A Notable No-Sew Dress!

Q&A Monday: How to Refashion without a Dress Form
ReFashionista: Porch Edition

During my 366 (It was a leap year!) day project, I did quite a few no-sew refashions, but I’ve really stayed away from those as of late.  I’ve gotten a few emails asking for refashion ideas for those of you who don’t have/don’t want/are violently fearful of a sewing machine. Well…this refash is for you!  :)

I started off with this $1 thrifted little old ladyish dress right here:

Oh the possibilities!

Oh the possibilities!

I love the paisly pattern, but the fit/style is just plain off.

I didn’t feel like sewing, so I did this:



…which was quickly followed by this:

Tied up in knots!

Tied up in knots!

I tied the sleeves into what I call a “bathrobe knot”.  Not a full bow, just half of one (I really hate bows, which is why you don’t ever see them here.  Go ahead…try and find one.  I dare ya!).

Check that dress out now!

Seriously...does it get any easier than this?

Seriously…does it get any easier than this?

I added on a colorful belt to cinch the waist, and tossed on some turquoise sandals (there’s a bit of turquoise in the print of the dress, but it’s hard to see here).

I think it looks rather nice, but Douglas seems unimpressed.  :/



Meh.  Everyone’s a critic!  :/

Oh you know...just settling in to read a depressing play...

Oh you know…just settling in to read a depressing play…






  1. I never would have thought to try this. You look adorable! Good thinking! Hmmm… you have me thinking about how I could refresh a look I have in my closet;)!

    • I’m a total goober for not taking a pic of the back! The collar just gets tucked in so it lays flat. I’ll try to remember to put this dress on again soon to get a pic of the back for you guys. :)

  2. I really like this idea but it only seems suited to a few body-types, which is unfortunate for me having one of those not-well-suited-types. I like the idea though!

  3. I love following your refashions, and am interested to know if you have any advice for a larger woman’s refashioning projects. I am a 16W right now, and trying to make and salvage more clothing for ethical reasons, but am having trouble finding sizes large enough to work with. Any words of wisdom to offer? Thanks!

    • I’m not Jillian, but hopefully I can help. IMHO, it’s tougher to find things for upcycling if one is either taller than 5’8″ (count me in that!) or over a size 12 US (count me in that, too – size 14 or 16 depending on the designer!).

      The mens department is an amazing place to look. I’ve found so many high-quality cashmere sweaters in the mens department that can easily be tweaked to look and fit more feminine. Even men’s trousers and jeans work great for upcycling foundations. Based on what I’ve found, the menswear is often made of better quality fabrics, and there’s a larger selection of clothing that’s big enough to work with. There are a number of great tutorials out there on the internet on how to convert trousers into skirts. There is also a nice tutorial on resizing men’s trousers for a woman’s body. Here’s a link to one – http://ofdreamsandseams.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-turn-mens-suit-pants-into-womens.html

      Don’t be afraid to pick something that may be a little too snug. Another trick that you can do is adding fabric. If you find something that’s in a misses 16, you can look into adding panels. I’ve also converted dresses that may have been too short or a little too small into different clothing pieces all together. I had a shift dress that fit great on my top but was too snug on my bottom. I cut the bottom, added fabric in a print that had the color of the shift dress in it, and made a cute baby doll top that always gets compliments.

  4. You are so freakin funny! I always get excited when I see your email!! This is awesome but I don’t think I could put it off!!


  5. I really like the print of the dress. Personally, the “after” is not my style. However, I do like the concept of being able to do something different without having to cut and sew, and I like the styling with the shoes and belt.

  6. Unrelated, but I love that you know how to properly hold a dachshund (from one doxie lover to another)…cheers!

  7. One. Douglas is getting big! Two. Your facial expressions in the pictures was probably my favorite part of this refashion. lol Cute idea, but your, “See?! Reinventing things isn’t hard you buttheads!” facial expressions were pretty amusing. hahha

  8. I love it!! The pattern is absolutely gorgeous. I have finally got my craft room yay! Which happens to also be my bedroom but my boyfriend destroyed my other desk which wa made out if an old canvas wardrobe so I made him build me another because he is a joiner carpenter after all!! And oh boy I have soooooooo much space I love it. I bought my daughter a few new clothes the other day and I gathered all her old crappy ones to start refashioning! I’m going to be losing a tremendous amount if weight soon like 90lb so I am going to refashion things for my kiddos to start with :) a refashion a day keeps the dr away! ( I have chronic pain and I’m on morphine patches so this would e a great distraction if I can stay awake)!!! Lots a love xx

  9. Hi. I found your blog a whilw ago and have since started every morning with reading a few posts an today i actually got to the end! You have great ideas and have inspired me not only to a few refashions i’ve already made but to rethink why and when i by clothes.
    I will, thanks to you, try to keep my shopping to a minimum and only basics while iI get the rest of my stuff from thrift stores and/or redesigning stuff. =)
    Thank you for all the inspiration!

    • Woah, Hanna- what are the odds- I did THE EXACT SAME THING TOO! As in, read through past posts and finally caught up to the current posts today too! Love your work, Jillian, and I also used to live in Cola, so it’s fun to see some familiar places in the background too!

  10. Have you tried twisting the sleeves really tightly and tying a halter neck?
    Thank you for a blog that makes me laugh, cry and remember what the important things in life are.

  11. Just wanted to tell you thank you for your blog. I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years taking care of seriously ill family members (my Dad, my husband, and now my Mom), so I haven’t had much time or inspiration to be creative. I also have two growing kids and haven’t had a lot of money to spend on fashionable clothes (kind of hard to do when they go through 3-4 sizes each year). Your blog has not only inspired my creativity, but it has given me a ton of ideas to make sure my little girl has really cute clothes! Thanks so much!!!!

  12. Love your blog! I spent all last week reading through those 366 posts and have been feeling inspired again to sew! So far I have refashioned one dress from a maxi to a shorter sundress with sleeves, given up (for now) on a project that needed way too much hemming, and thoroughly botched a top….so much so that even the seam ripper couldn’t save me. Thanks for all your tips and ideas!

  13. bah, so simple yet I would never have thought of it. great refash!

    I tried machine dying yesterday and it went amazingly! I find you so inspiring!

  14. I just found your blog and I have to say that you are amazing! I am completely inspired! I have been looking for a way to get some new clothes as I have just lost a lot of weight, but I still love my old stuff that I can’t wear. I’ll be retreiving my sewing machine back from my mom now. Thank you!

  15. I FOUND A BOW!!!! tee hee. I went back to the beginning, because I have a lot of down time at work. It wasn’t my intent to bust you out, I just get inspired by your refashes. Made by Me March day 20. 2011.

  16. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVEEEEE THIS. Had a dress that looked just like this (shape-wise)…tried my hand at refashioning it with the sewing machine….got a little scissor crazy….and now its a skirt! Not bad, but I sure wish I saw this post before!

Leave a Reply