See How I Transformed My Grandma’s Vintage Dress Into Something New

by Kara
5 Materials
2 Hours

When my grandma passed away, I found out that the family was planning on donating all of her clothes. I asked if I could have it instead so that I could update them as an homage to her. In this tutorial I’ll show you how I took that dress and transformed it. So follow along to see how I turned this vintage dress into something modern and cool.

Tools and Materials:

  • Dress
  • Dye
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
Dress refashion color dye
Dye your garment

This particular dress had some stains and discoloration, so the first thing I did was dye it. I used boiling water, and I mixed in Rit DyeMore in sapphire which is used for polyester fabrics, like this dress. I made sure the dress was already wet, which ensures that it will color evenly, and put it in the pot with the dye, stirring it in. I then left it for an hour. Once time was up, I took it out, rinsed it until the water ran clear, and then threw it in the wash.  

DIY dress refashion
Deconstruct your dress

Now that my dress was dyed and ready, I took it apart. I used to do this with a seam ripper, but it took too long, so now I just grab scissors and cut around the seams and I removed the skirt and the sleeves from the bodice. Because the dress had a yoke at the top, there was a part that stuck out awkwardly after I removed the sleeves, so I went ahead and took that part off as well. 

DIY grandma’s dress refashion
Make alterations

Next I put the dress on my mannequin and made my alterations. First I put in pins to take in the sides. Then I removed all the buttons and snaps and sewed those sides together to create the front of the dress.  

Dress refashion ideas
Sew together the dress

The next thing I did was cut the back so that I could add a zipper. Then I turned the dress inside out and tucked the skirt into the bodice so that I could sew it together. I put the lining of the buttons in the front because I liked the ruffle detail that it gave the dress.

Add sleeves
Add sleeves

Using an old sleeve pattern, I cut my new sleeves out of the original sleeves to create a cap sleeve. Then I pinned and sewed the sleeves to the bodice. 

Completed dress refashion

And that’s it! That’s how I took my grandma’s old and totally vintage dress and turned it into something way more modern, but still with a nod to that vintage feel. I also found an old belt when I was going through her stuff, so I dyed that as well and added it to complete the look. I love how it came out, and I love that I get to wear a dress that suits me but is still an homage to my grandma. Have you ever done anything like this before? Show me in the comments! 

Suggested materials:
  • Dress
  • Dye
  • Sewing machine
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • Jane Jane on Feb 03, 2021

    It’s ok to not use a seam ripper so long as the dress is big enough. If it’s not you will lose valuable seam allowance. You do great work. Love the finished version.

  • Rachel Rachel on Feb 03, 2021

    I love everything you did!! Excellent job.

    My family depends on material would have made a quilt. I am sure your family is happy to see your creativity. Grandma I'm sure is your guardian 👼