How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top 3
Refashions,  Dress Refashions,  Dress to Top Refashions

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top

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I love finding unique pieces at the thrift store. Of course, if I only have to pay $1 for them, that’s even better!

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top Before Image
Bear with me.

I frequently encounter dresses like this one with some really nice details, like that decorated single lapel and side button waist. The details are there, but it just doesn’t work as a dress, as we’re not in the 1980s anymore.

closeup of lapel detail
So pretty!

An easy solution to make dated thrift store dresses like these work is to refashion them from dresses into tops!

I first started doing this back in college. My roommate and I lived in an extremely dodgy triplex (which has since been converted into a completely non-dodgy British Pub).

We were both hopelessly broke. I worked at a gourmet food shop that let employees take home any croissants and other pastries that didn’t sell that day, which we rationed for just about all of our meals. I can’t believe I’m not diabetic.

“We’ll have an oatmeal cookie for breakfast, A plain croissant for lunch, and a spinach and feta croissant for dinner.”

We didn’t have money for new clothes, so when we got tired of a dress in our closet or thought one didn’t fit quite right, we’d chop it off and hand stitch a new hem.

Voila! We now had new tops!

Fast forward to 17 years (EEEP!!!!) later, and I’m still refashioning dresses into tops today (duh!)!

Step 1: Remove the unwanted details.

This dress had a few items I knew I didn’t want on my top.

I ripped off the shoulder pads and those buttons from the sleeves.

Of course, if the dress you’re working with doesn’t have anything you need or want to remove, you can skip this step!

removing button with seam ripper
Rrrrrrip!
removed shoulder pads and buttons on floor
Begone!

Step 2: Choose your chop!

Try the dress on and pin where you’d like your top to end. Be a little generous here, as when the weight of the skirt is removed, it’s going to fall a little shorter than where you pinned it (because gravity).

Also, make sure to leave enough space for a seam allowance.

cutting skirt off dress
My chosen chop!

Pro Tip: Try to keep your friend’s dog that you’re watching for the day off of your refashion if at all possible.

dachshund walking across refashion
Elivs, NO!!!!

Step 3: Pin the bottom raw edge under.

Just fold it under and pin!

pinning bottom raw edge of top under
Pin it!

It’s better to double this over so the raw edge is tucked in, but I’m pinning the red part to the seam where the black and red parts join, so this would have added a lot of bulk.

Step 4: Stitch the bottom hem down!

While I use my sewing machine for this, you could channel your inner college-age Jillian and hand stitch it. Bonus points if you do so while watching a VHS tape of a Masterpiece Classics miniseries you’ve checked out from your local library.

stitching bottom hem on top with sewing machine
Whirrrrrr!!!!

And just like that, you have a new top!

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top After Image
It’s 84 degrees here in SC!

You can see I chose to roll up the sleeves a little bit, rather than cut them shorter. I think it works, but I can always change them later.

I really like how my new top dresses up my comfy shorts, but can also see myself pairing it with a pair of black pencil pants or black jeans.

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top close up
Pondering the complexities of the universe.

While running errands in my new dress-turned-top I scored a bamboo coffee table a neighbor tossed out.

After tossing it into my hatchback, I texted Mr. Refashionista this pic:

refashionista with table in car
Score!

He replied with:

Oh My God and facepalm emoji
Curbside trash is life, Brian.

I have since repurposed said table into a cute poolside bench for my patio. 🙂 Several of you have asked to see my patio (which I’ve done a lot of work to get summer-ready), and I’ll be sharing my super-budget patio decor in a post soon I promise!

Til then…

Cheers!

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top Before and After Image
Yield: 1 New Top

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top

How to Turn a Thrifted Dress into a Top Before and After Image
Learn how to refashion dated thrift store dresses from dresses into tops in this easy DIY Dress to Top Upcycle tutorial by the Refashionista! 
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost Less than $5

Materials

  • 1 Thrifted Dress

Tools

  • Sewing Mahcine (if not hand sewing)
  • Hand sewing needle (if not machine sewing)
  • Thread
  • Fabric Scissors

Instructions

  1. Remove the unwanted details. Of course, if the dress you’re working with doesn’t have anything you need or want to remove, you can skip this step!
  2. Choose your chop! Try the dress on and pin where you’d like your top to end. Be a little generous here, as when the weight of the skirt is removed, it’s going to fall a little shorter than where you pinned it (because gravity). Also, make sure to leave enough space for a seam allowance.
  3. Pin the bottom raw edge under. Just fold it under and pin!
  4. Stitch the bottom hem down!
  5. Press your new bottom hem.
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