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Mad About Madras: A Preppy ’80s Dress Refashion

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There are certain prints/patterns that make me happy.

Floral Madras is one of them.

refashionista 80s floral madras dress refashion before
Innit neat?

While this print was really popular in the ’80s and early ’90s, unless you’re a frequent thrifter, you just don’t see it that much anymore. And while it’s definitely a preppy style (something I usually eschew), I still really like it.

Sadly, this dress wouldn’t work for me as-is. It’s too big for me and the length is kind of awkward (or maybe it’s just my lack of height that’s awkward?).

I didn’t care for those sleeves either. :/ I also knew I was going to a Pride event later that day and would be outside (to maintain social distancing) in almost 90-degree heat. Comfort was going to be essential for this Refashion.

One more thing. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the top buttonhole for this dress was looking a little worse for wear.

closeup of torn buttonhole
Oh noes!

Time to get this Preppy ’80s Dress Refashion underway!

First, I tackled those sleeves.

cutting off sleeves of dress
Snippity Snip!

It’s hard to see it here, but the sleeves for this dress aren’t set-in on the back. That means I couldn’t just pick them off with my seam ripper (what I prefer to do).

After snipping them off, I realized I hadn’t thought about the fray factor of this fabric, so I snipped again with my pinking shears.

trimming edges with pinking shears
Cutting it a little close, eh?

I pinned those teeny tiny raw edges down.

pinned raw edges on armhole

I really didn’t give myself much room here, but everything pinned down just fine.

Then, I ran each armhole through my machine.

sewing down armhole

Luckily, I had a thread that was the exact same shade of the teal blue of this dress, so it blended in perfectly!

I put my dress on my dress form inside-out and got to pinning.

pinned 80s dress on dress form
Fitting in progress!

Since this dress has a full button front closure (meaning I can get in and out of it without having to get it over my head and shoulders), I was able to get it nice and fitted! I measured each side to make sure it was even.

I also pinned each side of the top front placket down into a V.

pinning v-neck on dress
V for victory!

No more ugly torn buttonhole! Huzzah!

I also picked off that top button and added it to my button stash!

picking off top button from dress
Time to join your button brethren.

Then, I ran each side of the dress through my machine.

sewing side seam of dress

And then I stitched down my new V-neck!

sewing down v-neck of dress
Just a ‘lil whirrr!

Almost done!

I tried my dress on, and marked where I wanted my new hem to be with a safety pin.

Time for a final chop!

cutting bottom hem of dress

Check it out! We have a new table that’s big enough for me to do cutting on! My days of cutting hems on the floor are over and my knees are happy!

Our new dining room table also doubles as a gaming table!!!

I pinned my new hem down…

pinned bottom hem of dress
Just a lil hem.

…and stitched it in place!

sewing hem on dress
The final step!

Look at that Preppy ’80s Dress now!

refashionista 80s floral madras dress refashion after
Cool & Comfortable with my Rosé!

I really like this dress so much better without those sleeves! The fabric is just so light…perfect for a sleeveless sundress!

refashionista 80s floral madras dress refashion close up
Come closer!

I received lots of compliments on my new dress (from afar, of course), and Mr. Refashionista seemed to like it too!

Jillian and Brian
We cute.

Mr. Refashionista cut his beard shorter for summer! I think it looks really nice (I can almost see his face!).

Feel free to pepper him with praise in the comments below. 😉

Mr. and Mrs. Refashionista
He’s one handsome guy. 🙂

While we’re sad Pride events haven’t really been able to happen this year, we were happy for the opportunity to come out and support our friends. 🙂


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54 thoughts on “Mad About Madras: A Preppy ’80s Dress Refashion”

  1. Ben married to a guy with a beard for over forty years. Never seen him without a beard except in pictures before we were together. Cute refashion(oh to be young and skinny again lol). Had a couple of house dresses back in the day with similar print. School teacher dresses (same style as before refashion) great for chasing young kids around. Enjoying your pandemic posts!!!! Thanks!

  2. Your dude’s summer- do looks good! Used your idea for opening up the neckline on the top of seersucker pajamas. More comfortable and better looking. Thanks for the tip. Bet there was enough leftover fabric from your dress to make a matching cute mask!

  3. I have followed you for a long time and wanted to tell you how happy I am to see you in the arms of someone you love. Also, this dress is wonderful and looks like it could become a summer go-to favorite. Great job.

  4. I love it, as usual! I think you two are adorable. I too, am married to a beard guy. Occasionally, it will get ‘too mountain man’ or Grizzly Adams for me and I’ll mention it, but really, I don’t care. Hey! facial hair, don’t care??? Carry on Refashionista who doesn’t know me but I consider a friend!

  5. This was a great refashion! You are looking good in it, Jillian… Mr Refashionista looks great and you both look very happy. I am happy for you both….

  6. Hi! I love this refashion and the madras! I actually had a pink and blue madras maternity dress in the 80’s! Lol! I loved it so much that I refashioned it into a top later before refashioning was a thing. Well in the 70’s my high school sewing teacher taught us about refashioning only she called it something else.
    Thank you for your posts! I’m always happy to see what you’re up to. And yay, you & Mr. Refashionista look great together!

  7. I had no Idea floral Madris was a thing!!!!! I LOVE IT and even more what you DID with it! I’m soooo on the search, but to be honest my desire to refashion is bigger than my talent! Starting small with t shirt refashions. Married a Farmboy…. It’s all about t shirts! You inspired me to start where I can. My fabric stash is growing. Someday, there will be bigger experiments! Thank you & I love seeing you happy with the MR!

  8. This by far my favorite!! This is 1 I may try! But a rookie. mistake on the sleeves!! I know because I’ve done it!! Thank you for all of your fun and easy way to do things.

  9. Handsome guys should not wear a beard. Fugly ones, yes, please, the less we see of your mug, the better. So i think you should convince Mr. Refashionista to shave it off.

  10. You make such a lovely couple! Thank you for sharing your amazing refashions. You teach us something new every time!

  11. Love, love, love the dress. I would like Mr. R to go beardless for summer and then post pictures as it grows back. Would sort of be a male refashion. But, whatever he does, it’s great to see you together and happy.

  12. Being a kid during the first wave of madras in the 60s, I love that fabric!! Your redo is fantastic. And Mr. Refashionista looks great with that beard trim!

  13. Absolutely love the refashion! The Mr.’s beard looks great trimmed! I agree it makes him look younger, trimmer and more hip!

  14. Adorable. I would have loved a matching headband. The style with the knot and little tails worn on top. You’d so rock that.

  15. Absolutely love this refashion. The colours are beautiful and madras is a fab material. By the way, Mr Refashionista looks great with the shorter beard.

  16. Love that fabulous fabric and the refashion. Also love how happy you two look together. Cuties, both of you! (& love pics from sc.)

  17. Love the beard, loe the dress, but AAAAHHHHH it had pockets! One of my goals this summer is to add pockets to what I can!

  18. Tell your Mr. his shorter beard is MUCH better looking. He’s a handsome guy and the less hairy look is spot on! Oh, and love your dress remake.

  19. The dress is cool and so appropriate for the occasion. Mr. R looks so handsome with his adorable wife at his side. But when is he going to whip up some tasty morsels in the kitchen?

  20. Great refashion, Jillian. And I like the beard trim too. Much neater. My hubby sports a beard too. Surprised no one is wearing masks too.

  21. The dress looks amazing!! But Jillian, where is your face covering?!? You are always so socially conscious, I would expect you to model good behavior. Please keep yourself and your community safe. We love you and cannot live without the Refashionista!

    • Since Mr. Refashionista and weren’t within 6 feet of anyone I wasn’t wearing one in those pics. But don’t worry! I’m wearing masks when I’m in situations where I have to be closer to people. For example, I wore a mask entering the space, got my drink, then went to a socially distanced table with Mr. R and took it off to enjoy my beverage.

  22. You two cute, for sure! Very, very nice re-fashion.
    By the way, I can’t seem to ‘like’ your posts anymore. The ‘like’ icon seems to be perpetually ‘loading’ but never actually appearing. Just so ya know.

  23. He looks, younger, cooler and even more fit with the beard trim! By the way, did you know the word for people who love beards? Pogonophile. So it follows that if you hate beards, you’re a pogonophobe. I’m a pogonophile myself. Oh, and the dress is an excellent refashion…thinking of trying that sleeve trick on a shirt of mine…

  24. I’m super loving this! I, too, am a mad madras plaid addict but can never find just the right stuff – so what a beautiful treasure you created.
    You and Mr Refashionista make such an adorable couple!

  25. Did I miss your wedding ? I’d love to see your dress and how you styled your wedding. Congratulations to you adn Brian. I’m following both of your blogs!!


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