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How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards

A Decorative Zigzag Hem & How to Dye Washable Silk
Small Backyard Patio, Small Budget: My Summer Patio Glow Up

When I found this dress languishing on the $1 rack at the thrift store, I had a few thoughts.

Refashionista How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards Before
Ugh. Neck tie thingies.

First, I asked myself the question, Is it worth it?

As it was only a dollar, I decided it was.

My next thought was, Let me work it.

Meaning, I felt I would be able to work this dress post-refashion.

My final pre-purchase thought was, I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it (by thing, I, of course, mean the presser foot on my sewing machine).

It’s time to work it (i.e. refashion it), friends!

First, I took on those sleeves.

A quick peek inside revealed these little floofy shoulder things.

floofy shoulder thing being cut out
They look like they’re made of coffee filters.

My first thought was that I’d want my dress to have cute little cap sleeves, so I snipped most of the sleeve off.

chopped off sleeve
Chop…but am I making the right choice?

But when I put it on my dress form, I changed my mind and snipped them off.

snipping off sleeve of dress
Snip

Note: This is usually NOT the best way to do this. Under normal circumstances, you should use a seam ripper to remove the sleeve, because you’re going to end up with GIANT armholes if you don’t.

I, however, was thinking ahead to an upcoming step for this refashion, and decided the time saved snipping the sleeves out would be worth the slight risk that this might not work (You’ll see what I mean in a bit), and that I might be better off having larger armholes at this step.

Next, I folded the armholes under and pinned them, then ran them through my sewing machine.

pinned armhole
Such a large armhole! What’s my plan???

Now, Let’s Reverse it!

We’re going to have to make a few changes to make this dress work back-to-front.

First, I put my dress on my dress form and pinned darts from the armholes to the bust, measuring to make sure they were even on each side.

pinning dart at bust
Shaping up!

Then, I pinned the sides, pulling the fabric from the back (former front) to the front (former back) a little to move that side seam forward and reduce the fabric in the now-back (then front).

Yes. That sounds really confusing, but hopefully, this pic helps explain it better than I did.

pinned dress on dress form
See how the old seam is moving forward?

I really should have added the darts before doing the armholes, but shhhhhh.…no one will notice or care.

Here’s what my dress looked like when my pinning was complete.

pinned dress on dress form full view
Shaping up!

I stitched down the darts.

adding bust dart
Think it’ll work?

Make sure to not backstitch your darts when you’re done! Leave a long tail at the end that you can knot by hand.

Here’s an example of what your darts will look like if you backstitch from one of my more lackluster refashions.

sewn bust dart up close
Well…bless your dart!
knotted off dart
Using a stick pin (not pictured) helps!

Once the first dart was complete, I measured it, and marked exactly where the second dart would need to end to keep things even.

measuring bust dart
Making sure they’re Even Steven!

After giving my second dart the same treatment as the first, I was ready for the next step!

Let’s take it in!

I ran each side of my dress through my sewing machine.

taking dress in
Almost done!

I cut off the excess fabric from the sides with my pinking shears, but still wasn’t quite thrilled with it. :/

I decided some of that length needed to go!

I hemmed and hawed a good bit on this choice, as I had originally planned to keep this dress midi length. However, it still looked kind of frumpy, so chop I did!

shortening bottom hem of dress
Byeeee!

I pinned and stitched a new hem.

pinning new hem
I hope I’m making the right decision!
Stitching down new hem
The final whirrrr!

And that’s it! That’s how I refashioned my dress to be worn backwards!

How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards After
Lady in reeeeed…

I styled my dress with red sunnies, a thick black belt and black sandals.

I ended up tucking the neck part in a little, since my neck is really short, and it felt claustrophobic as-is.

While my new frock is fun in the front, the party really is in the back!

How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards back view
Loving those details now!

Isn’t it funny how the very same details I hated on the front look so much more interesting and fun on the back?

How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards after close up
I’m pleased!

I was excited to wear my new dress to go get my hair cut for the first time in months…until I realized that like most of us, I was a day off and that my appointment wasn’t until the following day. :/

I feel like I can’t be the only person this type of thing has happened to lately, right?

Right?

refashionista red dress selfie
Womp womp.

I hope this refashion inspires you to look at thrift store dresses in a new way! Just remember, even if you don’t like the front of a dress, you can always flip it and reverse it! 😉

Cheers!

Refashionista How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards Before and After
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37 thoughts on “How to Refashion a Dress to be Worn Backwards”

  1. I love your redos! Sorry to say, the collar just doesn’t work well. It looks like it’s a bit tight. The rest works pretty well.

    Reply
  2. Well done! You definitely demonstrate the importance of having an open mind to allow creativity to flow. Excellent choice in reversing the focal design and walking us through the process of the inclusion of darts to covert a flat back into a structured front piece.

    Reply
  3. One thing that makes it work is the fabric. Your eye for beautiful quality fabric is very important for a successful ‘flip’

    Reply
  4. I have done this several time especially with v necks for a deeper v down the back. I think( sorry to criticize) that the collar , now the new neck should be taken down a bit, or maybe the bulk taken in a bit then the collar reapplied. I really love your refashions.

    Reply
  5. Love it! That was a bit of magic right there. Never would have thought of that flip, but it is a show stopper. Thanks for giving us such sewing mojo with every post.

    Reply
  6. Super cute refashion! And … you´re not alone – I sent my daughter to the dentist´s
    one day early last week!

    Reply
  7. RED is your color!! You took that dress from a floofy gathered potato sack to just cute as a button. Love the back now too. I laughed when you pointed out one should not backstitch darts…no wonder mine always look “off!” Thanks for teaching this old broad some new tricks! Cheers!!

    Reply
  8. Absolutely lovely refashion as always, but double kudos for the Missy Elliott reference. It put a big smile on my face as soon as I realized where your intro was going 🙂 Aaaand now “Work It” will be stuck in my head all day!

    Reply
  9. Cute as always! I just wanted to say thanks for brightening our mailboxes almost every day! I have gotten my nails done but holding off on a haircut for a while yet. Age puts me at a higher risk and I don’t have a regular stylist to feel comfortable with. Hugs to you and Mr. R.

    Reply
  10. That dress is finally around the “right way” 😉 Super cute.

    I love the fact that you have matching sunnies. Now wondering whether you are like the Queen and have sunnies in every colour to match outfits, as she does umbrellas…

    Enjoy your haircut. I am off for my first one on Friday and can’t wait.

    Reply
  11. Love this! Do you think this is something that women with a large busy could do too? Or if the dress has a bust?
    Great job!

    Reply
  12. Love this! I’m always amazed by how creative you are. You turned something I wouldn’t have looked at into a phenomenal dress. Even though I can’t sew, you challenge me to look at clothes differently.

    Reply
  13. Genius!
    I too am having trouble keeping track. I went to an appointment a day early. My doc wasn’t even in the office that day. Ugggghhhh!

    Reply
  14. Ha ha! I knew where you were going with the first line of the lyric and I laughed! Nicely done. Back detail is cute!

    Reply
  15. Genius! I NEVER would have thought of reversing a dress! Thank you for opening up a new way of looking at a refashioning project! YOU ARE THE GREATEST!

    Reply
  16. Great idea! Would you be willing to share some of the better thrift shops in Columbia? Work there and my area doesn’t have very good second hand store, IMO. Thanks!

    Reply

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