How to Update Vintage · Style · Thrifts · Uncategorized

How to Update Vintage: Hem Like My Mammaw

OK, I’m back today with another little tweak to a vintage piece, and I LOVE it. It was such a simple little fix that changed this dress from a little bit frumpy to fantastic.

DSC_0016Here’s what I started with – and let me tell you about it. I have a favorite thrift store here in town that is attached to a consignment shop. Most people would say there’s a thrift store attached to the consignment shop, but I always hit the thrift part first because the prices are great. The consignment shop usually has newer, brand name items (I’ve found great jeans there), but the deals – and most of the vintage – are found at the thrift store.

DSC_0063So, a couple of months ago, I was shopping for a light, summer dress, and I decided to try the consignment shop. I saw this one – fun colors, but not really what I was looking for – and it was at consignment price (maybe $10). I liked it, I saw it’s potential, but I didn’t want to spend $10 on it. (I KNOW, it’s only $10, but thrifting has ruined me for prices.)

DSC_0073Then I went in a few weeks later, and the dress was still there, but now it was $3. YES, I will totally buy it for $3. All it needs is a new hem.

Now, I know you might be thinking, “Why would you cut apart vintage? Isn’t that like painting an antique? Won’t you ruin it?” Maybe, but I am a believer that even antiques are meant to be enjoyed, and that might not be in their original state. When I find that antique armoire I’m dreaming about, if I don’t like the color, you better believe I’m going to paint it. And if I’m going to actually wear this dress, it’s going to need a better hemline.


This is a homemade dress made out of a thick polyester knit. It is just like the pantsuits my Mammaw used to make.


She used the leftover fabric to make polyester quilts for all the kids and grandkids. (I should note that Mammaw also made other beautiful quilts out of cotton calicos – the one I remember most is a Holly Hobbie pattern.)


But the polyester quilts are famous in our family – many a picnic or ballgame has been enjoyed with a “Mammaw Quilt”, and I remember my dad using them on the garage floor when he would crawl under the car to change the oil. Even now, miles away from their East Tennessee origin, I keep a Mammaw Quilt in the back of our car, just in case.


I’ve always loved looking at the different prints – can’t you just imagine the polyester pantsuits made out of these fabrics? Gotta love the 70s.


And you’ve got to love a dress with stripes, especially if you’re hemming it. It’s so easy – just pick a stripe and cut along that line. Then, when you’re setting the new hemline, use the stripes as guides for ironing and pinning.



It works as a fun dress for summer…


and it will work well with boots in early fall.

mammaw polyester dress

What a difference the hem makes! Don’t be afraid! Small little updates can make a big difference.


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