Share this:

This article has been kindly provided by the now defuncted Cloth Magazine which championed upcycling and refashioning.


Four ways to refashion a dress

4 ways to refashion a dress

We found this simple dress in Tesco for a bargain £12.99! Here are four great ways to make it your own. These are some great ways to refashion your summer dresses.  Get creative...

For more detailed instructions please open this pdf guide here: 4looks.pdf

Hot Look One - Bold blue print
Refashioning ideas

The dress we chose is 98% cotton, which means it will dye brilliantly. As it’s new we gave it a wash to take away the finish you find on most new clothes. This finish acts as a barrier and the dye will not take as well. We choose a turquoise to contrast with black in the dress. Consider the colours in your fabric before you dye – the pale shades will change colour whereas the darker colours will stay the same or change slightly in tone so black and white are perfect for this. Always read the instructions on the packet and add plenty of salt to fix the dye.

To give the dress some class we made a large taffeta sash. To do this, fold a length of fabric width ways in a contrasting colour to the dress and sew up the side and at one end. Turn the sash inside out so the raw edges are on the inside, then press the sash and hand sew up the end. We made a three metres long sash to achieve the big bow.

Accessories: Try a large ornamental, statement necklace with a collection of chunky bracelets.

Where to buy…
Pick up fabric dye from Wilkinsons, Fabric Land or any good hardware or department store.
Prices start from £2.99

How to add a bubble hem to a dress

Hot Look Two - Bubble dress

To give the dress a more glitzy look, we ruched the skirt. The best way to do this is while wearing it, so you may need a friend to help!

1 Pinch up small sections of the skirt, working your way round, and pin in place using safety pins. Think sculpture rather than skirt! This is brilliant because the more random the pinches are the better it looks.

2 To create the tulip shape of the skirt, fold in sections around the bottom of the skirt and pin in place.

3 To finish, double over cotton thread and sew the pinches in place by going over the same place four or five times (similar to sewing on a button). Finally, remove the safety pins.

Accessories: A bold and chunky necklace will work brilliantly.

Hot Look Three - Netted mini

Adding net to a skirt or dressWe’ve jazzed this dress up for a younger, funkier look by shortening it and placing a coloured net skirt underneath. The simplest way to make a net skirt is to use an old nylon underskirt and plenty of net. The fatter you want the skirt, the more net you need. We used two metres.

1 Shorten the underskirt so it ends just below your bum.

2 Fold your net width ways and, on the fold, pin one end to the bottom of the shortened underskirt. Next fold 1-inch pleats all the way round the skirt, pinning as you go. Keep going until you come to the end of the fabric.

3 Use a sewing machine or hand sew a zigzag stitch over the top to hold it all in place.

4 Remove the pins and repeat with different coloured net. Keep trying the skirt on under your main dress to see how big you want the net skirt to get.

5 Roughly trim the net to the desired length.

Accessories: Use the left over net to create a cool corsage.

Hot Look Four - Dress with pleated straps

Summer dress - sew on strapsWe made some simple straps to give this dress a picnic in the park feel. Either take the dress up and use the left over fabric or pick some new fabric in a contrasting colour (plain white or black would have worked just as well).

1 While wearing the dress, measure the length you want the strap and remember to add a couple of inches to fix the strap onto the dress.

2 Take a length of fabric 2½ inches wide, fold in width ways with the wrong side facing out and sew along the edge, keeping one end open.

3 Push the end of a wooden spoon or something similar against the sewn up end and gently pull the tube the right way round, then iron.

4 Take a longer piece of fabric and, pinning at one end, start to pleat the fabric along the edge of the strap. Pin in place.

5 Sew a running stitch over the pins to secure the pleats.

Finally, sew both straps in place with a neat running stitch front and back.

Accessories: For a classic style, wear a simple silver necklace and matching bracelet.

How to refashion a dress

If you enjoyed this feature check out our other refashioning and customising tutorials.
Free customising sewing tutorials