Refashionista // A-line Dress into Criss Cross Back Peplum Top

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – short dresses just aren’t my thing. But somehow, they still find their way into my closet from time to time. This leopard number was a piece my girlfriends picked for me on my bachelorette party last year. As a surprise challenge, they brought me to a huge thrift store and handed me the task of finding full outfits for all of them in 60 minutes. In return, they would find an outfit for me. As you can imagine, I loved this challenge, and nailed it!

The dress they chose for me fitted well, and was pretty comfy, so I’ve worn it many times. But, I always felt it was a bit too short for me. So, as I’ve done once before, I decided to turn it into a peplum top. This time, I thought I’d add a criss cross to the open back for a better fit. Plus, it’s such a cute detail.

leopard dress into peplum top

The process itself was pretty simple.

First, I cut the skirt part shorter, so it was my desired peplum length+hem allowance. Then I re-hemmed the peplum. Once the peplum was done, I started on constructing the criss cross.

 

I cut long 5-cm wide strips of fabric from the left-over skirt. Then, I sewed long tubes out of these strips of fabric, and turned them right side out. Once I had the tubes turned, I pressed them so that the seam was in the centre of the tube.

I then marked the centre of the dress back and started placing the criss cross. First, I placed the bottom strips, and added upwards keeping the distance of the tubes about 1 cm. The only think to pay attention to is to weave the upper tubes through the lower ones to create the criss cross pattern. I secured the ends of the tubes with pins onto the dress, and the sewed them into place. This was the most difficult part of the project as there were so many fabric layers for my machine to sew through.

TIP! Lower your pressure foot pressure for easier sewing when ploughing through many layers of fabric.

This dress is so much more wearable as a top, and has found it’s place in my fall capsule wardrobe. I wore it to a party yesterday, so there are outfit photos featuring this top coming soon.

Are any dresses in your closet just waiting to be turned into peplum tops?

xo.Hanna

Refashionista // 80’s Dress Gets a Makeover

These types of refashions are my absolute faves. As a kid I loved to sort through my Grandma’s closet, and the love for old dresses from decades past has stayed with me. Not that I actually like the garments – some of them are hilarious, but I love the potential in them. Which is why I was so excited to give this 80’s dress a trendy makeover.

(Warning! This post is very photo heavy. I loved so many pics from this shoot that I just had to include a million.)

striped dress front detail

I’m not sure how this dress got into my ever-growing pile of refashionista material, but I think it was given to my Mom by someone who thought I could make something out of it. I think it’s so cool that once people know that I sew and refashion, they actually think of me when they have something they don’t use anymore. These gems are always a welcomed gift.

I loved the fabric, and had a vague refashion idea from the beginning, but somehow the doing part got pushed back again and again. Like about 4 years or so. Ups. But, sometimes I feel ideas need time to sit, and the ones that have percolated a long time usually turn out the best.

striped dress
striped dress collar detail

I found this 80’s gem again when going through my stuff back at my parents’ house during my vacation, and I knew its time had come. So I packed it into my suitcase (along with a couple others). Once I was done with the makeover, I was so sad I hadn’t made this sooner. Luckily, we had a heatwave this weekend, so I could still at least test-drive it before packing it away until next summer.

striped dress pocket detail
striped dress refashion from back

You only need basic sewing gear for this projects, so here’s the makeover process:

The first thing that needed to go was that God awful handkerchief. Then, I used my trusty french curves, to draft a new armhole, and cut off those huge sleeves.

Then, I put the dress on, pinned how much I had to take in from the sides, sewed new side seams, and cut off the excess.  After that I had to slightly adjust the armholes again. This is usually a necessary adjustment when taking in a lot from the side seams.

Next, I cut off a portion of the bottom of the dress. I needed to make it shorter by about 12cm, so I cut off as much as I could (this depended on the length of the back vent). From the left-over material, I cut long 4cm-wide strips to bind the armholes with. I love this binding method the most, since it’s by far the easiest in my opinion. Just fold the strips, press, and sew them to the armhole (pulling slightly on the binding while you sew).

I top-stitched the armholes so the seam would stay flat and folded to the inside of the skirt. I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine for this step.

By the way, don’t ask me why I used white thread when all of the other seams on this garment were OBVIOUSLY sewn with navy thread. That will remain a mystery to the both of us.

The two last steps were hemming the dress, and securing the pockets. I love that this dress has pockets, but they were gathering to the sides and bulking up all the time (know what I mean?), so I used a little trick I’ve used several times before. I just sewed them down onto the front bodice piece, following the pocked seam. makes it so much more comfortable to use the pockets.

striped dress button detail

I’m truly in love with this dress, and it’s already marked down to be in my next summer capsule. I can’t believe summer is ending, you guys! Big sigh. But, I am happy I finally got to give this old dress a new life, and such a pretty one at that. I’m more than confident it’s going to be a summer staple next year. And, after all this time, what’s another 9 months of waiting, right?

Just goes to show that hoarding things you’re not sure how to use at first is not actually a bad thing. (But don’t tell my hubby I said that. Although, he’s growing increasingly numb towards my hoarding. Bless him!)

Do you have any cool refashions in the works?

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Turn Old T-shirts into a Tie Dye Dress

I’m finally back! It felt so good to take some time off blogging, and honestly, after my stay in Estonia, I needed a few days to catch up and get back into a rhythm. I’m slowly getting into a routine again, and so excited for a new season to start. Not because I particularly love autumn, but the back-to-school vibe always gets my creative juices flowing and gives me an extra boost in productivity. So, all in all, it’s good to be back.

I’m going to switch up the content plan on the blog a little, so I’m going to post a new refashion every Monday. There will be some other shifts happening, but I’ll write more about that in an upcoming post.

Now, onto today’s refashion. This project was one of those light-bulb moments. I’d been staring at these two T-shirts (well, technically a sleeveless top and a turtleneck, but who cares, right?) for months now, trying to figure out what to make out of them. I toyed around with a couple of different ideas. Thought about just dying the sleeveless one, and turning the turtleneck into a T-shirt, but none of the options seemed the right fit.

The right idea finally hit me when I was looking for some material for a simple summer dress. I had been wearing my summer capsule for almost 2 months at that point, and I felt I was missing a comfy short dress I could just throw on. Since both of the T-shirts were white, I thought it would be easy to use the sleeveless one as the bodice, and make the skirt part out of the turtleneck. But, I didn’t like that it was white – it’s see through, and get’s dirty easily. Insert tie dye, and the perfect summer dress was born.

tie dye dress refashion 4

The right idea finally hit me when I was looking for some material for a simple summer dress. I had been wearing my summer capsule for almost 2 months at that point, and I felt I was missing a comfy short dress I could just throw on. Since both of the T-shirts were white, I thought it would be easy to use the sleeveless one as the bodice, and make the skirt part out of the turtleneck. But, I didn’t like that it was white – it’s see through, and get’s dirty easily. Insert tie dye, and the perfect summer dress was born.

SUPPLIES:

  • 1 fitted T-shirt
  • 1 extra large T-shirt
  • sewing machine
  • pins, scissors, and other sewing gear
  • ruler and marking tool
  • rubber bands, or cotton yarn

HOW-TO:

First, measure yourself from shoulder tip to your natural waist (where you want the waist seam to hit you). Mark that on the bodice shirt. Make sure to add a sewing allowance, and the mark and cut the lower part off, making the cut line very slightly rounded.

As you notice, I also removed the ribbon from the neckline of my t-shirt. I knew I’d be dying the whole thing Shibori style later on, so I simplified the design.

Measure the desired length of your dress skirt (from waist down) and mark that onto the large T-shirt. Be sure to measure it from the hem up, so that you can keep the original hem, and save yourself some extra sewing.

Next, fold both the bodice piece and the large t-shirt in half at the centre front, and place the bodice on top of the t-shirt, folding lines aligned. Then, trace the waistline onto the large t-shirt, and draw a line from the waist down to the hem of the large t-shirt.

NOTE! Make sure to double check that your hips fit into the skirt part before cutting. If not, make the line slightly curved from the waist down to the hips, and continue diagonally from there.

Cut out the skirt part, and sew the side seams of the skirt.

Turn the skirt inside out, and place the bodice inside the skirt, so that the side seams of both pieces align, and the right sides are facing each other (wrong sides are facing out). Sew the bodice onto the skirt.

NOTE! Since this is stretchy fabric, be sure to use a jersey/ballpoint needle and a lightning bolt stitch, or a narrow zig-zag stitch on your machine for all the seams. You can find more tips on sewing with knits here.

If you’re already happy with the colour of your dress, you can leave it as is, and skip straight to wearing it. If not, here’s how I transformed my plain white dress.

tie dye dress refashion step 6

I’ve tried tie dying before (see here and here), but I was never very concerned about creating a pattern. I just winged it. This time I browsed a little on Pinterest to find a simple pattern I could easily create, but that would look purposeful, not just like I had tied it randomly. I finally decided on folded lines. They seemed easiest, and I loved the look.

So, first, fold the whole dress lengthwise like an accordion, and the tie it at even intervals. You can use either rubber bands, or cotton yarn for this step. Rubber bands are quicker, but I feel like I have more options with the yarn. I can make sure it’s tight enough, and I can cover more surface easily. Once you’ve done with tying, just follow the instructions on the dye package. Rinse well after dying and then remove all the yarn, or rubber bands. It’s a magical moment when you get to see the final result.

tie dye dress refashion 6
tie dye dress refashion 7

I recently wrote about tips for dying clothes, and one of you asked why your colours always look faded after a dye job. Well, I learned something during this project that might answer your question. Can you see the difference in colour vibrance between the bodice and skirt of the dress? The bodice part is much more vibrant. I dyed them together as one garment, so the only explanation for this is the difference in the fiber content. The bodice is 95% cotton, the skirt is 95% viscose. The second component in both is elastane. So, it seems that cotton takes on dye much better, and results in a more vibrant colour than viscose does.

You can tell by the word count (over 1000) of this post, that I’m glad to be back. What have you been refashioning lately?

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Turtlenecks into Color-blocked Maxi Dress

Let me introduce to my new favorite dress. Of course it’s a maxi and of course, it’s refashioned. That seems to be the perfect combo for me. But, let me start from the beginning.

I often thrift for material in the sense that I don’t really have a specific project in mind and I’m not aiming to refashion the garments – I just want fabric and as much as possible. So, on my first (and so far last) thrifting spree here in Germany, I bought a bunch of XXL turtleneck pullovers (both from the women’s and men’s section) for 1€ a piece. The fabric was in very good condition on all of them. I thought maybe I’d make a few t-shirts or so.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, when I was planning my next refashions. I felt I needed another maxi skirt for the summer, since the 2 I have (this and this) get a lot of wear. I noticed those turtlenecks and had the idea to finally turn my idea of a color-blocked jersey maxi dress into reality. I mean, I’ve only toyed around with the idea about 3 years in my head. Was about time, right?

I’m in love with the result! Hubby was a bit skeptical of the idea at first, but loves the result as well. I think I just made myself my favorite maxi of all time!

SUPPLIES:

  • 3 large turtlenecks
  • basic sewing gear
  • basic t-shirt pattern (I used Burda 04/2009, mod.112)

HOW-TO:

First, I figured out the placement of the colors and then cut off the sleeves and turtleneck from the pullovers and was left with only the bodice piece. Then I took the bottom turtleneck and cut off the top part (shown above).

Then, I measured how long the skirt part needed to be. I also measure both turtlenecks and calculated how long the middle one had to be to get the right skirt length.

I cut the middle turtleneck bodice to size and curved the top corners to make it narrower at the top and follow the body curves better.

Now, I needed to sew together the skirt pieces. For that I folded both pieces, placed them next to each other like they would be later and evened out the sides. Then, sewed together the sides on the bottom piece and finally, sewed together the 2

Next, I made the dress bodice using the Burda pattern. You can really use any t-shirt pattern for this. I used this one because I already had it open from  this refashion I made earlier. I actually wanted to use this self-drafted t-shirt pattern, but couldn’t find it (#messystudio).

Then, I put the bodice inside the skirt, lined up the sides and folded the excess width of the skirt into 2 little pleats on both sides. Just made sure the pleats were equal in size and equal distance from the center.

Finally, I sewed the bodice to the skirt and I the dress was done! Took me about 2 hours to whip together.

Now, whose up for a thrifting spree?

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Short Dress into Peplum Top

Me and short dresses usually don’t mix. First, because I’m a bit self-conscious about my thighs. And second, because I feel a little naked in them (especially if I have to bend over). So, I try to stay clear from short dresses of all kinds. But, they still somehow manage to find their way into my closet. Like this cute little striped jersey number I got from a clothing swap party a few months ago. I loved the striped fabric so much, I thought I’d figure out a way to make the dress longer. But, turns out, I figured out a way to make it even shorter.

I can’t believe I haven’t thought about this solution before. Chopping off a piece from the hem to make it into a top really is quick and easy, but for this dress, I went even further. I thought I would try and use the extra material to add sleeves to the top. Genius, Hanna! (Patting myself on the back right now.)

SUPPLIES:

  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Ruler
  • A basic raglan sleeved t-shirt pattern (I used Burda 04/2009, mod.112)

HOW-TO:

The first step is to make the dress into a top. This part is the easiest. Put the dress on and mark the new length of the top. Then, measure how long the peplum part needs to be with the new length and measure that all around the skirt part of the dress. I did it by moving my ruler a couple centimeters at a time and making markings all the way around, then later I joining the marking and rounded the line to make sure it was still a circle.

Then, all you need to do is re-hem the top. I used my cover-stitch machine for this part, but you can use the twin needle, or another stretchy stitch on your regular machine (check out this article on more tips for sewing with knits).

The second step is to cut out the sleeves from the cut-off skirt part. Since there’s very little fabric to work with, it helps to have a 2 piece sleeve pattern. That’s why I love the Burda 04/2009 mod.112, because the split sleeves are easy to cut out using just scraps (like I did with this pullover).

If you’re sleeve pattern is in one piece, you might have to split it into 2 yourself (just straight in the middle).

I had to cut the sleeves on the diagonal, because that’s the only way I could fit the two sleeves onto the fabric. To make the stripes match up on the upper-arm seam, I made mark on the pattern where the stripes where on the first pattern piece and then transferred the marking to the second pattern piece and aligned the markings with the stripes when cutting out the second pieces.

 

 

The third step is to re-cut the neckline to match the raglan t-shirt pattern. So, first I carefully unpicked the neckline binding, because I was going to reattach that later. Then, I simply used the bodice pattern to cut the top part off (aligning the pattern from the side seam and armpit).

And then it’s time to put it all back together. First, I sewed the sleeves together from the under-arm seam and attached them to the bodice. Then I sewed together the upper-arm seam on the sleeve that had a continuous neckline binding and left it open on the one where the neckline binding loose ends were.

Next, I cut the neckline a little wider because the sleeves didn’t match with the bodice (the original pattern had a much narrower neckline). And then, sewed the neckline binding back on. There’s no sugar-coating this – the worst part of this refashion. My cover-lock machine was not in a co-operative mood.

Finally, I sewed the second upper-arm seam and hemmed both sleeves. A good press overall, and it was done!

As you can see, the alignment of the stripes isn’t perfect, but I’m not too concerned with perfect when it comes to sewing for myself. I’m obsessed with perfect whenever I sew for someone else, but it’s good enough for me. Another thing that isn’t perfect is the neckline, but again, not going to cry about it. Done is better than perfect. Plus, every project is an opportunity to learn, right?

This is hands-down one of my favorite refashions lately, maybe even all time. I’m already getting a lot of wear out of it (check out a recent outfit) and if this chilly summer continues, it’s going to turn into a staple in no-time.

If you want to see more dress refashions, you can check out this, this and this one. Or, follow my Refashionista Pinterest board for fresh inspiration.

You can always send me your refashion requests, and I’ll try to come up with a fun project.

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Halter dress into skirt

It’s that time of year again. Time to throw those jeans and trousers to the back of the closet, and bring out your skirts and dresses! I’m not a huge fan of tights, so summer is the only time I wear skirt and dresses on a regular basis. But, sometimes a dress turns out to be better as a skirt (or the other way around).

I got this halter dress from a friend and loved the color and the skirt part of it immediately. What I didn’t like that much was the top part. I have never really been into halter-type dresses. And this one had a cleavage I just couldn’t pull off even if I wanted to. So, obviously, a little nip and tuck was in order.

SUPPLIES:

  • 1 old dress
  • your waist measurement in 3cm-wide elastic
  • scissors and seam ripper
  • basic sewing equipment

halter dress refashion steps 1 to 4

1. First, I cut away the ribbon detail in the front.
2. Next, I removed the top front bodice of the dress. I just unpicked the seams until I could completely remove the whole halter part of the dress and was left with the skirt part.
3. Then, I cut the back of the dress just as short as the front and cut the elastic to size by putting in around my waist and tightening it to fit snugly around my natural waist.
4. The final step before attaching the elastic to the skirt was to re-sew the side seams of the dress (or now skirt) and sew together the ends of the elastic to form a circle.

halter dress refashion steps 5 to 8

5. Now to the fun part. First, I pinned the elastic to the sides to make sure I would be stretching it evenly when sewing. You could do this in 4 places for a more even result.
6. I attached the elastic to the wrong side of the skirt and aligned it with the waist seam. For this seam, I used a 3-step zigzag stitch and just slightly pulled the elastic whenever needed (because the skirt waistband was a bit bigger than the elastic).
7. & 8. Once the elastic was attached, I simply cut away the excess fabric from the upper side of the waistband.

halter dress refashion last step

9. Finally, I turned the waistband once to the inside of the skirt and secured the fold on the sides of the skirt.

refashioned pleated skirt detail

halter dress refashioned into skirt

 

Loving my new midi skirt! It’s definitely going to get some air-time this summer. I haven’t worn many skirt and dresses in the last year, but I’m looking to change that. Plus, it’s summer, which is the official skirt season anyway. I’m actually thinking about seriously compiling a capsule wardrobe for this summer, and I’m sure this skirt will be in it.

Time to clean out your closet and turn those unworn dresses into lovable skirts.

xo. Hanna

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