Turn a Long Duster Dress Into a Cute Square Neck Mini

6 Materials
1 Hour

I’ve been on a mission to modify items of clothing in my wardrobe that I haven’t worn into something that fits my style and that I would be more likely to wear. For this project, I took a long duster dress that I got from the clearance rack at Target and transformed it into a square neck mini dress that I am very excited to wear.

Tools and materials:

  • Dress
  • Fabric ruler
  • Marking chalk
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Sewing machine
Square neck dress
Crop the dress

The first thing you’re going to do is cut the excess fabric off the dress. To do this, take your fabric ruler and your marking chalk and mark where you want to cut it. I used one of the buttons as a guide. Now grab your scissors and cut across your line. 

Square neck dress with buttons
Remove the pockets

The dress I was using had pockets in the front, so if your dress is like mine, your next move will be to remove them. I used a seam ripper and slowly and carefully removed all parts of the pocket. This can take a while, but you want to make sure to be careful and avoid creating any holes in the fabric.

Red square neck dress
Take in the dress

Using your fabric ruler, you’re going to mark where you want to take in your dress. I did about 1½” from the top to the bottom on both sides. Once you’re done marking it, put pins where you marked and then try it on and make sure you’re happy with it. Make any adjustments accordingly. 

DIY square neck dress
Sew where you pinned

Once you’re done making your adjustments, take your dress over to your sewing machine and sew along your markings, removing the pins as you go. I used a 3.0 stitching length. 

Short square neck dress
Cut off the excess fabric

To cut off my excess fabric, I used pinking shears. These are special scissors that cut in a zigzag pattern which helps to minimize fraying. You can also use a serger or specific settings on your sewing machine, but I find pinking shears to be a great quick, and easy option for DIY projects. 

Square neck dress upcycle
Cut the neckline

Take your scissors and first remove the collar. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to cut the neckline. I went in about an inch from the top where the shoulder seam is and cut it on both sides of the dress. Then I cut down towards the top button. Once you’ve cut down the length you want, you’re going to cut horizontally in a straight line to get that square neck look. Then, if you want, you can cut some off the back as well. I chose to then cut around with my pinking shears to prevent fraying, but this is optional since you’re sewing the edges down anyway.

Pin down the edges
Pin down the edges

After you’re done cutting the neck, fold the edges down about ¼” and pin them down. Then take it to the sewing machine and sew it, removing your pins as you sew. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end, and it’s also helpful to pick up your presser foot as you sew around the corners. 

Upcycle dress
Hem the dress

Time for my favorite part of a project, and that’s the last hem. I get such a sense of accomplishment because it means my project is just about complete. Double fold your hem and sew it down, removing your pins as you go. When hemming, I like to use my presser foot as a guide to help me keep everything straight.

Completed square neck dress

Completed square neck upcycle

There you have it. I’m such a fan of how this dress turned out. I think it’s super cute and can work with various styles, as you can see. Whether with heels or with combat boots and a leather jacket, I think this dress is a winner. I really enjoyed making this project and it was so quick and easy to do. I’m definitely glad I gave it a go. I’d love to know if y’all try this project out, so please be sure to leave me a picture in the comments section! 

Suggested materials:
  • Dress
  • Fabric ruler
  • Marking chalk
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