Disassembling A Vintage Dress

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I bought this old dress the other day at a Korean thrift clothing store called VinPrime.  It was on the 5,000 won rack (which is a little less that $5), and I had picked it up because it was obviously vintage and looked really well-made, and the fabric was pretty awesome.  However I had also found a couple amazing black dresses from the early 60’s, a coat, and a really cute floral shirt and didn’t want to spend too much, so I put it back on the rack.  While I was looking through some other clothes, my husband brought this same dress to me thinking I would like it, and that the fabric would be cool to repurpose into bow ties.  Ok, ok, fine, I’ll buy it!!!

The seams started splitting very badly in the wash, which made me feel a little better about taking this cool dress apart.  The thread used to sew it together was pretty brittle, and I could easily rip the seams just by gently pulling the fabric by hand.

As I got in there, I was more and more impressed with the workmanship.  I took lots of pictures both for my own education and to share with my friends who love garment construction as much as I do.  So without further ado, here are the inner workings of a simple Korean shift dress from the 70’s!

The Basting

This sewer used extensive basting.  Everything was basted by hand.  The lining was basted to the outer garment at the seams.  Made it a little trickier to take apart, but I was impressed!

The Collar

Soooo pretty!

Bound Buttonholes

These were four of the most perfect bound buttonholes I have ever seen.  You can hardly tell the front from the back (front on the left and back on the right).  Lordy.


The sleeve lining was hand-stitched into the garment with lovely, tiny whipstitches.  An extra strip of fabric about 1″ wide was sewn into the top of the armscye for added strength at the shoulder.

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The seam allowance of the facing was catch-stitched to the interfacing.

Perfectly Pressed Lining

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Isn’t it just pretty?

The Hem Finish

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Sorry for the shoddy photo, but don’t you just love the way this hem was finished?  I DO!!!  I can’t wait to try it out.  Looks so nice with only about 1/8″ of the bias binding showing.  Perfect for this type of fabric.  The bias was cut from the lining fabric so that it matched perfectly.

Isn’t it just fun to take a look inside of an old garment?  I find it so inspiring–not to mention, educational.  I saved the strip of buttonholes and under collar for myself, just to look at and admire.  The fabric will be put to good use, and I really can’t wait to use it.  It’s just beautiful, as you can see.


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