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Art Deco-ish Dress to Strapless Top Refashion

20 Tie-Dye Techniques to Try this Summer
1940s-Inspired Dress Refashion

There are certain brands I see over and over again in my thrifting adventures.

One of such brands is Kathie Lee. I usually find at least five of her unflattering-but-that’s-what-we-wore-back-then dresses in every thrift store trip.

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, which contributes to my doggos’ college funds . Thanks!

A Dress to Strapless Top DIY Refashion Before
And they all look sort of like this.

Does anybody else remember the Kathie Lee sweatshop scandal from the ’90s (and am I old for bringing this up)? I remember that being the moment when I realized how unethical the process behind how we get a lot of our clothes is. I had never even thought about it before.

When I put this dress on for my before pic, I noticed something was missing that I’d need to take into account as I planned my refashion strategy.

missing button from back of dress
Oh noes!

But how would I refashion this dress?

dress to strapless top refashion before
Decisions must be made!

I considered keeping it as a dress or turning it into a skirt.

When Erin invited me for an afternoon walk, I decided it was time for a dress-to-strapless top refashion!

I have way more dresses than I do tops right now, so this seemed like the best option.

I began my refashion by trimming off that skirt.

trimming off skirt from dress

You can see how the fabric from that waist detail thingy (technical term) covers the part I’m cutting off, which means no new bottom hem was required!

removed skirt from dress

Next, I made a few more chops on the top of the dress.

chopped off sleeves from dress
To the cutting room floor with you!

After measuring the new top of my…er…top, I realized it was going to need to be a little bigger in order to fit me.

This meant I had to make another chop.

Chopping off more fabric from the top of the dress

This was a dangerous move, friends. I was running the risk of this top being too short for me to want to wear.

I folded the top under to make a casing for elastic.

Sewing casing for elastic
It’s okay. Nobody else will see it!

You can see that I only folded it under once, rather than twice which left me with an inner raw edge. Alas, I just couldn’t run the risk of using up any more fabric, or this strapless top would end up being too short for my tastes.

I left a 1″ gap to thread my elastic through.

I pulled out some elastic from my stash and wrapped some of it under my arms, then cut it to a length that felt comfortable.

small roll of elastic
Elastic is fantastic!

Then, I used a safety pin to guide the elastic through its casing.

Safety pin with elastic
elastic added to casing
Break on through to the other side!

I stitched the ends of the elastic together and stitched that 1″ gap down.

stitching ends of elastic together
Almost done!

And just like that, my dress to strapless top Refashion was complete!

Dress to Strapless Top DIY Refashion After
Cute, innit?

I styled my new top with jeans, sunnies, my Born Payette wedges (soooo comfy), a vintage scarf, and a favorite leather tote bag.

Here’s a closer look!

dress to strapless top after close up
Allllmost too short, but somehow juuuust long enough.

And here it is from the back!

dress to strapless top after back view
Loving those buttons!

You can see where I replaced that missing button with one that was removed in earlier choppage. The top button is totally functionless, but still looks nice, I think!

While strolling through Shandon, we decided to stop by Craft & Draft for an outdoor glass of wine where we pondered what the future may bring.

Erin with glass of wine
Erin…deep in thought.

It was a little chilly out, so I put on a light cardigan.

Jillian with wine
SC weather has been bonkers lately.
refashionista selfie
Really liking how the blue orange look together!

Benson Update: I’m happy to report he’s doing really well! His vet thinks he’ll be able to go off crate rest by this weekend, which is GREAT news! Keep those fingers crossed!


Dress to Strapless Top DIY Refashion Before and After
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1940s-Inspired Dress Refashion

27 thoughts on “Art Deco-ish Dress to Strapless Top Refashion”

  1. Hmm. Potentially, you could have used the sleeves to make an applied casing, giving yourself a bit more length. I think it would have added an interesting detail, too.

    The bottom detail really made this top. Excellent vision!

  2. I keep my scraps in Ziploc bags, and then put all the bags in a box with a lid. Generally, the bags are separated by weight/type of fabric, but you could also do it by color or size.

  3. Glad to hear your fur baby is on the mend.
    You could have serged the top edge to prevent raveling (or zig zag if no serger). As much as you sew if you don’t have a serger you should get one. You’ll wonder how you lived without it. On knits it will sew and finish the seam and stretches.

  4. I love it! I would have never thought in a top… you are so talented… I am happy to see that Erin is ok. And good luck with Benson’s health!

  5. So cute! I love it! Has anyone ever said that you and your friend could pass for sisters? I think you look a lot like each other. <3

  6. Wowser! I am not convinced that you can turn the most awful thing, magically, into a treasure! Bravo on this one! You deserve it.. even for actually seeing any potential in this dress! Blows me away!

  7. So cute and a great way to use that lower edge to best advantage. Thank you for the update on Benson – that’s really good news!

  8. Next time you need to make an elastic casing try using single fold bias tape. I keep a 100 yd spool of 1 inch single fold in an ugly color just for this in my work room. I have used it sooooo much for hidden casings. Mostly in costumes or shorts for my girls.

  9. Adorable. U r so creative — and inspiring. Each new design is amazing. Can’t wait until thrift store r re-opened. Luv your work.

  10. Omg! Super cute Refashion!! Love the color combo too of blue and orange. So glad the little guy is doing better. Have a great day ☺️

  11. Super cute! I love the color and that you kept the detail at the waist. And I really, really love that Benson is getting better!

  12. Hi, just curious, do you keep all the old pieces you remove for future projects? If so, can you share a good way of sorting and storing? Love your page!!

  13. Adorbs!! And nicely styled, too. I assume that scarf also doubles as an emergency face covering if needs be? That’s what I’ve been doing when I don’t have a normal handmade mask handy. So glad your doggo is feeling better, too!


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