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How to Raise the Elastic Waist of a Dress

DIY Cropped Blazer
My Third Chemotherapy Treatment

Here’s a dress that’s been in my Refashion stash for a few months.

refashionista how to raise elastic waist of dress before
What to do with you???

When I first beheld this ’80s frock, I was pretty stumped.

I liked the print and those slightly puffy sleeves are really trendy right now, so I felt like I could make them work.

But I couldn’t decide whether to turn it into a top, or somehow figure out a way to keep it as a dress.

After much thought, I figured out what wasn’t working for this dress. The fit is actually fine, but that waistline falls at a really frumpy place that isn’t helped by the awkward length of the skirt.

Jerell's Sweetheart label
Exactly who is this “Jerrell”?

Anybody else just love vintage clothing brand names/labels????

This season, I’m seeing a trend of dresses with slightly high waists.

They don’t fall quite at one’s natural waist, but they aren’t quite empire waists either. Do a Google image search of Fall 2020 dress trends to see what I mean.

That’s the direction I decided to go in with my $1 thrifted dress.

But how does one (easily) raise the elastic waist on a dress????

Time was of the essence, as I had to hurry and get ready for a fancy wine dinner with Mr. Refashionista that evening. I had no time for hemming and hawing (except for the quite literal hemming I would eventually perform on this dress).

First off, I pinned the top of my dress where I wanted the waist to be.

pinning desired location of new waist
Right here!

Then, I cut the dress in two!

To make this step easier (since the fabric was all bunched up from the elastic), I stretched out the elastic waistband and pinned it to my ironing board first.

stretched out dress pinned to ironing board
Just a pin on each end!

This made it easy to get two nice straight cuts.

cutting top of dress with pinking shears
I used pinking shears to fight frayage!

I trimmed the area above the skirt elastic to .5″ and discarded the leftover scrap.

discarded fabric scrap

Now to bring it all back together!

The main challenge in reattaching the skirt to the top of this dress was the fact that the existing elastic gathers the fabric (duh), making it tricking to work with.

I could have just cut off the elastic, reattached the two pieces together and then added a new elastic waist.

But I’ve got a MUCH easier way!

I scrounged around the house until I found an object (a cardboard box) that would stretch out the waistband elastic enough to make pinning the top back on evenly easy.

using box to stretch waist and pin top back on to skirt
Thanks to Mr. Refashionista for his Amazon Prime addiction!

I pinned the two pieces together by tucking the skirt into the top with right sides facing each other.

skirt and top pinned together
Here’s what it looked like when I was all done!

Then, I stitched the pieces together on my machine, pulling the elastic taut as I went.

sewing waist on dress
Make sure to stitch riiiiiight above the elastic!

But what about that hem?

I marked where I wanted my new hem to be and made a chop!

cutting fabric from bottom of skirt

Then, I folded the bottom of the dress under twice, pinning as I went.

pinning hem for dress
Measure as ya go!

I’m sure some of you are questioning my judgment for removing so much of that interesting contrasting print from the skirt of this dress, but I thought it would look better with just a little bit of that print, since it’s already so prominent on the top of the dress.

sewing hem on dress
You can do whatever you want on your dress…but this one’s mine!

I pressed my new waist and hem (always assume I do this even if I don’t call it out!), and that’s IT!

My new dress was ready for a fun date night with my handsome hubby!

how to raise hem on elastic waist dress after
Why do I feel like I’m being watched (Look to the right)???

I really feel like tweaking the waist on this dress made all the difference!

I styled my new dress with black boots & tights, a vintage owlie brooch, and my new Wigsona!

I think this is my favorite wig so far!

how to raise hem on elastic waist dress after close up
Meet Liza!

Her name is Liza. She’s an art gallery curator who also moonlights as a jazz singer on her off nights. 😉

how to raise hem on elastic waist dress after side view
Liza loves a fashionable frock!

Mr. Refashionista and I headed out for a socially-distanced private wine dinner at the newly re-opened Hampton Street Vinyard!

Mr. and Mrs. Refashionista
Love this sweet guy!

I must say, the Mr. cleans up real nice. 😉

Brian in suit
“Let me talk to you about your investment portfolio.”

The food was as tasty and as it was beautiful.

Hampton St. Vinayard dinner
The pumpkin soup was my favorite!!!

Each course came with at least one wine pairing, sometimes more!

Hampton Street Vinyard wine dinner menu
So. Many. Wines.

We had a great time!

refashionista close up in liza wig
So did Liza!


how to raise elastic waist of dress before and after refashionista
DIY Cropped Blazer
My Third Chemotherapy Treatment

60 thoughts on “How to Raise the Elastic Waist of a Dress”

  1. A sweet refashion… The bottom of the dress is superb. I had to go back and look several times because, at first, I thought you were wearing another underskirt of a different colour and how fantastic it looked. But, there is was… turning under the hem so that just a small piece of the contrasting colour was showing was inspired… You look lovely! Love your ‘new’ dress and I agree with you about this gorgeous short wig you are wearing. Super Star!

  2. I hadn’t even noticed the different pattern on the skirt in the before pic. It really made it pop to just have the little border.

  3. You are DARLING in Liza! Liza was also my late best friend, so I like to think there’s a little angel on that sweet head of yours. Thank you for always sharing your light.

  4. You both look wonderful all dressed up! When I saw you in the after picture I thought that you look like and modern Janet from Three’s Company! I’m old so you may not know the reference, but she was the cute brunette! You definitely made that dress look a thousand percent better! I love that you see hope in unloved castoffs!

  5. Genius! I would have thought those sleeves would have to go but w/ just a waist twik and a hem twik, it’s Fabulous. sleeves and all!

  6. One of the absolute best yet. (And that’s saying a lot!) You guys are not only survivors, you’re thrivers. Brilliant transformation and perfect styling.

  7. Love reading your blog! It always makes me smile so it is my special treat at the end of the day to check it. My refashions end up looking a bit weird so I really enjoy yours. Also loved the Chef and Pauper blog. Can’t wait until you bring that back. Know that I am praying asking for good things for you and your hubby.

  8. I love your spunk!! Liza is a great wig and look on you but you have a beautiful bald head. It is wonderfully shaped and accents your eyes. I think this is my favorite refashion. May you be richly blessed.

  9. I LOVE this dress refashion! You look so good In it! I’m also looking forward to a fancy night out and good food sometime soooooon! Glad you guys had such a nice night.

  10. Great refashion. The wig is so cute on you. Can you tell us a bit about how you style them, likes and dislikes etc. I assume they are synthetic. Keep on being busy. Hugs.

  11. OOOhhh I really like the jewel colors of this dress and it looks like it was made to be shorter! Very sweet wig, I think Liza is my favorite so far. (:

  12. I admire you very much in so many ways. I do want to give you a bit of advise about the chemo room that you don’t like and don’t identify with the very sick people there. May I suggest you take your own attitude as you mentioned and do this when you are there. You said that when you refashion. Something you feel like you have solved a problem. It isn’t different with the chemo and the chemo room, you are solving a problem. The people who are really sick deserve a sincere smile and a hello from you if you encounter them and a chat if you can. Mostly people speak very little about their cancer In there. They are in the same battle you are….all fighting for better health. I went to chemo with my husband for the 7 1/2 years he needed it. He took it weekly. We loved all the nurses, the oncologist and everyone we encountered as we we all battling a very tough battle at the same time. I do think that being positive about as much as you can especially about cancer, makes a difference in your recovery. I know you hate the smell in there, but try to think of it as, this smell is getting me on track to cure this cancer. I care very much about you and hope I am not being offensive to you.

  13. This post made me all kinds of happy! Thank you for sharing you, your awesome sewing solutions, your wigsona, your dapper hubby…just everything. You rock, lady!

  14. I don’t know how you do it! I saw the before picture and thought that there was no way you could make this dress cute. But you did! Brava!

  15. Clever, clever, clever! Luv the hem change. U look great and hope u r feeling same. Keep on doing what u r doing. Get well wishes coming your way!

  16. Dress turned out beautifully, and I have to agree that “Liza” truly suits you! . Your evening out looks like it was a delicious success, judging from the huge smiles and twinkling eyes! Glad you had a wonderful night out with your handsome husband!

  17. I love the bit you left at the hem, much more chic than the large panel. You look fabulous, so glad you are treating yourself. You have been so strong!


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