Thrift Flip Tutorial: How to DIY a Dress and Cute Lace Bell Bottoms

7 Materials
2 Hours

So here I am today with a two-for-one thrift flipping tutorial!

I thrifted a maxi length, vintage style, lined lace dress that I wanted to shorten to a more wearable length.

When I finished, I had enough fabric left over to make lace bell bottoms out of a too-short pair of pants. A double win, and both the transformations were really quick and easy to do.

Tools and materials:

  • Dress to upcycle
  • Template dress the correct length
  • Pants
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
Removing decoration

1. Remove any unwanted decorations

The dress is very well made and fully lined, but I really didn't like the strip of lace that had been hand sewn on the front.

When you make an upcycled dress - or upcycled anything - it's important that the finished result is something that suits your style and that you'll actually wear.

Never be afraid to remove unwanted bits of lace, ruffles, applique or anything else that you don't like!

Removing decoration

Because the lace had been sewn on by hand, I just had to cut the end of the thread with my seam ripper. I could pull the rest out by hand.

Shortening the dress

2. Shorten the dress

Lay the dress out flat, and place your template dress on top. Line up the shoulder seams carefully.

Mark an inch or so below the bottom of the template dress as a hem allowance, then cut across the too-long dress as straight as you can.

Sewing new hem

3. Sew a new hem

With a lined dress or skirt, I always prefer to shorten the outer layer first. That way I can see exactly how much shorter the lining needs to be, in order to be hidden behind it.

If the lining is slippery the dress may well ride up when you sit down, so aim to make the lining at least an inch or two shorter than the outer fabric.

Lay the dress out flat and trim the outer layer straight. Turn up a narrow double hem and stitch it.

Lay the dress flat again and trim the lining straight and parallel to the edge of the dress.

Turn up a double hem on the lining, making sure the main fabric sits below the lining by the same amount all the way around before sewing it.

Cutting fabric

4. Make the bell bottoms

You will need two tubes of fabric to make the bell bottoms. I folded the excess lace in half lengthways and cut it along the fold.

Then I folded each piece in half lengthways and sewed the side seams, with the right sides together.

Trim the top edges straight, so both tubes are the same length.


5. Cut the pants to length

Turn your pants inside out and fold them in half lengthways. Line up the side seams and the lower edges.


Mine were too short, so I placed one of the lace tubes on top, with the finished edge of the lace extending beyond the hem of the pants, to the length I wanted the pants to be.


I cut straight across the leg of the pants about half an inch below the top of the bell bottom tubes, to allow for the seam.

Attaching bell bottoms

6. Attach the bell bottoms

Turn the pants right out and place a bell tube around each leg, with the right sides facing. 

Attaching bell bottoms

Pin the raw edges of the bell bottoms and the pants together.

You can use pin tucks, pleats or gathering stitches to reduce the volume of the lace to fit around the edge of the pants.

Pin tucks are my favorite way to do this.

Attaching bell bottoms

Sew the bell bottoms in place around the pant legs.

Trim the seam allowance if it's bulky.

DIY dress and lace bell bottoms

DIY dress and lace bell bottoms

I'm absolutely over the moon with my double bell-sleeved dress. It's now something I will definitely wear and feel amazing in.

And I think I've just created my favorite pair of pants ever. They look so cool and I will definitely be making more of them. I now have so many ideas for adding bell bottoms in all kinds of amazing fabrics to all my jeans!

I hope you get some inspiration from this tutorial to thrift flip something you come across.

I’d love to know if you do anything along these lines so please leave me a comment if I’ve helped you at all.

For more thrift flip ideas, check out my post on How to DIY a Cozy Granny Square Scarf.

Suggested materials:
  • Dress to upcycle
  • Template dress the correct length
  • Pants
See all materials

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