Home » Featured » Turn an ill-fitting Maxi Dress into a Maxi Skirt. Perfect.

Turn an ill-fitting Maxi Dress into a Maxi Skirt. Perfect.


I know you have a Maxi Dress (or more?) that makes you crazy. 


You love the print, the fabric, or something else about it……but after you wore it a time or two, you realized it did nothing for your shape.  So instead of throwing it out or donating it, fix that sad little Maxi Dress into a fabulous MAXI. SKIRT.  What?!!  You’ve never worn a Maxi Skirt?  You may have to stop everything you’re doing right now and make one.  (or buy one!)  They are the most cozy little thing you can wear.  And I love them more than a Maxi Dress.  Because Maxi Dresses can be finicky up top and you may not like the neckline/waistline/sleeve length/etc.  But you can pair a skirt with whatever top you want.  Done.  And holy smokes, there’s nothing better than a Maxi (dress or skirt) during the warmer months.  Yeah, they allow some serious air flow. :)


While my friend Ashley and her family were visiting last week (yep, same name as mine……sometimes confusing), she wore a Maxi Dress one day and by the end of the day, she hated it.  Something about the elastic and the fit of the top just wasn’t doing it for her.  No biggee.  I reminded her that instead of throwing it into a donate pile (or the back of her closet)……..that we could transform it.  And that’s what we did, right before they left Saturday morning. 




Nothing beats a little last minute project.  Especially when it takes like 15-20 minutes.




I made the skirt using my favorite waistline {because it’s so darn cozy}……..a nice shirred waistband.  Who doesn’t love an elongated waistband?  (Don’t let shirring scare you.  I share a tutorial how to do it, here.)




So go on, whack that dress in half, and turn it into a skirt that you’ll love.  (However, don’t you love that lace at the top?  I know, such a shame it didn’t fit her right.  I’m saving that for some other future project though.  Who knows what……but something.)




And if you don’t have a Maxi that you hate…….maybe you have a shorter length dress that looks you can’t stand the top.  Go on, turn it into a skirt of any length.  It’s a quick fix to something that you may have decided to throw out.


But ooooh, a Maxi.  I love them.


By the way, if you don’t have a Maxi Dress to cut up, no worries.  You can just create a Maxi Skirt by following this tutorial as well.  Just make a long tube of fabric out of some knit (or other fabric), that can be cinched into a skirt at the top.  Nice and easy.



Would you like a quick little tutorial on how to turn a Maxi Dress into a Maxi Skirt??




Okay, first of all, cut the top of the dress right off.  If you’re cutting into a knit dress, you’re in luck.  Because it doesn’t fray.  And that makes it easier.  However, whatever fabric you’re using will work.  Just be sure that you have enough fabric at the top to either just fold over a 1/2 inch and make a casing for some elastic at the top (like I did), or you may need a little extra to fold down a 1/4 inch and then fold down another 1/2 inch to make your casing.  (You would do the 2 folds if you were using a woven fabric like cotton.  You don’t want it to unravel.)


So here I go, I started at the back, folded the top edge a 1/2 inch (towards the inside of the skirt), then sewed right along the bottom edge of that folded over fabric.


When I sewed all the way around, I stopped about an inch before completing the full circle.


Then, I flipped the skirt to the right side and started making rows of shirring, about a 1/4 inch apart.  (Need help with shirring?  Go here.)  My first row was right on top of the seam that I made to create the casing, then I moved down from there.


When the waistband was to the desired height of my friend, I threaded some 1/8 inch wide elastic through the top casing, pulled it in, knotted it off, then cut the ends off.


Then I sewed that little opening closed. 



Then, like I shared in the shirring tut0rial here, I always steam my shirring and flatten out that top casing so it’s not bulky or bunchy. 


And that’s it.



A quick little fix for an unloved Maxi Dress.






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This post is sponsored by:

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner 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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  1. Gail says:

    I did this out of desperation in Vegas, of all places. I’d made a last minute purchase of two sundresses without trying them on. Both fir horribly on top but had the elasticized shirred waists…perfect !!! I just cut the bodices off above the stretchy part and wah-laa (not the right spelling, I know) two very nice skirts. I was lucky that i’d brought along a little needlework project that had a needle & embroidery floss. When we got home I finished them up so they looked a little nicer.

  2. Jessica says:

    Thank you!!!! I was nervous at first but I just jumped in and started and my first skirt is PERFECT! I have 4 more waiting to be re-purposed. They go so fast and come out amazing. By tomorrow I will feel like I have an entirely new wardrobe ;)

  3. Victoria says:

    This is great! I LOVE maxi length but the dresses get short and awkward on me. Also, I’m tired of wearing tees under the thin straps. Thank you for posting such simple tutorials! I only spent 1 hour and I have 4 “new” skirts! The first one didn’t go over my hips after the shirring. I seam ripped all but the 1st and second rows, then I added the elastic. PERFECT! Thank you so much!

  4. Nichole says:

    Thank you for posting this!!! I just made a super cute skirt out of an old dress I’ve haven’t worn in almost 5 years. Love it!

  5. Abby says:

    I just did this and mine looks great! I’m lazy and skipped the casing part, just folded it over and sewed over. It looks fine to me. I doubt anyone will be inspecting my skirt… they’ll just be in awe that I DIY’d it! Thanks for the idea!

  6. Libby says:

    I’m SO happy I found this Maxi re-purpose! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my blue, “tad-too-short” Maxi dress with awful spaghetti straps with popped seams, because my shoulders and breasts were too big for the cut. There was lace right under the bodice that I didn’t want to lose either, and it’s such a perfect summer blue.

    I cut that sucker apart, and now, it’s a beautiful just-long-enough Maxi skirt! I don’t know how to work a sewing machine properly, and I’m not that needle-savvy either, so I had to free-hand stitch it to the best of my ability. Talk about dedication – it took over 3 hours to get it just right! But now, I LOVE my “new” Maxi skirt!


  7. Rachel says:

    This is awesome–I DID have a maxi dress with a fantastic color but such a weird fit . . . and now, 20-some minutes later, I have a maxi skirt with a fantastic color AND a great fit! Thanks for this great idea, and the shirring tutorial–it was my first time shirring, but it came out perfectly!

  8. Nicole says:

    This post came at the perfect time. I was wearing one of my less liked maxis on Wednesday and I just don’t like it. I was taking it off and pulled it down and thought, I’m going to make this into a skirt! So I checked the best sight for repurpousing and low and behold you just posted a tute! Can’t wait to have a whole new skirt!

  9. jules says:

    I *had* a Maxi dress I hated and only wore once a year, now I have this wonderful skirt that I have worn four times in the last two weeks!!!! Thank you. I would have never thought to do this.

  10. Kristina Noall says:

    I am so looking forward to seeing what you do with the lacy top.
    And I’m now inspired to take the XXL turtleneck shirt I bought on clearance at Old Navy and make it into a shorter shirred skirt. Maybe for church today? Thanks! And CONGRATS on being done with school! One more year for us until my hubby gets his MSW, but it hasn’t been nearly as long as your husband’s PA school, and we only have two kids. :)

  11. Lynette says:

    I have been wanting to do this with a dress my sister in law gave me. It was a hand-me-down for her, and it didn’t fit. The top didn’t fit me either, but I knew I could change it to a skirt (which would work best for me since I am nursing). I saw your tutorial, and it gave me the courage to cut into the dress and do it. It was such an easy project, I did it while my two week old napped in the bouncer next to me. I love the pattern of that skirt, those colors just scream summer!

    1. Lynette says:

      I found another dress at ross for $10 today! I may wear it as a dress a few times, but the fabric and cut is totally screaming skirt…and the colors are similar to the one you did, which I was totally in love with when I saw it! I call it my sherbet dress, because that’s what it looks like to me! :) Thanks for the great tutorial, and helping me see clothing items differently so I can make them work for me!

  12. Clare says:

    Oh wow! I am so doing this with 2 of my maxi dresses that are just too low cut at the front! I might try it with a new dress I ordered that took 8 weeks to arrive and Id dropped a dress size in those weeks, couldn’t return it and looks like a sack but love the fabric. (Bit scared tho as its 2 layers and the top one is really thin) I love your blog thank you so much. (From South East Asia but really from the UK, with my forces hubby) Clarex

  13. Vanessa says:

    Hi, Ashley

    How lovely! I love the skirt it looks great.

    Happy Mother’s Day!


  14. Aline says:

    Love, love, LOVE! the skirt. I like it so much I want to make one for myself EXACTLY like that one. Where did she get that dress?

    1. Kalee says:

      I want to know too! I love that stripes!

  15. Kristin says:

    Perfect timing! Thank you!

  16. Kathy says:

    Do you have to use elastic above the shirring, or will it still work without it?

  17. Tracy says:

    Where did that dress come from? I can’t find anyother’s like it.

  18. Charisse says:

    Just realized I didn’t finish reading the tutorial! I knew you were always good at explaining things!

  19. Charisse says:

    Hi! I LOVE everything you made and have tried making a few skirts to practice my sewing I learned long ago from my mom. I even just bought some elastic thread to practice shirring. I have a question. Do you put small elastic at the top of the waste band, shirr that over, and then shirr along the rest? Or can I just do the shirring and not use elastic at the top? Thanks for all your tutorials! I LOVE them!

  20. Mummy to M, C & S says:

    Aww man! I just gave one of my favorite “maternity” maxi dresses away to my cousin who just had a baby. The dress was too big in the top and I often folded the band over and wore it as a skirt. It is a wonderful thing! I have another one that’s a halter style dress and my youngest daughter thought it would be fun to pull all the beads off the halter portion. Can I make it the same way or is there something you could suggest to cover up where the beading was? I love that dress!

  21. Sarah Moran says:

    What a great idea! I have a maxi dress that I would love if it’s wasn’t so short – it’s not quite long enough for me. I chopped off the top of the dress this morning, did some quick shirring, and I am now wearing my perfectly long maxi skirt! Thanks for all the great ideas and inspiration!

  22. Tracy says:

    OH Ashley!! This is PERFECT!!! I just tried on a ‘maxi’ type skirt on Saturday but the $50 wasn’t in the budget. It was an AWESOME skirt.. however.. minus the lining and belt (which I can easily do) you have perfectly recreated it! I am on the hunt for an awesome print/stripe of a dress that I can cut up!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. CathGrace says:

    I just did something similar-ish with a dress! I had a black lace dress that has a empire waist that I never wore because it was to low in the front and too short, I was going to donate it but I loved the lace. I thought maybe I could make a skirt out of it, and went to cut it up when I realized that the top was only held onto the elastic that pulled it in under the bust by one row of stitching……… uh, no brainer, I just unpicked that one row of stitching and the skirt was done! I now have a lovely just below the knee length skirt in a beautiful lace, as opposed to a dress that sat in my closet for years because I could never quite bring myself to wear it!

  24. Amy says:

    This is awesome!!! I JUST did this to a maxi dress last week. And then I thought about what a dork I am b/c I didn’t take any pics of the process so I can’t blog about it!! lol I’m pinning YOUR post as you were smart enough to document!!

  25. Heather says:

    I love this idea so much! Unfortunately, I also LOVE my only maxi dress. I’ll just have to keep an eye out at the yard sales this summer. Thanks!

  26. cara says:

    hey-o, I just turned an old dress into a skirt this morning :)! I loved it! The best part was that it had shirring I could already use :D — but your tutorial is fab, I can’t wait to try it!

  27. Kristin says:

    Thank you! I have a maxi dress I love, but it has a stain that WILL NOT come out of the top. This fixes my problem perfectly!

  28. brie says:

    I m so excited about this. I am going to do this. I am not sure why I have never thought of this!

  29. Jenni says:

    This is so smart. I wish I had saved that dress from the yard sale and then I could do this with it. I plan to head to my closet to check out my dresses just as soon as I submit this comment. Oh, the possibilities!!!!

  30. Kelli says:

    I had a knee-length dress (woven, not knit) that I never wore and so I did this last summer. I chopped the top of that baby off and it fit perfectly without even needing a waistband. Of course, I at least sewed the top down so there wouldnt’ be raw edges, but otherwise, it’s perfect. And now I’ve got a cute skirt that I do wear instead of a dress that I don’t. :)

  31. Amy says:

    I have a gorgeous maxi dress that I have had for 4 years and worn a total of 1 time. When I bought it the woman at the store told me I couldn’t return it because it was a clearance item. I should have taken the hint when she kept eying my huge DD boobs (I was still nursing my daughter). I didn’t try it on – I just kept thinking that my boobs would get smaller when I quit nursing. They did, but not by much and now I’m left with a B-cup dress top and bigger than B boobs. I do have a question, though. The fabric isn’t knit – it’s a really light weight polyester with a light cotton lining. Each layer by itself is see through, but together they are opaque so I need them both – can I do this same technique with this type of material?

  32. DaCraftyLady says:

    great make over. thanks for sharing

  33. Fran says:

    I was so excited to see this on facebook! I bought a maxi dress because I couldn’t pass it up (price!), but it has a spaghetti strap top and I hate it. I will be doing this to it this week. I am also pregnant and I know that this type of skirt would be perfect! Thanks for the tutorial and idea.

  34. Colette says:

    I wish we were friends! Ashley is very lucky to have you for a friend!

  35. ira lee henson says:

    that is awesome and i love me some maxi dresses. i own prob 6-8 and LIVE in them all summer!!! i grabbed that trend as soon as i saw it, and have been hooked ever since!

  36. Kristin says:

    Ugghh one of these days I will figure out how to do the shirring on my machine! Cute idea!

  37. beth says:

    Oh my heck! I seriously was lamenting last night with a friend the loss of two maxi dresses that I stretched out while pregnant. I was complaining that I needed more church clothes like those but didn’t have the money to spend on new clothes. I just have to buy the thread and I’ll be set. You my dear are awesome and have me so excited to finally have more options for church!

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

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