I did it! I completed my first up-cycle. And I let me just say, I need to do these more often! It was fun, quick and it was almost like a little brain exercise because you have to deconstruct and rebuild. Plus, my dress was only $6, so let’s just say I saved a ton of money on fabric.


I had not been to the Goodwill in a really long time. I almost forgot all the little treasures you can find there. I used to do a lot of thrifting as a college student (and quit for a while) but it all came rushing back to me at the sight of this fabulous white granny dress. Sure, it had a few stains and the shade was a little dull, but I saw lots of potential.

When I went hunting for the dress, I kept a few things in mind:

  1. Stay in the season. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the bargains that you can get side tracked into buying something that you may not need right now.
  2. Consider buying larger sizes. It’s always a lot easier to take in a dress when you have extra fabric.
  3. Consider the print on your fabric layout. If you know that you want to take in the waist or add an embellishment consider the directional pattern (if any) on your garment. Things will shift as you make adjustments.
  4. Don’t rule out something with rips or stains. Yup, I said it! It’s 2019, we have super powered washing machines and zig zag stitches to hide that rip right away.
  5. Check the zipper. I didn’t check the zipper on this dress -but I got lucky. Always make sure your zipper works on your dress.
  6. Inspect the garment. Sure that’s an obvious one – but as you’re looking it over, think about what it took to make the garment. We’re sewists so we know what it takes to ease in a sleeve etc., but here’s my tip: if you can make it, then you deconstruct it.
  7. Let you imagination run wild! So you have this granny dress with lapels and a crazy print and it’s 15 sizes bigger than you. But do you have enough material to make a two piece outfit? What are some trends for 2019 or classic styles that you can transform your dress into?


So after about 20 minutes of going through racks and getting to know the old lady gang in the store, I found this white dress. It was perfect! It had a blank canvas, buttons and an easy enough silhouette that I could reconstruct. So here’s a few things I did to elevate it into the 21st century.

  • Wash & repeat. There were a few stains around the collar and the cream color looked a little dull. I used some bleach mixed with Tide to brighten the dress.
  • Come up with 2-3 ideas and write them down or sketch them. You have one dress. This is not like fabric where you can buy more. Be patient with your process and keep a back up plan handy.
  • Remove any shoulder pads. Strange thing… when I bought the dress I thought I felt some padding. After I washed it, I was like where did they go? Did they ever exist? I’ll never know!
  • Use your seam ripper. As much as I wanted to cut and snip, I took my time and ripped the seams properly to preserve the dress and the seam lines.
  • Work smarter, not harder. Only deconstruct what you absolutely have to. If it’s not in the way then leave it alone.
  • Re-sew. There may be a few seams that you might actually have to re-sew that are from the original garment. That happens, the garment is older and it might need some TLC.
  • Lastly, make it look professional.
    • In my dress, I removed the slip lining that was attached to the bodice and also the skirt bottom. But I created a facing for the neckline preserving the lining around the collar, but removing the excess material.
    • I also removed the sleeves and re-serged the arm holes and hemmed them to give them a clean finish.
    • Once the skirt was removed I tried on the bodice and the skirt together to see where I could join them without having to let out any side seams.
    • I carefully cut away about 6.5 inches of the bottom of the bodice and pinned and sewed the skirt to create a drop waist shift dress.


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