When Grandma came to town over the summer, she very generously took Caitlyn shopping. It was August, so the back-to-school, autumn/winter clothes weren't available but the summer dresses were pretty well picked over. We found two floral dresses, both with straps instead of sleeves so we could put long sleeves under them for warmth.
Sadly, the first time we washed them, one of the dresses not only shrank almost to the point of unwearablity, but its straps nearly frayed themselves out of their anchor points. I've tacked the straps back down and I think the dress will last through the school year, but not much longer than that.
This dress, on the other hand, I made four years ago.
Caitlyn wore this yellow dress for her school pictures during her second year of preschool. I know this because it's an absurdly cute picture of her, fists on her hips, ready to take on everything. I deliberately made it long for her at the time and I've let the hem down twice. I've had to re-anchor the straps once, in the process letting them out just a little.
Caitlyn is seven now, not the three years old she was when I made this dress. She's a lot taller now than she used to be. There's no more hem to let out. Time to retire the dress?
No, I think we can make it work a little longer. Much like with the purple dress-to skirt conversion this spring, I turned the dress' bodice into a waistband, this time cutting off the curve at the bottom front of the bodice. There's a lot of unpicking in the process, what with the zig-zagging, the waist seam, the rows of gathering stitches.
I am really pleased with the waistband this time around. It's a little shorter than I wanted but that's hardly a big deal. Look at how tidy it looks, all lined up with the zipper (which had to come out and be reinserted)!
The big flaw? That waistband is about an inch too big. It's cut down from the original circumference of the dress' bodice, but not quite far enough. The skirt doesn't fall off when Caitlyn wears it, but it's going to be awfully drafty under there this winter.
The plus side? The skirt is no longer too short. This process took me a day or two, and I've just added at least two more years to this garment's lifespan (assuming Caitlyn doesn't tear the fabric while up a tree or something). When the waist is too tight and the skirt is too short (again), she'll be about nine or ten, maybe eleven. And I will have gotten seven years or more of wear out of one handmade dress.
Forgive me if I'm feeling just a little smug!