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The 15 MINUTE “Thrift Store Skirt” to “Girl’s Dress” Refashion

Elli’s growing like a stinkin’ weed.  Most of her dresses are getting awkwardly short on her.  Her skirts, well, those can always sit a little lower on the hips and can last a little longer. ;)  But the dresses……I keep telling her she can’t wear the awkward-short ones any more.  Yeah, sad day for Elli.  (Remember how she’s obsessed with skirts and dresses??)  I have been telling her for several months now, that I would buy or make her some new dresses.  But at the store…….the dresses in her size are either super teeny-bop (high school musical, hannah montana, etc.) or super blah. 


So…….off to the thrift store for some inspiration. :)


Sometimes, I have an “unlucky thrift store” day and can’t find a thing.  But I can almost always find something for something else.  Let me tell you a secret, I usually find the best stuff when I’m not even looking for it.  Because last week when I was at the thrift store, looking for some knit shirts for a different project……..I found a swishy lady’s skirt with a funky print.  And I immediately thought of Elli’s dress dilemma.  See?  Lucky. ;)


One more thing……I’m going to share with you the best types of skirts to use to turn this project into a 15 MINUTE project.  Simple.




Cute skirt.  But even cuter dress for Elli.  (And all it took was a little adjusting of the width and adding straps.  Done.)




And you know, we never would have found this print OR texture at the fabric store.  So it’s completely unique……and she LOVES it! :)




It moves nicely and the color gives it a nice punch.  So she’s happy as a clam!  (Especially because it’s a little longer and will last a while before becoming awkward-short like her current dresses.)





But I dare ya…..head to the Thrift Store (or your closet) and start looking at those old skirts a little differently.  Those weird length skirts or funky-cut ones may look terrible on you…….but they may be just what you need to create a darling little dress!




The best ones to find??  Ones with an elastic waistband.  They make this whole process a lot quicker.  And easier.  (But you can transform a fitted-waistband too.  No worries!)




And because you’ll most likely need to make the skirt a bit more narrow so it will fit around your subject’s chest, you’ll have leftover fabric to create some straps.  Perfect.




Oh, and if you’d like to add a little something to the front…….add a Shirred Fabric Flower to the strap.  I experimented with Elli’s hair clip and LOOK!!  Cute, right? :)



Whew.  Glad I finally kept my word and made this little nut a dress that fits.  And for $2.50 (the cost of the skirt at the thrift store)…..I’m just as happy! :)



Would you like the Simple Skirt into Dress Instructions??


First of all, head to the Thrift Store.  Or your closet.  And look for a skirt that has a little (or a lot) of fullness to it.


Now, finding an elastic waistband will make this project the easiest…..but you don’t have to use an elastic waistband.  However, this tutorial isn’t going to go into detail of how to make alterations to a skirt that DOESN’T have an elastic waistband.  (Another day??)


First, measure the skirt around your subject’s chest (up high, even with the arm pits) and place a pin at the spot where you need to take it in.  Then, turn the skirt inside out and create a line of pins all the way down the skirt where you need to take it in.  (Keep in mind, you’ll need to angle your line outward to keep both sides symmetrical.)  Then sew a line down the skirt, right where you placed your pins.


Then, cut the extra fabric away, about a 1/4-1/2 inch away from the seam.  Then zig-zag or serge the raw edge.



Now, you can make straps with completely fabric or use the scraps from the extra skirt fabric that you cut away.  The width of your straps can be and size you’d like…..but I cut strips that were about 1.5 inches wide and then sewed them into tubes (1/4 inch seam allowance), and then turned them right side out.  (Just be sure that they are long enough to fit over the shoulders and have room to be sewn to the dress.)  If you want to keep it even simpler, use wide ribbon as your straps.



**Something I forgot to do and had to go back and do after, was to zig-zag (or serge) the raw edges of each strap end.  So, you won’t see them finished in my photo below.  But do that now, before going on.**


Now, try the dress on your subject to find the best strap placement and pin the straps in place.  Then take it off and sew each strap end in place with two lines of stitches (to keep it secure).




And there you have it………a 15 Minute Dress.  Easy and cute!



Now, you’ll never look at an ill-fitting skirt the same way again.  Ever! :)



Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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