Incredible Dress Transformation Tutorial

by Recreateful
8 Materials
2 Hours

Today, I'm bringing you an upcycling idea for a complete dress transformation. Obviously, you won’t be upcycling the exact same dress as me, but a key factor about my dress is that the skirt has multiple layers of fabric. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials: 

  • Dress to upcycle
  • Fabric scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Elastic
  • 2 safety pins
  • Sewing machine
Separated dress pieces

Planning a hot pink mini dress

1. Take it apart and observe

Typically, the first step in an upcycling is taking the garment apart to see how much material you have to work with.

I recommend sketching out your idea before you begin. I wanted strappy details in the front which tie up in the back. The bodice will be divided into two parts and there will be suspender-like straps that finish off the sides. Here is my finished sketch:

Sketch of dress idea

2. Measure

Measure your waist.

Measuring waist

And the distance between your waist and your back where the straps will hit.

Taking measurements

As well as between the waist and under-bust.

Taking measurements

Creating the skirt

1. Trim

First, cut the existing skirt to your desired final skirt length. Be sure to measure from the bottom of the skirt to be one length throughout.

Trimming fabric

2. Create a fabric strip

Cut several rectangular strips from the underskirt material that together are 1.5 times your waist measurement. Then combine them into one strip. 

Waist measurement

We are creating something like a bias tape. Press the raw edges in and then press the hole piece in half, horizontally. 

Bias tape-like strip

Bias tape-like strip

3. Attach bias strip to skirt piece

Next, take the shortened skirt material, fold it so that it’s double layered, then sandwich it between the waist bias strip (pinning it). 

Attaching bias strip to skirt

Then cut out the excess fabric at the end.

Cutting fabric

Now, top stitch the skirt and waistband together. 

Where to top stitch

4. Add elastic

Measure and cut a piece of elastic to your waist measurement. Attach a safety pin to each end of the elastic, then feed the piece through the waistband. 

5. Close the skirt

Close your skirt with a French seam by folding it, wrong sides together, and sewing along the edge. Then, flip the skirt inside out and sew again to encase the raw edges. (See video 2:30-2:45)

Closed skirt

Here is the finished skirt of the hot pink mini dress:

Completed hot pink mini dress skirt

Creating the bodice

1. Make two rectangles

Cut out two rectangles from the lining fabric that are half your bust and waist measurements, and as high as the distance between the two. 

Fabric rectangles

Sew the rectangles right-sides together along the top and bottom edges. Then flip the resulting tube right-side out. 

Fabric tube

2. Make the neckline piece

Use that piece as a guide (for width) to cut out a rough, sweetheart neckline bodice. Allow enough extra fabric for a seam allowance. 

Cutting fabric

Neckline piece

Then use the first neckline piece to cut out an identical piece.

Two neckline pieces

3. Sew together

Then, sew both pieces together along the top and bottom.

Where to sew

After sewing, snip the seam allowance (like fringe) for a crisp, outer seam.

Trimming fabric

4. Add darts

Turn it right side out and sew the bodice in thirds to sew in two small darts.

Here is where the darts should be:

Where darts should be

And they should come out like this:

Fabric with darts

5. Make straps

Now, cut a few strips from the lining fabric that are long enough to tie around your back.

Sew them all into one, long strap, fold it and sew the right sides together. Then, turn it right-sides out with the help of a safety pin. (See video 3:52-4:08)

Three straps

At this point, the strap should look like this:


Then, iron it so that it looks crisp. 

6. Join the bodice pieces

Cut the lower bodice piece to be the same length across as the upper bodice piece.

Trimming fabric

Then, place the new strap between the two pieces and stitch everything together to make one, continuous bodice. 

Adding strap

Be sure to place the center of the strap at the center of the bodice.

Adding strap

7. Make another strap

Using more of the lining material, make one more strap, with a dart in the middle, to fit around the sweetheart neckline.

Use a straight pin at the middle to mark your diagonal for the dart, then sew.

Pinned strap

Pinned strap

Next, pin the strap to the top and sew with a top stitch. 

Pinned bodice top

Now, fold the raw edges of the straps into a triangle and top stitch them.

Top stitched straps

8. Oops, let’s make one more strap!

Make one more strap that is the length of your waist to your back. Check where it needs to be top stitched to the bodice and back straps. 

Trying on bodice top

9. Make adjustments

This is where I realized that my bodice was too wide, so I just cut off the extra fabric and overlocked it again with a zigzag stitch.

Trimming fabric

10. Attach final strap

Lay the strap along the bodice, pin it and stitch it along the edge of the bodice and onto the other straps.

Attaching the final strap

11. Close the edges

Next, fold the raw edges of the straps in and attach to the back straps with a pin and sew. 

Closing the edges

Closing the edges

Similarly, tuck in the raw edges of the side straps and sew them closed.

Where to sew

Here’s the final look:

Completed dress transformation: DIY hot pink mini dress

Since it’s a two piece, I can also style the top and skirt separately for different looks:

DIY top and skirt

Dress transformation

I absolutely love how this upcycled dress transformation turned out. It’s definitely giving Beyonce, Crazy in Love vibes. If you try this tutorial yourself, please share your results in the comments below. 

Suggested materials:
  • Dress to upcycle
  • Fabric scissors
  • Measuring tape
See all materials

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