Introduction: DIY Convertible Dress

Picture of DIY Convertible Dress

I immediately fell in love with pictures of the Butter by Nadia dress, but at $250, I knew I could DIY it for less. I started seeing the same design being offered by lots of different companies, and figured it must be something great!  This convertible dress can be wrapped in an infinite number of ways to create different style.  I love wearing it on hot summer days as a slinky halter, twisting into something elegant for a wedding, or wrapping it as a skirt for daily wear. In fact, I love this dress so much, I made two - one in a lightweight t-shirt jersey and one in a heavy matte jersey - making them two of the most comfortable garments I own.  Next version: two toned, and with pockets!

Step 1: Layout

Picture of Layout

I kind of winged it with the pattern, but I've included a diagram I drew on some scrap paper to help illustrate my intent.  The skirt is a basic circle skirt, and the straps are pleated a bit in the front.  It's very simple, and I would wager to say one size fits a lot of different sizes.

I turned down the top edge of the back half of the skirt to create a finished edge.  The top edge of the front half is sewn to the straps.  The rest of the edges remained unfinished.  Like I said, it's very simple!

Step 2: Skirt

Picture of Skirt

I cut the pieces of the skirt to the sizes written in my diagram.  The waist edge of the back half of the skirt had 1 1/2" add to the top so I could turn it down and create a finished edge.

I folded the back half of the skirt over on itself to finish the top edge on my serger.  This is easier to do with a zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine if you don't know quite what I'm talking about here.  I hope the pictures help illustrate what I did.

Then I placed the front and back halves of the skirts right sides together and serged the side seams together.

To finish any serged seam, I took a large-eyed needle, and threaded the tail of the serger thread back through the serged seam.

Step 3: Straps

Picture of Straps

The fabric for the straps were cut according to the diagram.  The purple jersey was wider than the blue, providing more modest coverage, which I prefer.

I measured the pleat placement as shown, and pinned them together.  Before attaching the straps to the front of the dress, I basted them in place by hand.  Make sure that the two straps are pleated in opposite directions!

Next, I marked the center of the front side of the skirt and aligned the two straps accordingly.  Preferably, they will overlap at the center front.  Using the serger, I attached the straps to the skirt.

Wow, the dress is done!  How easy was that!

Step 4: Wear It!

Picture of Wear It!

Here's a sample of some of the ways you can wear this garment. The Butter by Nadia website offers a great video tips for wrapping.  There are lots of other companies who offer this same style dress, and with these directions, you can customize your own to fit your personal style. 


RollerScrapper (author)2011-06-14

Fantastic job! I have always wanted one of these but was held back by the cost. One question, on the diagram the waist appears to be 11 inches times 2. that sounds pretty small, or do you make it snug due to the jersey fabric?

Also how much yardage did you buy? I realize everyone is different, but a general estimate would be great so I have an idea what to get this weekend :)

Plus do you prefer the heavier or lighter jersey?

Ok I lied that was 3 questions!

Good questions, all. The waist does seem snug, but it is cut on a curve, and it stretches insanely. I may go back and put some elastic in the back waist!

I bought three yards of fabric, which was perfect for the 60" wide purple jersey, but a bit skimpy for the 45" blue jersey. Just means the straps aren't as wide.

I definitely prefer the heavier jersey. It was pricier, but the drape is so much nicer.

Thanks! I will look out for heavy jersey in 60 inch increments! I can't wait to try this even though this is like project number 7 on my list right now!

SherylinRM (author)2016-10-26

Once I lose 100 pounds I am definately making this as a present to myself.

Thanks for this :)

doodlecraft (author)2014-06-28

Amazingly versatile! :)

shanell1 (author)2014-06-15

I made it for a toga party from an old bed sheet. I had to put a zip in because I made the waist band too big. In cotton it hangs differently but I really liked it.

lisabuckfast (author)2014-05-10

Can't wait to try this =)

Royal Jade (author)2011-11-20

I'm a bit chesty so I'm just wondering if the dress can be supportive if tied up right? I'm sorry for asking an odd question I would just like to know before I go out and get all the things to make it just to find out that I can't wear it.

sarahjanep (author)Royal Jade2013-11-19

Hi Royal Jade, I'm quite chesty too, 38DD, here in South Africa, we have a jelly like self sticking bra which looks like a pair of chicken fillets and these work really well holding my puppies up

scoochmaroo (author)Royal Jade2011-11-21

I have a hard time supporting my little girls in this dress. I think some mods would need to happen to be honest. Maybe some sort of back panel added to it so something could be worn underneath?

'tone (author)2012-03-18

I'm a :"newbie to the sewing world and its becase of this dress. thanks for something i can finally understand. but where would you suggest i find apparel fabrics for a decent price

shortone (author)2011-12-09

Just thought I'd let you know I included you in my guide! I'm not sure if the pictures are showing up properly because my internet is a little weird, but hopefully I'll figure it out tomorrow :)

goingon (author)2011-09-02

wow, thanks for sharing

jharper8 (author)2011-07-16

i love the dress. im experimenting with a non-solid color. how would a floral print look.

cinghialetta (author)2011-06-19

Do you think this design would work with a different fabric, like linen, if I were to cut it on the bias?

I'm not the author but I have done a lot of sewing-especially with linen and circle/near-circle skirts. Bias cut fabric might work although you would have to make pattern measurements a bit closer to your actual measurements as it wouldn't stretch as much (don't do the first draft in an expensive fabric). Also, the jersey that I've come across has an allover stretch which bias cut fabric doesn't have so add some leeway to measurements. It's usually recommended that bias seam allowances are cut 1" wide instead of the standard 5/8ths as if they stretch at all in length the seam allowance will narrow considerably...and stitch bias seams with a zigzag or stretch stitch or the thread will break when worn. It's far better to have to take in than to not have enough fabric in the first place. Also, you would have to figure in hems on all edges (linen ravels very, very, badly-and yes, bias cuts do still ravel) and prewash the fabric before cutting. Let the skirt hang for a couple of days (use a skirt hanger) before hemming as bias/non bias edge portions will stretch differently.

midsummermuse (author)2011-06-24

This is so great! I wish I had a serger to make it even easier, but I have a regular machine. The steps to this dress are so simple and the only invest is the fabric and small amount of time. Have you tried wearing the dress with some sort of tube top under it? I love the concept of this dress, but I am full busted and would definitely need way more support with and under-wire bra and I'm thinking the tube top would hide it. I am also pretty modest! haha, anyway--great job with the sewing instructions, and there are a lot of other website that have more detailed instructions on cutting a circle skirt, since the cutting part is scary and all that.

Thanks for inspiration, not sure if I would make it soon due to the support issues with the top, but the convertible aspect is so enticing. ^_^

camatteo (author)midsummermuse2011-06-27

tube top or bustier, depending on how formal/sensuous you can be where you're wearing it.

I'm planning to apply this pattern to some summer dresses/skirts for my 13-year old daughter, but we can stitch up the front V neckline after scaling it to her waist and height to allow for modesty as well as convertibility.

btan (author)2011-06-21

One word.....WOW.
Keep up the good work!

oortcloud (author)2011-06-21

Scooch *always* does beautiful work.

icelandinthesun (author)2011-06-21

Is it 24 inches there on the top line? So that means the skirt is 24 inches long. Wow, i think i just got that. But your drawing in the right corner, is that the top of the dress?

tbrady2 (author)2011-06-21

Great tute! I made one a couple years ago, and made it with a 12" waistband (like a tube top). that took care of the raw edge, +gave me a little extra coverage. Maybe "jaleesarenee" could use stretch lace for that part.

dia (author)2011-06-20

Thanks for breaking this down into such a simple tutorial. I whipped one together in an afternoon for a wedding I'm attending this weekend. Picked up 3y of a lycra blend.

Besides fitting perfectly and being ultra fun to make: it fits their DIY Crafty wedding theme perfectly.

picklet (author)2011-06-19

Hey, looks brilliant! This dress could even be made so that it could be used as a built-in baby sling. And perfect for nursing! Well done!

kellimaier (author)2011-06-19

I would love to have about five of these!

I have seen this type of dress on larger women with a large bust. But I am a size 6-8 woman with a large bust...should I go for the 60 inch fabric and let it just...drape?

pedleyfigg (author)2011-06-19

I have to say that although it is nicely made there have been instructions on how to make this style of dress floating about the net for a considerable while.

janetsellers08 (author)2011-06-19

Thanks for posting this, I think I'll try it. Do you have a suggestion for a longer length; and, also, help for those of us who sadly sag in the front?

Aswa (author)2011-06-19

Thank you SO MUCH!
I fell in love with that same dress and thought it was brutally overpriced.
Great job!

jaleesarenee (author)2011-06-19

This is giving me the courage to make my own wedding dress! Please post any variations! I'm might try adding lace to mine. Thanks for this AWESOME DIY!!!!

aholmes2 (author)2011-06-19

Love it. I have made a few of these myself. So simple and your time and materials are not worth $250 when it's all said and done. Fantastic. You look great.

Supernewby (author)2011-06-14

Gorgeous! Time to break out my sewing machine again.

WhyHello (author)2011-06-13

I so wish i understood why my sewing machine isnt working =(

NaturalCrafter (author)2011-06-13

I voted for this one. Thanks for sharing.

angelabchua (author)2011-06-13

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Oh, and the dress is awesome too. ;) I love this dress!

Goodhart (author)2011-06-13

Simple versatile (and blue ! My favorite color), this is really great. Thank you for sharing.

mslaynie (author)2011-06-13

OMG, I love you!! My sewing machine is soon-to-be refurbished so I can start sewing again, and this will DEFINITELY be going on my list of goodies to make! I'm also getting into thrifting, and this looks like the perfect skirt to make without the ties as just a comfy skirt! Add a sweet waistband and this looks like an awesome summer skirt!

sunshiine (author)2011-06-13

It is so pretty!

l8nite (author)2011-06-12


Mrballeng (author)2011-06-12

Are you sure you didn't just buy that dress and said that you made it? I'm only kidding. You did an absolutely wonderful job. Thanks for sharing.

splazem (author)2011-06-12

Great job once again!

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
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