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How to Refashion a Floofy Denim Jumper Dress

Keeping it Classy: A Cut Out Dress Refashion
Super Comfy Crumple Tie Dye Cropped Sweater

If one were to make a Venn diagram of elementary school teachers who threw chalk at me at one point and elementary school teachers who wore dresses nearly identical to this one, it would basically just be one big overlapping circle.

90s jumper dress before refashion
They know who they are and what they did.

Why would anyone require that much skirt fabric? Why?

denim jumper side view
View from the side!

Thrift stores are rife with these frumpy monstrosities. And they all have labels similar to this one:

trotters label
Trot along!

I actually liked a few things about this dress though.

The top half isn’t bad. I like how it’s kind of trying to evoke the laid-back comfort of overalls but without the hardware. I like that it’s made of a soft lightweight denim, great for warm SC weather!

End of list.

Not to worry, as I had a plan!

I just knew I could refashion this boring jumper into a cute dress!

First, I removed the top of the dress from the bottom with a big snip!

cutting top off denim dress for refashion
“Snip!” said Mr. Refashionista from behind me. 😉

Then, I removed the gathered part from the skirt.

removing gathered part from denim dress
A smaller snip!

I flattened out the skirt part, and laid the top part over it.

I used a dress from my closet that I like the length of to measure how much of the skirt fabric to remove.

using dress to measure length of refashioned dress
Clever, no?

You can see above where I’m removing fabric from the top of the skirt section, rather than the bottom. This is to preserve the existing hem (why make a new one when there’s one already there, amirite?).

I cut across the top of the skirt part, keeping a small seam allowance for when I reattached everything.

Then, I chopped off the left side, making sure to leave a seam allowance there as well, and measuring it carefully.

measuring seam allowance for refashion
Measure carefully!

I stitched the skirt side seam down.

pinning denim jumper dress side seam
Pin it!

Can we take a moment to admire my adorable new pin cushion from my blogging pal (and fellow SC blogger), Sadie Seasongoods?

Sadie season goods pin cushion canister
Wait, it’s just a cute vintage canister, right?
Sadie season goods pin cushion

You can learn how to make one of your own right here on her blog!

Anywho…back to the refashion at hand!

I stitched the skirt side seam (try saying that five times fast) down.

stitching skirt side seam
Stitching it down!

Now to get everything reacquainted!

I tucked the top part into the skirt part with the outside-facing fabric facing each other.

attaching skirt to top for dress
That sentence was super-confusing, but hopefully this image helps!

Then, I pinned & stitched them together.

sewing skirt to top for dress
A final whirrr!

After a quick press, my denim jumper dress refashion was complete!

refashionista denim jumper dress refashion after
Cute & comfy!

I styled my jumper simply, with a plain white tee and my Benson-chewed (or would that be Benson-refashioned?) Frye biker boots.

refashionista denim dress after
Our azaleas are blooming!

I like how the comfy/casual silhouette for this one turned out. My denim jumper still has a strong ’90s vibe, but methinks it’s a much cooler vibe now.

refashionista denim dress after sitting
Happy for the return of Spring!


refashionista denim jumper dress before and after
Keeping it Classy: A Cut Out Dress Refashion
Super Comfy Crumple Tie Dye Cropped Sweater

45 thoughts on “How to Refashion a Floofy Denim Jumper Dress”

  1. I have only ever really followed two diy bloggers… yourself and Sadie. I was so glad you gave her a shout out for the super cute pincushion! Love both of your work, and love to see the mutual support!

  2. Very cute refashion. LOL had dozens of dresses in that style some homemade and others stor e bought. Had them for every holiday etc. Taught pre K and kindergarten ,but I never threw chalk or crayons. They where the unofficial teachers uniform. It was funny to watch all the new interns and young teachers quickly drop all the cute ,stylish outfits in favor of comfortable and kid poor clothing. LOVED teaching but kids are messy and don’t know what private space means. Got to love them to teach for thirty plus years. I enjoy your posts and creative ideas

  3. A stunning refashion…! I learned a lot from this one…. how to remove the top and that the top can be used for other things or not… and how to shorten the skirt from the top of it down instead of the down up… (I can make weird sentences too) LOL! There are so many secondhand denim dresses that are so outmoded at the thrift store.. nice to see that they can be salvaged… Thank you so much!

  4. Hi Robotabob,

    I’ve seen t-shirts turned into a blanket or quilt. There are videos on YouTube that show how to do it. Nancy Zieman of Nancy’s Notions has a video.

    You can make pillows out of them and no=sew bags you can put produce in at the grocery store or use it as a little bag to hold fairly light items. Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas.

    Hope this helps!

  5. If she is anything like me, it was likely due to her social nature and a teacher who “just couldn’t” anymore. I am smart and was generally well-behaved, BUT I talked at *every* opportunity. My senior English teacher told me, and I quote, “to get my own class!” LOL.

  6. Initially, I pinned vertically, too (and used far too many pins), until an experienced seamstress kindly taught me to knock it off.

    If you try pinning horizontally, I think you’ll find it goes much faster than pinning vertically. Also, you really should remove the pins as you sew (a few inches before they would it the front of the presser foot), and this is much easier to do if you’ve pinned horizontally.

    No matter what you do, fabric will shift as you sew it. If you leave the pins in, it can’t do that smoothly, and may lead to puckering or bunching. I believe horizontal pinning helps with that, too, as it engages a much shorter section of the seam length (if that makes sense).

    I highly recommend you give horizontal pinning a try and see what you think!

  7. Enjoy you so much….you pin seams horizontally, I thought you should pin vertically so the machine would ride over the pin. You are WAY more exprienced then I am; what is the benefit of how you pin a seam?

  8. Eek! I adore this refashion. I am TOTALLY searching my thrift stores for one of these when they open again, thanks!

  9. I loved the stories of teachers telling the reason for wearing those kinds of clothes … I loved the refashion… well done! And much encouragement!

  10. Love this refashion! I really must sort out my entire wardrobe. Your facial expressions are priceless. Missed you so much while you were away.

  11. I love that so many teachers or former teachers here are explaining their very good reasons for having worn these! I never thought of the need to sit on the floor, or to hide kiddos’ finger smudges. Love the refashion also, and your delightful humour 🙂

  12. Love the new look! Might possibly have worn one of those classroom classics myself, but certainly with the most stylish sandals, and a kindly approach to even the unruliest of pupils. I agree with the previous poster that you give us sewists permission to loosen up and have fun as we chop and seam up something new and wonderful. Love seeing a new post from you – always inspirational!

  13. You could cut the T-shirts from the hem and make a continuous thread. When cut roll into yarn balls and crochet into mats or fabric bowels. T-shirt yarn is very popular and extremely expensive so if you could make your own you are on a winner.

  14. I wore one very similar to my 20th high school class reunion. I’m NOT a teacher just liked the comfort. Someone else probably purchased it at the local thrift store.

  15. Love your style! Such a cute refash! I have a question – what would you do with a pile of T-shirts. Many colors. I want to cut them up and use them somehow but the idea hasn’t blossomed yet. Any suggestions are welcome!

  16. Great tip on preserving the hem! I can see me cutting then realizing what i could have done, lol. So, the top is still open down the sides? Love this refashion.

  17. I cannot believe anyone ever threw chalk at you. Surely you jest. I love all your makeovers. Your work makes people think creatively about everything they own. You are a breath of fresh air.

  18. Retired after teaching 27 years ! I wore modest things like this because in those days I sat on the floor with my Kindergarteners. One little guy lifted the hem of my skirt to peek under ! Many, many funny stories.

    I long to find one of the outdated jumpers and whip it up like yours or maybe a long tunic with pockets. Loved this refashion. And do you realize that in times like these, people who encourage and give us something to do or look forward to are very appreciated.

  19. Awesome! I actually have a blue indigo dress like this but more fitted that I bought in Japan. It has butterflies that were tie-dyed from the indigo. The fabric is beautiful and I’ve held on to it hoping i could refashion it somehow! I will give this a try!

  20. Yup, loved the ones with embroidery on them, and wore them once upon a time. Now I buy them up at thrift stores also, but restyle them into cute tote bags and aprons for teachers.
    Thank you for sharing your skills, humor, and sweet personality!

  21. Now I kind of wish I had saved my 90’s overalls style jumper, too. Outstanding refashion! I love the socks with Bensonized boots.

  22. This is a wonderful makeover. This is something I would do, even tho’ I’m old. And I just love your humor. You are like a breath of fresh air.

  23. Totally guilty of having some of those jumpers. They were great on the playground! Promise I never threw chalk at a student–or dry erase markers! LOL! Thank you for keeping us entertained during this time. I look forward to each and every post.

  24. Looks really comfy! And there are a myriad of things you can make out of the leftover denim! Thanks for your efforts!

  25. I had two of those jumpers that I wore during my Psych rotation in nurse’s training. We were told to wear something that would not elicit physical attention from our male patients (prisoners). Lol, these definitely fit the bill!

  26. You are so funny! I loved how this turned out. I learned to sew from my mom, 4-H Club, Singer Learn to Sew classes, and Home Ec. All of them were sticklers for following the rules and “proper” way of sewing. You’ve made me relax and realize not every fabric needs a hem and you can chop things up and it will still turn out fine. I love your blog. (Next time just say “wrong sides together”.) lol!

  27. Cute. On an unrelated note, I’m wondering if you’ve been approached to sew masks? There are women in my town in SoCal who are doing that. If you start sewing masks, please post about it. Thanks.

    • This is a tricky issue that I’m still looking into. In my area, they aren’t accepting homemade masks as there is a concern that the fabric could harbor pathogens and they aren’t medical grade. I’m also trying to be careful about issuing a call to action that only seems to apply to very specific areas right now. It’s tough, because I know we all want to do our part to help however we can.

  28. The dress is awesome…just like you! My darling late husband used to say “sho-u-rite” so I got a big kick out of your version. (amirite?) Thanks for the reminder and the laugh.

  29. Retired teacher here who had several of those jumpers to wear all 3 teaching seasons, starting bare legged in the Autumn heat of no classroom AC. Then with a long sleeved shirt, covered legs and boots for the cold winter classroom. But, I sewed mine and one had super cute ceramic ‘teacher themed buttons’ (pencil, tablet…) down the front bodice. Kids loved the fashion!

    Your refashion is adorable and you have leftover denim! Love your blog!!

  30. I also wore jumpers just like that. They were so easy to wash and wear and stood up to many a grimy hand that hugged me around my hips. Kindergarten kiddos can only reach so far!!!


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