When you pass that old table that's been thrown out and left on the curb it's easy to envision taking it home. Clean it up, fresh paint, maybe add some decorative trim and TADA, you just up-cycled a table! Well the same idea works for clothes. A few snips here, a hem there, maybe some new trim, and TADA, you just up-styled an old dress! Whether it's from your own closet or forgotten on a thrift store rack, we all have come across those out of date, less than cute dresses; so use some imagination and give those old clothes new life. Making a new dress can be difficult and many times expensive by the time you're done purchasing your patterns and fabric, But with basic sewing skills you can create an amazing new one of kind dress while reusing other unwanted clothes.
Step 1: Anyone Can Up-style!
You don't have to be an amazing seamstress or fashion designer to up-style, and you certainly don't need to spend a ton of money. The above dresses were all made from pieces I found at thrift stores. You can just mix and match bottoms and tops, or use a large dress as fabric and make something completely new. The possibilities go as far as your fashion imagination can.
Everything done to these dresses can be done by hand if you don't have a machine. Basic sewing skills are needed for this Instructable, so if you'd like to review some tips there are tons of wonderful sewing Instructables and many about specific machines if you need a refresher on your personal sewing machine.
Step 2: What You Need
- Sewing machine
- Pins/safety pins
- Fabric pen
- Tape measure
- A dress. *I'm using an old dress I found at my local thrift store and for this simple up-style I'm starting with a dress that already fits me.
- Trim fabric. *I'm using a couple of infinity scarves for my trim material.
- Matching thread
Step 3: Get Started
Just for this Instructable I used a free app that lets me draw on my pics so I could show you the basic idea I'm going for. My plan is to shorten the length but also cut it at an angle. I'm going to add just a bit of color to the neckline and waist and finally I'm going to add a fishnet trim to my angled bottom.
So to start I put on my dress and used safety pins to mark how short I want to make it. Then I laid the dress flat, making sure to flair out the bottom and marked my cutting line.
Next I cut my dress to its new length, cut the sleeves off and lastly removed an obscene amount of fringe from the neckline. (Past fashions are usually amusing but sometimes scary, and always makes me wonder what people in 50 years are going to be laughing at our fashions about.)
*At this point I also measured the length of my new bottom while my dress was still laid flat. For me across the front measured 47 inches, I multiplied that by two and added an error inch giving me a total of 95 inches. This is how much trim I'm going to need for my new bottom. Because I'm using very long infinity scarves I've got plenty of trim but if I didn't have such long pieces I'd just sew several smaller pieces together to get my needed length.
Step 4: Hem the Edges
With my dress inside out I folded the cut edge of my strap back onto itself, then pinned it. I did the same to the other side being careful to make sure both my straps remained the same size. You can adjust the width of your strap by slightly changing how much fabric you fold back when pinning. Sew your new strap hem and do the same to the new bottom hem.
Step 5: The Trim
This fishnet design can look intimidating, but I promise it's not. Practice on a scrap piece of fabric and you'll see how easy it is. Because of the massive length of my bottom trim I'll be showing you using smaller plain fabric. In the above pictures the lighter purple is the dress, and the darker purple is the trim.
Trim prep and knot one:
- You are going to pin and sew your trim to your bottom hem of your dress.
- Then lay your fabric flat.
- Cut the trim into an EVEN number of half inch strips, cutting from the bottom to about an inch below the trim edge. (The strips do not need to be perfect so don't go crazy trying to cut them all exactly the same but you do need an even number of them.)
- ** It does not matter where you start** Take the first two strips and tie them together with a knot near the top of the strips.
- Then tie the 3rd and 4th strips together, 5th and 6th together and so on until you've knotted all of your strips into pairs of two.
2nd row of knots:
- Once you've knotted all the strips into pairs and are back where you started, you are going to take one strip from the first knot and one strip from the second knot tying them together with a new knot about a half inch to an inch below your first row of knots.
- Then take the remaining strand from the second knot and tie it to one stand from the third knot. Then tie remaining strip from the third knot to one strip from the forth knot.
- This continues all the way around your trim.
To make more rows just keep repeating the steps for making your 2nd row of knots. I did three rows with my trim but you can adjust how many rows depending on how much trim fabric you have.
Step 6: Neckline Color
Next I measured my neckline and cut three strips of my trim several inches longer than my measurement. I simply braided my strips together, and secured one end with a few stitches. Then I just pinned my braid to my neckline (starting in the back) going all the way around. Next I sewed my braid into place and when I reached back to my starting point I just overlapped the ends and put in a few extra stitches. You can trim off any extra fabric you have but I decided I liked it so I left it there.
Step 7: Final Touches
I wanted to add a little color under the bust so I'm going to make a little fake belt.
I decided where I wanted my belt to be and just like for the neckline, I measured and added several inches. ** I knew I wanted my belt to overlap in the front so I had to overlap my tape measure too. I then cut strips of my extra trim and made another braid. I secured each end with a few stitches and sewed the center of my braid down its entire length, (I did this just to help my braid hold it's shape sense I won't be sewing the whole belt to my dress). Using a few safety pins I pinned my braid to my dress in three spots, under each arm, and center front; Then sewed the braid to the dress at the three chosen spots.
Next I cut three rectangles out of one of the sleeves I had cut off. I used those rectangles to give the look of belt loops and sewed them over my belt at my three sewn spots.
With that I'm done with this up-style. I did this in a single afternoon, and I can't stress enough how a few simple changes can make such a dramatic difference. I hope you give up-styling a try and experience for yourself how amazing it feels to be stopped by a stranger who tells you they love your outfit and have to know where you got it.... and you get to say "Thank you, but actually I did this".