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Easy DIY Tunic Dress Refashion

How to Remove an Elastic Waistband from a Dress
A Subtle Gamecock Refashion

It has been raining here in Columbia.  For days and days.  

When weather forecasts predicted some flooding over the weekend, I packed a bag and fled to a friend’s place (which sits at a higher elevation than mine) to wait it out.  

I knew I’d be feeling a little stir-crazy from days stuck inside rather than hanging out with friends.  So, when I packed, I only packed refashionables!  

I figured it would be a good excuse for a challenge, as well as a boredom buster.  πŸ™‚

I just knew this 80’s dress would make a perfect comfy DIY Tunic Dress!

refashionista DIY Tunic Dress before
What do you think?

The dress is nice and warm, and I like those big batwing sleeves.  

It’s meant to be of generous fit, but even so, it was still too big for me.  I didn’t like the length either.  

DIY Tunic Dress before
I dig the wingspan!

I saw this one becoming much shorter and paired with leggings for a cozy stay-at-home outfit.

Of course, since I wasn’t at my house, I had to complete this refashion with much fewer sewing supplies than I’m used to and without a dress form.  

Oh well!  It’s all a part of the challenge!

First, I eyeballed this frock and decided I wanted to take it in 1.5 inches on each side.  

I figured this would make the hips more fitted, but still leave the top free-fitting.

It took a little creative thinking, but I managed to measure and pin each side.

measuing side seam with construction measuring tape
You’ll have to do!

With the dress turned inside-out, I pinned my side seams.

To complete this refashion, I had to rely on an old (more travel-friendly) pal.

Brother Sewing machine
Hey guys! Remember me?

That’s right!  It’s my old sewing machine!  The one that started it all!  

sewing side seam
A slightly clunky whirrrrrrrrr!

Each side got stitched down, then I removed the excess fabric.

cutting off excess fabric
Snnnnipping with my second-best scissors!
removed fabric on floor

Next, I chopped off a bit from the bottom.

removing bottom of dress

A quick hem followed.

measuring and pinning bottom hem
Measure & Pin!
Sewing hem of dress on sewing machine
A final whirrrr!

After a good press, my new dress was ready for a day of lounging in style!

DIY Tunic Dress After
Cozy, yet sophisticated!

This dress could easily be belted, but I actually like leaving the waist free.

This is also a flattering look for women who are more of an apple shape, as it plays up your legs, while the full sleeves help give balance.

refashionista DIY Tunic Dress After from above
Staying high and dry!
refashionista DIY Tunic Dress after with umbrella
Sort of.

Douglas seems to be handling the downpour just fine.

douglas sleeping on couch
Sleepy puppy!


refashionista DIY Tunic Dress before and after


How to Remove an Elastic Waistband from a Dress
A Subtle Gamecock Refashion

65 thoughts on “Easy DIY Tunic Dress Refashion”

  1. Sending prayers and good wishes your way. We are your neighbors in the Charlotte area, and we have been very worried about you in South Carolina. Hope you are staying dry! I enjoy your blog, and I am inspired by your creativity!

  2. Very cute! I’m veryyyy much a beginner so always appreciate the steps and pics. I also love the idea of redonating some of the refashions. And being in Cola too so that’s a great way to help in our community. So happy to see everyone’s strength and support.

  3. It looks real cute on you..I must say the women’s dresses you find are so huge I wondering what the women who wore some of them looked like..maybe they lost weight and gave them away ,…. Lalee in Calif

  4. Lovely refashion! I’ll have to look out for this kind of dress here in UK charity shops!! Hope the flooding has subsided now, and that you don’t have any damage at your place. ((HUGS))

  5. You really do have a special eye for this. I hope I can be just as good when I get my sewing machine soon. LOL on the measuring tape, it turned out fabulous Jillian!

  6. Your hair is especially sassy in these photos. This is a very appropriate & becoming refashion. The fella is handsome, but really a impresdive in the fact he isn’t scared of a toothbrush, or sewing machine, left at his house. He’s made space for YOU – which includes creativity, a pup & your supporters. A secure man indeed!

    Bless everyone & the land in the Carolinas. We need a canal built the width of the country so your water excess can flow to our SW shortage. Then we could ship cargo in the canal & spare the land travel of trucks. Us thrifty gals have the answers!

  7. Thinking of all of you as you endure the flash floods. Just saw on tv what is happening. Keep safe.
    Love your refashioning ideas.

  8. Although I have not sewed a stitch since 8th grade home ec (many, many years ago) I love reading your blog. Today’s do- over turned out great.

    I am in Cola too, and we vastly underestimated what was going to happen this weekend. Prayers for those who have been hit very hard.

  9. Always love your refashions. You have been a big inspiration for my blog. I even posted you as one of my favourite bloggers. Would love if you check my blog out and give me some tips at Thanks so much for all your great work and inspiration. Cheers, Michele

  10. Do you take requests? Here’s mine: seems like the only sweaters I wear are cardigans. I need new ones but all I can find is the same-old same-old. I imagine refashioning, perhaps by putting 2 together somehow. But I’m having trouble getting started. Any hope you can help?

  11. Love your creativity and what you see in a piece of clothing…very inspiring. My very old fav machine just died on me,,,bought in 1969 when I was a senior in high school…I don’t think the new ones can beat it…miss it much

  12. This is a very cute re-fa. I love it that you are also considering people of a larger size in your post. You are so tiny and cute but not all if us can do all of the re-fa you do. Thanks.

  13. Sending prayers. Love your refashion. If you ever want to visit Dallas you can stay with me and refashion something fun for me. Win win lol

  14. I love the look!

    All the folks receiving floods and heavy rains are in our prayers here in California. (It’s flooding/mudslides here in the mountains.)

  15. I just love how this turned out! Don’t know that I have quite the “creative vision” you’ve been blessed with, but you sure make me want to start haunting local thrifts! Thoughts and prayers coming your way for drier weather and maybe some sunshine?

  16. The refashion is adorable and complimentary! And we are so sorry for the flooding devastation you all are experiencing. Prayers are and have been said for you all. Sure hope your place survives okay.

  17. I like what you did with this dress. Guess you’d have to call it a tunic now. But the leftover from the bottom will probably come in handy too. (I always save the bottoms when I shorten a dress, I just know I can use them someday) You didn’t mention the fabric, I’m assuming it’s a mix of poly/cotton?

    We just had a ferocious rainstorm and flood last night, so I can relate to your anxiety about what might be happening to your home while you’re away. We were bailing, squeegeeing, and mopping for hours! The silt is the worst…yuck!

    Your guy looks like a real sweetheart, and it’s very kind of him to indulge your creativity by keeping your tools handy for you at his house.

    • Glad y’all are doing okay in this weather! That dress transformation is unreal – you have a great eye, it looks fabulous!


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