I love finding unique pieces at the thrift store. Of course, if I only have to pay $1 for them, that’s even better!
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.
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!
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.
Pro Tip: Try to keep your friend’s dog that you’re watching for the day off of your refashion if at all possible.
Step 3: Pin the bottom raw edge under.
Just fold it under and pin!
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.
And just like that, you have a new top!
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.
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:
He replied with:
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!
- 1 Thrifted Dress
- Sewing Mahcine (if not hand sewing)
- Hand sewing needle (if not machine sewing)
- Fabric Scissors
- 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!
- 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.
- Pin the bottom raw edge under. Just fold it under and pin!
- Stitch the bottom hem down!
- Press your new bottom hem.