Grandmas’ Vintage


A few years ago my maternal Grandma gave me a few of her old ball-gowns. She said I could do what I wanted with them, but I’ve been too scared to touch most of them as they’re so pretty and some of the fabric is very delicate.


When I was about 12, I spent a great day with my Grandma trying on all of these ball gowns and taking some photos. At that age they fit me. Now they definitely do not. My grandma is a petite lady and when she was younger she was teeny tiny.

I know that when it comes to finally plucking up the courage to alter these dresses, I’ll have to add size to them all, which is perhaps one of the reasons why I’m putting it off.

However, for this dress, that was relatively simple. Unfortunately I never took photos of the original dress, but it was floor length, shift style with a big ruffle about 10 inches deep around the hem. I chopped off the dress above the knee and opened up the side seams. Using some of the excess fabric from the skirt I added in a panel at each side. Finally, I sewed a section of black fabric to the hem, sandwiching the lace and lining layers of the original dress inside. It was really simple.


I know the dress doesn’t fit perfectly, the bust line is supposed to be under the bust obviously, but there wasn’t much I could do to alter that and I think the fact that it goes right across the centre bust, makes it look a bit more intentional.


The reason I have titled this post ‘grandmas’ vintage’ not ‘grandma’s vintage’ is because the coat was my paternal grandmothers. At least I think it’s a coat? What do you think? To me it looks like the kind of coat a very glamorous woman might wear to the theatre, but I’m not sure. It could also be a VERY glamorous housecoat??

Anyway, this ‘coat’ feels so luxurious on. It’s the softest silk or satin and so elegantly made. I’ve tried to take some up close photos so you can see some of the construction and couture details.

I love the pleating in the collar.

The pearls were also my grandma's

The pearls were also my grandma’s

And the depth of it. Also, I love looking at the little details like the way the under collar is caught onto the facing I presume.

And just look at that quilting on the lining!! Stunning!

I love the way these sleeves are made. Pretty much a raglan sleeve, but with a sleeve gusset underneath. I’ve never tried this method at all, but I’ve seen it on a few vintage patterns.

Putting this outfit together today was so fun. I felt so much closer to both my beautiful grandmothers and I could just imagine wearing these in their prime! I’m thinking of getting out the other ball gowns and doing some posts on them. I’d like your opinions on what to do to alter them. Would you be interested in that?


19 thoughts on “Grandmas’ Vintage

  1. Pingback: Dreaming of…vintage transformations (again) | dreaming of avonlea

  2. Pingback: Dreaming of…vintage silk and potential remakes | dreaming of avonlea

  3. I love that you’ve given these beautiful garments new life! I think the dress looks absolutely perfect. I’m shocked that the seam line is supposed to be under the bust, though, that really is teeny-tiny!

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