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Mother of the Bride Dress Upcycle

DIY Ath-Flow Coverup: Refashion the Trend
Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition

When you’re in a wedding party, you just kind of accept the fact that you’re going to end up buying and wearing a single-function item of clothing.

Bridesmaid dresses look like bridesmaid dresses and nothing else. Mother of the bride dresses are the same. And sorry Brides, but the oft-uttered phrase, “You’ll be able to wear it again!” is a lie. When you say this, you’re lying to your friends, family and yourself.

Given my previously stated opinions on wedding wear, you’ll probably be surprised to learn I snagged this Mother of the Bride dress for $1 at the thrift store and couldn’t wait to wear it.

refashionista mother of the bride dress upcycle before
Unless you read the title of this post that is.

If you’ve been wondering what to do with your Mother of the Bride dress (after the wedding, of course), it’s your lucky day!

I took stock of my new-to-me frock and found a few issues I needed to address.

First, the top of this dress (including the sleeves) was riddled with sequins…lots and LOTS of sequins!

closeup of sequined top and sleeves of dress
So sequined!

I wanted my dress to be more appropriate for a nice dinner & cocktails with the hubs than awkwardly doing the Macarena in a hotel ballroom, and those sequins felt like a bit much.

A lot of the sequins were loose and falling off as well.

I’m not sure if my washing (in cold water and then hanging to dry), rather than dry cleaning (as per the label’s instructions) this dress caused a problem.

Why do I think this? Check out that bottom hem!

bottom lining sticking out under lace over layer of dress
Well that just looks sloppy.

As you can see, it looks like the lace has shrunk a bit as the lining is much longer than the lace over layer.

Otherwise, the dress itself fit me just fine.

I brandished my seam ripper and started the long & boring work of removing alllll those sequins!

seam ripper ripping a sequin from dress
One at a time!

This took forever, which is about two hours, in case you were wondering.

If the fabric was more solid than lace, I would have been able to just unpick the threads holding the sequins down from the inside of the dress.

Unfortunately, these were really difficult to see. I worked from the front instead, pulling a sequin’s thread out a little, and then cutting it with my seam ripper. Sometimes multiple sequins came undone at the same time, which made the process a little faster.

using seam ripper to remove sequins
Pull, and rip!

It was slow going.

half of bodice done
GAAAH!!!!!!! I want my life back!

When I was finally done, I was left with this pile.

pile of sequins
Good riddance!

While my seam ripper was still out, I attacked the dress’s shoulder pads as well.

removing shoulder pad with seam ripper
I wonder how many shoulder pads I’ve removed over the years…

This was a much faster process.

two shoulder pads on cutting table
10 seconds vs. 2 hours

Now I needed to deal with that bottom hem.

I decided I wanted to shorten my dress, as it was still looking pretty fussy for my taste.

First, I marked where I wanted to make my cut with a safety pin.

safety pin marking above the knee

I cut through the lace layer and lining (four layers total).

cutting new hem for dress

I made another cut to shorten the lining so it would once again be shorter than the lace layer.

cutting lining of dress
Just a lil.

When I looked at the back of the dress, I noticed the lining and the lace were sewn together at the back seam.

lining and lace layer sewn together
Well this is annoying.

Remember how the lining was longer than the lace in front? I wanted to avoid that happening again if at all possible.

The best way for me to do so was to hem the lining shorter than the lace layer, which would be impossible to do if I left the two parts attached at the back like that.

So, I picked them apart at the bottom.

unpicking bottom back of dress
I really thought this refashion was going to be quicker than this.
unpicked bottom back of dress
Their separation anxiety was only minor.

I folded the resulting raw edges under and pinned them…

pinned bottom back of dress
See where I’m going with this?

…then stitched them down!

sewing back bottom parts of dress
a wee baby whirrrrr!

I turned my dress inside-out pinned a hem for the lining, and then pinned another, slightly longer hem for the lace!

pinning lining of dress
We’re almost doooone!

Next, I stitched the hem for the lining & the lace.

sewing hem for bottom of dress
a most lace-y whirrrrrr!

I grabbed the discarded lace from the original bottom of the dress, folded it, and tied an off-center knot.

Voila! Instant matching scarf!

bottom scrap tied into scarf
An accessory is born!

I think I have successfully taken this Mother of the Bride dress from matronly to martini-worthy!

refashionista mother of the bride dress upcycle after 1
I’m really loving those lace sleeves now!

I styled my new dress with a matching navy beret, green tights (almost went with black and am so glad I didn’t!), repurposed fork and spoon earrings, and my favorite cowboy boots.

refashionista mother of the bride dress refashion after
Feeling très français!

Even though it was a last-minute afterthought, I love how my scrappy scarf works with my overall ensemble!

refashionista diy scrap scarf selfie
It’s a nice touch, methinks.

Those lace sleeves stand out so well now that all of those distracting sequins are (finally) gone!

refashionista mother of the bride dress upcycle after 2

And here’s what it looks like from the back!

refashionista mother of the bride dress upcycle back view
You can see how I tied my neck scarf here too!

My handsome hubby appears to have been inspired by my color choices when selecting his outfit for the evening. 😉

jillian owens and brian morris
Yes. We match. 😉

I know some of you are curious as to how I’m holding up now that I’m done with my course of chemo.

I’m feeling better and better every day, but it’s still an uphill climb to get back to where I was health-wise.

My hair and eyebrows have started to grow back in (!!!!) and my head currently feels fuzzy like a peach. Mr. Refashionista calls me his “little tennis ball”. 🙂

One of the most upsetting effects from chemo for me was seeing my skin– which I try to take really good care of– go from bright, soft, and healthy to dull, patchy, and dry. It’s starting to look much better now!

refashonista mother of the bride refashion after closer
I’m starting to feel more like my old self!

I still get worn out very quickly, and it’s frustrating to discover that workouts that used to be easy are extremely difficult, if not impossible for me right now. But I’m eating really healthy (lots of ugly green smoothies!) and slowly ramping up my activity level.

I’ll probably write a longer post about what life is like after chemotherapy treatment ends, but didn’t want to leave you guys hanging in the meantime. I feel like you’ve been a part of my journey.


refashionista mother of the bride dress upcycle before and after
DIY Ath-Flow Coverup: Refashion the Trend
Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition