Tutorial: reconstructing a dress


Hi everyone! This is my first tutorial, sorry it's a little dodgy! I hope to do some tutorials for things made from scratch but seeing as I was making this the other day, I thought I'd photograph it and post it on the internet as my first blog post.

DISCLAIMER: This is a tutorial for people who want a new dress in a couple of hours. Please note that I can only really get away with this because I am using a cheap dress (£4 from a charity shop) made from not-so-special fabric. If you are using more expensive fabric or a more expensive dress, not only would I advise you to take extra steps e.g. overlocking, ironing, interfacing if needed etc, I'd also advise you to use a sewing pattern if you are new to sewing!


You will need...

Scissors, a seam ripper (optional), pins

I would advise you not to use scissors like these, actually. They are an absolute bitch to use. If you can, get some fabric scissors! Mine are in a box somewhere :|

A sewing machine!

Well, I suppose you don't need one, but I'd advise you to use one. Possibly one a little more trustworthy than mine. Oh, and please do not follow my example and use your sewing machine on the floor hoho.

A nice big space where you can work. Can you tell we are in the process of moving in?


What you must do!

What I've done first is taken off the skirt and sleeves of the dress. If your dress is not too much bigger than you want it, I would use a seam ripper as to not lose too much fabric. If your dress is very big like mine, just cut them off!

Put the bodice on like a shirt so you can see how much you want to take off the shoulder. I've ended up taking off 2 inches! It depends on what you like and how the fabric actually sits on you when you're wearing it so you may find you don't need to take anything off at all.

Turn the bodice inside out! Mark with pins where you want to sew the bodice on the sides. You can do this while you are wearing it or using your waist measurement. Now sew with a straight stitch from the bottom of the bodice to the armhole. Don't worry about the edges matching up, you can fix it with your scissors. Now is the time to cut from the shoulders down to the bottom of the armhole according to how you want the dress to fit. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you but... cut in a gently curving line! Now, fold the edge of the fabric over and stitch it down, creating a narrow hem. If it is fabric that frays easily, now is the time to overlock! If you find it the circular line too difficult to hem or you simply can’t be arsed, you could always use bias binding. You can find this in fabric stores and (possibly) the supermarket. [Also, totally forgot to add this in but if you want some shape in the bodice for your chest, now is the time to add darts if you so desire]

Now you must gather your skirt! You could leave it the way it was before and just cut off the extra length, but as I prefer my skirts with a bit of poof, I’m going to take the whole thing and gather it until it’s as long as the bodice opened out flat (check if you need to allow a little extra length for a seam – mine is a button-down so I don’t need to).

Some people use gathering foots on their sewing machine but as I don’t have one, I do it by hand using the good ol’ drawstring method. Set your machine to the longest possible straight stitch and stitch from one end to the other along the side that will eventually join the bodice. Leave a few inches of thread at either end. At one end, tie a knot with the thread. At the other, take one of the two threads and pull it. Gently push down the fabric from the thread and it should bunch up. Continue doing this until the whole length is gathered on one side. Make sure the gathering is even. If this is confusing, here is a better explanation!

Undo the buttons on the bodice and the skirt so both are totally flat. Turn both so that the ‘right’ side of the fabric (the side that you want facing out when the dress is finished e.g. the darker side of denim fabric) is facing outwards, then place the bodice on top of the skirt with the ‘wrong’ side up so the ‘right’ sides are together. Line the bottom edge of the bodice up with the gathered edge of the skirt. Pin them together and then sew in a straight stitch along the edge through both the skirt and the bodice (remember to set your stitch to the normal length again). When you turn them the right side out again, it should look like the picture above.

If you like long dresses, you’re pretty much finished at this point. Put it on, check it all fits, trim all your loose threads and maybe give it an iron. Howeverrr, like me, you may prefer shorter dresses. If this is the case, try on your dress and mark with a pencil / chalk where you want the skirt to finish. Take off the dress, and cut the skirt from the line. Try to be neat at this point because hemming wonky skirts is annoying as hale and you could end up redoing it. It would be useful to use a tape measure to make sure the skirt is the same length all over. Now, how you hem your skirt is really up to you. You may want a wider hem, you may just want to roll it over and sew a tiny one. Just go with whatever feels right hoho.

So there we have it. A lovely new dress (or, in my case... tunic-thing). If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.

If anyone has any tips for me regarding tutorials / the blog in general, I'd very much appreciate it <3


  1. I love your Tumblr, I'm excited to see what you post on your blog!



  2. This tutorial is fantastic, although I'm bloody terrible at sewing...so if possible could you include more pictures on the next tutorial? Keep up the posting!

  3. I'm so glad you finally got a blog! I will be following it obsessively, I can assure you.

  4. Wow, this is amazing. You look so adorable in your outfit. =o)

  5. Not sure how to reply to everyone directly but thanks :D <3 + I will definitely try to take more photos next time!

  6. Such a great idea, I will deffinately be trying this when my exams are over!!


  7. So, after a bit of time I made it too. : )


  8. i'm going to try with an old dress !! i've never use it but maybe with some changes it'd be nice !!

    love ur tutorials !!!!

    xxxx from Spain :)

  9. Hi, dear.I love your ideas! I want to sew too but I can't... :/ But I will learn it! :) In future I will try some of your ideas... thank you for inspiration and I follow you...:)) Lovely blog and You look cute ;) Nice day :*

  10. Ahhh, you're entirely fantastic!


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