Monday, August 29, 2011

The $0.50 Dress (a skirt to dress refashion)

Ok ok, I know there's only 2 days left until it's September, but I had to share one last dress that I made for Haley. Like I've mentioned before, it's summer until the end of October here in Tennessee, so while all of you are bundled up and enjoying your crisp autumn weather in a couple weeks, think of me as I'm holed up inside my house trying to ward off the 90 degree weather outside.

Anyway, back to summer-related things! I was walking through Gymboree a few weeks ago enjoying all the eye candy that I'm too cheap to buy - I mean, who wants to spend $25 on a pair of jeans for their kid when they're going to grow out of them next week? Hello sale rack! While I was browsing, one particular line caught my eye. Their Citrus Cooler collection was just so cute and summery!

I just love all the adorable citrus prints, but I wasn't about to pay $25 for a dress. Then it hit me. I had purchased a little girl's skirt with almost the exact same print last year at a garage sale for $0.50.

And that's how this skirt was refashioned into the easiest dress I've ever made. And it only cost me $0.50.

What's not to love about that?

Here's what you need to make one too!

  • 1 skirt with zipper (I used a child's size 10 skirt)
  • Ribbon (this is optional, but really makes the final dress look adorable)
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies

Step 1: Size your dress.

Measure the diameter of your child's chest from armpit to armpit and add 1 inch. The diameter of my 2 1/2-year-old's chest is 21 1/2, so the total diameter is 22 1/2 inches. Divide this number in half, this will be the width the top of your front and back piece will each need to be. Since my total diameter is 22 1/2 inches, I want the width of the top of each of my front and back pieces to be 11 1/4 inches.

Turn your skirt inside out with the back of your skirt where the zipper is on top. Using the zipper as your center point, measure out the length that you calculated above and mark each endpoint on the waistband with disappearing ink marker. Draw lines from each of your points to the bottom of your skirt in an A-line fashion.

Next, pin the sides of your skirt together and sew on top of your lines from the top to the bottom, removing the pins as you go.

Cut off the excess material (make sure to save it, you'll be using it later) and finish your edges by zig-zagging or serging them.

Note on length: Since I used a child's skirt to make my dress, the length was perfect and needed no adjustment. If your skirt is too long, make sure you measure your child from the top where you want the dress to hit to their knees and add 1/2 inch, then cut the dress, hem and sew the bottom.

Step 2: Make your straps

You'll now be making straps from the scraps you cut off of the sides of your skirt. Here are the 2 scraps I had left.

To make your straps, you just need to make 2 tubes with your desired thickness and length. I didn't have much to work with, so my dress ended up having spaghetti straps that were a little over 1/2 inch wide and 7 inches long.

As you can see in the picture above, my scraps already were sewn down the middle because they came from the sides of my dress. I just folded each rectangle with the right sides together and sewed the other other side closed. Then, I just turned my tube inside out (use a safety pin) and sewed the ends closed. So easy!

Next, just pin the end of your strap to the inside of your dress and sew on top of the existing stitches so it blends right in. Repeat the process to sew the other end of your strap to the back of your dress.

You could just stop right here and be done, but I thought the dress looked like it was missing something so I added some ribbon.

Step 3: Embellish your dress.

To make a ribbon "belt" of sorts, just hand sew a couple of loops on either side of your dress a few inches from the top. You can double up the thread like I did for extra strength.

Then, just measure your child for the desired length of ribbon and add some extra so you can tie the bows.  Add some Fray Check to the ends so your ribbon doesn't unravel on you, then insert the ribbon through your loops.

And that's it! Simple, cheap, and a quick-sew. 
My favorite kind of project.

Now comes the hard part, getting your child to pose for the pictures.

If you're lucky, your daughter will stand still. Mine can't be bribed for all the candy in the world.

Enjoy your new dress!

Check out my sidebar to see where I link up each week!


  1. I like your version better than Gymboree's! Your new header looks great too!

  2. Super cute!! Love the new header too!!

  3. Oh my goodness! It turned out absolutely adorable. And that looks so simple to do, too! Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. So adorable! (and the model is the cutest!)

  5. So sweet.... I love finding a bargain like that and turning it into something gorgeous. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Great idea! It fits your daughter to a tee. I'm a bargain lover so I'll have to give this one a try. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Looks great! Thanks for linking up with Lemon Tree Creations today.

  8. Too cute! I love the colors and you're right here in the south it stays summer for a while longer!

  9. Very cute! I will try to make one for my little girl! An easy project for a beginner like me, in sewing :)

    Ps :In Greece summer also lasts longer:)

  10. very impressive!! I love that pattern! your little girl is too cute!

  11. Such a cute dress for you little girl. I love making clothes for my kids and not spending a dime.

    Stop by and enter my Giveaway for a custom made pinstripe skirt.

  12. So cute! I wish I could sew better than I do :)

  13. This is super cute, Jen! I love it! The ribbon is a perfect addition.

  14. This dress is just adorable!! I do not know any little girls... yet! So I am keeping this in mind. Excellent tute!

  15. Great tutorial Jen! Love the way the dress turned out! Your little girl is adorable!

    Id LOVE for you to link this up to my new DIY fashion linky party called DIY Diva Thursdays! We party until Monday, so you have plenty of time to link up! I hope to see you there :)


  16. So totally cute and crafty!


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