How to Turn a Summer Dress Into a Fall Dress in 8 Simple Steps

Jessica Shaw
by Jessica Shaw
5 Materials
2 Hours

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to turn a summer dress into a fall dress. With just a few little modifications, you can transform your summery look into a cute DIY fall dress that is much more autumn-appropriate. Let's get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Sleeveless long summer dress
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Marking or tailor’s chalk
  • Pins
How to make a summer dress work for fall

1. Raise the neckline

When transforming a summer dress to fall, you will want to change certain things. Summer necklines tend to be lower.

Pinning the shoulder seams to raise the neck

To make the dress ready for fall, bring the neckline up to make it look more modern and cozier. The way to do that is to bring the shoulders up higher. Put a pin to where to bring the shoulders up.

Pinning the dress to shorten it

2. Shorten the dress

Flowy summer maxi dresses are great for hot weather, but they don't really work in the fall. To update them for cooler weather, it’s best to shorten them. This way you can wear them with leggings or jeans and boots. Place pins where to hem the dress.

The summer dress I am using for the tutorial is fully lined. I’m going to use the lining later. If your dress doesn’t have a lining - no worries! The step I am doing with the lining is optional. 

Cutting the excess fabric from the shoulders

3. Cut the shoulders

Mark the pinned shoulder area. Then, remove the pins and cut along those lines.

Reshaping the armholes

4. Sew the shoulders

Reshape the armholes on both sides to make sure they match up perfectly. 

Pin the new shoulder seams, then sew them with a straight stitch.

Hemming the DIY fall dress

5. Hem the bottom

Hem the dress to its new length by marking the pinned area and cutting across. Then, sew the top layer and lining (if your dress has one) separately.

Measuring sleeves from shoulder to wrist

6. Make sleeves

Transitioning to colder weather usually means having sleeves! Use the leftover fabric from the hem to create sleeves. 

First, measure the sleeve against your arm to get the measurement from the shoulder to the wrist.

Measuring the fabric

Then, transfer these measurements to the leftover fabric. The width should match the armhole. Pin and mark.

Cutting fabric for the dress sleeves

Mark the shoulder for the sleeve cap with a ½-inch seam allowance and cut both sleeves from the scrap fabric. 

Pinning the sleeves ready to sew

Lay the sleeve down so the right sides are together. Pin the inner seams and sew. 

Attaching the sleeves to the dress

7. Attach the sleeves

Attach the sleeves by inserting them right sides facing up into the inside-out dress. This way, the sleeve's right side is touching the dress’s right side.

Line up the side seams and the inner seams. Pin all along the armhole. Sew them together with a straight stitch.

Measuring cuffs for the sleeves

8. Add sleeve cuffs

Add sleeve cuffs from the leftover lining. Measure the width of the existing cuff on the sleeve. 

Folding the lining fabric

Fold the lining fabric in half. 

Marking the cuff measurement

Mark and cut this measurement on the scrap lining with a thickness of 4 inches and a seam allowance of 1 inch.

How to make cuffs for a dress

Cut out the pieces, then fold them in half. Make 2 loops by sewing the pieces right sides together. 

Pinning the cuffs to the dress

Fold the cuff in half so the folded part is at the bottom and the raw edge of the loop is touching the raw edge of the sleeve. Pin into place on the sleeves. Sew with a straight stitch. 

How to turn a summer dress into a fall dress

How to turn a summer dress into a fall dress tutorial

I love the way the dress came out! I hope this tutorial helped you learn how to turn a summer dress into a fall dress. Let me know in the comments if you tried doing this and if you did, I would love to see your refashioning and transitioning summer to fall!

Suggested materials:
  • Sleeveless long summer dress
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
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