Thrifty Dress Transformation: Gown to Super Cute Tie Front Blouse

Jessica Shaw
by Jessica Shaw
8 Materials
1 Hour

Follow along with my dress transformation to see how I upcycle this thrifted piece into a tie front crop blouse. You won’t believe the results until you see them! Let's get started.

This post was transcribed by a member of the Upstyle Editorial team from the original UpstyleTV episode.

Tools and materials:

  • Dress to upcycle
  • Fabric scissors
  • Tailor’s chalk or a piece of a white bar of soap
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Thin elastic
Thrifted dress before transformation

1. Separate bodice from skirt

Using fabric scissors, cut the bodice apart from the skirt. The goal is to get a large piece of fabric. 

Cutting the bodice apart from the skirt

Also, cut away the waistband to give us a nice, flat piece to work with. This also separated the lining from the exterior fabric. Don’t throw that away because we will ultimately use both. 

Cutting the bodice apart from the skirt

2. Measure the bodice lining

Since the outer material is so sheer, we will need a lining for the top. Measure out the width and length of the bodice on the lining material. You’ll make a perfect rectangle. 

Measuring bodice

Measuring bodice

Then cut it out.

Cutting fabric

3. Make armholes in the bodice lining

Fold that lining piece in half, draw the triangular corner and cut to make an armhole.

Cutting fabric

Do the same thing for the back bodice lining.

Cutting fabric

4. Repeat for the exterior bodice fabric

Lay the folded bodice lining pieces on the exterior fabric, lining it up at the fold of the exterior fabric. Then use it like a template and cut. 

Cutting around template

Here are the exterior bodice pieces:

Exterior bodice pieces

5. Measure out puffy sleeves

Start by tracing the armhole curve, because the sleeve will need to mirror that same shape. 

Measuring out sleeves

After determining the length for your arm, trace out the sleeve length to meet with the curve you just marked, and cut. Keep in mind that you should make this a bit wider for the puffy sleeve effect.

Cutting fabric

6. Line up, pin and sew the bodice 

Line up the bodice pieces (liner and exterior) for both the front and back portions.

Pinned bodice pieces

Then, sew the bodice pieces with a long, basting stitch to attach the lining.

Sewing bodice pieces

7. Attach elastic to the sleeves

Align thin elastic with the straight part of the sleeve. Cut the elastic a couple inches shorter than that straight part of the sleeve. Cut two elastic pieces, one for each sleeve. 

Attaching elastic to the sleeves

Line the elastic up with the straight part of the sleeve, stretch it until the end and affix with the straight pins. 

Attaching elastic to the sleeves

To connect the elastic, switch to a zigzag stitch and be sure to slightly stretch the elastic as you sew. 

Stitching elastic

8. Attach elastic to neckline

Repeat the exact same process for the neckline of the bodice pieces.

Measure two elastic strips to be slightly shorter than the neckline.

Attaching elastic to neckline

Pin the elastic.

Pinning the elastic

Stretch the elastic as you sew a zigzag stitch all the way across the length of the neckline.

Stitching the elastic

Now we have this nice, cinched edge on the neckline:

Cinched edge on neckline

9. Finish the neckline

Fold the cinched edge that you just sewed down and iron it flat.

Ironing cinched edge

Then, sew it down so that it stays flat.

Sewing neckline

10. Connect the sleeves to the bodice

Lay the bodice piece down and pin the sleeves at the armholes, right sides together. 

Connecting the sleeves to the bodice

Flip it to the other side.

Connecting the sleeves to the bodice

Then attach the other side of the bodice to the backs of the sleeves.

Connecting the sleeves to the bodice

11. Connect the top down the side seams and along the sleeves

Pin down the side seams of the bodice as well as the open undersides of the sleeves.

Connecting the sleeves to the bodice

Begin sewing. Once you sew down the sleeve, pivot to sew down the side seam.

Sewing fabric

(For pivot, see 3:38-3:40 in video)

Sewing fabric

12. Hem the bottom of the blouse 

Cut a piece of elastic longer than the length of the bodice. Pin the middle and quarter points. 

Hemming the bottom of the blouse

Pin the elastic equally around the top. Then, sew that down.

Pinning elastic around the top

13. Finish the wrists

Roughly measure two pieces of elastic around your wrist where the sleeve will be closed. 

Measuring elastic around wrist

Pin those to the bottoms of your sleeves.

Pinning elastic to sleeve ends

Then sew down the elastic with a zigzag stitch. 

Stitched elastic

Now hem for nice, neat edges by flipping it down and sewing again. 


14. Create a makeshift waistband

Cut three long rectangles from the exterior fabric. 

Three long rectangles cut from fabric

Pin all the strips together to make a really long piece, then sew. Yours should look something like this:

Rectangles sewed together

Then, iron down about half an inch of the top and bottom horizontal sides.

Ironing fabric

Next, fold the hold piece in half horizontally and iron.

Ironing fabric

Once you have a neat waist tie, pin it to the bottom of the blouse and sew it in place.

Attaching pieces together

Sewing pieces together

Also, fold over, pin, then sew the ends of the waist tie for a finished look. Sew the entire length of the waistband as well. 

End of waist tie

Sewing waist tie

Dress transformation

And that’s it for the dress transformation!

Completed dress transformation: DIY tie front crop blouse

Here is the before and after of this long sleeve, tie front blouse.

Completed dress transformation: DIY tie front crop blouse

I hope you enjoyed this thrifty tutorial. Show us your before and after shots in the comments below.

Suggested materials:
  • Dress to upcycle
  • Fabric scissors
  • Tailor’s chalk or a piece of a white bar of soap
See all materials

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