DIY Dress-to-Top Refashion

Hello, friends!  I am very excited to be bringing you another refashion tutorial, especially as I have been trying to get back to sewing more often and I feel like I am fiiiiinallly starting to get back into the swing of things!


As you can see, I started with a fairly simple, but rather dowdy dress, and ended up with a cute, Prairie-style top.  I found the dress at a local thrift store, tried it on as a whim, and fell in love with the neckline with its fun buttons and piping trim.  I knew, however, that it just wouldn’t work on me as a dress – it looked like a little old lady’s nightie – so the bottom half had to go.

Luckily this refashion couldn’t be any easier!  If you decide to try this at home, here’s what you’ll need:

  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • thread (& coordinating bobbin)
  • chalk or regular pencil
  • iron
  • sewing pins (optional)
  • seam gauge (optional)


Since this dress had pockets that were just going to get in the way of my soon-to-be top, I decided to remove those first.  I started by turning the dress inside out, making sure it was flat and smooth, and then pinning the pockets closed so they wouldn’t shift while I sewed.  To sew them closed, I simply followed the side seam line already sewn into the dress (you can clearly see the seam line in the photo above).  Once the pockets were sewn closed, I just cut ’em right off!


Next up, I needed to decide where I wanted my new shirt hem to fall.  To do this, I simply tried the dress on inside out and marked with a pin on the front and a pin on the back where I wanted the shirt to end.  **I used a pin in front and in back because I decided to make a slight dip hem, so I knew my hem was going to be slightly longer in the back than in the front.


Then, I took the dress off, folded it in half lengthwise (so the side seams met in the middle) and laid it flat on my work table.  I wanted to make sure my hem was symmetrical, so folding it in half ensured that the side seams would end up an even length, while allowing me to draw my dip hem to whatever shape I wanted.  (I drew over the chalk line in Photoshop so it would be more visible in the photo!)


Since the chalk line marked where I wanted my shirt to fall while wearing it, I knew that I needed to add two inches of seam allowance for folding the hem under and sewing.  I used my seam gauge to help me cut two inches down from my chalk line (but you can easily use a regular ruler).


After cutting the bottom half of the dress off, you can easily see the fun dip hem line I created for my new top!  At this point, I decided to try my almost-finished top on to make sure it was looking how I wanted.  I’m glad I did because I realized that I wanted the hem just a teensy bit longer.  Since I couldn’t easily add the fabric I just cut off back on, I decided to make the hem a little smaller instead (1/2 inch instead of a full 1 inch).

Which brings me to the next step, preparing your hem.  I grabbed my iron (and handy tabletop ironing board) and used my seam gauge once again to measure, fold and iron a 1/2 inch seam.  I folded and ironed 1/2 inch from the bottom all the way around the top and then folded another 1/2 inch and ironed all the way around again – this encases the raw edge of the fabric, allowing for a clean and neat hem.


Once my hem looked straight and neat, I added a few pins just to keep everything in place while I sewed.  Then, I sewed a 1/2 inch seam all the way around my hem and – voila! – my new top was finished!


I absolutely love my newly refashioned prairie top!  I especially love the way the dip hem ever-so-slightly bells out at the bottom, making it look almost like a swing top.  As you can see, this refashion is extremely easy and simple, the perfect project for a beginner!  It really is just adding a new hem and closing up some pockets, if the dress even has any pockets.

What do you think?  Are you ready to transform an old dress into a fabulous new top??

As always, thanks for reading!  Love, Kristi :)


30 thoughts on “DIY Dress-to-Top Refashion

    1. Thank you!! I would suggest starting with something that is “mistake friendly” or something that won’t show any mistakes, like tie dye, splatter painting, a tote, a t-shirt, something like that. Or a really easy alteration to a garment is always a simple hem, you don’t even need to sew if you use iron-on hem tape!!
      Hope that’s helpful – maybe I’ll have to come up with some good beginner tutorials! ;)

      1. My first thought with that top was 70s jean flares.

        Last year, I went through that box of old clothes we all have an pulled out the Just Ten Pounds Lighter Jeans. I opened up their side seams and inserted a floral fabric strip from top to bottom that flared larger towards the end.

        The result was groovy bell bottoms that people have offered me money for. I had so much fun, I made three pair. You can add flower patches and peace signs to cover rips and frays, too. Like, far out, man!

        1. Omg those jeans sounds amazing!! I love the idea of some super fun flared jeans or a totally patchwork covered pair!!! You are giving me some GREAT ideas, the wheels are totally spinning on all the possibilities!! Thanks! :)

          1. Yes, I’ve seen the bell-bottom version, but the necktie version is definitely an interesting twist!! I have some patched shorts, I’m thinking some patched jeans might be up next! ;)

    1. Haha thanks! I definitely have to make the time for sewing, but it’s something I enjoy doing so it’s not too hard! ;)
      (ps. Stick around to see how I style this top on my blog tomorrow!!) :)

Your comments make my day, let me know what you think! :)