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Sleeveless Dress to Keyhole Back Top Refashion

Dye It! Lemon Sherbet Dress
How to Add a Fantastic Elastic Waist to Just About Any Dress!

I’ve had this black dress on my refashion rack for a couple of months.  I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with it.

Sleeveless Dress to Keyhole Back Top Refashion before
Seeking the heavens for guidance & inspiration!

SPOILER ALERT:  My original plan doesn’t work out!

I finally decided to turn this dress into an entirely different dress!  I snipped off the seam to one of the shoulders.

cutting one shoulder

Then, I grabbed a spool of grosgrain ribbon…

spool of grossgrain ribbon
This stuff is just way too flippin’ handy!

…and pinned it to both sides of the  recently cut shoulder.

ribbon pinned to shoulder
Like this!

I stitched each one down.

sewing ribbon to top

Do you see where I’m going with this?  My plan was to make the two shoulder pieces the new front of the dress, and use the other arm hole as a cool keyhole back!

shirt on dress form
Something like this!

I still had some fitting to do!  I took the whole thing in from the front (so as not to lose the back).

pinning dress on dress form
It seems like such a great idea, right?
sewing dress seam
Taking it in!

I trimmed off the extra fabric, threw my new dress on, and was immediately disappointed. :/

It just looked weird, folks.  First off, it wasn’t the casual dress I was going for.  It looked way too formal for anything I have coming up in the near future.  AND I didn’t take into account that the front and back of the dress weren’t identical.  This made the dress hang askew on me.


I thought all was lost, until I remembered this post by Sally over at Charity Shop Chic!

sally from Charity Shop Chic
She refashioned this! 🙂

I NEVER think of going bare-midriffed.  I’m over 30. It just seems weird and inappropriate, right? But Sally looks so very cute in her top!  Surely I can look cute in what was about to be mine as well!

I made a big chop!

cutting bottom off dress
Don’t worry! That bottom scrap will make a lovely skirt!

To play a bit more with the asymmetry of my new top, I decided to stitch down only one of the shoulders into a V, and left the other one as-is!

hand stitching shoulder
It’ll all make sense in just a moment, I swear!

I think it’s quite fetching!

Sleeveless Dress to Keyhole Back Top Refashion after
Showing a lil skin!

And just look at the back with its built-in air conditioning!

Sleeveless Dress to Keyhole Back Top Refashion after back
Le back!

My new top was perfect for a birthday brunch with friends!

Erin and Ken
Happy Birthday Ken!
Kens birthday cake
I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for posting this…
Jillian and male friend
Hmmmn. Who is this?
friends on porch
Lahvely People!
Ken's birthday present in bag
I decorated his bag myself! 🙂
Jillian and friend
Happy birthday revelers!
Jillian and Ryan
Ryan seems quite smitten with my new Nana bag! 🙂

See?  Just because a refashion isn’t turning out quite how you wanted it to, that doesn’t mean you have to give up!  Just keep playing and see what happens!


Sleeveless Dress to Keyhole Back Top Refashion  before and after
Dye It! Lemon Sherbet Dress
How to Add a Fantastic Elastic Waist to Just About Any Dress!

36 thoughts on “Sleeveless Dress to Keyhole Back Top Refashion”

  1. A big fan of most of your refashions, but not so much this one. On the good side, you can definitely pull off a midriff (which I could!). On the other side, just not a fan of the strange shoulder thing. Don’t know if its the mismatching, the ribbon, or what. But keep up the great work – and yes – would love to see you do something with men’s ties. They are quite the rage right now and I could see it on some of the things you do.

  2. Would have liked to see the disappointing dress–so we could see what actually happened. Then when we make mistakes we don’t feel so bad

  3. I love that you included a refashion that didn’t go as planned! So often when creating, things have to be adjusted and re-thought. I think it turned out great!

  4. I love how you can admit when something doesn’t go as planned, & then find a way to make it work for you! I read your blog religiously, & you have been a HUGE inspiration for me! I’ve always loved to refashion clothes, & have done so for years, but finding your blog a few years ago has boosted my love for refashioning. I am currently working on a dress that I’ve been wanting to refashion for a while. I’ve taken pictures along the way of my progress…..maybe I’ll get enough guts to submit it for a Reader Refashion! 🙂 Keep up the awesome work, & thanks for always being so fun!

  5. Thanks for the shout out, Jillian! I love your top in all its asymmetric glory. You can be sure that no-one else at the party will be wearing something similar 😉 I think us over-30s can show midriff if we do it with enough attitude!

  6. Even tho the top looks flattering on you I wasn’t impressed with the shoulder re – creation. Maybe black lace ribbon instead of grosgrain that you used?

  7. I admire your persistence, and I second the suggestion for a brooch or some kind of embellishment on one side to snaz it up and enhance the asymmetry.

  8. This top looks really good on you. Also diggin’ your sandals 🙂 And LOVE the colors of your new Nana bag. Teensy bit jealous, but will use it as inspiration to maybe make a bag for myself (?). We’ll see. Always look forward to your posts – thanks!!

  9. You totally rock this midriff top. If you’ve got it, flaunt it baby. I agree that it has an artistic flair, and that fits your lifestyle. It’s great for you.

  10. I like it, though, I do wish we could have seen a pic of what the dress looked like before this one. At first I wasn’t crazy about it, but I love it. One part (I think it is the way the pic was taken), the back seems a bit too “flowy” I cannot tell.
    I want to post a few of my thrift store purchases. Hopefully soon!

  11. Hi.. I discovered you recently via Pinterest. You are awesome. I’ve always loved thrift store shopping. I’m looking at the dresses in a new way now…I just need to plunge in and make a refashion.

    Maribel from California

  12. I think the asymmetry is well-done on this piece. It has an artistic flow or composition to it that is pleasing to the eye. Plus, I appreciate how you got just the right amount of midriff-baring to show just a hint of skin but no belly button, and you could also pair it with a higher rise bottom for a day when you’re not in the mood for so much skin showing. This seems just right for the dog days of summer.

  13. love the top! looks adorable on you.
    however, the two different make it look unfinished. but that is only my opinion! (i am also hit or miss with a symmetrical stuffskis) 🙂

  14. What a great way to turn a negative in to a fashion forward positive! Thanks for sharing your posts 😀 They make my work day much bett… they just make my day he he

  15. You can definitely pull off the bare midriff look, its not one’s age so much as its the bod that makes it okay or not. I think the unsewed down shoulder might look great with one of your Granny’s brooch pins or a really large interesting button.

    I would have loved for your original plan to have worked. It was incredibly original one. Don’t give up on those crazy ideas, they are your best refashions.

    • I really should have taken a pic. You’re right. :/ But the good news re: the Nana bag is that you can ask her to make you one! 🙂


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