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Friday, July 13, 2012

Recycled Bridesmaids Dresses

It's been quite the week! I became an aunt yesterday and I'm just a little bit excited. I've been so distracted looking at baby pictures that I can hardly get anything done. I started this project early in the week, but it turned out to be more than I bargained for - a driving-in-the-dark-without-headlights kind of sewing excursion. This won't be a fully illustrated tutorial, but I'll try to explain what I did. In principle it's fairly straightforward, but in practice the chiffon is so darn finicky.

I hate dresses that don't earn their keep. If it has sat in my closet without being worn in the past year, it's time to go or be recycled. Bridesmaids dresses are the biggest offenders.While I loved both of these dresses (and the dear brides who chose them), I was never going to wear them again. The turquoise  (David's Bridal) was too small and the navy (J.Crew) never fit quite right through the bust.

nice crinkle chiffon

In my search for inspiration, I found the Love Me Duo Dress from ModCloth. Two colors of chiffon, not too dressy – perfect! But how to get from two dresses to one???

 I knew I wanted the navy on bottom, but I also wanted to keep the original hemline (a beautifully pleated treasure that I didn't want to waste!). I cut the lining and chiffon out separately and trimmed them to the right length (I was going for about knee length).

Next I ran a basting stitch through the top of my chiffon and ruffled it to fit my lining. 

Sew these two layers together.

Now the most important element of this dress was the shell (which ironically did not get its own picture). I found a Loft spandex shell that was the perfect color to go under the turquoise chiffon. Who knows what I would have done otherwise, but God is good. Even to DIY refashionistas. :)

And this is where I have a gap in my picture taking (lots of hair pulling, muttering, and stomping around interfered)...allow me to paint a mental picture:

1) I cut the skirt portion off of the turquoise dress - this left with me with a nice "tent" of fabric. Throw it over your head and it's a poncho!

2) I ran a basting stitch around what used to be the waist (it should be the only raw edge on this piece) and ruffled it to fit the neckline of my shell. 

3) With the shell turned inside out, I sewed the ruffled chiffon edge to the neckline. Make sure you have your ruffles (now looking more like pleats) where you want them before they're stitched down. Flip the chiffon over to the outside (right side) and voila! 

Ok, missing a picture here too. Now with the neckline sewn, I trimmed and sewed the chiffon wings on each side so that they just bloused a bit, stopping before the sleeves. Notice I left extra fabric around the sleeves.

Oh look, I've drawn you a picture. (Have I ever mentioned I used to teach 3rd grade?)

Next I folded in the fabric around the sleeves and hand sewed it in place. If you only stitch through the shell and not the chiffon, it will look invisible.

Stitched sleeve. Ok, maybe a stray stitch or two slipped through the chiffon.

Whew. Are you still with me? Do you see now why picture taking was the last thing on my mind??

My ruffles around the neck got a little lopsided. Thankfully it's not as noticeable on the finished dress. 

Now we have a top and a skirt. Time to put them together! First figure out how high you want your skirt to sit on the shell. (I re-pinned it four times before I was happy!) I only pinned and sewed through the shell, not the chiffon. Mistake: I should have sewn through both layers. I ended up rolling, blousing, and hand stitching the chiffon in place and I wasn't pleased with the effect. Kind of messy. I plan on always wearing it with a belt, however, so it wasn't a dress-ruining mistake. Just thought I would forewarn you.

Remember to pin the skirt down upside down and inside out. 

For the zipper, I chose a chunky, funky, exposed zipper. 

I'm so tired! Between anxiously waiting for news of my nephew's birth, making this dress, and writing this post, I'm zonked! Time to crash.


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  1. Amazing... I wish I knew how to sew. I'm just thinking of all of the bridesmaids dresses I've worn only to give them to the Goodwill. Sheesh!

    Great job :)


    1. Thanks, Mandi! Yeah, I feel the same way. I used to have another chiffon bmaid dress, but I don't know what happened to it - what a waste! :P

  2. Very cool! Good way to reuse something you will never wear again :)

  3. This is so awesome! I love to cut clothes apart and create something out. My sisters call me the clothes surgeon.

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

  4. This is gorgeous! Saw this on a linky party and just had to come check it out! Lovely! I am now your newest follower as well, as you have floored me with this refashion!

    1. Well thanks! This was first attempt at something this complicated and I was rather shocked it turned out wearable. :P

  5. You did a wonderful job, I feel inspired! It's really a pity when you only wear a piece once, it makes it overall more expensive! :)

    1. Oh I know. Most bridesmaids dresses are highway robbery. :P

  6. You are very creative with your fashions! I wish I could do that with clothes. I want to teach my daughters to sew and they would love to know how to revamp clothes like that. I saw another dress you turned into a skirt as well, so I am a new follower because I can't wait to see what else you do. Found you on Alderberry Hill link party.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! My mom taught me how to sew when I was young and I've always appreciated it. :)

  7. What a great way to upcycle bridesmaids dresses! You're very talented!

    Newest follower from the Talent Tuesday Linky Party!

    The Pretty Pinhead

  8. This is incredible! Very talented, both in the design and the implementation. Great work. Thanks for planting a seed for what I can do with my own old dresses....

  9. What a great use of that dress. I love it. I am stopping in from TheStuffofSuccess. Feel free to stop on by and say hello. I am also your newest follower. Enjoy your week. Athena

  10. I love this - these kind of posts make me wish I could sew better than I can!

    Visiting via the Fun in Functional Hop :)


  11. Awesome, what a great way to get a bit more life out of some bridesmaid dresses! Thanks so much for sharing this at The Fun In Functional!

  12. So much better to refashion than have two dresses sit in the wardrobe unused. Well done on seeing the potential of combining the two dresses to make one fabulous dress!!!

  13. You've been featured at Wednesday Whatsits! Thanks for sharing. Stop by and grab a button.

  14. Love this idea!! You are very brave though I would be scared to ruin them but I guess if you aren't using them in the first place then there is really no worry. Laura from Real Momma stopping by to say thanks for linking up to the Best of your Best Blog Hop!

  15. Very cute, wish I was that talented with a sewing machine! Thanks for linking up at the Best of the Best Blog Hop



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