Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Zoom Gown Flashback, Hemming and Mending

Today, I was up at the crack of dawn to greet the plumber, who disassembled our old hot water tank, and installed a new one. Being in a condominium, we're responsible for our own hot water tanks and their expiry, and believe me, it is No Fun to be awakened at 3am because the ground floor neighbour's place is flooding. We've had it happen to our wall-share neighbours (we had to check to see if it was ours or theirs), and so L and I always replace ours when it's due. 

What on earth does this have to do with wearing a gown? Well, I had a shower (go, me!) in case something catastrophic happened with the water. I have our weekly Zoom call with Mom, which I get dressed for. And I dove into my mending while I waited for the plumber to be done, and I was reminded of this dress - it needed some TLC. 
I have a collection of gowns that I rotate for dressy parties, and this is one I'd rescued from the giveaway pile, put there last year as it was looking a little tattered. But it's such a beautiful gown, so I gave it another chance. 

  • Dress - thrifted; last worn here (3rd outfit) in October 2017 for a collective $149th birthday celebration
  • Shoes - Big Presence Desmond, Fluevog; last seen here in February with big orange plaid

I am a big fan of this cheongsam style of dress - it's been in the fashion lexicon for close to 100 years, with the most recent trendy era for it being the late 90s/early 00s. 
It's a classic shape, characterized by the fitted cut, the side fastening, the stand-up collar and the fabric frogs that button across the chest seam. 
Also by the ginormous slit up the side so that I can walk and sit. 
We'll have a very small Flashback on it below - this is only the 3rd time I've worn it. 

I am happy it still fits, although it's a little boob-mashy and I have to pull it up to sit in it. It's a Standing Dress!
It has zero stretch - it's a woven polyester brocade. 

The stuff: 
I no longer have the silver party platforms that I've previously worn with the dress, so I wore these blue pumps (Mom approved!). 

Silver bling: 
Actually, two of these are steel: the solid cuff and the earrings. 

  • Steel cuff - thrifted
  • Cage cuff - Bauxo
  • Earrings - gift from Lise
  • Silver/crystal ring - Soul Flower
  • Lapis lazuli ring - Wendy Brandes

Flashback: Brocade Cheongsam Gown

I purchased this gown for $12.95 here in July 2016, found in the vintage section at WIN and looking little sad. 
I loved the cherry blossom pattern, the rich blue colour and the silver satin trim. 
As noted, it has zero stretch...and also no label, no manufacturer's marks or evidence of factory assembly. It is unlined, and has serged finishing on the fabric edges, so I think it might be handmade, and from the late 90s/early 00s, likely for a special occasion and only worn once. 

I was so excited about it, I modeled it as soon as I got home from my Sunday shopping trip. It was a perfect fit. 
Gratitude to the person who donated it. I feel like a movie star in it. 

I wore it in November 2016 to my company's Christmas party, showing off my then-new arm tattoos. 
Vizzini barging in. Our big holiday party is usually around 300 people - can you imagine? That feels so weird now. 

You can see here that the hem is looking a little dubious. 
It needed to be completely redone, but I just threw a few safety pins on there because I am lazy an efficient problem-solver that way.

I last wore it in October 2017 for Randall's and my 50th birthdays, and Chris' 49th. Big party! 
I danced the night away in this and felt so fabulous. 

I wore my little cropped blue fur jacket with it. 
Classy! However, all these party shenanigans wreaked havoc on the hem of the dress, as the skinny heels kept catching on the loose stitches. 

Mathy stuff: See, this is why I always look for gowns second-hand. I've now worn it three times, which is a mere $4.32 per wear. You can't say that about too many gowns! 

Now that I've worn it - and fixed it! - again, I will put this beauty back into rotation for a party (when we can have parties again). It's also in my collection available as a loaner to my friends who need a gown (I've done this a few times). 

Here's the mending I did. It felt good to accomplish this, which inspired me to play in my closet - I test-drove an outfit I had in my head (and made a course correction), tried other stuff on and put outfits together. It felt good. 
This is the front hem of one of my around-the-house sweaters; it was coming apart with the potential for ladders/runs and a bigger hole. I keep my home clothes presentable too. 

This recently thrifted silk blouse needed a bit of care. It has matching shoulder pads, which I've chosen to keep. 
I used to hate it when my shoulder pads folded themselves in half or slid around, so I redid one of the shoulder stitches, and loosely tacked the corners onto the side seam to hold it in place (but not too tight). 

I also reinforced the bottom of the loop at the back of the neck, as it was starting to tear. 
It looks messy, but those are tiny stitches. 

And here's the hem of the cheongsam gown. It had evidence of a hasty hemming over the original serged/invisible hem when I bought it, and that ripped further when I wore it from my heel catching on loose stitches. 
I did tiny fairly close together stitches to make it secure. That silver is the back side of the blue fabric - it's really nice material. 

Here's the front side of the hem. 
Not bad, eh? I fixed my gown!

Vizzini, aren't you impressed? 
"I'm still traumatized from the plumber, Woman."

Aw, poor little guy. It was stressful, but it's all over now. Time for some cuddles! 


  1. Love this gown on you -- just stunning! Can't believe you were going to give it away!!!

    1. Thanks, Cynthia! I know - but I can't keep EVERYTHING!

  2. You're right that nothing emphasizes our dependence on modern life like temporarily lacking water or electricity. On the gown, I'd say it displays "Sheila Elegance," a style seen in a small town on the western edge of the continent.

    1. It's so stressful - I always worry about earthquakes here, Ally. Aw, thank you so much.

  3. That is a beautiful dress on you and it's great you could fix it up and give it another wear! :) I really need to learn to sew - I've found a lovely local tailor though who is super affordable and fixed up a few pieces for me recently and I was impressed so I'll probably keep going that lazy route when things need mending, haha!

    1. Thanks so much, Mica! I really do love it all over again. It's really not hard to sew - you could probably find a few really easy YouTube tutorials, but having a good, close tailor is gold too!

  4. Just gorgeous! Between the dress, the shoes, and the flashback fuzzy jacket, worth the second chance.

  5. That dress was made for you. It looks great paired with blue heels. I love the cherry blossom pattern so much. The material looks so lovely.
    I also enjoyed the flash back, this dress looks spectacular with the cropped faux fur jacket.

    1. It's a pretty amazing piece - I have to keep it! It's great material, very thick.

      I agree, I love that cropped look - it makes me look tall in this!

  6. The cheongsam looks wonderful on you. Brits now have a prom (as opposed to a leavers disco like we did in the olden days) and I've sold a few to cool girls who don't want to look like some frou-frou meringue and say that they'll wear them with Docs.
    Well done on the repair, so satisfying!
    Poor you with the early morning plumber and poor Vizzini for the trauma of his space being invaded! xxx

    1. Thank you so much, Vix! I love this style, and have 3-4 other pieces that are this cut in dresses and tops. I'm not surprised that the cool kids want this kind of thing - I've worn this dress with clunky shoes to walk to parties!

      It does feel good to have sewn all those things up and make them well again.

      Oh, I LOATHE people in my space for repairs, etc. I even hate the cleaners (but love that they're cleaning!). I usually will try to make L be here for this stuff, and then skedaddle.

  7. It feels so good to have mended something successfully! I liked your neat stitching; I tend to tack everything - big stitches!

    I love cheongsam dresses and you look gorgeous and very movie starish in yours! It's a lovely colour and I love the white trim. The blue shoes were perfect with it. Just think how much more wonderful it would be if it had a bit of stretch in it. Maybe one day someone will make a stretch cheongsam...if so I'll be first in the queue!

    1. It really does, Vronni! Thank you - ha ha, I've also done that route.

      I do too - they are so elegant and chic. I felt like a movie star. Thank you - yes, if it had stretch, it would be perfect. I'd buy one!

  8. You look absolutely stunning in that cheongsam, Sheila, and well done on mending its hem. I've come across a fair amount of hasty mending in my time, which requires quite a bit of time to put to rights. But how satisfactory when it's finally done! The blue pumps are perfect with it, and I'm loving the silver(tone) jewellery. How cute is that blue cropped fur jacket you wore with it for your 50th. Hope everything went well with the boiler replacement. I'm sure Vizzini didn't approve of all the disruption, poor thing. xxx

    1. Thank you so much, Ann! It felt great to finally DO my sewing/mending, and yes, you're right, there is a lot of shoddy workmanship out there on repairs. Thanks - I loved the addition of more blue and silver to the dress. The rabbit fur jacket is an amazing piece, for sure.

      All good with the hot water tank. Vizzini was very brave near the end, and came out to meow at the plumber.

  9. You look absolutely stunning in that gorgeous dress! What a rich color! And the shoes are so good with the dress, love that heel.

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! The shoes are awesome - this is the 6th pair I've owned with this heel.

  10. I like that the name - cheongsam - is as luxurious sounding as the dress is in actual wearing. It’s as if it was designed for you, despite your comment about boob smushing! As others noted, the blue shoes, cropped jacket and silver toned jewelry are perfect accompaniments. Truly movie star status. :)

    Meanwhile, am empathizing with Vizzini. This has been our month (actually two weeks, last and this) of home improvements and workmen both in and out of the house. As glad as we are to have the work done, it does cause a little bit of inner rattle!

    By the by, it’s not just the dress style but also the color...truly well suited for you!


    1. It is important to use the correct names for garments that are from other cultures - I like to get them right, to ensure my respect for the source is shown. Thank you so much, Laurie! I did feel like a movie star!

      Ugh, I really hate disruption and the intrusion of people in my house. As I said to Vix, I usually make L stay home and deal with this stuff. You have my sympathy and empathy, my dear!

      Thanks again!

  11. Gorgeous dress. But the challenge with a "standing" dress is that you need to avoid pairing it with "sitting" shoes. 😉


    1. Yes, very true, Rena! These shoes are very comfortable and what I would go to for a "real" event to wear this to.

  12. You and the dress were made for each other! I applaud your ability to find gown worthy moments in your life and to celebrate your inner movie star. Glad you have such good mending skills are were able to give a beautiful dress a repreive.

    1. Thank you so much, Nana! My gowns make me feel good and confident, so I like to sneak in wears where I can. Aw, thanks, I guess that Brownie badge came in handy!

  13. woww, looking so glamourous in this dress, such a lovely style and pattern, classic&cool, totally like a star!. Glad that you could mend it and keep its fabulousness!
    Totally understand that this kind of zero-stretch dresses have to become 'Standing Dresses'. But they're so Elegant and Cool!

    1. I'm so glad I rescued this gown and knuckled down and mended the darn thing! I still love it, even if I have to stand in it! I mostly stand at parties, anyway!

  14. I love this gown. It looks so good on you. And Yay to those blue pumps.
    I am rushing through your posts this week as I have had and have a frantic week.

    1. Thanks so much, Greetje! No worries, m'dear - I'm always happy to see you.

  15. So glad you decided to rescue that gorgeous dress from the giveaway pile. It is stunning on you! Nice job on the hem - I'm terrible at hemming if I have to start from scratch as I can never get it even.

    1. Me too, Shelley, although I do have to exercise some restraint! I can't keep everything if I want to continue shopping (which I do!). I find it funny that my Brownie sewing skills have paid off.

  16. Head-turningly gorgeous gown! That shade of inky, elegant blue is completely alluring!

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    PS: I super-duper remember when cheongsams and garments inspired by them had their last major heyday. I was in high school at the time and while I don't recall owning any such pieces myself, can well remember many girls at my school rocking them - including to dances (often with a pair of hair sticks or a row of mini butterfly clips).

    1. Thank you so much, Autumn! Oh my gosh, yes, the hair sticks and butterfly clips - we sold those at Fairweather!


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