Relove an Old, Ugly Dress: Before and After (w/ Bonus Infinity Scarf)




Introduction: Relove an Old, Ugly Dress: Before and After (w/ Bonus Infinity Scarf)

About: Let the fun ebgin. I used to be known as tofu911; now I am Tofugami. Please check out my other sites to more fun DIYs. Tofugami is on Facebook, YouTubee, Instagram, and

If you like more sewing projects be on the lookout. I may be new to sewing but that just means I have a lot of projects to post. "I Smell Good" Mr. Bunny is already posted.  I'm working on a steampunk costume too.

BONUS: Infinity Scarf DIY also included in this instructables (last step).

I was so excited, this day has arrived! When I was growing up I used to spend hours pretending to be a fashion designer. I would draw dresses on ladies whose faces I made up. And then pretend they were ladies I knew when someone asked. Next came my Barbie phase where she got everything from a tissue paper dress to a duct tape, fantasy dress.
But I really wanted to make something for myself even though I had literally no sewing skills. A while back more inspiration hit when I read an article by Yahoo about Marisa Lynch who blogged about how she remade 365 different dresses from old dresses: one old, turn new dress for every day of year. Amazing! Check out her blog for before and after pics and get inspired. Her blog is

Be sure to read the highlighted stuff in this blog for helpful tips.

BTW, sorry for the poor pictures on this instructable they were lots of selfies through a mirror in the middle of the night. 

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Step 1: Find the Perfect Ugly, Old Dress

I have to admit that I have a hard time finding a dress that fits me well. I'm pear shaped and have a long torso. Like with any gal, I want to look nice. All shapes and sizes of women are beautiful, we each just got to find the right dress. And if the dress isn't quite right, we'll have to modify it.
To find the perfect ugly dress I hit up the local thrift stores. I knew this big ugly blue dress was the one because it had a lot of fabric to work with, was larger size than me, the fabric was in good shape, and I liked the print, a pretty navy with a splash of print to accent it. If this is your first time making this, I would suggest making sure to work with a fabric that is not too sheer. Turned out mine was and it was harder to sew and definitely need shorts underneath or to wear with leggings because of it. The cost was only $5 for my dress which is reasonable for my local area.

Step 2: Materials Needed

Aside from the dress, I have all the materials I needed already at home. This includes:
seam ripper
sewing pins
fabric pencil (pick a color that will show on the fabric you choose, mine was white)
sewing machine
measuring tape
(optional: belt to accessorize)

Step 3: Let's Get Started!

Yay, it's time to start working on this old dress. I really had no clue what style I wanted this dress to become other than I allowed the piece to speak to me. I know that may sound funny but this was a creative process that unfolds.  Embrace the force!
The first thing calling to me was the yellowing bib. Unless I was eating a buffet of seafood, there was no need for it. So I used the seam ripper and took it apart. I also had to take the button in the back off because it was attached to the bib.

Step 4: Too Hot to Handle

Since the fabric was so sheer and light, I thought it would be perfect for our California summers to go sleeveless. The seam ripper is the perfect tool for ripping the sleeves off. Honestly though, scissors would have worked fine to save time. I started with the seam ripper and ended up giving the final cut with scissors.

Step 5: Neckline

When I took the collar off I found a pretty decorative line going across the upper chest that had some slight ruffling effect. I liked it but the neckline in addition to that reminded me of a graduation gown. So I decided to make it a v neck. I used the fabric pencil to mark what I wanted then used scissors to cut down along that line. Since I didn't have a serger to keep the fabric threads from unraveling I went ahead and sewed a seam along the edge of the fabric. Then flipping the dress inside-out, I pinned the corners down and sewed the neckline all the way around. Remember when sewing to backstitch so that the dress doesn't go unraveling when you're wearing it.
I finished off the neckline by adding back the button on the back of the dress by hand sewing it on.

Step 6: No Granny Here

The dress was starting to look nicer already but unless I wanted to play Granny in Little Red Riding Hood, I needed to bring the dress hem up a bit and create a more form-fitting silhouette. For the hem line I put on the dress, used pins to pull the hem line up, and used the pencil to mark where I was happy with the length.

To get the right hem then do a quick test. The first stretch both of your arms all the way up! Then bend over and touch your toes. Did the hem line cover your booty thoroughly? If you don't mind a mini, then go for it. If not, then take the dress hem down an inch or two. Mine turned out to be a bit shorter but  plan to wear this dress with leggings or dark tights.

When marking the hemline remember to give an extra 1/2 inch lower for seam allowance. I took 10 inches off the dress. If you cut the dress too short worse case scenario is the dress can always become a cute shirt.

For the sides, I decided that I wanted something that formed a bit of shape but was still loose enough to be comfortable. I basically put on the dress, used my measuring tape to find my natural waist by tying it around the smallest part of me, and then used the pencil to mark where it was. This is a trick I learned from my sewing class. From the bottom of the armpit I am going in 1 inch. At my natural waist 2.5 inches. And at the bottom of the skirt I went in 2 inches.

Once marked, I just sewed along the marked line for the sides after cutting off the bottom of the dress. My pencil marks line looks rough because my fabric was moving a lot and because I didn't use a yardstick or ruler. These will help draw out better lines, which will make it easier to sew. Again remember when sewing to work with the dress inside-out. I sewed the seam allowance of 1/2 inch again to try to prevent too much thread from fraying. Then I cut off the excess fabric.

Step 7: Sleeveless!

Yay, almost done. All that's left is the armholes or otherwise I call it the sleeveless. I marked the sleeves in a bit, pinned, and sewed the hole. I started my sewing at the bottom of the armpit so that the back stitching doesn't show as much. I think for me the armholes were the hardest part to sew. With a sheer, light fabric I couldn't make them as pretty as I wanted but I went easy on myself since this was my first dress. Don't forget that the seam ripper is a friend. If you cannot live with how you sewed it, then rip it out and try again. Sewing takes practice.

What I love about this dress is that it's versatile. In the pictures you can see me playing with a belt to change it up. My mannequin is tinier than me so it's not as good of a model, but by this time I was done with those selfies in the mirror.

Step 8: Bonus Round: Infinity Scarf

Remember that 10 inches round of fabric I took off from the bottom of my old, ugly dress? Well, I thought it would make a great infinity scarf.
If you end up with enough fabric you could do the same also.
To make the scarf I matched the fabric inside-out and sewed the unopened side leaving just a tiny hole . I then cut the scarf down and pulled the fabric to the correct side. Then I stuff one side like a sleeve inside the other, pinned it, and hand sewed it by topstitching.

It's nice to know I could even use this infinity scarf as a matching belt to my dress. I'm thinking this makes a great bead band too since it's so light.  Such a great accessory piece to add to my closet and perfect for those windy spring days.

I still can't believe I semi-made my own dress from an ugly before to an awesome after. Now I can't wait to thrift shop some more. The moo-moos are calling and it's time to relove them.

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    10 Discussions


    4 years ago

    It look too rectangular. The bottom half looks very nice.

    This is great! The newdressaday blog is one of my favorites and you did a fantastic transformation on this dress!

    Also, did you make that rope top/belt? I love it and I would love to see a tutorial for it!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, Danger I'm learning as I go. I have a newfound love for sewing. l think that blogger is so adorable and so many of the things she made were cute. The rope came from a pair of pants I used to fit into. All I did with the belt was reformed it around the dress. Easy to put on and take off. I did take pictures of how to make it and of me wearing it but unfortunately the pictures came out poor because I had to take selfies. So I deleted them. I'll post an instructables on it when hubby can help take pictures and I'll let you know when I do. He's working mega hours so might take awhile.

    Danger is my middle name
    Danger is my middle name

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome, no rush! It's just so cute and I'm just thinking of all the plain dresses I have that would look like new with rope accents. I might get some rope of my own and do some fiddling around myself later this week :)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea. I was thinking to do a belt instructable with a variety of belts if time permits. I'll let you know when I post. :-)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    great job with the transformation! and on a side note, great writing style, it was a delight to read!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much for your comment; it made my day. I've been trying to put more of my own voice in my instructables and I really appreciate that you noticed the extra effort. :-)


    5 years ago

    You have made a lovely job of transforming this dress. As a novice sewer myself, I'm inspired. Good luck with future projects!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, Annie. I'm just glad to find an audience to share all of these projects with.