Up-cycle Curtain/window Treatments to a Swimming Suit Cover Dress (pattern Included)




If you have any light weight old curtain or window treatments, please don't throw it away. Instead, give it a good cleaninging, cut out the weakened fabric ( most of the time along the sew lines) and let's make some awesome pool side cover dresses!

Step 1: Design and Gathering Tools + Materials

When I decided to make a cover dress out of the old curtain, initially I designed a simple pattern that needs minimum cutting and sewing (I am still at beginner level,simpler is better). Then when I browsed through the patterns that I downloaded from the internet, a pool side cover dress pattern really caught my attention. It's casual, classy and very relaxed. And it's also easy to make. I believe the material I have is better suited for this design than my own design. So in this instructable, I will make my swimming suit cover dress based on the downloaded pattern. But I still finished my design and shared my design with you so that you can have a choice. For reference, in the title picture, designs 1,3 & 4 are based on the downloaded pattern and designs 2 & 5 are based on my design.

Tool list:


*Bodkin or safety pin




*Sewing machine

Material list:

* about 2 meters (2 1/4yards) by 1.5 meters (60") light weight drapery or semi-sheer fabrics from old curtain/window treatments. Depends on what design you are going for, you might need a little more or less.

*3" wide and 40"-50" long solid and decorative polyester/sheer fabric for drawstring casing and button loop

*60" long cotton rope as drawstring

*One pretty button (it's quite visible, choose wisely)

*2 wooden beads to prevent drawstring gets back to casing (optional)

*5 yards of lace trim (optional)

*Color thread that matches the fabric

*Paper for printing out the pattern and newspaper for designing your own paper pattern

For this project, I found everything I needed from my craft inventory, I didn't need to run out to buy anything. My old skirt trim that I used as drawstring casing fabric matches with the dress color so nicely, almost feels like it's meant to be. :-)

Step 2: Make the Paper Pattern and Cut the Fabric

First let us print out the PDF, make sure the printer will print out the actual size, no scaling. As soon as I printed out the pattern, I found the problem: this pattern has no overlap between pages! The printer can not print the full page even though I tried to set the margins as small as possible. I have to use a pencil to prolong all the lines on the edge to help to connect the lines between pages. And because the fine prints on the bottom of every page to indicate row# & column# can not be printed out, it also takes some while to identify the position of each page. If you want to try to make this dress, note down the row# & column# on the pages as soon as they come out of the printer to save trouble later. Once I lined up all pages, I still managed to tape and cut out quite accurate patterns.

The material I used for the dress is way too weak to perform as drawstring casing, so I opted to use my old skirt trim as my drawstring casing fabric. Since the color of the drawstring casing fabric matches very well with my dress, I will put the drawstring casing on top of the dress, it serves as a decorative ribbon as well.

Once I decided to put the drawstring casing on top of the dress, I didn't see a need to separate the top part and the bottom part. It's a loose fit dress after all, I won't have any problem sewing the casing all around the dress. So I further simplified the design by joining the top and bottom pieces together and made a one piece pattern for the front and one piece pattern for the back as shown in the picture. Less cutting and less sewing, yeaaaaah!

My piece of fabric is about 1.2meter by 2 meter, I folded it up lengthwise. The paper patterns lay out nicely on my fabric. Let's pin them down and cut the fabric into the desired shape. Piece of cake! The last picture shows when the cutting is done.

Step 3: Sew the Front and the Back Together

Time to connect the front piece and back piece together to make a dress.

My fabric is too thin for the sewing machine, I have to use the old newspaper trick here. I pinned front piece, back piece and the newspaper together along the shoulder lines and side lines. Next I sew these two pieces together to form a dress. The pattern pdf file contains very detailed instructions, you might want to take a look to obtain more information. I didn't follow the big steps as proposed by the pdf file, but I did try to follow the professional processes to have more refined finish.

I tried to add facings as suggested. But it turns out using the same fabric as facing does not look as good as I wished. My dress looks more refined when I put on lace trim around the neck opening. So I proceeded to add the same lace trim everywhere after I hemmed the sleeve openings, dress bottom and neck opening. I show the result in the last picture.

Step 4: Make Button Loop and Drawstring Casing

To make the button loop, cut a 1.5" by 4" fabric (my button is big so I need 4" long fabric, if you have a small button, 3" fabric might be enough). On the wrong side, fold both edges lengthwise towards the center, iron it flat then top-stitch the long ends together. Stitch and 'seal' the short end nicely before iron the whole strip flat.

I made the drawstring casing almost the same way as the button loop except I hemmed the short end before I top-stitch the long end. And one doesn't need to seal the short end, it's a casing after all.

Step 5: Stitch the Button Loop, Button and Casing Onto the Dress

This step is pretty straight forward. I manually stitched the button loop and the button onto the dress. When I stitched the button, I added a small piece of fabric on the other side of the dress fabric to support the button. A sewing machine is used to put the casing onto the dress. I top-stitched one line on top of the casing and one line on bottom of the casing, about 1/8" from the edges.

Step 6: Thread Drawstring Through Casing

Using a Bodkin tool or a safety pin, let's thread the cotton rope through the casing. If your casing opening is small, making double knots at the end of the ends will be enough to prevent the drawstring from retreating back to the casing. But in my case, the opening is too big, I have to add two wooden beads to discourage the drawstring running back to into the casing. I found wooden beads are a nice addition to my dress or no complaints here. I used double knots to block the wooden beads from sliding out of the rope.

Step 7: Wear the Dress Proudly

I chickened out on wearing a swimming suit inside, I chose to do the next best thing: wear tight summer clothes inside to show you the result. I am very happy with the result. The drawstring position is a little lower than I thought, it's right on the waist line. I still like it. Since I followed the pattern faithfully, you might need to take notes and adjust accordingly if you wish the drawstring position to be different than shown here.

Side notes: I still have a couple of up-cycle ideas to explore, but this year we decided to have a greenhouse. A lot of work is waiting, I won't have any time left for dress making. So see you guys later, but I probably will be back.



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