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How to Dye & Refashion a Lace Dress

DIY Tiered Dress Refashion (Without a Pattern!)
Easy DIY Romper (from an Old Dress!)

When I saw this lace dress hanging on the $1 rack at the thrift store, I just knew it would be a perfect dye project!

how to dye lace dress before
Lots ‘o Lace!

Yes, it’s a little too big for me and I’m not a fan of the length.

But that lace is so pretty! And the collar and pleats are just swoon-worthy!

Before I did anything else, I removed those three functionless buttons from the front.

removing buttons
You have no purpose in life, button.
removed buttons from refashion
Don’t worry! They’re now resting comfortably in my button stash!

Luckily, dyeing a lace dress is easy. Here’s how:

First, assess the label & your dye.

dress fabric content label
Yay Nylon! Boo Polyester!

This dress is actually a two-piecer. There’s an outer layer made of nylon and an inner slip made of polyester.

Sidebar: I always ignore the “Dry Clean Only” on labels. 99% of the time it’ll be fine as long as you wash it in cold water. It only cost me $1. I can risk the loss. 😉

The good news is, Nylon takes to dye pretty well.

The bad news is, Polyester does not (unless you buy a dye specifically made for polyester).

From my own experience, I knew the polyester slip would take on at least a little bit of the dye, so I decided to include it in the dye bath with the outer layer.

rit dye for refashion
Teal is my favorite color, FYI!

You can see right on the box where it says this dye is recommended for Nylon.

Next, Prepare your dye bath.

I used my handy stock pot (which I only use for dyeing stuff since dye is toxic when ingested), and only added about half of the dye packet (because I’m cheap).

adding Rit dye to dye bath
In ya go!

I added about a cup of salt to the dye bath (as recommended on the box) as well.

You don’t need boiling water here, folks. I just added the hottest water I could get from the tap.

After stirring/dissolving my dye/salt mixture, I was ready to…

Add the lace dress to the dye bath!

adding lace dress to dye bath
Here we go!

I put the lace dress and inner slip into the bath and fully submerged them by pushing them down with a spoon.

Adding dress to dye bath
Don’t you just love that color?

I left my dress in the dye bath for 40 minutes, stirring it every few minutes or so. The instructions on the dye packet say to stir it constantly, but in my experience this isn’t necessary.

When the 40 minutes was up, I dumped out the dye in my sink and then dumped the dress into my washing machine and rinsed it using the hand wash cycle.

So now the dyeing part of this refashion is complete!

After drying my dress, I tackled those sides.

I decided I wanted this dress to have a loose & flowy fit, so I only took it in an inch on each side.

First, I took in the slip.

pinned slip
You can see how the slip only took a little bit of the dye.
taking in slip for dress refashion

Now for the lace dress!

Pinning the lace part ended up being a bit of a pain as a few pins kept falling out. :/

pinned dress for refashion
Pinning right along!
measuring dress for alterations
Measure as you go!

Much to my relief, stitching up the sides of the lace dress wasn’t any different from stitching the sides of any other fabric.

taking in sides of lace dress
No skipped stitches or issues here, folks!

After cutting off the excess fabric, I tried the dress on again and marked where I wanted my new hem to be with a safety pin.

The reason I didn’t do this step first is that taking the dress in also affects the length, and I would have risked making my dress way too short!

cutting off bottom of lace dress for refashion
When in doubt, save this step for last!

A quick hem followed!

stitching new hem for dress refashion
Just a lil hem!

After pressing my new dress, my Refashion was complete!

How to dye a lace dress refashion after
I just love how the color turned out!


I’m sooooo bummed I can’t go out and about right now. :/ It really feels like I’m creating in a vacuum at the moment, but I’m SO happy & honored to get to share my refashions with you!

how to dye lace dress refashion collar close up
That collar tho.

As I hung my new dress up in my closet, I gave a wistful sigh. “Someday, you’ll get to go to brunch, little friend,” I whispered.

refashionista how to dye a lace dress after
For now, this dress and I both just have to hang in there.

I hope you are all staying safe and well at home, friends.

A few of you have been asking if I have any mask tutorials, and I do! You can check out my no sew tutorial here, and my sewn version here.


refashionista how to dye a lace dress before and after
DIY Tiered Dress Refashion (Without a Pattern!)
Easy DIY Romper (from an Old Dress!)

61 thoughts on “How to Dye & Refashion a Lace Dress”

  1. This is definitely one of my favorite refashions of yours…just a few little tweaks brought that dress into the 2020’s!

  2. LOVE IT! Somehow when I look at that lovely little frock, I see it sleeveless, but it’s very nice the way it is.

  3. You look amazing in this refashion! Love the colour, too! Seeing your posts in my inbox always makes me excited and I rush to open it up. Thank you for inspiring me and for sharing your knowledge of refashioning, sewing, dying and all of your other amazing talents. Sending you hugs from Texas!

  4. Hi Beth, you can get Dryel from the grocery store in the section where the laundry soap is at. You use your washing machine and dryer instead of having to take garments to the dry cleaners.

  5. You’ve so inspired me that I got a sewing machine and I’m trying to learn how to sew. You have quite the wardrobe. Any thoughts of selling your creations? Or fun give-a-ways? I LOVE your early Nana bags but now they don’t seem to be as decorative. Any ideas of where I can find some of the older designed ones?

  6. Can you please tell me if you hand wash rayon? I don’t want to use the dry cleaners these days, but “need” something cleaned.

  7. Love the aqua blue! It is also my fav. I started working on my long sitting pile of sewing projects. Just completed a hem job on palazo pants with a border on the bottom. (i just cut below the knee and rejoin) .
    I am excited to be working out and sewing during this quarentine. I intend to come out stronger and better!! You are an inspiration!!! Thank you for your posts.

  8. As always, you are totally inspiring!! I remember seeing you on the Today Show and have been a fan ever since. I think you should ask people to state where they are from, when they comment, so you can see how far and wide you are spreading your cheerful recycling inspirations. I am from Southern! Thanks for all your efforts!

  9. I just love, love reading you. You have always some astonished ideas! You’re an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your refashions and your humor with us, with me! Cheers, Monica from Romania

  10. This post was a real lift, to me and others, based on the raves you are getting. This pandemic will reset our economy and our standard of living for years to come. Your can-do attitude, thrift, and eye for what looks good is the new it. This color is brilliant for springtime – and on you – precious.

  11. that color is soooo much better on you than that white. i do look forward opening my inbox and seeing your post there. we are going into week 5 of “quarantine” here in california; starting to go a little crazy.

  12. Love the new color! Yes, it’s kind of a vacuum out there these days, but you provide a breath of fresh air! I always look forward to your creative endeavors and spirit! Thank you!

  13. You are not alone creative one! We are all in the vacuum with you. Your posts are a delight. Thanks for the splash of color and cheer.

  14. Your updates & inspiration helps my anxiety through this challenging time. I LOVE to refashion my own things too & hope you guys are doing well.

  15. This is amazing!! I now have 3 fun bottles of dye sitting in my craft space waiting for victims….i mean refashions. Thank you for keeping this up and giving me something to look forward to each day! You make a difference!

  16. Hola Jillian, hace años que disfruto con tu trabajo y creo que es la primera vez que escribo. Quiero darte las gracias por compartir tu talento, tu visión, tu creatividad y tu sentido del humor. Me encanta seguir tus publicaciones y también las de Brian en “Cheff and Pauper”. Sigan inspirando y regalando luz, hace mucha falta ahora. Los mejores deseos desde España para vosotros y para toda esta hermosa comunidad, salud y éxitos!

  17. The dress looks wonderful! And think of the closet full of new clothes you’re going to have fun pulling out to wear out for lunches, dinners, drinks, grocery shopping and sitting at the new patio furniture with all your friends! Keep giving us more ideas!

  18. I want to tell you that for 2 years I’ve had a top in my closet that is too big. I kept saying I would give it away but it is one of my favorite from plumper days. I’ve been going through your blogs and got up the courage to pin it and take it in 1.5 inches on each side. It has a flowing bohemian cut so I didn’t want it to be tight fitting. Success it looks better than before. I’ve been sewing since age 7. I actually sewed up my thumb right through the nail in Home Ec class. The teacher passed out and the principal lost his lunch from trying to get the machine to co’operate and pull up the needle. I’m 64 now and my friends will never let me forget it. All I was concerned with was not getting blood on my fabric. I too hate to sew from patterns. I like to find new fabric from clothes or other odds and ends in thrift stores. It kills me what the cost of fabric in the stores is today. Thanks again for showing us the other way to sew.

  19. I just wanted to thank you for posting all the refashions. You inspire me. I’ve always said “I can’t sew,” and I don’t believe I have any sort of innate talent for it. But I have a sewing machine (big sister got a new one), so I got it out, blew off the dust and loaded the bobbin. I made my first mask, and a really kind of awful tote bag from a pillowcase, but I’m encouraged to keep at it. I love the fact that you transform pieces from the thrift store, that reuse really resonates with me. All that, and you just have a bright, charming voice that’s really been nice to read during the stay-at-home order. Please keep on keeping on!


  20. Thank you Jillian for sharing your creativity and skills! Really look forward to your posts! That color is perfect on you.Would you consider doing a YouTube channel? Or giving sewing lessons?

  21. I love this dress. And it looks great on you. I might actually try dye again thanks to your tips and success. My mother used dye back in the olden dyes (I’m 66). And the results were terrible.
    Looks like it’s new and improved. Thanks for your blog. As someone who enjoys sewing, I love it and admire you’re talent.

  22. Love what you did to this dress. I have a white lace dress I bought years ago at a garage sale, now you have given me an idea of what to do with my dress 🙂 Thank you and thank you for your refashions I always look forward to your post 🙂

  23. Jillian, surely I’m not the first to tell you how much your posts are appreciated, but really – thank you for your creativeness and caring. It’s been hard to keep it together during times like these, but your posts are a delight and a relief to read amidst all of the chaos.

  24. Love it! You’ve inspired me to redo some fo my own things.It’s so fun to see the posibilities you find in these old fashions. Thank you for the fun & inspiration!

  25. Your refashions are giving me life right now–don’t stop! I’m getting so inspired for all the possible refashion items I’m going to hunt out once we’re allowed to go to thrift stores again 🙂

  26. SO glad you are back! I discovered your blog in 2017 and spent many happy hours reading all of your previous posts. I would love to see one every day while we are all staying at home. If you run out of dresses, maybe your neighbors can drop off their castoffs as they clean out their closets? Keep up your amazing work. Your fans love it!


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