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1940s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash

Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion
Repurposed Cloth Face Mask Dress Collar: 2nd Version

So…I’m not totally stoked about this refashion you guys.

It turned out fine, but I wish I had thought through what I was doing more and gone in a different direction. Don’t you just hate when that happens?

Luckily, the original piece was only $1, so the stakes weren’t that high.

Still. :/

At first glance, This button-down blue dress may not look like much.

refashionista Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash featured image before

But take another look!

refashionista Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash featured image before view of beaded sleeve
Whoa! Pretty!

Aren’t those beaded appliqués on the sleeves gorgeous?

closeup of beaded sleeve
So prrrrettttty!

Some of you may be shocked/terrified at what I did first in this refashion.

I cut off the sleeves right above the appliqués.

cutting off sleeve

Don’t panic, friends! It’s not going away. It’s just being…relocated.

Next, I cut off some of the length from my dress.

cutting length off dress

All of this chopping left me with a few raw edges to tend to.

This dress was made of a fray-free polyester, so I could have left the edges as-is, but I wanted them to look a bit more polished.

First, I clipped my sleeves under.

clipping sleeve fabric
When I clip you clip we clip!

Then, I stitched them down.

sewing dress sleeve
Just a tiny whirrrr!

I wanted my sleeves to be a little poufy, so I folded each one over a little bit, like this:

clipped bottom of folded sleeve

Then I stitched the folds down.

sewing fold in sleeve
Just a half inch or so!

I folded the bottom of my dress over and pinned it into place.

1940s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash 1
Step 1: Fold. Step 2: Pin!

I didn’t have to fold it over twice, because as I said before, it’s not going to fray. I just want a prettier edge.

Then, I hemmed my dress, like ya do.

Sewing bottom hem of dress
But what about those sleeves you cut off????

Now, let’s get back to those appliquéd sleeves!

I cut off the elastic wristband from each sleeve scrap.

cutting off bottom of sleeve scrap
Where am I going with this?

Then, I turned each sleeve inside, clipped the bottom, and sewed it off.

sewing off end of sleeve scrap
Time to refash a new sash!

I turned my two sleeve scraps right side out again and stitched them to each other.

sewing sleeve scraps together
You’re prrrobably thinking,”But this is way too short for a sash!”

I cut off the original bottom hem from the leftover bottom scrap.

cutting off bottom hem
You will cinch my waist nicely!

I tried my new dress on, but wasn’t quite happy with the length, so I chopped it off a bit more and re-hemmed it.

cutting off bottom of dress

I removed the top button from dress with my seam ripper and folded the resulting top flaps into a V-neck.

removing button with seam ripper

When I was all done, I tied that bottom hem scrap around my waist and folded the sewn-together sleeve scrap over it.

'40s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash after
I mean…it’s cute…

I didn’t get a good photo of how the sleeve scrap thing worked, but lucky for you, I’ve repurposed sleeves into a sash before!

'40s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash after 2
It’s just not my favorite.

I styled my dress with a silver bracelet & earrings and platinum sandals.

refashionista standing in front of azaleas
Aren’t our Azaleas pretty?

Here’s a closer look at my new sleeves:

close up of sleeve
Just a little poufiness.

Some of you may remember this dress refashion where I used this same fold & stitch sleeve technique.

'40s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash up close
I’m just not feeling it.

I hate to be negative or down on my own work, but I’m just not into this refashion at all.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with this dress, but it’s definitely not my personal style, so I didn’t feel comfortable in it. It feels fussy & reserved…two things I am definitely not.

I wish I had done something different with it. Womp womp.

Mr. Refashionista thought it was cute though, so I guess that’s something?

Jillian and Brian
That smoke you see is from our grill (The Mr. makes a mean burger)!

They can’t all be winners, I suppose.



refashionista '40s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash before and after

Want more (hopefully better) refashions delivered to you every week?

Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion
Repurposed Cloth Face Mask Dress Collar: 2nd Version

74 thoughts on “1940s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash”

  1. JMO, but I think the sleeves could be a bit longer and the beadwork used on pockets or, at least, along the side seams, at the hip. I love vintage fashion. This dress could use a little more of that. You, however, are adorable and look good, no matter what you wear. I always look forward to your next refashion.

  2. I love that trick about making the sleeves look puffy; I think I would have kept this dress a bit more maxi and used those lovely sleeves as big pockets. Maybe if you feel meh about the colour, you’ve always got the dye bath! Cheers.

  3. If you don’t like it, you’ve got a fun opportunity to experiment with it. Some creative tie dye patterns or a bleach dip? I could see this in plum on you with some vintage buttons or no buttons. Also the appliqué sash and belt could convert into a pretty cross-body bag.

  4. I forgot to add: Use those marvy appliques on the front edges of a cape [with a fun, pearl vintage broach to close it]

  5. Turn the dress around and button down the back; add a wide, hemp, belt, [ditch the sash] and style with huaraches and lots of silver bangle bracelets. Personally, I think its a darling dress and you really rock that color! I was always a sucker for dark brown hair and blue eyes…that’s what this color reminds me of!

  6. It’s nice to wear something different from our usual style occasionally, I like it and the colour looks great on you imo

  7. I agree with changing out the buttons to pearl ones & think you should add one to the edge of each sleeve to emphasize its new tulip shape!

  8. I love the dress. The sash is cool. It could also look great somewhere else on the dress. What about unpicking the appliqué and putting it over one shoulder? It would give a cool asymmetrical detail to the dress.

  9. I don’t know if there is enough fabric left to do so, but I think it would make a fun romper, especially if it took a dye bath. And the applique would make a lovely pocket detail!

    Have you considered a series of re-refashions where you rework some of the projects you weren’t as happy with?

    Also, it has been great to have so many posts again! I’m glad everything seems to be going well for you and Mr. Refashionista!

  10. Hi Jillian,

    I love the sleeves and the dress! But, I can see how this isn’t quite your style. With the simplicity of the dress you have a blank canvas to work with. I think this is worth another try.You always amaze me with your imagination and vision.
    The applique is gorgeous but I didn’t think it belonged with the style of dress in the beginning. (I would have bought the dress just for the appliques, too!)

    Since you’re taking suggestions I’ll toss in a few: 🙂

    As many others suggested a trip to the dye bath if the material will accept it.
    Adding a hem decoration with some of your other fabrics.
    A collar that’s detachable so you can make the most of changing the look and feel of the dress.

    I could see the appliques on a headband, an evening bag, a black cape or a sweater dress.

    Perhaps you’ll find the perfect belt or another dress to combine with this one to make it fit your style.
    So glad you’re in my home state and having a wonderful visit with Susan.

    You look gorgeous!

    *Waving from the Texas Gulf Coast

  11. I always enjoy seeing what you create. I love the color but it does seem a bit to “normal” for you. I would either make a wide belt and use the embroidered part at the center, think 90’s OR …I would just take off the beautiful embroidered things and use them on something else. I am thinking 50’s beaded sweater. You know where the embroidery would go on one of them. I love buying a garment for the pretty gling-glang, taking it off carefully, then just re-donating it. I actually just did that yesterday! I will only do this if the garment is no more than $5. 🙂

  12. Hello! I really like the dress style itself. I would have done something different with the sleeves to show them off a little more. Maybe make them into a collar or some detail along the new sleeve hems?? Either way I think the dress came out really cute!! Glad to see you’re feeling so much better and you look gorgeous dahling!
    Laura Lynn

    • Awww! Thank you so much! I’m loving this “hive mind” in the comments for this refashion. You guys have some great ideas.

  13. Great refashion, I really, really, really like the sash! Also love the style and colour. It’s something I would definitely wear, so I would be happy to give you my address:)!

  14. I like the simplicity of this style though I agree the sash doesn´t do anything to complement the dress. Perhaps an obi style belt with those gorgeous beaded sleeves? Or a wide sliver belt to add a touch of pizzazz. Just my thoughts. By the way you are looking fabulously healthy. Love and hugs to you and Mr Refashionista.

  15. Y’all have got me doubting my own judgement, but this is one of my favorite refashions of all! I think it is adorable!

  16. At least MaryJo and I are in agreement LOL. The color just isn’t quite you. Not enough life and energy to it. It’s not terrible…just not your zing. Love the sleeves and what you did with the v-neck. I wonder what a trip to the dye bucket might do for this one???
    And, yes, you are looking fab-u-lous!

  17. I like the refashion of the dress itself but I think it needs a semi-wide silver belt paired with silver sandals. Ditch the matching belt and beaded sash. Love the new sleeves.

  18. Love the sleeves, not thrilled with the sash. I think the dress is sweet and simple without the heavy sash panel. YOU are looking great, by the way! Hope you are feeling great, too!

  19. I love it. And I love what you did with the decorated sleeve parts. I like different I guess. You look good in all of your refashions. Great job

  20. Or since it doesn’t have darts, you could potentially turn it around, make the borrowed part a super Low back, and then add the appliqués to the front as a decoration.

  21. I think the dress is adorable but agree that the sash is not really working as-is. Maybe make the beaded part into oversized pockets on the skirt and style with a contrasting belt to make it more funky? Or else turn the beaded part into a wider belt across the middle?

  22. Hi Jillian,
    Yes, the sash looks more like an overly fancy towel. That’s okay—still salvagable of course…
    I suggest combining the blue sash with a jet black fabric and making an evening bag to carry with a black cocktail dress. Perhaps the other one can be used as a cumberbund to wear with the black cocktail dress. Ready for an amazing night out with your hubby then. Awesome ! The little casual blue dress needs a cute, face-mask collar ala Jillian ! It’ll be great and a cute dress for lunch out with the girl-buds.

    Thank you for wanting to continue this blog. I learn a lot and enjoy the fashions and reading the responses.

  23. I like the sleeves, but agree the sash is too much. Maybe a silver belt. If you want to keep the appliqués, try putting one over a shoulder on one side of the neck. It looks cute on you.

  24. What a beautiful color for you…not my fave refashion, though. You aren’t a bigger girl, so the sash is a bit…overpowering? Might work as a scarf or even a headband with some of that sparkle used on the dress itself as well? You’re so darn creative, I’m sure that gorgeous embellishment will turn up somewhere. You look fabulous, btw, hope you’re feeling that great as well!

  25. It was a truly ugly dress when you started with it and cute when you finished (if not your usual style) so count it as a win!

  26. I think the dress is cute and I do like the colour a lot. The appliques may look cute if applied over each shoulder. And if the dress is snug enough, I don’t think it needs a sash or belt (I’m not loving the use of sleeves as a sash in your refashions. Sorry.)

  27. The dress looks very nice on you. However, the dress seems too casual for the applique sash. The sash looks like a kitchen towel ready to be used to wipe your hands while cooking.
    But, I do love the appliques. So, what about putting one applique on ea side of the front. This will give the dress a more elegant look. Also, change the buttons to pearls to match the appliques. Take the dress in a new direction as a more dressy, evening dress. Accessorize accordingly.
    But, you always do a great job anyway! Wear the dress. It looks cute on you!

  28. There’s a disconnect between the refashioned dress (modern) and the refashioned sash (vintage). If you like the color on you as much as I do, I think you could take another pass at it. Remove the puffed sleeves, add your own belt, & you might like it better.
    Those beautiful embroidered embellishments could be used on another project. I see them as a purse handle, but I like to make accessories . . .

  29. The dress is super cute, simple and light. I agree with the other comments that the sash is too much for the dress in its present configuration. The problem I see with the sash is the square shape. If you keep the sash, I would trim the shape to align with the curvy tear drop shape so it doesn’t appear so square. As another thought, you could also trim the beautiful embelishments and sew them to the hem.

  30. I really like what you did with the sleeves. I followed your link to the other dress where you did the same sleeve thing and that’s really cute, too. But, I’m not crazy about that particular blue on you, and I don’t care for the sash. Could you use the appliques to add a collar like the Baby Doll face mask re-fash you did recently?

  31. Maybe cut the fabric away from the beading and use it around the neckline? Or make it run down one side of the front? I like your sleeves, but I think the neckline needs something.

  32. You can’t knock it out of the park every time. Chalk this up as a competent refashion, re-thrift it but keep those sleeves for something else.
    I think it needs more interest at the neckline to direct focus to your lovely face.

  33. I actually love the dress and it looks great on you, but for me the sash is the part that doesn’t work. I would have used the beaded applique elsewhere on the dress (neckline or near the hem) and worn a narrow belt instead. I still think you look lovely in it though!

  34. I actually love the dress- more my style… but I totally get why you don’t. It’s not you.
    Maybe a belt with color? and a bit wider? Snip off the appliques and use them vertically on the bottom of the dress to give a shot of interest! Or curving around the bottom up to the middle? Or use them somewhere else, on something else.
    I agree – Looks like a server accessory I used to have!

  35. There’s nothing *wrong* with the dress. It’s simple, sweet, makes a nice afternoon frock for the summer. The problem is the sash, it’s just too much for such a simple little dress. Better to use an existing thin belt, or nothing.

    Save those love appliquéd sleeves for something else where they will not be competing with the dress.

    What did you do to your knee? *Hugs*

  36. Could you instead take the bejeweled part and make a collar from them? That might suit the whole thing a bit better. I love the form of the dress and the sleeves 🙂

  37. I had a dress once that everyone complimented me in, but I just didn’t like it! I felt underwhelmed when I wore it. I finally gave it away, figuring if I didn’t like myself in it, I didn’t want to keep it in my wardrobe. The dress looks nice on you, but if you don’t feel good in it, maybe you should let this one go…. I love the info on the refashion, and am more and more thinking I can try something myself! You’re an inspiration.

  38. I love your willingness to go for it! A question on the source clothing, do you wash and dry them first, and do you care about the fabric content of what you use? Or just go for color?
    Just a curious thrifter too.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. I think the dress is cute. I am not a fan of sashes in general. Maybe unpick the applique and sew it around the hem of the skirt or along the neckline to make the dress more interesting?

  40. I agree with the others. save the sash to use as a scarf or with another project, put one of your wide belts on it and some bright fun jewelry~ It looks fine just needs some Jillian ness added~

  41. Nice refashion on the sleeves! I can picture the beaded parts appliqued to the left side of the bodice and the right side of the skirt as some over-the-top decoration. That would be less conservative and more dramatic, and would really show off all that beautiful beading.

  42. It is not you but it is pretty and the colour suits you for sure. I enjoy your posts always but I was not keen on the placement of those beautiful sleeves and I suspect you will repurpose them elsewhere. Sometimes things do not work out the way we want them to. I sew, too, but not clothes so much and I have made some things that were okay but I was just disappointed that they did not turn out as I had hoped. Perhaps that happened to you, here. Nail it next time. : )

  43. Love the new sleeves and the dress length, but agree with TaraLee about the sash looking too much like something a server would wear. I’m wondering if you could adjust the sash so that it is a wider sash with the embellishments running around your waist instead. If that doesn’t work, then maybe swap the sash for a slim belt and, as someone else suggested, use the embellishments for shoulder straps on something else.

  44. I like it – it is a cute refashion and you look great in it. You could change it up by making a wider belt… is the decorative sash long enough to wear around your neck? You could also take apart the two sash (sleeve) pieces, gather the end of one and tuck it into the belt; could make a little bag out of the other sleeve applique piece…. All that being said, I think the refashion is a success, but if it doesn’t work for you, maybe we’ll see it in another form at some time – a skirt, maybe? With applique pockets… ??

  45. The Dye it..that pretty embellishment doesn’t work there. It looks like a towel that a server wears at their waist. Maybe save them for another project?

  46. Hi Sweets!
    Your hair is looking absolutely fabulous!!

    The dress is super cute and simple. I loved it!! Don’t fuss so much about because there will be others that will love it more, and that’s ok. The Mr loved it and that’s what counts.


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