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DIY Tiered Dress Refashion (Without a Pattern!)

Refashioning a Collared Thrift Store Dress
How to Dye & Refashion a Lace Dress

I’ve been seeing a lot of tiered dresses lately online and have been wanting one of my own for a little while now.

That’s why I’m so excited to share my latest, a DIY Tiered Dress Refashion that I didn’t even need a pattern for!

I began with this dress I’d had in my stash for a while.

Refashionista DIY Tiered Dress Refashion before

I originally thought I’d just end up turning it into a puffy sleeved top.

That is until I saw this inspiration piece from Zara.

Zara inspiration for refashion
My inspiration!

That’s right! It’s copycat time!

Before we begin, let me set some reasonable expectations.

My starter dress doesn’t even come close to having enough fabric to get a dress quite as voluminous as my inspo piece. BUT, I think I can end up with something evocative of it.

First, I put my dress on my dress form and marked approximately where I’d want the top to end.

The top is going to end up being shorter than this, since I’ll be taking it in, AND I need to keep a seam allowance in mind.

That’s why I kept it a little longer than I thought it would need to be.

Marking bottom of new top with a pin
You can always chop off more later!

Then, I chopped off the top!

chopping off top of dress

I put the top part of my dress back on my dress form and got to fitting.

Pining top of dress on dress form
Pin it to win it!

I used my tape measure to make sure the sides were even.

I’m not making the top super-fitted for a couple of reasons.

One, the top of my inspiration piece isn’t super fitted.

Two, in order to get into this dress when I’m done, I’ll need a little room!

I tried to keep as much blousy-ness as I could in the sleeves.

tapering sleeves to keep them puffy
Just taper it down.

I ran each side through my machine.

taking in sides of tiered dress

After I cut off the excess fabric, I tried it on and decided to cut a little more off the bottom.

taking more fabric off the bottom
Just a baby chop!

Time to deal with that skirt! First off, I measured the usable part of the skirt.

Measuring bottom part of refashion
About 20″!

According to my rough calculations, this meant I could make the first two tiers of my skirt 6.5″ and the bottom tier 7″.

So, I measured those measurements for the tiers out with some tailor’s chalk!

Marking tiers with tailor's chalk
Measure & Mark!

Then, I cut them out!

cutting out tiers for refashion
Here they are!

Time to graduate those tiers!

I left the bottom tier as-is, as I wanted my dress to have as much volume as possible.

I cut the top tier, leaving it a little larger than the bottom of my top.

cutting top tier for tiered dress
Looks about right.

Then, I cut the middle tier, leaving it somewhere in between the size of the top and bottom tiers.

cutting graduated tiers for dress refashion
No math involved!

I’m not a fan of math, so I didn’t measure this. I just eyeballed it.

I stitched the vertical open edges of the top two tiers together, and was then ready for my next step!

Gathering those tiers!

Creating gathers for tiers is super easy, friends!

I set my machine’s stitch length for a basting stitch (5), and ramped up the tension to 9. This makes the machine create gathers for you!

adjusting sewing machine tension
It’s getting tense in here…

When creating gathers, make sure you don’t backstitch to close it off AND make sure to leave a lot of extra extra thread on each end so you can adjust the gathers when you’re done!

creating gathers on sewing machine
It’s like magic!

Adjust your gathers and pin it together!

I started pinning the top tier to the top of my dress, right sides facing each other.

pinning on first tier to dress
It’s all coming together!

Stitch it down!

I ran this under my machine with regular tension and stitch size.

adding tier to dress
Keep to the left of the gathered stitch!

Repeat for the bottom two tiers and you’re done!

That’s it! Now I have a cute tiered dress I DIYed all by myself!

diy tiered dress refashion after
Eat your heart out, Zara!
diy tiered dress refashion after view from the side
View from the side!

This refashion is also super comfy and perfect for a day spent celebrating Mr. Refashionista’s birthday!

Mr. Refashionista and Refashionista
Happy Birthday, Handsome!
Birthday Zoom Happy Hour
Birthday Zoom Happy Hour with Friends!
patio garden selfie
Patio Garden Selfie!

While my tiered dress isn’t exactly a clone of my inspiration dress, I think I might like my version even better!

tiered dress refashion after
I’ll be holding on to this one for a while, friends!


Refashionista DIY Tiered Dress Refashion Before and After

Refashioning a Collared Thrift Store Dress
How to Dye & Refashion a Lace Dress

70 thoughts on “DIY Tiered Dress Refashion (Without a Pattern!)”

  1. Love this refashion. Seriously, it’s amazing! I’ve never thought to add tiers before. You make it manageable. I’ll have to give it a try on a boxy dress that I own that has cute fabric but needs shape.

  2. This might be my favorite one ever! Another time you could try it with a contrasting panel or two in the skirt? Also with every thrift store hanging those 90’s denim giant dresses, I bet you could make a sleeveless summer one. Great job and I am so glad you’re back!

  3. Love the tiered dress you made, dislike the Zara version—-overly exagerated, impractical. Yours is really cute and I can see it being worn to work, to an interview, to a day party, a fancy lunch out, etc. Endless possibilities for that dress. Zara’s can be worn to a Halloween party, just add a big hair bow and it’s Baby Snooks !

  4. I love your refashion. It is much nicer than the Zara one, with its weird puffy sleeves. I think the panels’width is perfect for the length of the dress. To choose between yours and others, I would definitely take yours. It has no flaw.

    With tons of love (we all need love especially now, right?)

  5. This is one of my favorite refashions! That dress is stinkin cute. If only I had the figure to wear a dress like that again….sigh.

  6. I prefer your version Jillian — what a great color! The gathering looks top notch. What kind of material was this?

  7. I love the Zara dress, but yours is better: it looks nice on you. I love the shoes, too. Happy bithday to Mr. Refashionista! Stay safe! and thank you very much for sharing!

  8. You can do a 2nd refashion on this and cut the sleeves to make puffy ones like in your inspiration piece! Chop, chop! 😉

  9. Well I love your version and it looks great on you. But I am not at all keen on the original version. I suspect that in a decade or so we are going to look back on some of the current fashions and cringe. The original version of your dress will be one. : ( So glad you kept the sleeves long. This dress is beyond cute and sassy. There is a real grace in its construction… I’d give it five stars any day… What happened to your stars grading system???? ; ) It amused and sometimes surprised me….

  10. Seriously cute! Muuuch better than the other version. So often I think, this is my favourite refashion and then you come along with an even better one. Happy birthday and „Prost“ (cheers) to your hubby all the way from Bavaria.

  11. Easily one of your best refashions ever! The inspo dress one of those pieces designed to push the envelope and make a statement, which is cool in it’s own right, but I am not surprised that everyone prefers your version!

    Every time I look at your dress before the refashion, I think how happy the little old lady who wore it would be to see how you have reimagined it. 🙂

  12. This is my fav Refashionista ever! It is SO CUTE and WAY cuter than the inspo!!!! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you are SO ADORABLE!!!
    I love getting email from you and Mr. R… it’s like a sweet surprise. Oh… happy belated birthday to your handsome hubs.

  13. I love it! Thank you for keeping the refashions coming. I am so happy to see an email from you! Happy birthday Mr. Refashionista!

  14. Looks great, Jillian! And happy birthday to your handsome husband! I’m loving his beard. ☺️ My husband is a beard man too!

  15. The “inspiration” dress is WAY to long and oversized – it does look like an overgrown child’s dress. Your version is absolutely GORGEOUS (love that color!)….thank you for showing the “grownup” way to seriously ROCK a trend.

  16. Wow! You’ve outdone yourself on this one. I am so inspired by all of your creations, but this one is special. Stay well and stay safe!


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