dress tutorial · girls dress refashion · preschooler dress refashion · refashion · sewing · simple dress tutorial · toddler dress refashion

simple 15-minute dress refashion tutorial


This dress is a simple case of recycling, and is sewn together in one easy step if you have a serger and skip the topstitching, maybe adding one extra step if you only have a sewing machine available and you’re not confident with it.
I had a pink ribbed tanktop somebody had given me for Nicole, but there was some stretch lace on the bottom that had shrunk and was too tight for the rest of the shirt. Without it, the tank would be too short. I also had an empire-waist dress I’d bought for Nicole last year on sale at the end of the season, but it barely got worn last summer and it was too small this year.

So, your supplies are as follows:
– ribbed tanktop
-outgrown empire-waist dress that has a gathered skirt so there’s lots of wiggle room
-thin elastic

First, cut the tank off where you want it to end, leaving a bit of seam allowance. I wanted this to end at her natural waist, since the dress would be pretty short at empire length.  Then you cut the top off of the empire waist dress, making sure to cut the seam on the side of the skirt.

Here’s where it gets quick… pin the skirt to the top, right sides together and matching the seams. Just stretch your ribbed top out as you pin around. Then measure around your little girl’s waist where the waist of the dress will lie with the elastic and cut to size. Don’t use a seam allowance, you want it to be a little snug. Sew the ends of your elastic together to form a loop.

IMG_1965 Pin your elastic around the dress a bit inward from your seam allowance as shown above. Just pin it at the sides, front, and back – it won’t really fit. Now, if you have a serger, feed everything through as shown above. The elastic should lie just to the left of your knife, and your serger will encase it in the seam. This will keep your dress nipped in at the waist!

IMG_1964 See what i mean? If you are using a sewing machine, you could do the same thing with a zigzag stitch. If you’re confident you could do it in one step, otherwise you could sew your top and bottom together and THEN add the elastic. Regardless, stretch your elastic as you go to make its circumference match that of the dress.

IMG_1966 Here’s another shot, this time with the elastic stretched out. (as far as it can go, obviously, in my case.) Once you’ve finished sewing around the dress and you turn it right side out, this is what you’ll have:

IMG_1970I prefer to iron the hem towards the skirt and topstitch, but that’s a personal preference and isn’t necessarily something you have to do. You can call it a day here if you like, which makes this dress take something like 15 minutes.

IMG_1975Nicole liked it and threw it right on, on top of her jeans and tshirt. I haven’t gotten any proper modelled shots yet… you know, wearing the dress without clothes underneath, preferably outside or somewhere near natural light, without the crazy faces, and maybe not on top of an ikea organizer in the basement… beggers can’t be choosers though. And when you’re trying to get your three year old to model, you’re definitely a begger. (Note: I put it through the wash and dryer to get the ribbed top and the elastic to shrink up and she wore the dress to church on Sunday. It looked really cute!)

Hope this little tutorial is helpful! I didn’t take any pictures of the cutting steps because I thought I was just doing your average refashion, right until I decided to try adding that elastic into the seam and realized how nicely it was working.

I might add a belt or bow to this yet, but I think it works without, too. 🙂

3 thoughts on “simple 15-minute dress refashion tutorial

  1. I love this little dress! I'm about to make similar stuff for my 8 year old.. but I never thought to use the bottom of an old dress. =)

    I found you on the “just a girl” blog.. through your comment on her last post. Ha!! Glad you linked up your name. Following you now. 😉



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