Hideous to Awesome Dress Refashion


Earlier this week I went thrift store shopping at a D.I. location near where I grew up. Funny thing, this was the first time I’ve ever been to that particular location. The goodies I found there were awesome. I even found a few things like a yellow velvet Anthro-style chair and an olive green pants jump suit that I didn’t buy. Among the awesome finds was the most hideous $6 drop-waist dress. I say hideous because it was all sorts of bulky in the middle with equally bulky bishop sleeves. I can’t do the billowy bishop sleeve, no matter how many times I try it. You know the feeling when clothes wear you, rather than the reverse? That was the tale of this dress. I mean, seriously. Look at the before photo:

Like how I’m covering up my face? I hadn’t put on my face or done my hair, so I looked pretty scary.

This dress has loads of potential, though. From the moment I saw it, i fell in LOVE with the fabric. I’m a sucker for greys and stripes. The best part about the pattern is that it goes well with blacks OR browns! I love the versatility. I’m also digging the doily decolletage decoration. It’s freaking sweet. I’m pretty sure that this dress was handmade. There were no tags and most of the seams weren’t finished with a Surger. Sweet!

Do I look like I’m in pain? I’m not putting any pressure on my left foot, because it was KILLING! Yowzas.

This project took me the bulk of yesterday to complete because Penelope didn’t nap much, laundry had to be done, I broke my toe and the dress needed loads of unpicking. I’m sure if the planets were all aligned yesterday it would’ve taken me under an hour to do the shirt, because it wasn’t very hard to do at all. Cutting and gathering the sleeves was pretty easy, adding the band on the bottom of the shirt was easier than hemming (in my opinion), it really boiled down to the deconstruction. That just took a lot of time.

I only planned on doing the shirt refashion, but there was so much fabric left over just screaming to be made into a dress for Penelope. I used one of Penelope’s old dresses as a guide. All I did was a little gathering at the waist, sew it onto some white jersey (for stretch) and add straps. I think she looks SO adorable in her new dress, but she wasn’t so happy about wearing it this morning. We had our first fight over clothes! Yup. She’s getting opinionated all of a sudden!

Today we wore our matching clothes to our play date with Alma & Oliver to the Tracy Aviary and Hatch’s Family Chocolates. We got a lot of attention at Hatch’s for our matching outfits, that was fun. Our little matchy-matchy day has gotten me so excited to plan our Easter outfits! I just need to find the right fabric for it.

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    1. Jill says:

      How did you get so good at everything you do?

    2. Marissa says:

      you are a genius!

    3. jackie says:

      really? they both are amazingly cute. and i wish i had your cute hair.
      ps. what di was it? i’m always curious which ones people are hitting up.

    4. Heather says:

      You’re talent amazes me! I think I’m going to need your help sometime – I bought a simple black dress for $4 online about a year ago and it looked nothing like it did on the model… frumpy, no shape, a mess. Sometime I’ll have to pick your brain to know what I can do with it :)
      Penelope’s dress is so adorable!

    5. Jeanee says:

      Oh yeah! A mini you outfit too!!! So sweet,

    6. stacy says:

      i am amazed, they both look awesome!

    7. Rita says:

      Can we say TALENTED!! Wish I could do that.

    8. LOVE IT. You’re a genius. How do you do the sleeves???

    9. anna says:

      you are a miracle worker!! both pieces turned out amazing.

    10. Jessica says:

      so normally I would totally make fun of a mother and daughter in matching clothes, but this is really really cute.

      If I saw you two on the street, I would not make fun, I would think, “My, they look gussy.” Then I would see about getting my own mini-me.

    11. Sarah says:

      Love it! Love it! Love it! I have a fabulous vintage dress that just doesn’t work as a dress anymore and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it work into my closet. I believe you’ve inspired me!

    12. Deb says:

      This is so amazing! You are uber talented and super stylish.

    13. This is beautiful! I’m so impressed.

    14. Charlotte says:

      I love that neckline detail – like a Victorian bib – don’t go eating tomato soup with it though!

      I was gonna say it would have looked good longer as a dress/tunic but when I saw what you did with the extra fabric I realise I was wrong.

      Charlotte xx

    15. Melissa,
      This is such an awesome project! I have been tackling my sewing machine lately and have been attempting some DIY’s myself. This is inspiring!
      Have a great weekend~

    16. Marianne says:

      I love it! Totally darling. Did you get Penelope’s saddle shoes at DI too? Or is there a chance I can find a pair for sale somewhere here in Michigan?

    17. AHHHHH Penelope’s dress is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cute! Can you make my kids’ clothes for them???

    18. jo says:

      you are amazing! i wish i had a fraction of your talent!

    19. Lillian says:

      Oh I LOVE it! I’ve been trying to think of things I could do for matchy matchy outfits with my girls:) You’ve totally inspired me to go thrift shopping! I wish I lived closer to you so you could help me out! Good job.

    20. lili says:

      you little genius, you!

    21. Alex says:

      Aww I love little Penelope’s dress! I have a niece named Penelope! Maybe I should try and mimic this for her LOL

    22. kelly says:

      oh my goodness both are so totally adorable! amazing! -kb

    23. Julie R says:

      Fabulous job! They’re both terrific creations!

    24. Rhonda says:

      Those are fantastic – I never would’ve thought of making something so adorable from something so, um, not adorable. LOL!

    25. marta says:

      a-freaking-dorable. i couldn’t get over that darling shirt and then i scrolled down to see the penelope version. oh my cuteness. very very sweet. just so fabulous. nice work.

    26. allyn says:

      oy! really great work. adorable replay on the fabric!

    27. twobrunettes says:

      can you be anymor talented!!! my jaw just dropped!! I need to repost this!

    28. […] I added the fourth to my growing collection just last week in the same shopping trip where I scored the hideous dress. I think these boots are gorgeous. They’re in excellent condition, made from top notch […]

    29. Erin says:

      Wow! I love the material but I think I may have still passed this one by. I LOVE what you did with it. And Penelope’s matching dress? Perfect! Her little ponytail is precious too. She is such a beautiful little girl.

      How and when did you break your toe? Sounds horribly painful. I hope you get heal quickly!

    30. Michelle says:

      You’ve got to have some of the best style/ideas. Love this!

    31. Kalleen says:

      Oh my I love both of these. I love to refashion clothes, but you took it to another level. Seriously I can’t stop looking.

    32. UpsideUp says:

      Catching up on my feed reader tonight and just had to stop by to say “WOW!” I love this post so much and I seriously love Penelope’s dress. Bravo!

    33. brandi g says:

      your sewing skills are seriously inspirational. not to mention your eye for these projects. i would have left that dress for dead. ;) your top is SO very cute – love it! and penelope’s dress, adorable. thanks for sharing!

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