Once a Lilly, Always a Lilly

For years I  wanted to do something with this Lilly Pulitzer dress.I bought it in 2008 shortly before going on my first cruise. I had no idea what to take, and bought this from Lilly’s Resort collection. This shapeless dress made of heavy broadcloth hardly looks like Resort Wear on me.I suppose I’ve worn it enough to get my money’s worth,  but I‘ve always felt dowdy and matronly in it. Within seconds of cutting off nine inches, the garment had a brand new look, much like one of those magical haircuts that bring out one’s best facial features.

The project was pretty simple with the pockets presenting the only complication.This dress is made soooooo well. The welt side pockets are double stitched to the side seams and binded with bias tape. After cutting the pockets back to the welt facing and reattaching the binding, I hemmed the “new” top and made a belt with the discarded length.

What do you think?

No more bulky waistline and bunching in the back.I don’t know why I waited so long  to change this dress other than I was scared I would ruin it. Although this garment will never remind me of resort wear, it’s wonderful to have a new Lilly top –  especially for free!

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better. ”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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89 Responses to Once a Lilly, Always a Lilly

  1. Pauline Droy says:

    Wow great transformation – bet you will get loads of wear out of this now

  2. Rosie Brown says:

    You did a wonderful job! I know you will enjoy this “new” top a it looks wonderful on you.

  3. Myra says:

    I think you nailed it! Absolutely stunning! Heck I would definitely buy it!

  4. Lori says:

    Amazing transformation!

  5. Lulu says:

    Wow! Much better. Great tailor work too.

  6. Charlotte says:

    Great save! It is so satisfying to restyle things that don’t quite work.

    • Hi Charlotte,
      Thanks for your response. I do love restyling clothes – the problem I run into usually seems to be too little fabric. I suppose that’s when one really gets creative!

  7. Maggie says:

    Wow, what a great save!! It looks fantastic!

  8. Peggy says:

    This looks really sharp! What a great save; now, I’ll bet this top will get lots of wear. It looks great with your new skirt, too!

  9. Linda T says:

    I think it looks pretty fantastic!

  10. Carolyn says:

    Perfect! Cutting it off was the best thing you could do to this Lily…sort of like how they tell you to prune bushes/plants to make them grow stronger and healthier. You pruned your Lily and ended up with a much better one in the process!

  11. Cheryl says:

    Wow, you’re brave, Sarah…cutting off a Lilly! I’ve always loved that print…and it looks fab as a top. well done! Enjoy!

  12. Art Attack says:

    Adorable! and perfect with your new white skirt. I’m not sure why we resist doing things like this…I do the same thing and have several “closet hogs” that either need to be re-styled or donated. Great post!

  13. Karen says:

    Fabulous! And thanks for the apropos quote from Emerson – I love it – and especially your new Lily top!

  14. looks great. I did the same with a dress I made a while back, and some things are better as a top than a dress. yours looks perfect with the white skirt.

    • Hi Beth and thanks so much for writing. I really admire your work! I was looking for something with some structure to wear with my white skirt and I believe this one will be perfect!

  15. Irene says:

    So much, much better!

  16. Tia Dia says:

    Hooray for sewing skills! What a wonderful save! The new top is smashing!

  17. Lucia says:

    oh wow, what a great top! Good that you saved the dress all this time… And is that your new white skirt made in the fitting class? I must tell you that after seeing all the colorful summery combinations you photographed with your white skirt I now have added one to my sewing list too. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Many thanks, Lucia! The white skirt is the one from sewing class. I cannot believe I did not own a summer white skirt living in South Carolina! It may be the most practical garment I’ve made during the last eight months :)

  18. Jeyco says:

    Impressive alteration! It looks soooo much better! I’ve just noticed your one year challenge of sewing. I like it! You are such a smart lady!

    • Hi Jeyco! Thanks so much for writing. This challenge has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time. The sacrifice of clothes shopping has filled my life with better things :)

  19. Carolanne Washburn says:

    Whoa! I love what you did and it looks spectacular!

  20. Andrea says:

    Wow, what a wonderful improvement. The top looks so good on you!

  21. prttynpnk says:

    Ah, you always know what works for you- lovely save.

  22. Shirley says:

    Love it! Just fab! I am jazzed to remodel some of my own garments! Thanks for inspiring me.

  23. Valerie says:

    It’s a much fresher look. Good on you for being brave!

  24. June says:

    You ramped up the style quotient 10-fold! The self-belt gives it great shaping. Brava!

  25. Thanks so much, June! Are you a musician by chance?

  26. AllisonC says:

    Wow what a transformation your “new” top looks great, much better to take a risk and have something you will love to wear than leave the original taking up space in your closet.

  27. MareeAlison says:

    That looks so much nicer. We’ll all be chopping off the bottom of things in our wardrobe now :) I was wondering as an aside what you did with the leftover piece – I was envisaging a tote – not for use with the top but with something else. Great job. I love your blog and can’t wait for your new posts. Maree

    • Hi Marie, Many thanks for your nice comments! I cut 9 inches off of the dress and used that to make the belt. I split the 9 inches into 2 4 1/2 inch strips where were sewn together, folded in half and stitched. It would have been nice to have more leftover but no such luck. A tote is a great idea!

      • MareeAlison says:

        I realised after I posted that you’d probably used the remainder for the belot. It’s a lovely outfit.

  28. Toni says:

    Great job! It looks really good as a top. When it comes to drastically altering something I find getting the courage up for the first cut is the toughest part! You can learn so much however by taking apart a garment, don’t you think?

    • Thank you, Toni! I haven’t always had good luck remaking clothes but do take pictures as I take something apart to learn about the garment’s construction – interesting process for sure!

  29. Amy says:

    You’ve made yourself a very lovely top. In my opinion, it’s much more versatile and flattering than the original. Bravo!

  30. Ruth says:

    Most of my fabric box is made up of ‘good’ RTW items that were put there for refashioning – MUST DO THAT someday. Your top looks great and you’re right, now you will wear it rather than have an expensive dress that you don’t. Good for you.

  31. PendleStitches says:

    This is a lovely transformation. Far more flattering and elegant. A great save of a beautiful piece.

  32. Suzi says:

    Oh my Goodness! That was a Lilly? Would have never guessed!!! So out of character for the typical Lilly style…I love my Lilly!
    I am just so impressed at the save you did…it looks incredible on you! And look..with your new white skirt! Not sure I would have had the you know what to have started cutting…I would have just hauled it down to my little consignment store and called it a day! lol Such a HUGE HUGE improvement! You are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Suzi and thanks for your nice comment!
      With three women in the family you might imagine we have a collection of Lily dresses. This one was a departure from the floral sundresses but I believe this print was used for skirts and sweaters too. :)

  33. RoseOK says:

    I love your redo. This top it so sharp. When you see a great redo like this top, it makes you wonder what else we can redo. Congratulations on another successful project. It didn’t cost you anything!!!!

  34. Heather says:

    I really love this one, it looks great on you too. Are there other re-fashions in your wardrobe? It looks like a great way of getting new wearable items!

    • Hi Heather and thanks so much for your comment! I have a handful of re-fashions in my closet, a couple of which turned out nicely. Here are two I’ve done this year. I’ve found working around existing seams and curves to be a challenge in finding the perfect remake but sometimes I get lucky :)

  35. And it looks perfect with your beautifully fitted skirt. Lovely job.

  36. Cissie Wellons says:

    Love your restyled top! Wow! It went from frumpy to “hot”! BTW, just found your blog and have loved reading past posts. I took the same pledge 2 years ago — and loved every minute of the adventure. In fact, I’m still making 90% of my clothes and only venture into stores to see what’s in style. Like you, very few of my friends sew so they think I’m a wizard!

    • Wow! Nothing like meeting a kindred spirit online :)
      I have truly loved this year long challenge in many aspects. I’ve never been able to interest my friends in sewing and love how the internet has brought those of us who sew together – it’s really super!
      Many thanks for the nice comments and taking the time to write!

  37. Cissie Wellons says:

    Another funny coincidence — I keep my copy of “‘Pon Top” at our beach house on the NC coast! It was a gift from a former girlfriend of my son’s whose grandparents lived in Edisto!

    • Hi Cissie,
      I hope every beach house will eventually have a “Pon Top” in its kitchen – have you tried Phillip’s Oyster Skillet Roast?
      Getting back to sewing – thank you for the helpful information on Susan Khalje and her classes. I really look forward to the online Couture Dress class, but three face-to-face classes would be truly special! I’d love to take the Paris trip with her one day (after I master my sewing techniques of course :) )!

      • Cissie Wellons says:

        Haven’t tried that one yet but will put it on my list.
        Ah the Paris trip! One of these days!

  38. Maggie Edger says:

    It looks great. I decided I was going to treat myself to a Lily. The last time I bought one was in the 1960’s and paid under $50.00. The one I looked at a few weeks ago was $298.00 and the shift looked like it did 50+ years ago. I didn’t buy. A. Maggie

    • Hi Maggie! Thanks for the comment. Funny how the Lily prices skyrocketed :) Lily fabric is also impossible to find anywhere. The shift may look the same but the fabric has a tiny bit of stretch in it making the garments great to wear and care for. Let me know if you ever come across any – you may have better luck in Florida!

      • Cissie Wellons says:

        Lilly Pulitzer fabric used to be fairly easy to find, especially in Florida. Not so anymore!

      • Margaret W. Edger says:

        If you have a friend in the decorating business they can order it for you. I have no idea how much the material costs . I have a friend who did her whole show room in different Lily fabrics. Wonderful!

      • Suzi says:

        I have two VERY Vintage Classic Lilly long shifts, bows on each side of the splits, and found them in a thrift store for $8.00 a piece. However, that was a lucky find. They hang in my sewing room never to be cut into! lol Living at the beach on the East Coast The Lilly is quite coveted! I will say that I do get lucky finding wearable Lilly’s at thrift stores when the Lilly Gods are with me..lol
        But my source for Lilly fabric to sew with is on Ebay. The Ebayers Store name is LillyMarr. I have bought from her and been very happy with the fabric. Even tho shipped from Hong Kong..to make a “Lilly” skirt for under $25 is a deal to me.

  39. Jean C. says:

    Perfect! Isn’t it nice when you can get a “new” garment out of an old one! Way to go! Oh, and I like how your skirt turned out too! Cute and very versatile!

  40. AllisonF says:

    I just found your blog! I have already added to my list of fav sewing blogs. You have such a wonderful aesthetic. Thanks for sharing. Not all sewing blogs are created equal. I look forward to your next project for wonderful inspiration!

    • Many thanks for this lovely comment, Allison! I knew starting a blog would help me through this year of making my clothes just in terms of accountability, but never knew how much fun a blog can be. I’m truly touched to know I’ve inspired you!

  41. tigergirl says:

    definately not dowdy now!

  42. Lisa P says:

    This dress is way nicer as a top. It’s so much more flattering and shows off your shape.

  43. Sassy T says:

    I absolutely love it. Now how hilarious is this, I saw a glimpse of this on one of your posts, and I have just scrolled through your blog to try and find what pattern you used, only to find it is a refashion. It can only happen to me, made me giggle though. threadnoir.blogspot.com

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