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Altering a Knit Summer Dress

Have you noticed all of the long Maxi dresses out for summer?
Like this one at Target?
They’re everywhere this season.
And I love so many of the colors and styles…..
But I decided that I wanted one that was a bit shorter and breezier.

With some fun little extras on it.
So I turned the Maxi dress from the link above, into this:


With sweet little rosette’s below the bust line.
And a simple ruffle towards the bottom.

Nice and cozy.

**And just a bit below the knees.

An easy transformation to make your summer dress a little cooler.
Hey, I’m in GA now.
It’s hot.
How to transform your own Maxi Dress.
If there is no ruffle along the bottom, just cut it off however many inches shorter you want it, but make sure to leave a little extra for a hem.
But if yours does have a small ruffle along the bottom, cut about an inch above the seam where the ruffle is attached to the dress.
An up-close of the cut above the ruffle.
Then cut several inches off the dress, making it however long you’d like it (and keep in mind you’ll be adding your ruffle back… factor that into your length.)  Then place the raw seam of the ruffle together with the new bottom edge of the dress with right sides together.  See how the main section of the dress is still right side out but the ruffle has been turned inside out and upside down, to be placed together with the bottom of the dress?
Then I used this technique to stitch those sections together, using about a 1/2 seam allowance.  You can also use a zig-zag stitch, which works great too.  (And make sure to iron and steam that seam flat.  See how you can barely see the seam?)
And see the stitch under there?
(That serged seam is from the original dress, where the ruffle was added to the bottom of the dress.  The one I made is the line above it.)
Then, I used the material that I cut off of the dress and sewed 1 inch wide strips together to create a piece that was twice the length of the dress around the bottom.  So if the bottom front of your dress is 30 inches across and the back is 30 inches across, that is a total of 60 inches around.  So you would need a piece that was 120 inches long, to create a nice ruffle  Then I used the the same technique as the one here, but made a basting stitch right down the center of my strip.  Then I gathered my strip and pinned it to the bottom of the dress, covering the seam where I attached the dress back together.  Then I sewed a seam right over top of that basting seam, attaching the ruffle to the dress.
And then I used more of the extras to create little rosette’s like the tutorial here.  I only used thread though, and not hot glue, to create the rosette.  And then attached them to the dress with more hand-stitching.
And that was it.
Pretty simple and perfect for those hot months.
Thanks for checking out my Altering a Knit Summer Dress post. Check out my full collection of DIY Sewing articles. Find even more sewing projects, patterns, and tips for beginners and advanced sewists by Liz Call, Mariah Leeson, Randi Dukes and Tauni Everett.


  1. Living Green says:

    Here's a trick to keep the "girls" from popping out. Make another ruffle like the one for the bottom of the dress but attach this one to the top of the dress to make the bodice a little more modest. You can attach several rows until the "girls" are no longer peeping out.

  2. Deb - Too Cute Embroidery says:

    I love this! My daughter is petite and this will open up a whole new world to her!

  3. Ashley says:

    Love this! So cute! I'm definitely going to have to try this!

  4. Happy Hill says:

    i looove this! i have long legs so all these cute "maxi" dresses hit me awkwardly. And i totally understand the heat! i'm in GA as well…what part are you in?

  5. Angie says:

    Love it! I love Maxi dresses but they are always TOO long for me (I'm 5'4") but I am super scared to sew on knits! Where in GA are you? I'm south of Atlanta in Newnan. If you are somewhat nearby, maybe a lesson would be possible??

    I'm just so afraid the fabric will bunch up or something. Maybe I should find some scrap knit fabrics (or an old t-shirt) to practice on. Either way, I'm going by Target this week for one of those dresses!!!

  6. says:

    I love it! There is always to much fabric and bulk in maxis for me. This is perfect. Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

  7. Dee says:

    what you have done is FABO! it takes the dress from plain (and a bit boring) to WOW! a one of a kind. we have just finished summer here in aus and there were hundreds of the maxis around, yours is a grat spin.

  8. Kendra says:

    Cute before, cuter after you got your crafty lil' hands on it!!!

  9. Casey says:

    I LOVE this so much! I wish we had a Target here, want to make me one? I've been seeing long dresses everywhere too, I want to start wearing dresses but I don't think the super long is my thing

  10. Sara says:

    Have you ever added sleeves to a tank dress? I have a couple of dresses I would love to do this to, but I have no idea how. Can you do a tutorial about that maybe?

  11. Maggie says:

    I have completely the wrong figure for the maxi dresses but LOVE what you've done with this one. So much so that I picked up the exact same dress at Target tonight. I can't wait to transform it!

  12. Morgan says:

    I'm really glad you posted this. I have 3 stretchy knit dresses from Target that are really long, but they're spaghetti strap. Too long and hot on the legs when it's really warm. I hadn't even thought of shortening them. Thanks for the idea!

  13. Disney says:

    Oh this is so lovely! If only I didn't have the hips of death-I love jersey dresses! :o)

  14. Sarah Hatch says:

    That is way cute, I might actually break out the old and very rusty sewing "skills" I once had and do this too. I'm wondering though if I should hem it different if I want to make it work for a maternity dress? Any suggestions? My email is

  15. Erin says:

    i love this! and i have the perfect dress for this project stashed in my closet. can't wait to try it out, especially with all the extras!

  16. Tara says:

    Adorable. Love the look!

  17. Miss Liz says:

    Great idea!

  18. Philip, Melissa, & Summer says:

    I just saw the same dress in yellow, and thought it was a bit too long. I think I might have to give this tutorial a whirl.

  19. Chris & Jen Palmer says:

    Love it! My family went to Lake Powell last year and I bought 2 dress like this from target… I did the same thing! Cut it shorter and did the cute little fringe around the top! It was the hit of the lake! This year I'll have to add the flowers!

  20. Janna says:

    I absolutely LOVE this!! I avoid maxi dresses because I'm a little "chesty", but I love it with the tee underneath. I think I'm going to have some g-friends over and we're going to make over some cheap Maxi dresses.

  21. pam says:

    Just found your blog, oh my goodness, it's awesome!! Love all the unique details you add to everything!! Can't wait to try some rosettes on something…

  22. Dawn says:

    You ROCK!!!!So love your idea! It turned out so darn cute!

  23. Katy says:

    OMG!!! I love that! I am SO doing that. Thanks! Katy

  24. Michelle says:

    This is majorly adorable! I am too scared to cut new clothes, considering my sewing machine and I aren't the best of friends. Can I send you one and you make it for me? hehe, just kidding. You did a great job!!

  25. Charlene says:

    Super cute! Too bad I'm much, much too chubby to look cute in this like you do! Hey! maybe for my daughter….

    1. Tracey says:

      Nobody is too chubby for a dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Accessories are girls best friend……I love the ideas you have on this site and this one is adorable…I have a dress that has a funky top to it but the bottom is lovely….I’m going to try to re-purpose using a cute shirt I have instead of the top that’s on it!!! I love you crafty ideas!!!

  26. janimal says:

    Wow – that's awesome! I'm in GA too. If I do this I promise to buy a different color dress so you can be the only one in GA with that dress! Well done.

  27. Hi, I'm Susan! says:

    this is so great! i have a similar dress from old navy but i never wear it cause it's so long and i'm short and i just feel like it doesn't look right. this is the perfect way to get some use out of it! thank you!

  28. sneezerville says:

    super cute. i want one too.

  29. NatureGirl says:

    I have the same silhouette in a print from Target last summer but never wear it because I am short and it is 2 feet too long…thanks for the inspiration!

  30. JenBrown says:

    perfect for a shorty like me who would need to hem those maxi dresses anyways! and also perfect for a preggo like me who would love a cute dress for the summer. :)

  31. Erin says:

    SO SO cute! I've got to make me one of those, it's getting really warm here in NC too.

  32. Cheree says:

    I love it! I'm 6' tall so…maxi dresses are too short…so this is a great idea! I love below the knee length dresses too….thanks so much. I love your blog!

  33. Megan says:

    This is great! I'm gonna get brave and start doing some alterations- thanks for the inspiration!

  34. Ginny says:

    love it!

  35. {Bellamere Cottage} says:

    Soooo cute. Great solution.

    Warm blessings,

  36. kim says:

    this turned out so much cuter! love it!

  37. TaLaisa says:

    Love this idea! It's so cute. It solves an age old problem for me, the short summer dresses are too short and the long ones are too long.

  38. Just Rhonda says:

    LOVE it!!!!

  39. Kelli says:

    Great Tutorial!
    Here's a tip for when I want to shorten a dress but don't know just how long I want it and I want to keep the bottom detail. I gather up a couple of inches of fabric and sew it together with a long stitch and try the dress on, if I dont like it I can adjust easily by pulling the stitches out and resewing. This doesn't work on some fabrics, but those aren't ones I wear anyway.

    ~Kelli @ Smidgens

  40. Kim's Treasures says:

    So darn cute!

  41. Lynette says:

    I love this idea because I'm too short for all the maxi dresses! :( Thanks for the tip, I'll have to go shopping!

  42. 1 Funky Woman says:

    Darling, too bad my girlfriends would be popping out all over this one! Super cute on you though!

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