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’80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion

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When I first donned this ’80s-tastic dress, the song Lady in Red began playing on a constant loop in my brain.

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion before
There’s nobody here. It’s just you and me. (Thank God.)

It was quite annoying.

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion before 2
…much like these sleeves…

This dress has a lot going on, doesn’t it? But I actually like a lot about it!

Let’s take a closer look at that fab fabric…

closeup of fabric
It’s hip to be square.

I love that bright red. Not that you’d know it as I don’t own many red dresses. Therefore, my latest acquisition is a step in the right sartorial direction.

Here’s a closer look at the label.

closeup of Robin Joy label
I did not, in fact, wash this in Woolite (and it turned out just fine).

I always love it when I score something that was made right here in the US!

union label
Union-made, no less!

I also liked that diagonal pleating across the front of the dress.

I didn’t like how ill-fitting it was on me, and I thought those sleeves were too much.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission. Thanks!

When I spotted this dress on the $1 clearance rack, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I would refashion it into an elegant one-shoulder dress!

First, I grabbed my seam ripper and began unpicking the right sleeve.

unpicking sleeve from dress
Pick. Pick. Pick.

As I picked, I discovered a teeny tiny shoulder pad (because…you know…those sleeves weren’t floofy enough, right?) that I ripped out as well.

removed sleeve and shoulder pad
Lookit that lil baby shoulder pad!

I only needed to rip out one of the sleeves for this refashion, as I would be completely removing the opposite shoulder in my next step.

I made a big chop across the top of my dress, using those diagonal pleats as a guide.

cutting off top of dress
A most daring chop!

Then, I folded the edges of the armhole under twice, securing them with my sewing clips

(You can get your own sewing clips here.)

clipped arm hole of dress
No raw edges here!

I closed up my armhole carefully, making sure to sew with the folds of the pleats, rather than against them.

sewing up armhole
It looks a little awkward, but this will ensure they lay down correctly!

Then, I folded and clipped the open fraying mess at the top of my dress.

clipping top of dress
You can also use pins, but clips are better!

I quickly stitched this down as well.

sewing top of dress

All that was left to do was get this dress fitted!

I put my dress on my dress form and pinned the sides at the armpits.

pinned armpit of dress on dress form
Shoulder 1.
pinned armpit of dress on dress form 2
Shoulder 2!

I took my dress off my dress form to pin the rest of the sides, leaving a little extra room at the hips.

pinning side seam of dress
Measure each side to keep it even!

I chose to pin this dress off my dress form instead of on because the silky fabric is much easier to work with this way.

After each side was pinned, I sewed my new side seams!

sewing side seam
I wonder if this will actually work out?

Then, I cut off the excess fabric with my pinking shears.

cutting off excess fabric
Snippitty Snip Snip!

I tried my dress on, and discovered the top was still too big.

This wasn’t much of a surprise, as the shoulders of my dress form are just a smidge larger than my own.

Not to worry! I tweaked the top by taking the open shoulder side in a smidgen.

I pinned where I wanted to take the top in, then marked a line to blend it into the existing side seam.

pinning side of dress
I used my french curve to help blend the seam.

Then, I pinned along the chalked line.

pinning along chalked line
Almost done!

Finally, I stitched it down.

sewing along chalked line
The final whirrrr!

After ironing my new dress, I was all done!

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion after 1
Lady in Reeeeeeed!

Ain’t she a beaut?!?!

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion after close up
…is dancing with meeeeee…

I was thrilled with how elegant this dress turned out!

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion after arm up
Gaze into my armpit!

I styled my new dress with a pair of teal sunnies and mustard Jack Rodgers sandals.

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion after selfie
Do I have too many pairs of sunnies?
refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion after selfie smiling
No. No I do not.

With a refashion this nice, I couldn’t just hang out on my porch all day! It needed to get out and be seen!

refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion after without sunglasses
Seriously. Stop. You’re weirding out the neighbors.

I headed out the door to meet with Erin for an after-work bevvie at Bourbon!

refashionista with french 75
Well hello, French 75! Shall I drink you?
refashionista drinking french 75
Indeed I shall!

We’ve both been a little cranky about not being able to safely travel for over a year.

jillian and erin looking cranky

But we’re happy to see things appear to be getting better! We spent the evening chatting about all the places we can’t wait to visit!

Jillian and Erin
Erin says hi!

Oh! and I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you my new handbag I had custom-made by local designer, Sally Peek!

refashionista with nana bag
Yes. I coordinated this refashion to match it.

Her business is Nana by Sally. My new bag was made out of remnants from a regional furniture maker (that would have otherwise been tossed out!). Stylish, locally-made, and sustainable? Yes please!

I hope you’re all having a great week and are finding small things to be delighted by/look forward to as well.


refashionista '80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion before and after
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47 thoughts on “’80s Dress to One Shoulder Dress Refashion”

  1. Love this one so much, its elegant and you look stunning in the red especially with your always amazing accessories x

  2. Wow! You made this dress into a beauty! Love the colour.. love the one strap. It’s elegant and not the least bit gaudy. Love the purse with the dress and the shoes as well. Love your hair! 🙂

  3. Gorgeous! Both you and the dress! Excellent refashion! You are so talented!
    And I love finding and buying clothes made in the USA too 🙂

  4. Love the new platform! Seems more streamlined. Thanks for all the post Jillian! I love your writing and sewing, but especially your writing.

  5. This is gorgeous! The colour, the pattern of the fabric, and the way you transformed it from frump to fab. Looks wonderful on you! Say hi to Erin, we feel you. Eager to go visit places again!

  6. Fabulous! I love everything about this refashion. It’s made in America, the wonderful squares, the red and of course the shoulder! Keep up the good work. This is an inspiration!

  7. What a brilliant idea. It looks like that was how it should have been in the first place. I think you need to get more red in your wardrobe, it looks beautiful on you.

  8. You really rock the red, Jillian. This is such a fun, sophisticated refash. Terrific fabric, perfectly suited to the line of your design. Inspiring transformation on this one. The sunnies and earrings just take it to the top.

  9. Maybe because the right hand needed to be free to do stuff? First time I’ve ever heard of this reasoning but it makes sense — Indian sarees are worn with the big drape over the left shoulder. Hmmmm.
    Jillian’s refashioned red dress is the best — like it was originally meant to be one-shouldered! Bravo!

  10. Wow!!! Jillian, your vision is just amazing! I love this dress! I must like red, too, because your Minnie Mouse dress makeover was another bfav of mine.

  11. While I HATE one-shoulder fashions for me, this looks stunning on you. You convinced me to get clips and I LOVE them too! Wish I had gotten more than the 50, but who knew I’d like them so much…besides you of course? Hee-hee. So glad you’re looking and feeling better. Still praying you stay healthy. God bless!

  12. This is a really cool refash! But I do have question about 1 shoulder protocol. Back in the day my mom always said that the left shoulder must be fully covered, but the right shoulder could be open or just have a spaghetti strap, and I notice that you often cover the right shoulder and leave the left one open. I’m not sure if this is or was a real rule, or maybe it was because one shoulder fashions were typically formal wear, and it’s traditional to pin a corsage on the left shoulder. Thanks in advance for any thoughts on the subject.

  13. Very cool — probably quite literally! Might you happen to have heard of actress Dorothy Lamour (wonder how many people are in on that translation…)? You’ve definitely got a “Dottie” vibe going on here with this dress. Hint: she started quite a trend by wearing a particular garment with a definite South Seas homage. And, if you haven’t yet, you have a viewing treasure in store for you watching the “Road” pictures with Bob (Hope), Bing (Crosby), and of course Dottie (Dorothy Lamour)! Enjoy!

  14. Ooh La La! Tres chic!
    Super cute, and super elegant. I think this is one of my favorites of your refashions and I’ve been following you for years. Brava, Jillian! Way to sew!

  15. All I can say is “WOW”! This is one of your best. So glad you could save this beautiful fabric and set this dress free for a new life. Outstanding job.

  16. Love the dress..totally jealous that you can go outside in a one shoulder outfit.. We in eastern Ontario are waaay behind

  17. Too elegant… love that you left the length. Those square earrings are just the right touch! You’re looking great in a stylish refashion.

  18. Every time I think you have made my “favorite” refashion you come around with another contender for that title. The transformation here is amazing. The fabric looks fresh and expensive in the new look, but in the original dress it reminds me of the flimsy fabric they always use for those “sexy Satan” Halloween costumes. I know… odd place for my brain to go… but the change in even the look of the fabric itself is just so surprising to me. Well done!

  19. Oh my dear, you’ve really done it this time! Your refashion is nothing short of fabulous, it’s as though that fugly dress was just waiting for your genius to bring out its beauty. And that red really suits your coloring. ❤

  20. You look fantastic in red, Jillian. I’ve noticed that before. How clever you are, to see such potential in way-out-of-style clothing. This creation has the wow factor. We need a photo of Mr. Refashionista’s reaction to seeing you in this outfit, please.


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