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Easy Bell Sleeve to Puff Sleeve Dress Refashion

DIY Ottolinger Deconstructed Sweater Knockoff
My Fourth Chemotherapy Treatment: The Home Stretch

There are some dresses that I truly believe were only brought into existence to be “okay to wear to work”.

This is one of such dresses.

Easy Bell Sleeve to Puff Sleeve Dress Refashion before

When my friend Erin first saw it, she said, “I’d like it on you if you were taller.”

Sadly, a growth spurt isn’t likely to happen (I’m 5’4″). And while she thought this dress was pretty much fine as-is. I had a few more problems with it.

I hate that metal thing at the neckline, and the bell sleeves combined with the overall silhouette of this dress feel really dated to me. Also, it’s just very very boring.

From Bell Sleeves to Puff Sleeves

I decided I wanted to change those dated bell sleeves into 2020 trendy boho puff sleeves.

It was super simple.

First, I made a tiny snip on each inside bottom sleeve hem.

snipping bottom sleeve to make elastic casing
Just a wee snip!

This is going to become a casing for elastic to gather the sleeve.

Then, I wrapped a piece of elastic around my wrist and marked it where I wanted it to end.

wad of elastic on cutting table
Elastic from my stash!

I made it just slightly longer than a perfect fit as I needed to allow for the fabric that would end up around it, as well as room to sew the ends of the elastic together when I was done.

elastic wrapped around my wrist
Looks about right!

I cut along the marking on the elastic and cut another piece the same length.

cut pieces of elastic
Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Now to thread it through! I added a safety pin to one end of the elastic.

safety pin on elastic
This will help push the elastic through!

I also pinned the other end of the elastic to the sleeve casing to keep it from getting lost inside as I pulled it through.

threading elastic through casing
Ooooh! It’s gathering quite nicely!

To finish my puff sleeve off, I sewed the elastic ends together, making sure to not get them twisted.

sewing elastic together
Go over it a few times to make sure it’s nice and secure!

My bell to puff sleeve conversion was complete!

completed puff sleeve refashion
But wait! There’s more!

I didn’t go back and close up the tiny hole I snipped on the inside as absolutely no one will ever see it or know it’s there except me…and well…er…I guess you since you’re reading this.

But about that neckline…

I used my seam ripper to carefully remove the stitches that attached the metal thing.

unpicking metal thing from neckline

Then, I pinned the sides down inside the dress to make a V-neck.

pinning v neck
Looking better already!

I didn’t want any stitching to be visible along the neckline, so I tacked each side down by hand.

hand stitching v neck
Tacking it down!

But that length!

The length of this dress was super unflattering on me, as I failed to grow a few inches in the refashioning process so far.

So, I made a chop!

cutting off bottom of dress
I’m not too short. The dress is too long. 😉

Then, I pinned a hem!

pinning bottom hem of dress
Methinks the new length will work much better!

I only needed to fold it over once, as this fabric is of a fray-free variety.

I stitched my hem down.

sewing bottom hem

But what about some decorative stitching?

I still wasn’t satisfied with this refashion. The puff sleeves looked great. the V-neck and the shorter length were a big improvement. But something still felt lacking.

I measured and marked the center point of the bottom of my dress.

measuring center of bottom of dress
Can you guess where I’m going with this?

Then, I folded my dress in half from the center & pressed along the fold.

pressing along the fold
I used the bottom mark and the center of the V-neck as my guides.
pressed fold down center front of dress
This will be my guide for the next step!

I threaded my sewing machine with yellow thread, chose a decorative stitch I really liked, and sewed it down the front center of my dress, stitching along the fold.

sewing decorative stitching down front center of dress

I also added it it along the bottom hem.

sewing decorative stitch along bottom hem

After pressing my new dress (which got rid of that center fold), my new boho puff-sleeved dress was done!

Easy Bell Sleeve to Puff Sleeve Dress Refashion after
From frump to fab!

I just love how that yellow stitching looks on the maroon fabric!

close up of decorative stitching
So pretty!
close up of decorative stitching after with wine
And yes, I chose the yellow to go with my new beret!

I styled my new dress with a cozy yellow beret! I think you’ll be seeing a few berets from here on out. Wigs are fun, but not very comfortable. Think of it like this…Wigs are like wearing a pretty party dress whereas scarves and hats are like wearing a favorite pair of sweatpants.

close up of decorative stitching after close up
They’re also Tres Chic, no?

My new ensemble enjoyed a lovely dinner outside with the hubs.

jillian sitting at patio table
I scored that peacock for $6 after a brutal bidding war at a rural auction.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you found a few frocks in your closet that might enjoy a similar puff sleeve upcycle treatment, and I hope you’ll give it a try!

refashionista in beret selfie
Maybe you’ll give berets a try as well!


refashionista Easy Bell Sleeve to Puff Sleeve Dress Refashion before and after
DIY Ottolinger Deconstructed Sweater Knockoff
My Fourth Chemotherapy Treatment: The Home Stretch