How to Combine 2 Dresses Into 1 to Make a Cute DIY Fishtail Dress

Pam Oduor
by Pam Oduor
9 Materials
1 Hour

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a mermaid-style dress using two pieces of clothing that you might have in your wardrobe already: a basic shirt dress and a skater-skirt dress. If you don’t have these already, then head to your local thrift store to get them.

This dress has a classic mermaid-style fishtail. But looks are deceiving because this is a much simpler upstyle to make than you would guess from looking at the finished dress.

Tools and materials

  • Basic shirt dress
  • Skater skirt dress (preferably with a tulle skirt)
  • Measuring tape
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Sewing pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
Resizing the shirt dress

1. Resize your shirt dress

With your basic shirt dress on inside-out, mark where you want the narrowest part of your mermaid dress waistline to be.

How to make a fishtail-style dress

Also mark the bottom of the shirt dress where you want to take it in to get a mermaid look below your hips.

Marking the sides

Measure to make sure your marks are even on both sides and then draw in the new side seams from the underarm to hem on each side of the shirt dress.

Marking the waistline

Use the waistband of the skirt of your skater skirt dress to mark the waistline width at the bottom of your shirt dress.

Sewing the new side seams

Now, sew the new side seams on your shirt dress, along the marks you drew.

Deconstructing the skater skirt dress

2. Deconstruct your skater skirt dress

Use a seam ripper to detach the top of the skater skirt dress from the skirt portion of the dress.

How to sew a fishtail dress

If part of the back seam of the skirt comes apart when you are detaching the top of the skater skirt dress, then just sew it back up again, including the waistband.

Attaching the skater skirt to the shirt dress

3. Attach the skater skirt to the shirt dress

Pin the waistband of the skater skirt to the bottom of the basic shirt dress within the waistline markings you previously made. Line up the center back of the skirt with the center-back of the shirt dress.

Then sew the skirt to the shirt dress.

Don’t worry about the excess fabric on the shirt dress above the waistline just yet. Once you try on your mermaid-style dress and confirm that it fits, then you can cut away the bulk from the extra fabric. 

DIY fishtail dress

DIY fishtail dress

This is how my completed mermaid-style dress turned out. Rather than shortening the sleeves by cutting and sewing them, I opted to just turn them up.

DIY mermaid-style dress

It also looks great with a pop of color from a jacket! The stretchy elastic from the skater skirt made it easy to put on, and the tulle skater skirt made a fantastic fishtail! 

I hope you try making this simple DIY fishtail dress and then leave a comment to let me know how you liked this thrift store upstyle tutorial.

Suggested materials:
  • Basic shirt dress
  • Skater skirt dress (preferably with a tulle skirt)
  • Measuring tape
See all materials

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