How to Refashion Clothes: Make a Dress

You can easily learn how to refashion clothes with this DIY sewing tutorial for making a dress from a shirt and skirt.

November 2014
By Beth Huntington

The Refashion Handbook

Beth Huntington offers tips and techniques for how to refashion clothes to suit your style in The Refashion Handbook (Stash Books, 2014). With clear instructions and lots of photos showing the steps from thrifted clothing to finished article, even beginning crafters will have no difficulty learning to redefine their fashion by creating their own clothes. The following project demonstrates how to make this stylish dress from a shirt and skirt.

The completed dress

Refashion Techniques:

• Shorten a skirt
• Redesign a shirt to make a bodice
• Alter a skirt lining
• Attach a bodice to a skirt
• Attach a sewn-in elastic waistband

Original shirt

Original skirt

How to Refashion the Dress

 Cut skirt at new waistline 1. Measure from your waistline to your desired hem length. Add 1/2 inch for a seam allowance and mark this distance, from the bottom of the skirt up, all across the skirt. Cut on the line. If your skirt is lined, cut the lining at the same time as the outer skirt and keep them together.
 Cut shirt at new waistline 2. Measure from your shoulder to your waistline. Add 1/2 inch for a seam allowance, mark this distance all across the bottom of the shirt, and cut on the line.
 Pin skirt and lining 3. Pin the top of the skirt and lining together.
 Baste skirt and lining

4. Use the longest stitch on your machine to baste across the top of the skirt and the lining.

5. Fold the shirt in half, lining up the side seams, and mark the center front and center back at the bottom. Repeat with the skirt.

 Pin skirt to shirt 6. Tuck the shirt down inside the skirt, with right sides together. Line up the raw edges, matching the side seams, the center fronts, and the center backs. Adjust the skirt to fit the top by pulling the bobbin thread of the basting stitches as needed to gather it. Pin in place all around.
 Stitch skirt to shirt

7. Stitch all 3 layers together using a zigzag stitch and a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

8. Cut a piece of 1/4-inch wide elastic to your waist size minus 3 inches.

 Mark the elastic 9. Use a washable marking pen to mark the elastic in half and then in quarters.
 Pin elastic to skirt waist 10. With the cut ends at the center back, and matching the quarter marks to the center front and side seams, pin the elastic to the waistline seam allowance.
 Stitch elastic to waistband 11. Using a zigzag stitch and keeping the marks lined up, stretch the elastic slightly as you sew it to the waistline so the waistline of the dress stays flat.


Reprinted with permission from The Refashion Handbook: Refit, Redesign, Remake for Every Body by Beth Huntington and published by Stash Books, 2014.

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