DIY, Refashion, Sewing

Refashioned America Dress

America title

I had this blue dress from H&M for many years, and I loved wearing it. It lasted years until a combination of shrinking over many washes and me growing upwards meant I had to stop wearing it, for fear of my cheeks getting cold. Too much? You’ve all been there.  IMG_1001

The fit on this dress was great, so it seemed a real shame to get rid of it. The red patch is where a hole developed at some point. IMG_1002

My first step was to remove the bodice from the skirt. IMG_1004

I then left both for ages whilst I moved house and whatnot. But, once all that had settled, I got a second hand duvet from my stash and saw the possibility of merging the two.


Spots and stripes, in a matching I think looks a bit like the American flag, thus the title of this post! The duvet has buttons and buttonholes so I used these already existing fastenings for my new dress. I unpicked the duvet, leaving me with two big rectangles of fabric.


To make the skirt pattern pieces and in construction I followed the instructions for the Clemence Skirt from Love at First Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons. As a beginner to gathered skirts this really helped and I would heartily recommend this book to people who want to improve their basic sewing skills into actual garments. IMG_1122

These are the pieces. I also cut the waistband pattern out on interfacing, which I ironed on to add stability to the waist.


Next, I sewed the waistband to the bodice. IMG_1126

This is a terrible photograph but it’s here to show how I folded over the ends so that no raw edges were exposed. I had this extra fabric because the pattern uses a zip fastening, whereas I am planning to make a buttonhole here instead. IMG_1123

I went for french seams on the skirt because they’re pretty.IMG_1124

See? Also, a round of applause over her for that pattern matching, for a novice I’m pretty damn chuffed about this.


I gathered the skirt and sewed it to the waistband, matching the middle back points and edges to keep the gathers as even as I could.IMG_1133

Next, I made a buttonhole for the waistband. If you’ve never made buttonholes before my advice is follow your machine’s manual and practice a few times on some scrap fabric. These things are nearly impossible to unpick so go slowly on the real things! I also ended up sewing a little popper just below the waistband before the next button, because when trying it on there was a bit of gaping. IMG_1189

A hem later and it is finished. IMG_1190

And, the back. For a first go with gathering, I think it went ok. I will be more accurate next time (and I was next time, more on that in a later blog post) but I’m really happy to get more wear out of this bodice, and to use entirely second hand fabric to make a new dress. Now, I couldn’t get any good photos of me wearing the dress but I’m sure this will get a good wearing during Me-Made-May so watch out for a better photo then. Until May, here are some bad photographs which didn’t include my head, to give a bit of an idea of how it looks on.


Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip side. Yee ha! Which is the only America reference in this whole post.


12 thoughts on “Refashioned America Dress”

  1. This is lovely! I’m so impressed with your gathering and careful matching of the stripes. Thanks for the book recommendation too – I haven’t done any unassisted dressmaking in years, so that could be a very handy guide.

    If you still have the leftover fabric from the original dress, you could make patch pockets to go on the skirt. Pretty *and* useful 🙂


    1. Thank you Lorraine! I would definitely recommend Love at First Stitch for getting back into the swing of things, because it teaches you the techniques through actually making things. Plus it’s a very pretty book! Good luck! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s