DIY Dress Makeover Tips

Ever since Goodwill opened up about 20 minutes from my house, I've been obsessed with making over dresses. If I had more time I would make more of them, but as it is I'm only working on my third. I wanted to share some tips on how to make over an old, too-big dress into a new one! 
  • Find a print or fabric that you LOVE. I usually go right to the dress racks and start rifling through. If I see a really pretty print, I grab it! Make sure the dress you're snatching is either your size or bigger, so you have room for mistakes if you make any.
  • Check for rips or stains in the wrong places. Make sure there are no awkward stains or unsightly rips anywhere on the dress that you can't cover up. 
  • Make sure the style isn't too hard to make over. The best dresses to make over are those old shirt-dresses from the 80's and 90's - you know, the super long ones that button all the way down the front and have puffy sleeves? Don't be afraid to branch out though - remember you're buying these for cheap and you can always use the fabric for something else!
  • Buy and take home your dress!
Next step: the makeover.
  • Try on your dress! This is the part where you decide what you want to do. Pull in the dress on either side and estimate the number of inches you'll need to take in. Take off the dress, pull it inside out, and pin the sides.

Yuck, right? That tiny print is terrible for such a long, enormous garment! Tip: the smaller prints generally work better on shorter dresses. Bigger print = longer dress. If you like.
  • Chop the hem! Decide where you want your hemline to be. I wanted mine just above the knees. I have long legs so I have to be careful how short I cut my dress. 
(That print is blinding me! Must...condense...dress...)

  • Time to get out the sewing machine. Sew up the sides where you pinned. Sew just up to the arm holes (if you're planning to chop off the sleeves, like I am).

And for now, you're done! Hem the skirt (or zip around it with a zigzag stitch the way I like to do it). If you're cutting off the sleeves, cut close to the shoulder seam, but leave it intact so it doesn't unravel. Add some beautiful handmade lace or ribbon to it, and voila!
I do have a confession: I'm not finished my dress yet. I'm ALMOST done. I like to sew in the mornings so I have plenty of light for photography afterward, but unfortunately I've been on the opening shift at the bookstore. I'll find time to finish it later this week, I promise - and I will post pictures!
Next up: a brand-new crochet pattern! Yes, that's right! My Ravelry friends will be happy. Stay tuned.