Convert a Dress Into a Skirt Set With This Tutorial for Beginners

Sew Aldo
by Sew Aldo
7 Materials
2 Hours

I love a good thrift flip! This project started out as a thrifting challenge with a $10 budget. I sought out a dress in a print and color scheme that I liked. I searched specifically for something that would be too big on me so that I would have extra material to work with. After I brought home the dress, I converted it into a two-piece top and skirt set. Keep reading to see how I did it and to follow instructions to make your own version.

Tools and Materials:

  • Dress
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric ruler
  • Elastic
Cut the seams off the dress
Cut your dress

Use a seam ripper to separate the top and bottom parts of your dress. The dress I was working with had a trimming of lace that connected the top part from the skirt part, so I saved it to be able to use later. 

Cut open your fabric for your DIY thrift flip
Cut the skirt

Take a pair of scissors and cut the skirt in half along the sides. 

DIY thrift flip dress pattern
Choose your pattern

Use a skirt that you already have as a pattern. Lay it over the now open fabric and cut around the skirt, leave a half-inch seam allowance on both sides — 1 inch for the waistline and 1 inch for the hemline. 

Thrift and flip dress to skirt
Cut out the back piece

Now that you have the front piece cut out, use it as a template for the back piece. Lay it over the fabric and cut closely around it so that you have two matching pieces.

Remove the sleeves

Cut off the sleeves

Take the top part of the dress and cut off the sleeves on both sides, then trim 1 inch off of each side of the top. 

Prepare the bottom part of your thrift flip s
Fold your fabric

Take your remaining fabric and fold it in half and then in half again. We’re going to use this to add a flowy part to your shirt. Then you’re going to take the top part that you just cut and place it on the corner of your fabric to measure it. You want to place it just where the width of the top matches the width of the fabric in the corner. Once you’ve done that, move the top aside and fold that corner over and secure it in place with a sewing pin. 

How to make a thrift flip dress into a shirt
Mark and cut your fabric

Take a fabric ruler or measuring tape and place it at the edge of your folded over corner. Measure the length you want for the bottom part of the shirt, (I did 10”) and mark it. Then shift the ruler in a circular motion so that you’re marking the same length all around that folded corner. Then take your scissor and cut around those markings.

Cut your shirt
Cut off corner

Once you’re done cutting your circle, you’re going to cut off the piece that’s folded over. Then open it up and sew or serge the side seams, and sew the side seams of the top as well.

Put your thrift flip shirt together
Combine your shirt

Insert the top part of the shirt through the bottom (circle) part so that your seams are matched up, the right side of the fabric facing each other, and pin them together. Then turn over the top part so that it’s no longer inside out. 

Sew your DIY dress to shirt
Add your sleeves

Take the sleeves from before, (I trimmed about an inch off of each one) and pin them to the shoulders of your top. Turn your dress over and pin the sleeves on the back as well. Then sew or surge them in place, and sew together both halves of the shirt. When you’re done sewing, turn it so that it’s no longer inside out.

Add lace
Add your trimmings

Remember that lace trimming the dress had on it? I took it and added it to the bottom of the new shirt. You can add any trimmings you want, or leave it without as well.

Finish your thrift flip DIY dress to skirt
Finish your skirt

Let’s get back to your skirt. Fold over the top edge an inch and sew it, leaving an opening. Then take your elastic, which should be just smaller than 1”, and feed it through the opening all the way to the other side. (It’s helpful to fasten a safety pin to one side of the elastic as you feed it through.) Then sew the edges of the elastic together and sew closed your opening. Then sew the skirt’s hemline, carefully so you don’t pull the fabric, and your skirt is complete! 

How to flip thrift store dress

Two pieces from one thrift dress

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I really enjoyed finding a dress and turning it into something completely different and new. What I most love about this is that it gave me options for 3 different outfits. You can wear them together as a set, or you can wear the skirt with a different shirt, or the shirt with different bottoms. It’s so cool to realize what you can do with a $2 dress you found at the thrift store. I would LOVE to see your versions, so show me your thrift finds and what you did with them in the comments!


Suggested materials:
  • Dress
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
See all materials

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