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’80s Maternity Dress Refashion

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It’s officially Spooky Season here at Refashionista Headquarters! I can’t decide which is scarier…this ’80s maternity dress, or well…me in this picture.

refashionista 80s Maternity Dress Refashion Before
Well…this is scary.

You guys. This is the roughest-looking before pic I have ever taken. When I first looked at it, I knew it reminded me of something…

haunted doll
It me.

Yep. I basically look like a haunted doll from ebay (read the product descriptions if you’re in need of a laugh).

I took one look at that pic and immediately decided to take a 30 minute nap.

Back to the dress.

I found this dress on the $1 rack at my thrift store which is not at all surprising as it’s a super frumpy ’80s maternity dress that I seriously can’t imagine anyone wanting as-is.

Kathryn & Co. label
I assume the “Co.” is referring to the bebe.

Thankfully for my childbearing friends, maternity clothing has come a looooong way fashion-wise and they no longer have to dress like patterned lampshades while with child.

There are a few things I really liked about this dress.

The print is cheery and unique. The fabric is gauzy and light, which was perfect for the 80-something degree temps we’ve been experiencing here in SC (Where’d ya go, fall?). I also liked that bottom pleated skirt section.

Let’s remove some stuff!

To get started, I grabbed my seam ripper and carefully unpicked a few things.

First, I tackled those shoulder pads.

removing shoulder pads
Unpicking those spoooooky shoulder pads!

The sleeves came next.

I like to watch TV while I’m doing any time-consuming seam ripping.

removing sleeve with seam ripper
Trying to get into the Halloween mood by watching The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix.

After about 40 minutes or so, I was done!

removed sleeves and shoulder pads on floor

Next, I carefully snipped off that lace collar.

snipping out collar

Let’s fix those arm holes!

I pinned the arm holes under twice to hide the raw edge, then I stitched them down.

pinned arm hole
No fraying here!
sewing arm hole

Now that the arm holes are done, it’s time to take the dress in a lil bit!

I always try to finish the arm holes before taking anything in, as it helps them lay down better and prevents them from being super gape-y.

I pinned each side of my dress, making sure to keep it roomy enough for me to be able to slide in on and off (since there are no closures on the body of the dress).

pinning side of dress
Just a bit!

Then, I stitched them down.

taking in side of dress

I cut off the excess fabric, making sure to hold on to one of the scraps.

scrap of fabric
You’ll come into play later, friend!

A New Neckline

I didn’t care for the original neckline of dress. Removing the lace collar helped a bit, but I thought it would look much better as a V-neck.

Luckily, the back of this dress had a button neck closure and the front and back of the dress were identical otherwise (no bust darts or anything like that to foil my plans).

I removed the button from the back of the dress.

seam ripping off button
Don’t needja.

Then, I used my seam ripper to deepen that V.

unpicking v-neck
It’s hard to see in this pic due to the pattern. Sorry. :/

I pinned each side of my new neckline down…

pinned v-neck

…then put it under the needle.

sewing v-neck down
Gimme a V!

Let’s Refash a sash!

Remember those sleeves? I grabbed one, and cut off one end at an angle, then sewed it off.

sewing off end of sleeve

When I turned it inside-out, it looked like this:

sleeve scrap
Huh? C’mon! Even my waist isn’t that teeny.

I tied the long scrap from the side of the dress around my waist and draped the finished sleeve scrap over the knot to make a faux sash!

Here’s my newly-revamped maternity dress now!

80s maternity dress refashion after
Whew! Looking much less scary now!

I’m so happy with this one! The new V-neck totally works, and that print looks so cute now that it’s being featured on a breezy sundress.

side view of dress
View from the side!

Here’s a closer look of how my sash works:

underside of fake sash
What trickery is this?
closeup of sash
The sleeve is just literally flopped over the scrap.

I wore my new dress to a nearby polling location and did my civic duty. The line was long (and it was really hot out) but I made a plan to vote on this day, so I stuck to it. 🙂

refashionista with I Voted sticker
Make a plan to vote!

After voting, I met up with Mr. Refashionista & Erin!

Jillian and Brian
This is my favorite shirt of his. 🙂

A note on my baldness & wigs:

I hope nobody thinks me making fun of myself in the before pic for this Refashion/my use of wigs thinks I’m saying being bald is ugly. It’s not.

I’ve been wearing lots of headscarves and plan on going bald sometimes too when all my hair finally falls out (It looks really patchy right now, so I’ve been covering it). I’m really enjoying wearing wigs because I think they’re fun. It’s hard to feel pretty when I don’t feel great, and my wigs give me a nice confidence boost.

refashionista close up
I feel pretty!
Jillian and Erin
“Why did your mind go there?”, said Erin re: the Haunted Doll analogy.
refashionista holding plant
Color-coordinating with the local flora.

I hope this Refashion encourages you to look at old dowdy maternity wear in a new light!


refashionista 80s maternity dress refashion before and after
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100 thoughts on “’80s Maternity Dress Refashion”

  1. I love the print in this dress.Agree with a fellow reader this is a lovely color on you. Lol some pregnant women that owned this dress once upon a time is probably saying why wasn’t I that creative. You look good. Sending good thoughts and healing vibes your way. Continue to do what makes you feel good. Thanks SO much for continuing to post it brightens my day. Reading this day of chemo after getting home to rest and nap. Just can’t tell you how up lifting your posts are to me. Tommrow have order from the Head Diva ( granddaughter) to make a Halloween skirt for her to wear to school. Keeping busy and creative is great medicine. Take care

  2. I LOVE the ‘after’ dress. Bless you for voting, too. The line was 2 hrs long here, but it was the only time I could go. I reported to hospital 5:30 A.M. Wednesday morning for my surgery. I went home Thursday. What a year! Cancer, chemo, covid, surgery, and now radiation is scheduled. The surgeon is next to positive I am cancer free. Jillian, I pray for you every night. The world is a better place with you in it.

  3. your fashion is so Boho… on trend! Glad you are doing better, prayers are with you. Also curious as to the name on this wig!

  4. I happened to see your site on Pinterest and, even tho I don’t sew, I started following it. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and was really taken back when you announced you had cancer. You seem to be a fighter, with a sense of humor! And I’m glad that you are able to keep up the blog so we know that you are doing good. Good luck to you.

  5. Wow! I have to admit that due to my own limited knowledge of sewing and the print on that dress, I did not follow the steps very well and didn’t understand how this was going to turn out. I have to admit I did not have high hopes. But it is FABULOUS! You look so cute in the new sundress. I would never have guessed it started its life as a maternity dress. Well done!

  6. You are adorable and your skills are amazing. You’ve inspired me to take chances and do some alterations. I wish you a speedy treatment!!

  7. Oh, I absolutely love this transformation The dress is so pretty! I love your wigs. For some reason I was not able to comment on previous posts, but I wanted to say that I love your wigs. You wear them well, but I especially love the blonde wig on you. I hope that you are feeling better these days.

  8. Wow, sad blimp to Boho Bounce. Couldn’t have seen that sash potential, and love it. Quite a timeless, cool, fun finished fashion there. Your can-do, adventurous approach is so energizing. I like the idea of evaluating what you like about a garment, and then peeling away the parts you don’t. Always magical to follow your process.

  9. I’m starting to wish you had a thumb up button on here like Facebook does because I’m generally too lazy to comment, but I had to comment this time because I think this is my favorite refashion.

  10. You look wonderful! it’s important to feel good and you look fabulous. Dress came out really nice, as well. Cheers to you, health and happiness!

  11. I love your sense of humor all of the time. Your “snip!” and “whir whir” and others just crack me up. And using humor in tense, unhappy and scary circumstances is good. Your spirits need to stay up! And love the dress.

  12. You look “positively splendid”!!!! I love this refashion! You look fabulous! We are also watching the Haunting of Bly! It’s so creepy and good.

  13. This is definitely in my top 5 of your refashions and I speak from years of observing and applauding your work! Just love it. I’m also loving your wigs – if Dolly Parton taught us anything (and um, she taught us EVERYthing), it’s that wearing wigs and feeling good about yourself is nothing to shy away from xo

  14. Love the dress!!! Love the wig but most of all I love reading your words and descriptives of everything around ya! You are an inspiration!

  15. LOVE IT!!!! I think you need to make something special with all the shoulder pads you’ve liberated!! And I’m LOVING the wigs — you can change your personality with a flip of your hair.

  16. What an amazing transformation. You’ve made such a nice thing.
    I remember reading a really long time ago about visualisation and illness. It was a study about people with cancer, and some of them spent a while every day visualising their illness as a creature they could lock away in a cage. It had good results. Maybe the haunted doll is your mind doing just that. Lock up that doll!

  17. Love the refashing of this dress. Love the blonde wig you had in the previous refashion. You looked good as a blonde.

  18. I love this makeover, it has a sixties vibe! You are lucky, you have a nicely shaped round head. When I was bald, my head looked alarmingly flat on top, No scarf would make it look better, But my frosty short wig was great and fooled a few people. Good to hear things are “manageable”! Big hug!

  19. It’s the material and the design/pattern that always hooks me in. As long as there is enough material to work with, then the only limitation is your imagination. And that dear Jillian, is where there is no stopping you! Wonderful inspiration as always!
    Our “Brightest ,Clever Girl”.

  20. Hi! How are your nails doing? Any lift? You still have wonderful skin tone and eyebrows/lashes! I hope all is going well with your treatment and recovery!

  21. The “before” dress is one of the most hideous I have ever seen. The “after” dress is one of my favorites on your blog– and that is really saying something because you have created some fabulous clothes! I’ve been following you for several years. I love your writing style. And I have you to thank for pointing me to Charlie Unicorn. 🙂

  22. I was in a resale shop this morning just in time to hear the lady announce all clothing $1.00 sale! I smiled and thought of you 🙂
    You look beautiful with, without or in-between! So enjoy your posts and the amazing things you do with those tacky $1.00 castoffs. Brilliant!
    Stay strong, you are loved!

  23. I can’t believe how cute the “after” is! I love how you see what something can be rather than what it is. Keep it up! xo

  24. Great refashion! So glad you still continue your refashions on the days you are up to it. Been thru cancer myself and son of a gun life still goes in around you! Your smile and spunk shine thru all the darkness!!! You are looking good girl!

  25. I really love this refashion! Your eye for details – and not making a big deal out of making things work – like making the back of the dress into the front! – really makes your refashions work! And I love your wardrobe of wigs 🙂 I wear wigs because I basically have no hair on my head except in the back. Not a great look… I don’t usually wear them at home, but when I go out I do. They do make me feel pretty, and there is nothing wrong with that! I love your variety of wigs and the different personalities that come out. I have a variety of wigs, too. I love that you can’t tell its a wig. Be strong, continue finding joy in each day and I’ll continue praying for you.

  26. You look so cute love the wig. The dress is really fun amazing what you can do with a pair of scissors, sewing machine and creative ideas!

  27. Such an amazing transformation!! Gorgeous refashion . Please where your hair/head/wigs however and whenever you want. You are still beautiful any which way and you deserve to feel pretty and/or comfortable at all times! And you definitely don’t look anything like the scary doll but it made me laugh

  28. Seriously?! HOW ON EARTH do you do it?!! That dress was beyond hideous (that’s nothing to do with how you look either. You’re so pretty, that I promise you can get away with anything….. it’s infuriating!!). Once again, you’ve seen the positive in something discarded and dreadful and turned it in to a piece of clothing that I would pay to buy! Honestly, that dress is so on trend now – I LOVE it! Your wigs are sensational too. They’re so realistic that no-one would know it’s not your own hair and you look wonderful in all of them. If they make you feel more confident then I say, go for it…..I know that I would too, but you also have the option not to wear them if you feel like it, which is great. I truly believe that if your positivity and foresight around cancer is anything like your positivity and foresight with refashions, then you’ll absolutely smash it to pieces! Sending love from a grey and rainy South of England! Xx

  29. Amazed at what you did with that maternity dress! I love this “after” dress. By the way, I was eating a cracker when I first started reading this blog post and laughed so hard, well you can guess it got a little messy. I love your spirit and positive outlook, sending you prayers!

  30. You feel pretty because you are pretty. ♥️ And I totally love this refashion. I wish I had your eye to see how something could look.

  31. I’m so glad I read to the very end to see your note on baldness. I imagine it is challenging to feel pretty sometimes, but you are a beautiful woman always! You have such strength to continue with the activities you love and bringing joy to others. Hopefully you aren’t too hard on yourself on difficult days. Praying for your health and heart.

  32. This is a great refashion! And I had a laugh at your before-pic. Nobodys feelings should be hurt, even when they are bold! Lets just keep our sense of humor 🙂

  33. I love this refashion! The fabric is great- it was just begging you to bring out it’s beauty! And nobody ever better judge you for enjoying your wigs and head scarves. There’s no right way to deal with this- your way is the right way for you ❤️

  34. This has to be one of my favorite refashions ever. And I love the colors. Would look cute layered for fall too. I can totally see with a denim jacket and some boots. I am going to attempt a refashion tomorrow. You’ve inspired me. ❤️ Sending healing prayers your way

  35. I love your style and ESPECIALLY who you are if that makes sense. There is no clear cut way to behave in this situation. Your realism and honesty is so encouraging and beautiful just like you, both on the outside and inside. You go girl!!! Keep being you

  36. Super cute and clever Refashion! You took a dowdy dress and made it super stylish!
    Bald or wig what ever makes you feel good is all that matters ☺️. ♥️

  37. This turned out really cute. I love that you have so many wigs and scarves to chose from depending on your mood. You also look great bald. So many choices.

  38. I love this refashion & wigs are a fun way to change your look whether you have or don’t have hair. Unfortunately for me it way too hot here in FL most of the year for wigs.

  39. You look beautiful! The refashion is amazing. I was in my child bearing years when we were supposed to camouflage ( ha! ) our bellies. Our whole bodies, really. Why?! We wore what I referred to as floral tents. With frilly little bow collars and puffy sleeves. I hated them. My mother bought me the most awful of the lot! I felt obligated to wear them. I mean, they WERE a gift. Blessings on you and Mr. Refashionista!

  40. Love this refashion and love the wigs. Please show us some of your other head options. There are many of us who will at some time need chemo and go bald. Not all of us (not me!) want to appear without anything covering our heads.

  41. HOW do you get the arm holes to lay flat when you turn them under?!!?!? This one detail has stopped my latest refashion in it’s tracks. Desperately looking for the way to fix this.

  42. Wow! I would not have thought that dress could look so cute! I’m cracking up at your comparison with the baby doll. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself sometimes!

  43. Brava! You did it again! You took a really dowdy dress and created a beautiful fun frock! Love it!

    I love the fact that you’re comfortable wearing a wig, a scarf and going au natural! You’re beautiful every way you do it. <3

  44. I really love what you did with this dowdy maternity dress, it looks fabulous. I will certainly give that rack a second look next time I visit a charity shop. Thank you so much for the inspiration. Look after yourself and keep smiling. Love and hugs to you and Mr Refashionista.

  45. I swear my sister in law had that same dress in red in 1982 when she was pregnant w/ my nephew. But that’s impossible because there is no way I am old enough to have a 38 yr old nephew. Awesome re fash.

  46. This has got to be one of my favourites. So many dresses in the thrift world of all kinds that are super huge, and CHEAP ….and have absolutely amazing fabric. Awesome

  47. Love this. I agree…wearing a wig can give a person some confidence when hair is sparse or non-existence. Wishing you well everyday.


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