Upcycled Dress Save – Refashion

5 Hours

Hello from soggy Colorado,

Our state has been getting a lot of rain here for the last couple of weeks. I am doing my best to appreciate the upside of getting all this moisture. For example, I do not need to water my plants or my grass very much. Everything is very green during this time of year. Colorado is a pretty dry state so we need all the rain and snow that we can get.

But still, I am eagerly awaiting the sunshine. We are pretty spoiled in this state as far as sunshine goes. There are mostly sunny days. But maybe that makes us or me anyway more prone to miss the sun when it is gone.

However, sunny days are just around the corner. Soon I will be lamenting my wilting and thirsty foliage because, even though I like to think of myself as a “glass-half-full-person.” I do still notice the empty half, way too often. Anyhow, with all this rain, a lot of the outdoor projects have been suspended. This has given me some time to evaluate my closet. Unfortunately, my wardrobe isn’t what anyone would consider fashionable.

See what I mean there is that “glass-half-empty” attitude showing. But on the “glass-half-full side,” there is plenty of opportunity for improvement. 🙂

So Let’s Begin

For today’s project I selected a knit dress. It is sort of floppy and sloppy and really comfortable.

Unfortunately, it had oil splashed on it. This made it quite unwearable. I have tried but never been successful at removing oil stains from clothing. So, I did contemplate cutting it up into rags. But not only is it super comfortable, but it also has pockets! And everybody knows that pockets are an amazing feature in a dress. Right?

Anyway, I just couldn’t commit to cutting it up into dust-rag-sized pieces.

I decided to experiment. After all, that is what the Upcycle Design Lab is all about. So I gathered some supplies that I thought I could use and set out to see if I could save my dress. It could always be cut into dust clothes later if my experiment failed.

Bleach Bath Beginnings

The vaguely formulated plan in my head started with the skirt area being bleached at a diagonal angle. I dipped the whole bottom half in a bleach and water combination and then re-dipped the hem in straight bleach.

So far so good.

Fixing a problem, making it worse, and then making it better (because that is what experimenting is all about)

During the bleaching process, some bleach splattered near the armhole. My solution to camouflage it with more bleach around the armholes. This resulted in the project going completely of the rails and greatly increased the dust rag outcome probability.

You should know that I am nothing if not stubborn. So, I was determined to continue. The question is, what do you do when you have too much bleach on your dress? Well, you add more bleach, of course. So I grabbed a large paintbrush and used it to paint the entire top with bleach. Miraculously, at least in my opinion, this did fix my terrible arm hole mistake.

Once I was finished bleaching the top, I felt encouraged. But, I still hand the oil stain problem. And it actually looked more obvious after the bleaching.

Making a very questionable decision

If you believe the logic that making something worse can actually make it better, then this will not shock you. Unfortunately, this logic is can not be universally applied to all projects. So there is no telling until you give it a try. But we are experimenting, right? So, the new question is, what do you do when you have too much oil on your dress?

You guessed it. You take an eyedropper to add more oil spots.

Proceeding with more confidence

I felt like I was getting closer to success but still wasn’t there, so I used the eyedropper to add some more bleach, and then I decided to stop.

I had thought that I might use some overdye or even some paint, but I feel pretty satisfied with my dress now. What do you think?

Did I do too much? Or not enough? Do you have something in your closet you would like to experiment with? If you do I hope this helps to give you the courage to try.

You can check out the whole experiment in the vidoe below.

Happy Upcycling,


P.S. If you enjoyed this re-fashion here are some other projects you may like.

And because I am shameless, I will also mention that my basketweave dress was featured in the Spring 2016 Issue of Green Craft Magazine.

See. Shameless. 🙂

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Cindy @ Upcycle Design Lab
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2 of 83 comments
  • Susan Dunn Susan Dunn on Mar 20, 2022

    So cute! Good idea Cindy. I have found that Oxy Clean gets out stubborn stains also.

  • Jenthewren Jenthewren on May 05, 2022

    Why not try more drops of oil, may work may not, but rather than waste a dress it's worth a try.