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Black Midi Sundress Refashion

Repurposing Idea for Face Masks: Patch Pockets!
Rosé Festival Dress Refashion

When I first scored this dress for $1 at one of my favorite thrift stores, my original intention was to turn it into a cute boxy jacket.

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refashionista Black Midi Sundress Refashion before
I think it would’ve turned out quite well!

But then I started getting targeted with ads for this black sundress from Amazon.

halife black midi summer dress from amazon
Innit CUTE????

Isn’t it adorable? I love black dresses, and the shape of this one is super-cute! I dig the buttons and the pockets too!

It only cost $27, but c’mon man. That’s the same price as TWENTY SEVEN dresses from the thrift store! What am I? A Rockefeller?

Plus, I love a challenge! I just knew I could get a similar look from my thrift store dress!

Of course, in its current form, my dress didn’t have much in common with my inspo piece.

refashionista looking at shoulder pad
I’m looking at you, shoulder pad.

Still, I think I can refashion this dowdy thrifted frock into a cute sundress, don’t you?

Let’s do it!

First, I removed those big shoulder pads.

cutting out shoulder pad
I’ll probably turn you guys into a nice sunglasses case!
removed shoulder pads
Anybody know a linebacker who could use these?

Then, I snipped off that back strappy thing.

back strappy thing
I don’t understand what the original point of this was.

I carefully put it aside, as I would soon be repurposing it to make the straps of my new dress!

back strappy thing removed
This will come back into play in just a bit!

I made a big chop across the middle of my dress.

cutting dress in two pieces
The refashion has begun!

Before I made my chop, I marked a spot that would leave me with enough fabric on the bottom half to achieve a midi length, and slightly more fabric than I thought I’d actually need on the top, since the taking in/retailoring/whatever you want to call it process would make it shorter.

I cut off those fake pocket flaps from the front of the dress.

cutting off pocket flap
A pocket is a terrible thing to fake.
removed pocket flaps
These guys may return in a future refashion!

And for the last of my preliminary snips, I cut off the sleeves, as I knew I wouldn’t be needing them.

removed sleeves
Just sleeve everything to me!

I put the top of my dress on my dress form inside-out and pinned the sides.

top of dress on dress form
Like this!

I wasn’t going for a fully-fitted finished product yet, as I knew I needed to add darts to the bodice and that I’d be removing a lot from the top of the dress as well. My goal here was just to get a basic shape started.

I stitched each side down.

sewing side of bodice
Just a little side-stitchin’!

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

cutting off side fabric
So far, so good, right?

I plopped the top of my dress back on my dress form and pinned two front darts.

pinned front darts
Shaping up nicely, eh?

To do this, I measured the distance from the front placket, the sides, AND the length & width of each dart to make sure everything was even.

I didn’t add bust darts to the sides, as I thought the leftover parts of the original bust darts for this dress would work well enough.

When I was reasonably certain I had measured everything properly, I sewed my darts down, starting at the bottom and ending with a long thread tail which I knotted by hand.

sewing front dart
Darts are easy, my friends. Don’t overthink ’em.
sewing dart
DO NOT BACKSTITCH your darts or they’ll look gawdawful.

TRIGGER WARNING: This is the part where this project goes completely off the mother flippin’ rails for a minute.

I traced the top of a bodice of another dress over my bodice-in-progress. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

traced chalk outline on dress
Wait, this isn’t the correct shape at all!

Then, I cut it out. ALSO A MISTAKE.

cutting out top of dress

You guys, this did not work out well.

I’m not going to waste your time showing how I cut off the shoulders, finished the new neckline & armholes and then attached the back tie thingies as straps.

Because it looked terrible when I was done!

The armholes were SUPER-gapey and the shape was all wrong. I used the wrong type of dress as my template for the type of darts I was working with, as well as the fabric itself.

I was incredibly annoyed with myself.

It is important to note that I took in the bodice from the back a little when I was done (since this affects the eventual structure of my dress).

pinning back of dress
First I pinned, then I stitched!

I played around with the bodice, trying to figure out a way to save the darn thing. I spent way too much time trying to make something work that just wasn’t working (Oooooooh…is this a metaphor for other aspects of human existence? Methinks it is!).

FINALLY, I made a bold choice that got everything back on track and chopped off the top of the bodice.

cut off top of dress bodice
Angry Hand of Despair

I folded the top over twice, pinned it down & then sewed it down.

pinning top of dress
But will this work?

I pinned the back strappy things to my new bodice, only to discover they were too short to be used as shoulder straps for my dress! Was there no end to my bad luck?!?!!!

Fortunately, I remembered these strappy things on the sleeves!

I cut each one off.

cutting off sleeve strap
Lots of little snips in this refashion, eh?

Then, I attached them to the ends of my too-short straps!

sewing straps together
Good save, right?

I pinned them to my bodice, and started to get excited at how my new dress was shaping up!

pinning straps to bodice

I ended up trying on bodice of my dress and tweaking the location of straps a few times before I was satisfied.

When I was happy with my straps, I sewed the back down…

sewing back strap down
A mini-whirrrrr!

…followed by the front!

sewing front strap onto dress
Make sure to backstitch a few times so they’re nice & secure!

The bodice of my dress was FINALLY DONE, friends!!!!

I took a brief break for a celebratory glass of wine, but couldn’t rest on my laurels for too long, as I still had to complete the bottom half of this refashion!

I laid my newly-created bodice out above the bottom scrap and marked each side, allowing a little extra for seam allowances and a small bit of gathering.

marking skirt
This will be the waist!

Then I folded it in half and traced a skirt from my closet that I really liked the fit of over it.

The line ended at the pre-existing side slit from the original dress (there was one on each side).

traced line on skirt of dress
This should be a good amount of fit & flare for my skirt!

I cut along the chalk line…

cutting along chalk line
Choppy chop!

…and unfolded the bottom half of my dress.

cut out skirt of dress

I turned the skirt of my dress inside out and pinned it along the cut sides.

pinned side skirt of dress
I promise all of this will be worthwhile when you see the end result!

Then, I sewed each side down!

sewing side of skirt
We’re almost done!

I gathered the top of my skirt just a tiiiiny bit by selecting a basting stitch and cranking the tension up to 5, and then sewed a straight line right at the top.

closeup of machine settings
Right here!

Time to bring it all together!!!

I laid the right sides of my bodice and skirt over each other and pinned them together!

pinning skirt and top together
What kind of blogger leaves her feet in her process pics?

For my final trick, I sewed them together!!!!!!

sewing skirt and top together
2 become 1.

When I was done, I flipped the top up and added a second stitch below the first one, folding the leftover fabric down as I did so.

Looooooook at my prrrrrrrretttttty dress now!!!!

refashionista Black Midi Sundress Refashion after
Definitely one of my favorites!!!!

Yes, this one took a lot of work and plenty of trial and error, but it was worth it!

refashionista Black Midi Sundress Refashion after closeup
The bodice turned out just fine!

I didn’t show the original back of this dress (sorry!), but check out this neat back button detail I was able to keep!

back view of refashion
Le back!

It was a hot day, but those side slits gave me a bit of built-in A/C!

refashionista Black Midi Sundress Refashion side view
View from the side!

Now, is it a clone of my inspo piece? Nope. But that wasn’t the goal. Did I add pockets (like the inspo piece?) Nope. Because I was tired and ready to be done with this one.

I wore my new dress to a Bierkeller pop up biergarten with friends!

Dan, Amanda, Jillian and Brian at table
Well don’t we look downright weekend-y?
Jillian and Claire
My dear pal Claire was busy working, but stopped by to say hello!

Mr. Refashionista and I enjoyed a few delightful german-style brews in the shade.

Brian in Mountains, Please hat
Yes. He’s still wearing that hat. Sigh.

Some of you are no doubt admiring my drinking vessel! I recently scored it at Goodwill for $2!!!!

jillian with beer stein
“It’s the most expensive thing you own!” Mr. R joked.

I’m so very glad I didn’t give up on this refashion even when it looked like it might not work out!

refashionista black summer midi dress refashion after 2
I think I’ll be wearing this one a lot this summer!


refashionista Black Midi Sundress Refashion before and after
Repurposing Idea for Face Masks: Patch Pockets!
Rosé Festival Dress Refashion

46 thoughts on “Black Midi Sundress Refashion”

  1. I discovered your blog today, and have skimmed through the past couple of years. I’m already a big fan! You know who you are and what you like, and you see past the undesirable details of a garment to envision its potential. Your black sundress is fabulous, even though it’s not what you originally planned. Did you add pockets yet?! Everyone deserves pockets!

    You’ve been on quite the journey and I appreciate that you shared your experiences. Your writing style makes it feel like I know you like a friend.

    I love all things sustainable, and there’s nothing more sustainable than something that’s already been made or built. Most of my clothes are 2nd-hand, too. Ironically, I’m now taking a diploma course in Fashion Design, and I hope to help bring more sustainability to the fashion industry.

  2. I think this is one of your greats! Thanks for posting it with all it’s problems, that gives the rest of us hope! Plus, you are a superb ‘hand actress’! I could tell you were angry with just one look of the hand;)

  3. Totally fantastic restyle… you would not know it was the same dress! I confess to being totally lost in the transition but the end result…! You’ve got my vote! BTW… love the pixie look of your beautiful hair! Bravo!

  4. Your Refashion is FANTASTIC…. but I have a question Is Mr. Refashionista loosing weight or are my eyes Really getting bad??????? Grandmothers need to know.

    • Thank you! And yes, he is! He’s been exercising more and eating healthier! He’s lost over 30 lbs since January!

  5. This is one of my favorites! You will wear this all summer and can change it up with accessories. Good job. Very inspiring!

  6. Okay… wait wait wait… isn’t that one of you’re exes in those after shots at the table? Am I way off base? I’m just being nosey here of course but after having just devoured your old posts while sick I feel I’m recognizing a face from back in the day…

  7. dress is super cute. Use the sleeves to make patch pockets. because POCKETS! Also, when making darts, stop with the needle down at the very skinny end…don’t back stitch, turn your piece around, and make a couple stiches between the dart line and the edge of the fabric. Works great.

  8. Such a gorgeous and cool (in more ways than one…) summer frock! So many would have given up and thrown it out, but you persevered. And got a wonderfully wearable addition to your closet out of it. Way to go!!

  9. CUTE!!! I love what you can do with a one dollar dress!! And you are rockin it! You look so good. I am so proud of you.

  10. I love how they are different sizes….I think it’s because it ISNT even in width ,and it looks a bit more unique that way,almost like they were planned to be made that way that makes me really like the straps.Anyway,that’s just my opinion.And you’re so right Karen,it was a great save

  11. Agree this fashion is one of the greats. I think b/c it’s fitted more than others. I was wondering what shape you were going for the first time–that made the first shape a mistake–since you picked out the bodice you liked.

  12. Cute! The straps are bugging me though? Don’t like the two sizes of fabric and the buttons down low. But still, what a save!!!

  13. That turned out so well! I admire your persistence, and thank you for sharing the downs as well as the ups of your refashioning. It helps to know that the process is not always easy, even for a pro like you.

  14. Wow I love your new dress so much! Definitely a high-fashion look! I am consistently amazed at your creativity and resourcefulness, thanks for sharing.

  15. Love the dress, but would love it better if the top was a v-opening as in the inspiration and can’t believe that you didn’t replicate the huge pockets !!!

  16. What kind of blogger leaves her feet in her process pics?

    Awesome, fun, creative, interesting bloggers do. Also, they show you things that don’t go according to plan (at first) so you feel you can learn to sew and not worry if you make a mistake. Just keep going and something good will emerge eventually…right?

    A+ to the Refashionista. May the toes reappear in many future photos! Toes want to shine, too!

  17. Your creations are amazing, this sundress is beautiful! You have inspired me to look at my old clothes in a whole different way, I’m enjoying redoing them into new fashions . Thanks for all your great ideas.

  18. love it, great job! You inspire me to rethink some of my dresses that I do not wear, but not ready to get rid of them yet.

  19. Mr. Refashionista is wearing a t-shirt from The Pine Club! I pass that awesome supper club at least twice a day as it is on my way to and from work. They have excellent steaks!

  20. Looks great. If you feel the need to anchor a seam,shorten the stitch length for the last inch or so.I like this much better than backstitching.


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