I always think I like free-waisted dresses like this one when I see them hanging on the rack at the thrift store.
“Oh, that will be comfy and cute on me!” I say.
But then I put one on and discover that while I may like them, they don’t especially like my pear-shaped figure.
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This jersey-knit dress is incredibly comfy and made of some of the softest jersey fabric I’ve ever encountered.
Unfortunately, what it possesses in comfort, it completely lacks in style.
But what can I do about it?
After a moment of contemplation, I decided I would turn this frumpy dress into a cute DIY tunic top! It was super easy too!
First, I needed to deal with that weird neck lacing thing.
I pulled it out and set it aside.
Then, I chopped off everything below the armpits of this dress.
This left me with a good bit of fabric to work with.
This also left me with a raw edge, which would normally need to be hemmed. But since this dress is made of a jersey knit, all I had to do was tug at it to make it curl.
That curled edge is now going to be the bottom of my new top and the original hemmed bottom is going to be the top!
I took my fabric scrap and pinned the original hem where I wanted my neck to begin and end.
If you’re following along with this tutorial at home, feel free to slip this over your head if you’re unsure as to whether or not you’ve given your neck enough (or too much!) room!
If you look closely at the pic above, you can see the front middle has a little more fabric than the back.
This is a feature, not a bug! 😉 The front of the original dress had a little more fabric than the back (to leave room for things like boobs).
To make this top, I knew I needed everything from the side seams to the neck hole to be flat and even, so I just let the neck drape a little.
I grabbed my amazing sewing clips that I love love love and clipped everything from the edge of the neck to the side seams.
Seriously. Go get you some sewing clips. They are awesome.
Next, I sewed along the edges of my clipped fabric.
These are going to be the shoulders of my new top!
But wait! Where are your arms gonna go?!?!!! you’re likely thinking,
I’m so glad you asked (or perhaps screamed in your mind).
I grabbed my scissors and snipped about 5″ or so carefully riiiiight along the side seams below my newly-sewn shoulders.
Remember how I said it was important to keep the side seams flat and even? That’s because I’m cutting riiiiiight along that serged edge.
When I was done snipping, I tossed my new top on and cinched the waist with that leftover neck tie thing!
If you want to try this with a dress that doesn’t have a neck tie thingy (as it most certainly should not), you can cut a scrap from the leftover fabric that resulted from removing the top and use it instead. Or you could leave it free-waisted and french tuck it.
I styled my new top with a ripped pair of jeans, black sandals, and silver accessories.
I love my new tunic top and am so happy I didn’t leave this piece as a dress!
Here’s what it looks like from the side!
I think that slightly draped neckline works just fine, and am glad I didn’t make it any wider.
- Some of you may remember how I made a top from a skirt using a similar technique.
- This dress refashion where I traced another dress over the skirt of a thrifted dress is similar too (but with actual sleeves).
- And here’s an upside-down dress refashion where I repurposed the bottom side slits of dress as armholes.
I wish I could say I had a lovely relaxing day in my new top, but sadly, that wasn’t the case. :/ Baby Benson has an odd growth coming out of his foot, so I took him to the vet to get it looked at.
They’re not sure what it is, but gave him antibiotics for now. He might need surgery next week, so please keep this little guy in your thoughts! He’s had a couple of random maladies over the past few months, so it would be nice for him to get a break from medical issues for a while!
Pin this refashion tutorial for how to upcycle a jersey dress into a tunic using this link!
DIY Tunic Top from Jersey Knit Dress
Learn how to make a simple tunic top from a jersey-knit dress from the thrift store. No sewing pattern needed for this simple diy upcycle tutorial. Start refashioning dresses into tops today!
- 1 Jersey Knit Dress (free waisted)
- Fabric Scissors
- Sewing Clips
- Sewing Machine
- Cut off everything below the armpits of your dress.
- Cut an additional 1" scrap from the top of the bottom scrap to repurpose as a tie to cinch the waist (if desired). Pull it so it curls.
- Tug at the resulting raw edge to make it curl.
- Flip the bottom scrap upside down. The bottom hem will now be the top of your new tunic top.
- Pin the original hem where you want the neck of your tunic top to begin and end. Slip this over your head if you’re unsure as to whether or not you’ve given your neck enough (or too much!) room!
- Use your sewing clips to clip everything from the edge of the neck to the side seams.
- Sew along the edges of the clipped fabric, pulling the clips off as you come to them. This will be the shoulders of your new top.
- Cut 4-5" slits right below the top of your top along the side seams.
- Put your new tunic top on and cinch the waist with the scrap from Step 2.
The front of your dress may have more fabric than the back. Since you want everything from the side seams to the neck hole to be flat and even, just let the front side of the neck hole drape a little.
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