Summer Dress Makeover: From Drab to Fab

Knick Knacks
by Knick Knacks
8 Materials
3 Hours

A little while ago my mom gave me this gorgeous dress because she knew I would love the pattern. But, unfortunately, it just doesn’t fit. I knew I wanted to do something with the fabric, but I didn’t know what until recently. So, after scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon this basic summer dress and knew I had to make it!

Tools and materials:

  • Oversized dress
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter
  • Loop turner
  • Sewing machine
  • Ruler
  • Elastic
  • Pins
DIY summer dress

Make a summer dress

Cut out your fabric 

Cut the top of the dress from the bottom using scissors. Once the two halves are separated, cut along the seams of the top piece to separate all the different pieces. Repeat this with the bottom piece, separating the lining from the skirt as well. Now that all our pieces are separated, we will begin by cutting out the straps and the loops for the straps. Cut out multiple strips of fabric that are each about an inch wide so that you can later sew all these pieces together to make one long, continuous strap. Keep in mind that you will need two of these straps, so decide the length accordingly (the length is dependent on you and your preferences). 

Easy summer dress

I decided to make my loops about five inches long. To create them, I will fold them over (wrong sides touching) and use a straight stitch to secure them. In the end, I will be left with six loops. Next, I will connect all my strap pieces to make two long straps and then straight stitch along the edges again - similar to what was done with the loops. Finally, use a loop turned to turn the loops and straps inside out (keep in mind that it will take a while). 

How to make a summer dress

Make the top 

Because there was no lining on the top part, I chose to layer the fabric with itself. To do this, I cut out two identical rectangular pieces based on my measurements (measure armpit to armpit - over the bust - and add seam allowance). Once you have both pieces cut out, pin them together, right sides touching. Next, mark where you want the straps and holders to go. Insert the straps in between the two pieces of fabric (next to the markers you made), with the long straps coming out the top of the top. The holders should be attached to the sides. Once everything is pinned in place, straight stitch along the edges, making sure to leave the bottom open. Secure with a zigzag stitch. 

Basic summer dress

Connect the top and bottom 

Turn the top pieces right side out and then start on the bottom of the dress. The first step is to get rid of any excess fabric on the front half of the skirt. Use the front piece you’ve just completed as a guide to know how much of the skirt to cut off - I left about an inch extra on each side. Next, cut off a strip about an inch thick from the top of the skirt for the facing. Then place the top over the skirt, right sides together, and sandwich the top with the strip of facing. Go straight into with a zigzag stitch for clean edges and then follow with a straight stitch and half-inch seam allowance. 

Gathered summer dress

Insert the elastic 

Lay the back of the skirt out flat and fold over the top edge, pinning it down. This will become the canal for the elastic we are going to insert. Ensure the elastic will fit through the canal and then sew down the edge using a straight stitch. Next, insert the elastic by connecting one edge of a safety pin and weaving it through the canal. Do this by gathering the fabric around it and then pulling it through. Just make sure to spread the gathering up equally. Secure the elastic in with a zigzag stitch on both edges. Finally, a straight stitch in the middle of the skirt so that the elastic doesn’t fold. 

summer dress thrift flip

Step: Finish the dress 

Place the back of the bottom over the front of the bottom, right sides together. Pin along both edges. Make sure to pin the fabric first and to follow with the lining. Straight stitch with a half-inch seam allowance on both edges. Finally, finish the dress by cleaning up the edges with a zigzag stitch. 

summer dress tutorial

This gathered summer dress is a favorite of mine! I love how it turned out and I can’t wait to wear it to all the summery, beachy places. It took a lot of hard work and patience, but I think it was worth it at the end of the day. 

Suggested materials:
  • Oversized dress
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter
See all materials

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