See How I Turned Regular Curtains Into a Cute and Fashionable Dress

Madison McQuary
by Madison McQuary
9 Materials
5 Hours

Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle. I LOVE taking something and turning it into something totally different. Who says something has to remain within its intended purpose? If Maria from The Sound of Music could turn curtains into clothes, so can I. And it’s true, The Sound of Music is totally my fashion inspo lately. So keep reading to see how I turned some ordinary curtains into a dress that I, personally, really love.

Tools and materials:

  • Curtains
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Slopers
  • A good TV show to watch (optional)
How to sew a dress
Draw the pattern

My first step was to draw out my pattern. I decided to go with a dress that has ruffles at the top and bottom and a high-waisted baby doll design. I decided to play with the directionality of the stripes on the curtains, so I planned for the dress itself to have vertical stripes and the stripes on the ruffles to be horizontal. 

How to sew a dress from curtains
Prepare the fabric

As is usual for most of my projects, I used a sloper for the bodice of the dress and measurements for the skirt. I used one curtain for the front of my skirt and another for the back since I knew that they were the perfect width to give the right amount of gather for the dress design that I wanted to have. Since I planned for the bottom of my skirt to have a thick ruffle, I measured out the skirt to be about 20” on the vertical stripes. Then I cut about 8” of fabric on the horizontal stripes for the ruffles. I also decided to use the solid green parts, where the rod would normally go, for my straps. 

DIY dress
Trace the bodice

Now it was time to start tracing and cutting out my pattern. I folded the fabric in half so that I could get two bodice pieces with one cut, and traced the pattern onto the fabric. I slightly adjusted my slopers and cut out the fabric. I knew I wanted a curve at the top, so I cut that out as well. Since I was going for a babydoll shape, I ended up tracing only half of my sloper to get a more cropped shape. I did the same for the back of the dress, but with a scoop back instead of a curve at the top.

How to make a dress
Add darts and sew the bodice

Once my bodice pieces were cut out, I marked and pinned where I wanted my darts to be. Satisfied with their placement, I took a trip to my sewing machine and sewed them in. Then I added the front and back pieces of the bodice and sewed them together. Since I knew this dress was going to be self-lined, I repeated the process with the lining piece.

Curtain to dress refashion
Make adjustments

I took my cut-out pieces over to my mannequin and put them in place so I could visualize how it looked. I realized that the neckline curve was a bit too high so I marked where I wanted to lower it to. Then I cut on my mark and repeated the process with the lining piece.

Curtain to dress
Prepare ruffles

Satisfied with my bodice piece, I laid it out and figured out how exactly I wanted to place my ruffles for the top part. I grabbed my extra fabric and cut what I needed for the ruffles, making sure to cut it out so that the stripes were horizontal, in contrast to the vertical stripes of the dress. While I was cutting out the material, I decided to cut out some pockets as well. To sew the ruffles, I folded the material in half lengthwise and sewed a long basting stitch down the raw edge of the fabric. Then I gathered the fabric to get the ruffles. 

How to upcycle a curtain
Place straps

With my ruffles complete, I took the bodice and strap pieces back to my mannequin. I planned to sew my straps to the dress with the ruffles so that they’d be hidden by them and sandwiched in between my lining so I laid it all out on the mannequin and pinned them into place, marking the placement. 

Dress with ruffles
Line up bodice pieces

I took the bodice and laid the ruffles on the top to ensure that they were the same width. Once I saw that they were, I marked the placement for the ruffles. This part required working with a lot of material because I was sandwiching both the ruffles and the straps in between the bodice piece and the lining. When pinning all these pieces together, it was important to ensure that they were all right sides together. I then took it to my sewing machine and sewed together the pieces of the tops, removing my pins as I went, then flipped it all right side out. 

Curtain dress
Make the bottom ruffles

To make the rest of the ruffles, I needed to cut out more material. Since I was working with stripes, I needed to make sure that all the sides would be matched up perfectly. So I cut multiple pieces and sewed them together, aligning those sides. After sewing them, I serged the raw edges. This is an optional step, and you can also use zigzag or rolled stitching instead of a serger. After serging the bottom hem, I pressed it up ½” and sewed it into place for my hem, instead of rolling it multiple times later.

Curtain dress with pockets
Attach pockets and connect skirt pieces

I love having pockets on my dresses, and this one was no exception. So I pinned the pockets onto the skirt where the side seam was going to be, and about 4” down. I placed them right sides together onto my skirt. Then I sewed together the sides of my skirt, curving out over the pockets. 

Curtain dress with ruffles
Add middle ruffles

Next, I decided to add another ruffle where the skirt meets the bodice. So I cut out another piece, with the lines going horizontally, that was the same width as the top of my skirt. Then I basted it onto the top section of my skirt so that I could gather the fabric later and create the ruffles. To ensure the strength of these ruffles, I added a second basting stitch below the first one and then gathered them both together. Once that was done I gathered the top of the skirt as well as the ruffles at the bottom, making sure they were evenly spaced out along the circumference of the skirt. 

How to sew a curtain dress
Pin the skirt to the bodice

I pinned the ruffle to the bottom edge of my skirt, right sides facing each other. Then I sewed it into place and tucked it down. Next, I gathered the fabric at the waistband, and it was time to attach the bodice to the skirt. First I matched up the side seams; this helps to keep the pieces even and aligned. Then I went and pinned the pieces together all around. When pinning the pieces together, I pinned the ruffles on the waistband of the skirt in between the outer layer and the lining layer of the bodice. Once that was done, I was able to take it to my sewing machine and sew it together.

Curtain dress with zipper
Add a zipper

To add in the zipper, I sewed the back of my dress together with a basting stitch. Then I went in and pinned the zipper into place on that seam. Afterward, I sewed the zipper into place with my zipper foot, sewing down the left side then pivoting and sewing up the right side, and finally, I ripped the basting stitch out. This allowed me to make sure my zipper was straight and all my seams were aligned.

Completed curtain dress

I love it, you guys. I’m really excited about how this dress came out. It’s cute and comfortable and girly and I just can’t wait to wear it. I love the ruffles; I think they do a great job of breaking up the uniformity of the dress, and I’m really glad I added them in. It’s fitted but still loose and comfortable. All in all, I would say this project was definitely a success. What do you think? Are you going to try making this yourself? Let me know in the comments!  

Suggested materials:
  • Curtains
  • Notebook
  • Pencil
See all materials

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