Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Just Upcycled!

I've been working long and hard upcycling this dress, I just finished it, and had to share with ya'll. If you like it, its listed in my Etsy store! When I found this dress at the thrift store, I could see that it had a lot of potential, even though it kind of looked like a sad sack of navy blue fabric. Here is the before:


And, here is the finished product! I especially love the colorful belt, which I made from fabric salvaged from a hideous pair of 80s pants.
New Upcycled Dress!

New Upcycled Dress!

New Upcycled Dress!

Here is a little DIY list of what I did to upcycle the dress, hopefully it will inspire you to refashion something in your wardrobe that isn't working for you! Some of the things I did were a bit more complicated, but even using a few of the simpler tricks can really make a huge difference to a garment that you aren't wearing because there is something a little off about it.

1. Add an elastic waistline- it will define the waist of the garment and make it much more flattering! The obvious choice is to do this to a dress- but maybe you have a sweater or a shirt that you like to belt. Adding an elastic waist will achieve the same effect. This is super easy if you have a sewing machine. Just buy some elastic at the fabric store and be sure to use the zig-zag stitch on your machine (check your manual). While you are feeding the fabric and elastic through the machine, let the fabric of the garment go in flat while you stretch the elastic out as tightly and you can. Once you are done with the sewing and let the elastic relax, it will gather up the fabric of the garment and give it a more tailored look.

2. I added a bubble hem to this dress, but an easier fix is just to hem a dress or skirt to a shorter length. I have a lot of older and vintage dresses in my closet that hit at an awkward mid-calf length, and I bet you do too. The just above the knee length and the mini length are super popular this season because they work so well with tights and leggings. Hemming is easy to do, even without a sewing machine. Just hack off the dress or skirt about 2" longer than you want it to be, then create a french hem by double folding the fabric up to hide the raw edge and hand stitch it up there using a whip stitch!

3. I created a belt with a big rosette out of fabric that I salvaged from a pair of really awful 80s pants. There are no rules here! If you see some fabric that you like but you don't like the form that its in, make it into something else! Just get creative!

If you have any questions or want more detailed instructions for something, just let me know. Maybe I'll work on a tutorial if there is some interest.


  1. The belt is very clever!
    I'm going through a hemming stage with a bunch of my dresses at the moment. Hopefully I will wear them more now.

  2. Good job! It turned out great

  3. Thanks all!

    Kelley Anne- here is a link to a video that explains the whip stitch much better than I could: . Its amazing what you can learn on the internet these days!

    Basically- its a good seam to use for hemming because (with a little practice) you can make it nearly invisible on the top side of the garment.