wedding dresses and a variety of tux’s in all the colours of the rainbow. You’ve taken me back there with this dress!!!!!! Musty smells and all. I hope she was happy with your efforts 🙂

  15. Valerie says:

    I actually think it is a beautiful dress and can see why she loves it. Well done Mrs Mole. BTW At least it’s not a spangly tutu !

  16. sewruth says:

    I balked at ‘brown”………

  17. Marsha says:

    I recently tried on my 1982 wedding dress that was custom-made for me. Although I weigh about 10 pounds less at 54 than I did at 22, the dress doesn’t fit me well at all. It’s huge through the boobs and tight in the waist/high hip. Gravity is the enemy; everything eventually slides south!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Marsha, I am sure my client weighs the same as she did 30 years ago too but you can see the shape and location of the patch…waist level…it happens to all of us!

  18. accordion3 says:

    Loving your work as always. And I wish I could forget the 80’s too. I shudder to think of when it becomes “vintage” and suddenly hip again.

  19. June says:

    Ah, dreaded gravity. I weigh the same as I did in college, but after having children (esp twins), omg, my body did not reassume its prior shape. I’m not sure that someone who lived through the 80s (as an adult) can carry the “vintage” look by resurrecting the genuine article as an older adult. That dress might look edgy on a 20-something but looks dated on anyone older than 35.

  20. prttynpnk says:

    I tell you, if this were Salem you’d be tried as a witch- your work cannot be without a magic element!
    Is it a gala at Blake Carrington house??

  21. birdmommy says:

    I recently donated a floor length green velvet dress to Goodwill. The style is pretty classic (it might look better shortened), but it just doesn’t look the same on me as it did 20 years ago. Ah, well – at least I didn’t wear it out somewhere…

  22. Sewellen says:

    Patch that screams “I have middle aged spread” LMAO!!! You’re a true magician! Love seeing all your alterations!

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