An "It'll do for work." Refashion 2
Dress Refashions,  Refashions

An “It’ll do for work.” Refashion

Rockwell Dress
A Dress to Cowl Back Top Refashion

Spoiler Alert:  This is not a terribly exciting refashion.  But it IS a cautionary tale about what happens when you make boring non-daring choices in a refashion!  

So…let’s begin!

It all started with this dress I found on the 50 cent rack at a nearby Goodwill:

itll do for work refashion before
I assume the previous owner died after being mauled by a tiger.

I can see why nobody wanted this one, as it has a pretty major hole in the shoulder.  No worries!  I can fix that, and fix it I did!

No big deal.
No big deal.

With that shoulder fixed, I got to removing a couple of things I wasn’t too fond of…

Shoulder padding!
Shoulder padding!
row of buttons
Oh joy. A row of buttons right above my butt. How flattering!
removed buttons
Whew! Much better!

I decided to just take this one in a couple of inches on each side.

pinned dress on ironing board
Just a couple ‘o inches!

I stitched each side down, then serged those rapidly-fraying raw edges!


Here’s what it looked like when I was done:

serged seam

I chopped off a ridiculously conservative amount off the bottom…

cutting off hem

Then I gave it a new hem.


And here it is:  My totally boring dress that I don’t really care for!

itll do for work refashion after
Seriously. :/

And here it is being boring and still-dated-looking from the side!

Not much better, eh?  :/
Not much better, eh? :/

Not even my cool new wig could save it!  :/

I feel pretty!
I feel pretty!

The print is fun, but this frock is still oh-so-frump!  :/  I think I’ll re-refashion it!

I feel like I should have taken it in MUCH more and should have gone a good bit shorter as well.  I made a couple of boring conservative choices and ended up with a lackluster result. :/

I looked at it and thought, “Eh.  It’ll do for work.”, which is exactly the mediocrity I strive to avoid, both in my sewing AND in my personal appearance.

So yeah.  I don’t really like this one very much, but hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and not suss out the way I did.

Fortune favors the bold!


it'll do for work refashion before and after
Rockwell Dress
A Dress to Cowl Back Top Refashion


  • Nancy

    I think this dress on you is classy. The raglan sleeve, the neckline, the dress length…..
    It is June 2020. I like your blog so much I go back and read all your posts!!!

  • Pam

    I think this is darling on you. One of the best looks you’ve ever done and I’ve seen most of them! I love the fabric, the cut of the dress, the belt you chose, the length…it’s a classier look.

  • Violet Tailyeour

    I think the length is great! Shorter is not always the answer. Just like your fantastic ugly sweater project. Maybe take it in some more or fuss with the sleeves, but leave the length.

  • Chris Rose

    I think what you did to refashion is great. it’s just that I don’t like the print and nothing anyone could do with the garment would fix that.


  • With Love, Rhianna

    It’s perfect! I wouldn’t change a thing! I think you should do more like that. I feel fashion has gotten too revealing, too often. I think its nice to be sexy but that, to me, is not by being tight and short but by looking fabulous without having to show a thing (or everything)! Forget bringing sexy back…let’s bring classy back! You looked great!!!!

  • Anna

    Actually, I love this!! In my opinion, the dress’s length is perfect. Even though I thoroughly enjoy watching your work, I’m not a big fan of your shorter dresses, strapless tops, etc., so I think you’ve hit a home run with this modest, classy outfit! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Jennifer Lewis

    I actually like the refashion. It’s not bad at all. Sometimes you have to have a few restrained pieces in your wardrobe for those moments where it is required, and this works great while still being party because of the print. Like some of the others suggested, you can always change it again if it just isn’t working.

  • Creshone

    I just came across your blog and have to say that you are amazing. I like this dress. I could see where you could make a few adjustments. However, it looks really nice on you. I would love to rock this dress. Can’t wait to see what else you create

  • Meagan

    I actually like it almost all the way around – the only thing I would probably change is the sleeve style. If the sleeves stay the same length but are a bit tighter, I think this would be a really nice looking dress! I totally understand you wanting to refash again if it’s just not feeling “you”. If you aren’t feeling it, and you wouldn’t wear it, then what’s the point of keeping it, just because a lot of other people think it looks great?

  • Sew very fond of your blog!

    I’m not a fan of the square neckline in general so I looked back over some of your other posts to see if it’s my bias or if the neckline really is an issue. You look fabulous in… well you just look fabulous but particularly in the round (crew) or v-neck styles, so is there any way this square could become a v? That would likely help the overall feel of the piece. Would you like it better after a dye bath to deepen or dim the colours?
    Y’know, on second glance maybe this needs to be a one-shoulder piece for warmer weather.

  • Ellen

    Why not put some (or all) of the buttons back on as a neckline accent? (Your machine has a zig-zag stitch, so you wouldn’t have to do it by hand.)

  • Upcycled Clothing Tutorials

    I know what you mean. Sometimes I’m scared to cut into something because I’m envisioning the end result and then I cut into it and I was right. It’s unwearable! But that’s where the fun begins – my attempts to fix it often give me something I could never have seen when I first started. So here are some things I thought of when I saw you weren’t happy with your end result:

    1. Make it into a peplum style top.
    2. Make it into a hi-low duster.
    3. Make it into a circle skirt.

  • Christina

    This is one of my favorite refashions. I’m one of those people who won’t wear a tube dress, mostly because I don’t have enough boobage to keep one up. 🙂 Seeing you do a cute dress with sleeves gives me hope that there are cute dresses out there for me! Also I love the length. It’s flattering without bordering teeny-bopper, which is a line those of us not blessed with your legs can’t afford to push.

  • Lisa S

    I also like this one…even the length. But change the belt. I think the one you used accentuates the frump. Use a color that matches one in the dress…..and tighten up the shoulders.

  • K-town

    I agree with above poster and (I’m totally hypocritical when I say this): You are being too hard on yourself. Don’t sweat it girl! You are an amazingly creative person! I know coming back to a “not turned out the way I imagined” project is hard, but there is not shame in shoving it back in the closet to bring it out again with fresh eyes. We can’t win them all, but we can ask for a rematch!

  • Marie-Helene

    I think it looks cute. Definitely the style I would wear- but I dress more conservatively anyways. I don’t like showing much of my chest or my legs so for me this is a fun look.

  • Kat Lilly

    I actually really like it better than a lot of the other ones you prefer. The print is so bold that it’s nice that it’s a simple look in my opinion. But I’m sure you have more imagination than me and if you want to refashion again, have at it! 🙂

  • Karen

    I agree with like, ninety percent of the other comments. This dress is lovely! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now, and this is one of my favorites you’ve ever done! You shouldn’t change it, it’s wonderful. And your wig is cute too. 🙂

  • Heather H

    Looking forward to its exciting re-refashion! I think it looks cute but there is room for improvement, especially if you’re not satisfied.

  • windwife

    I think if you took in the armpits for a more fitted look at the top and sleeve with would be a really cute long sleeved dress. Or, with that great neckline it could look great as a tank dress and you could wear a cardigan with it.but my tastes are pretty classic (boring?)

    • Steph

      I agree with you windwife., the loose armpit/overly drapey sleeves aren’t flattering. More fitted cap sleeves or as a tank dress would be great!

  • dianne

    I really love this creation. The length and the cut are perfect, you just need some killer heels to pull this all off and perhaps a thinner belt. Then work it like you’re on the runway! Looks great on you!

  • Amanda

    I am a HUGE fan of this one! I find most of your dresses to be quite short so I’m a fan of this more sophisticated length. And can we talk about those colors against your coloring?! The pattern looks great on you. I also like the dolman appearance when you belted it. I love this one. It is one of my faves.

  • Jo-Anne

    I actually love the dress and think it looks fabulous on you. It’s not short and sassy but sometimes you want something different. it looks good on you and the colours really suit you too. I love the square neckline and the way you belted it. Super nice!

  • jenny_o

    It looks fantastic on you, and it makes you look older and more conservative, but if that’s not making you comfortable then have at it again! I wouldn’t want to wear something too young for me, and I can understand you not wanting to wear something too conservative for the same reasons.

  • Katheryn

    The colors look amazing on you. They really flatter you. Like everyone else says, it looks much better than you think. You wear it well! Anyway…a suggestion for a refashion…i like the way the loose top fits you. Maybe make it into one of the baggier blouses and wear over leggings or skinny pants. You could even keep the belt. Just an idea. The loose fit looks great on you! Love your site. You inspired me to finally learn to use the sewing machine that I have had for ten years!!!

  • Terri Gabriel

    “Oh joy. A row of buttons right above my ass. How flattering!” Oh that made me laugh!!! I think the dress looks great; maybe even better than some of the other refashes! Love your stuff!!!

  • Ann

    Since you’re not in love with the rehash, here’s an idea. Remove the square neckline, and shorten the sleeves. Use your serger to do a rolled hem edge on the neck and sleeves. Add a several rows of elastic thread to the neck line and sleeves. This should allow you to wear the dress off the shoulders for a night out and on the shoulders for work.

  • Skye

    Beside getting rid of the bagginess of the underarm section, I think it looks pretty good! With a pattern that bold, there’s not much to do

  • Turnbull

    I’ve been watching for a while, and refashioning my own things for longer and it’s hard. Your work is inspiring even if you have a blah day once and a while. You’re entitled. Over all the enormity of what you do for your cause (environmental friendliness) is not lost. Fortuna favet audaci – Or in English, fortune favors the bold is a meaningful motto for me because it is on the crest of my ancestors. Boldness or courage comes from inside, and you, my friend, are bold. Cheers!

  • Riff

    i know that feel, when you aren’t satisfied with what you did, although people around you keep saying it’s fine… see you next time, Inspiration!

  • Jill Schwieger

    Actually….I think this dress looks very cute on you! That bold print doesn’t need much in the way of fashion “lines”, the cinched waist worked wonders. AND I love the squared neckline. Buuuutt… what you want, it’s YOUR dress. (she whined )

  • Ilene

    I think it’s adorable! Love the colors in the retro print and it looks great on you. I know it’s not as daring as your typical refash, but sometimes you need something a little more reserved. Everything you do is so unique that even your most conservative stuff is still edgy and interesting!

  • Lauren in CO

    I agree with some of the others – this dress looks great on you! But if you aren’t feeling the love for it, you can change it! That’s the beauty of being a refashionista (with loads of talent 🙂 I gave it 4 stars!

  • Michelle Swetland

    I really didn’t notice that much of a change but it looks cute on you and I agree , different shoes with a heel would give it a better vibe. Maya flounce around the hem? Maybe?

  • Michelle

    I like it! The length does not work because of the footwear choice. Rock some heels! Also, I think the excess fabric under the arm could be improved-altered-modified. The Dolman/Batwings is the only part I don’t really care for.

  • Laurie Crews

    Honestly, I think it’s kinda cute, but going a bit shorter always helps! Although I think the neckline is “fine,” what about more of a curve than “square?” (Is that what it’s trying to do?). You can never go wrong with sleeveless. I love your refashions! You have inspired me to start my own blog (various projects…not refashion, although there may be a few…I’ll keep you “posted!” HA! WordPress is not as easy as they make it out to be. I’m on day 3 and hours and hours into it…but I’m not the most computer literate person ever!

  • Kaight

    One more thing: do you always sew first & then go back & serge? I boldly ‘just serged’ something I’d worked out carefully & pinned, etc…. to a disastrous result.

  • Debra

    I like this one! I, too, am an older (no.. more mature) follower of yours, amazed at what you can do with your treasured findings. Although I like your short, creative frocks — they would definitely not be suitable for my age group. This one speaks to me. There are many occasions that conservative works and you look great in this one 🙂

  • Rebecca Corley

    To take something that is torn and rather a house dress sort of style and turn it into a nice fitting work outfit is awsome. I like this one on you to, the colors are pretty,

  • Julie

    This is actually one of my favorites you have ever done. Though perhaps not your usual fare, I think it is very flattering, a bit more conservative than usual, and it looks great! I seriously love this one!

  • Daft Cow

    Woman you’re crackers. This is my favourite refashion in weeks. You don’t always need to have a tight fitting dress to show a great figure. Less frumpy more….understated 🙂

  • Joy Walsh

    Aww I think it looks cute! It’s a nice length, more elegant than mini and it’s great to see you wearing bright colours that aren’t dulled with dark green or plum xxxx

  • Aloma Cronberg

    It looks too big for you still! Make it tighter and close that neck up a bit and you will have a real cute dress! The frumpy look is from too much fabric in the dress! It does nothing to show off your cute little figure!!

  • Natasha Kozubski

    I would dye it, change the sleeves, maybe make a V-Neck, and a little shorter/slimmer would be better on you. It still looks good, but I agree that the print and style is a bit dated. Either way, good work. 🙂

  • Deborah Walker

    A little bit shorter, take it in a little more and bring in the neckline because it’s a little too wide for your slim figure.

  • Sharel

    You look great. Your figure and fashion sense can pull off any look. This dress really defines your neck and collar bones, drawing attention to that lovely face. From the posts above I am sure everyone would agree. The fun part is this is not your usual look so that in itself is bold!

  • Pat

    Chop off more at the bottom. Cut off some of the sleeves. Perhaps change the neckline. Definitely make it thinner on you. Needs something plain to make it pop! Gold belt? White belt? Or perhaps an slanted hem?

  • Caleal

    I think you should set this one aside for a few weeks so you can look at it with fresh eyes before you change it. I think it’s great!!

  • Yvonne

    I like this one! You always look pretty fab in your re-creations and this wild print deserved a simple re-do as it is too busy but unique for flashy refashioning. Don’t underestimate simple styles. I love these as much as the more complicated ones. Good job.

  • Betty Graff

    You have given me courage!!! I had bought when I was working at a “real job” some cashmere sweaters. I have a thing for cashmere and over the years felt that I could indulge myself, but some of them are itchy and I used to like turtlenecks better than I do now with my home based business more casual life. So you have given me the courage to cut off one of those turtlenecks (plans for at least two more) turn the edges under and have a nice casual pullover! I used to be fatter too so now it is like a nice cashmere sweat shirt. Couldn’t be more comfortable and cosy.

    Thanks for the courage! Without you I would never have brought my scissors close to my cashmere!

  • Sandra

    I don’t understand why you don’t like this one, I really love it! The print is amazing and not all of your dresses should be shorter! The length is perfect for this one! Maybe taking it in a tad more would have made it more tailored, but still the way it came out is perfect, love it! Actually love it much more than other dresses you’ve refashioned! There 🙂 hope this will cheer you up and will make you start at least liking this dress a little bit more 🙂

  • learningnewtricks

    It’s cute as it is…but you could take off the sleeves and keep 2″ straps; take in the side seams and make it a little more form fitting; shorten the hem to just above the knees (going too short isn’t necessary…above the knees would look more sexy). Don’t know what the back looks like, but you could make a low back — either a V or U shape. There are lots of possibilities.

  • mishqueen

    As a creative person myself, I also sometimes get caught up in a certain level of adrenaline that I expect from each product I make. If we don’t get the adrenaline, it kinda feels like a flop, doesn’t it? However, sometimes ‘tried and true’ doesn’t pump up my juice but ends up being a gorgeous piece of work that I actually wear more often because despite being boring, I look so darn good in it.

    I think this is one of those. You look better in this boring, weirdo dress than you do in some of your most awesome success pieces. Despite the print, the cut is stylish and quite flattering on your body type, even if it isn’t your preferred style. It may not say “I’m Jillian”, but it sure does say “I’m a gorgeous, classy woman who knows how to draw attention to my personal presence instead of my duds.”

    Some days, you just want to say that instead. 🙂

    • G-dog

      I agree. It is nice to see you not make another really short, tube dress. While you can wear these for much ipof the year and look great, many of us cannot. I like the sleeve length and the shape you get when adding the belt. And you make that fa rice pattern look good!

  • Jenna

    Those colours are amaze! Love the pattern. I agree with previous commenters – you look great! But, if you don’t feel great, re-refashion your heart out. There is still potential to make it more Jillian-ish :).

  • Kyrie

    I really love this dress. I feel like with such a bold print, having the cut be more conservative is really flattering and appropriate. That’s just me though. 🙂

  • rebecca

    The neckline is lovely on you. The length is good. The loose sleeves with 3/4 length are a nice detail that flatters your petiteness. And I like that you styled it with earrings and bracelets. It’s a win.

  • Joan McClure

    Jillian, this dress looks better than you think – there are times when you have to dress conservatively, and this does work for that. The print and colors are flattering, as is the belt you added. If you needed to attend a business or church function in the “not artistically creative” world, this would be perfect! Some of us would love wearing this!

  • Judy

    I have to agree with the comments above. I think it looks nice and not like you tried too hard.

    Your posts encouraged me to rework a pair of jeans yesterday. They fit in the waist and hips but had some ugly boot cut legs. I narrowed them in and re-hemmed to a better length. They may now be one of my favorites. Now a big refashion, but very successful.

  • Loretta

    Sleeves, yessss! Some of us don’t like to go sleeveless or are not flattered by sleeveless. So it is good to see the sleeves saved. I realize it is easier to not have to remove sleeves and then set them back in, but yay! for saving the sleeves!

  • Prfctlildvl

    You’re very tough on yourself…….I think the dress is fanfreakintabulous! The colors are beautiful on you. While you may have played it a bit safe on this one; it’s perfect for the office. It’s also a great length for those who aren’t as lucky as you are to be able to pull off those short short frocks (not all women have great legs). I love your designs and especially loved the one you did the other day with the cowly type back to it. You are very creative and a true whiz at what you do. I like even your simplest of refashions because who has time to pull out all the stops all the time (read NOT ME)!

  • Sarah

    I have to say this looks very flattering on you, especially the length. Sometimes trying to make bold fashion choices makes it look like you are trying so so so hard and it ends up looking silly and like you’ve been sewing drunk. I think this one is nice. The print itself is very bold and daring and it makes up for the skimpy length and body hugging tightness.

  • Robynne

    I guess that just goes to show everyone has such a different style! I love this dress. I would wear it and looove it. I like a little length, and the print is still bold and daring. I think it looks stylish and adorable with that belt!

  • MJ

    Cute pattern – keep it! It’s just still too big on you. Especially around the collar. I suggest that you take in a couple of inches in a straight seam down the back. I do that when the collar opening is too big or something is hanging off my shoulders. It works really well in some situations.
    Thanks for all the inspiration you give!!!!

What do you think?

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