refashionista '70s Terry Cloth Dress Refashion featured image
Refashions,  Dress Refashions,  Life

A ’70s Terry Cloth Dress Refashion & My First Pecha Kucha!

Happy Holidays: A Muumuu Refashion
DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Dress Refashion

A few months ago I was asked to present at a Pecha Kucha.

What is a Pecha Kucha, you ask?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

PechaKucha or Pecha Kucha (Japanese: ペチャクチャ, IPA: [petɕa ku͍̥tɕa],[1] chit-chat) is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights (PKNs).[2][3]

pecha kucha promo image

I’m a nervous public speaker, but I’m trying to get over it.  And of course the best way to do that is to actually speak in public.  

As the day of my big presentation got closer and closer I got more and more nervous!

I needed a dress for the big night!

For this refashion, I chose this elastic-waisted terry cloth dress from the ’70s.

It was 5am when I took this pic

This dress is actually made of terry cloth!  

It’s amazing!  This fabric was really popular in the ’70s-early ’80s and I firmly believe it needs to make a comeback.  I seriously feel like I’m wearing a bathrobe.  And that’s pretty awesome.

You’ll have to forgive me, friends.  The memory card that has the “during” pics for this one has gone totally kaputzky, so I can’t share them with you.  :/

But I can tell you what I did!  🙂  

First, I removed the elastic from the waist.  

Since the elastic wasn’t sewn in to the fabric of the dress, this was really easy. I just snipped a small hole in the waistline inside the dress.

Then, I snipped the elastic and just pulled it right out.

I pretty much wanted a clone of this one cozy sweater dress I’ve been wearing a lot of this winter, so that original snug waistline just wouldn’t do for an event where I knew I’d already be pretty uncomfortable.

It was time hem to daring new heights!  

I cut some of the length from the bottom, pinned my hem, and then stitched it down.

And here’s how my presentation-worthy refashion turned out!

'70s Terry Cloth Dress Refashion after
Sort of Mod, no?

This handsome (and rather tall) gentleman seemed to like it too.  😉

Jillian and Mark Cox in Columbia SC
Oh. Ello.

As my turn to present got closer and closer, I got more and more nervous!

Jillian, Errin and Mark Cox columbia sc
I have the worst selfie faces.

But then I remembered why I was doing this.  

I love refashioning and I believe that I really can change the world by sharing this passion with others.

refashionista giving presentation in columbia sc
We can change the world. One dress at a time.

The awesome guys at PULL Brand Stories even recorded a video of it!  

It’s kind of dark (because the room was kind of dark), and you can’t see all of my slides, but I hope you like it.  🙂

I feel pretty good about this one.  The audience was awesome, and I hope I get the chance to present at another Pecha Kucha soon!

'70s Terry Cloth Dress Refashion after
I look like a smug little thing, don’t I? 😉


'70s Terry Cloth Dress Refashion before and after
Happy Holidays: A Muumuu Refashion
DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Dress Refashion


  • Lisa Hamel

    Well done! I think this is the most natural you’ve seemed in a video. Methinks tv cameras mess with your live-theater mojo!

  • Mermaid Marilyn

    Jillian, I’m thrilled to have discovered your blog earlier this year, checking out your refashions has been a huge inspiration. I’ve been a thrifter since the age of 19, and 37 years later, am finally learning how to refashion. You happen to be my best teacher. Your Pecha-Kucha slideshow was particularly inspiring. Thanks for the encouragement to play, and for sharing your passion. BIG congratulations on the new gig! ~Mermaid Marilyn

  • mary fadel

    I love the transformations you create but some of us don’t have the gams that you have…just making something a mini doesn’t always work.

  • Steph

    Thank you for articulating your refashionista “MO”. I don’t have the same style by a long stretch but am appreciative of your creativity. I am a hardcore fashion recycler, not buying new for awhile now because of all the reasons you named, wage slavery, exploitation of resources, and just the excess of bad fashion. Thanks for doing what you do. Much continued success in the new year.

  • Sewist

    Yours is my favorite blog to follow. I love your lack of pretentiousness. Some bloggers only allow pictures of themselves in full makeup, perfect pose, etc. You are comfortable. I like that. You’re one of us. That inspires me.

  • Karin from Birmingham

    This refashion reminded me that I owned a terrycloth-ish dress around 1980, Bright yellow with a huge parrot ascending from the shoulder, down the bodice to the skirt. That I wore on-air while working in local TV!!! (Can you see why I had buried the memory?) Yours stood the test of time far better than mine ever could have. Great post and you are better at presenting than you think!

  • jenny_o

    Wonderful presentation – you have two of the most important elements of a good public speaker, passion for your subject and a great sense of humour. I loved it! And you looked awesome, too, which doesn’t hurt when you’re in front of a crowd 🙂

  • Lori

    Tonight I just finished my first refashion, my own dress, er mu mu is now a sun dress going with me to Mazatlan in two days! I was chosen to speak at a Pecha Kucha where I featured my escape from America’s recession to Guatemala in 2009. We all have much to learn from each other.

  • mrsgberg

    If I wasn’t inspired enough by you before… I am now totally in love with your style, your commitment and your infectious enthusiasm. When I was a Sweet Young Thing I made most of my clothes and dabbled in “clothing enhancement.” I am now a middle-aged science teacher at the beginning of my winter break. I am going back into my closet, my fabric stash and pile of clothing to-do’s to get busy and refashion refashion refashion! Thank you!!!

  • carole gaudet

    Your talk: so fun, so funny, so charming, so passionate. You REALLY nailed the reason why you’re doing this. And I love how you showed your evolution to the point where you made that kick ass ugly sweater dress. That thing rocked. It’s not often that I wake up at 5:30 am and have a refashion from the internet pop into my mind, and then just have to tell my husband about it (at 5:45 am. And he got a chuckle out of it). Thanks so much for doing this talk — it gives me some talking points to share about why I refashion, too. Your talk inspired me to share my refashioning with my Toastmasters group. I’m excited! I do love you, Refashionista Babe.

  • Marta

    Love your site and environmentally-fashion philosophy!. I have recently used some of your post to teach some sew vocabulary to my English language pupils ( mostly teen girls) and they had a lot of fun while learning and practising out-of-the-box thinking at the same time! You are great!

  • Susanna

    Well done for challenging yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone. I love getting your emails and really admire what you do.

  • Annette Deardurff

    I just watched your presentation – you were totally AH-MAZING! You have a great sense of humor and did a fabulous job of convincing people to refashion! Wish i could have seen you in person!!

  • lorie

    We’re all rooting for you! And it’s okay to get nervous. I think we all think we are the only ones who REALLY get nervous, other people just say they do.

  • Anna Ainsworth

    Hi Jillian,
    I just wanted to let you know that the delightful (and, at times, devilish) spirit that comes through in your blog postings has raised my mood and spirit on many a dark evening. Thank you for your seemingly boundless optimism.

  • Catalina

    I’ve got to say.. as much as I love the context for this one, I really liked the “before” piece more! It was more flattering, I feel. The awkward seam in the middle of the “after” piece is really throwing me off.
    That aside, you totally rocked your presentation. Work it!

  • rawketstarling

    I loved your presentation–I actually laughed pretty hard at the comment about being afraid to change a dress but NOT afraid to change a frat boy!! Well done 🙂 And I also love the leopard booties with the refash, which looks great!

  • Hélène

    Hélène from France

    Great job and so enthousiastic presentation !!!
    I am not good at all for refashion clothes but I go to the French goodwill for me and my four-aged daugther to find good clothes for us.
    And what about the tall guy ?? (I am french and I, automatically romantic !)
    Have a good christmas and let’s enjoy 2015 !!!!

  • jannie small

    I too was a nervous public speaker until I got this advice….
    Nerves and excitement look very similar on the outside. You talk fast, move around a lot, etc. So…..rename your nerves excitement, and you’re good to go. Your audience will think you’re excited, not nervous.

  • Joyce

    This dress is one of my favorites! Great job on the presentation, too! Merry Christmas, Jillian – thank you for sharing your gift of creativity & wit with all of your lucky readers!

  • MW Comics

    That was so inspirational, it made my eyes water. My New Years Resolution is to refashion everything I wear and not buy anymore overpriced, poorly made, brand new garbage.

  • Nancy

    You are a wonderful speaker! The audience was totally engaged with you! I wish that the videographer had included your slides on your right instead of the collection of water bottles on your left. Is there another version that includes the slides, perhaps? Nice job on the dress, by the way. Very classy.

  • Edith

    hi, Edith from the larger Chicago area here. I love seeing a new Refashionista blog
    from you, always funny and always an inspiration…. Old out of style dress in my closet aha this is what I now can do with it. You always give me some good ideas. Thank you for that…
    On this occasion I wish you a wonderful holiday season and only the very very BEST for the coming year (wonder what YOU are wishing for ?!?!? Feel free to share with us???)
    [email protected]

    PS I have a little idea or suggestion for you, feel free to completely ignore it though, you decide! You are a lovely little person, I just know by how much you are able to chop off dresses way too long and way too big for you… here is the suggestion, do you have a
    friend (may be twice your size or even more????) to do some resizing and reshaping
    of finds for us size 14 and larger gals? Just a thought as you will see that those refashioning will create new ideas and different problems for you and may make it
    interesting at the same time…. Just a thought my dear and I am looking forward
    to your next post

  • Laura

    Please take this comment in the spirit it is intended, with much love. What you do is very subjective, therefore, you are the expert and everyone else just wants in on that action. When you speak from the heart about something you love and cherish, magical things happen, the words just seem to come. I wish I was your mother (probably I could be) so we could share the sewing love. Be well on your journey smart, creative and intelligent young woman and enjoy all that comes with those gifts.

  • M

    Yay Jillian!! This is fantastic! You are so inspiring! I am so happy that I have watch your journey from almost the beginning. “We knew you when…!!!”

  • lizard100

    You shouldn’t worry about speaking in public. I’ve seen a few of your interviews. Your passion and enthusiasm is fresh and exciting and the reasons you give are very inspiring indeed! Thank you again.

  • Kim

    Great Pecha Kucha–both the content and your presentation. One of these days, inspiration will ignite and I, too, will do a refashion. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Karen P

    What you are doing is amazing Gillian! Not only is it good for the environment in the obvious ways but hopefully it will be good for those less fortunate that have to work in the appalling conditions abroad! Thanks for sharing Karen x

  • Andi

    Oh wow, I have followed you for years and never commented but that video was such a beautiful, succinct, and inspiring way to describe what you are doing and why. Way to face your fears to share this message. Bravo for your courage and your ability to play and your willingness to share this with the world. Thank you!

  • Kate

    I watched the video and I thought you were great! So inspiring and I have been a fan since the beginning. .. still you have such awesome ideas and awesome talent! Great job. Well done.

  • Melissa

    I think you and your “mediocre” self are ah-mazingly awesome! You’re so passionate about what you do it’s inspiring. I need to get me to some thrift stores!!

  • Sandra J. S.

    Adorable! And even if you’re nervous when speaking, you don’t have to show it. You are an internationally famous blogger, and you have been on TV! Strangers recognize you in public! Hold your head up and never ever ever say you are nervous or hate speaking in public!

  • Sue O'Connell

    I love the dress but I would look like a dirty dog bed if I wore that. It helps to be small and thin. I am neither. I do love the fact that I can sew better than most. I wish sewing would be fashionable again. I am glad that you are doing your part and a big part at that to get people more interested in sewing, repairing, designing, etc. I love to shop Good Will and find things that are great but maybe only have a broken zipper or is in need of better buttonholes. These tasks usually stop most people dead in their tracks. Just a little practice can help restore a great garment. Keep on with the great work!

  • Natalya Lukin

    Wow! What a transformation! I would have never have given that dress a second look if I saw it on the rack in it’s original condition. Hideous! But you made it awesome. Dang.

  • Shannon

    This is so inspiring! I love your blog and I get so many ideas from it. I am in the process of redoing all the ugly clothes in my closet. I have been doing it for a few months. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • blissinger

    Spiffy little dress! Congrats on your Pecha Kucha. Eventually maybe you’ll find that speaking in public is a lot like blogging, except with no delete function. You just be yourself.

What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: