Jan 11, 2011

50c Thrifty Refashion…

Okay, quick recap. This is the top I started with:
original size 10 womans blouse
Now to find out a little more about the original top you’ll need to visit this post which will help make a little more sense of this ‘how to’.

The only items I used for this refashion were the usual notions and sewing supplies plus about 1.5 meters of satin ribbon. So all up the total cost of the finished outfit was UNDER $1 (50cents for the thrift store top, about 30cents of ribbon, and everything else I used was in my sewing box.

Here’s the end result:

finished 3
I definitely think this looks fantastic for the cost. What do you think? Here’s how I achieved the final look:
Firstly you will need to size up the original piece of clothing to determine how much to reduce the size. You can do this with an item of clothing in the correct size or by doing a fitting type measure up. I had my Big Little Miss M try the top on and then just measured the shoulder and neckline area to see how much needed to go.
This top was a button up style blouse with 9 buttons/buttonholes down the centre front placket. I removed all the buttons except for the top two – so that the dress would be easy to get on and off.


Cut top as shown in the picture along the shoulder seam and across the back and front neckline. I used the original seams and angles as a guide to the angle for the new cuts. Remove the fabric drawstrings from the front neckline casing.

cutting original
As shown in the picture fold over the back neckline twice and stitch in place. I used a rolled hem foot to create a very narrow hem on this edge.
rear neck
Sew a basting stitch along the arm seam from the back neckline to the same point on the front. I used my sewing machine set to the longest stitch length and without doing locking stitches. Pull the bobbin thread to gather and create ‘sleeve puffs’. Secure the gather threads so they don’t unravel.

arm gathering
Cut two lengths of ribbon approximately 40cm in length and using a bodkin or safety pin insert in casing either side of front neckline.

ribbon casing

Close shoulder seam by flipping garment inside out and by matching up the neckline openings sew right along the top shoulder from the neckline right over to and including the gathered sleeve puff.

This will also close the casing and secure the new ribbon in the neckline casing.

shoulder seam
Now, remembering that the original top had sleeves that were elasticized at the opening, I unpicked a small 1cm section in an inconspicuous section and pulled some of the elastic out. I shortened this elastic to a more appropriate size and then restitched the elastic and casing closed.

arm casing

I wanted to have a gathered waistline (and to draw in the size of the garment without having to cut and resew the side seams) so I used a length of ribbon sewn the length of the waist to form a casing for 1/4” elastic.

I didn’t insert the elastic just yet however as I wanted to create a shirring feature on the back of the dress (this too helped reduce the size and create overall shape).

ribbon waistband
On the back of the garment I measured in approximately 1”from the shoulder seam and stitched a basting stitch vertically to the waist line – I didn’t lock stitch this as it will get removed later, it purely acts as an easy to see guide for the width of my shirring rows.

shirring guides
I then shirred approx 25 lines of shirring between these two vertical guidelines beginning and using the already there waistline seam as a guide for the first row. I always begin shirring with a locking stitch (twice for good measure), the elastic hand wound onto the bobbin, regular thread for the upper thread and with normal machine stitch length and tension.

I complete one row and do another locking stitch but without cutting any threads I simply lift the needle and presser foot, turn the fabric and move up so that the finished row sits in line with the EDGE of my presser foot and this will guide the next row. I begin and end EVERY row with locking stitches but I don’t cut the elastic or thread until I finish all my rows. Here’s a really basic picture (I took a photo of the shirred rows but the busy fabric made it hard to see – so I used the computer to ‘draw’ an example of I did my shirring rows… hope it helps):

Shirring sketch

Now after completing what looked like a column of shirring on the centre back I fed the 1/4” elastic into the casing I did earlier with the ribbon and folded the extra centimetre of ribbon over  on the placket without the buttonholes and sewed the casing closed securing the elastic at that end. I then repeated on the other side but before sewing closed I overlapped it with the opposite side, lining up the waistband and sewing both layers together.

sew together placket

I then overlapped the plackets from the waist to the hem and topstitched them together down both sides of the placket as I had earlier removed the buttons from this section and did not want it to open like a shirt.
Okay, so I did a little victory dance now – because it’s pretty much done!
Here it is:.

finished dress

sneaky peek

And here’s Big Little Miss M in the dress:


I love how the shirring column and the back neckline kind of like a mini Elizabethan collar…

back shirred panel and collar
I think the white ribbon bow and waistband help break up the busy-ness of the fabric and I like the girly puffy sleeves! (The old drawstring from the neckline was re-used for matching hair ribbons)

finished 1

Big Little Miss M was in a little bit of a mood when I took these pictures (Is it obvious from the really bland expression?)

But she sparked up a little when I told her to go wild and have a twirl!

finished 3
finished 4

Hope you like it – all for less than $1…. I AM HAPPY. I think it has a rather classical but girly look (I am a little biased though!).

Thanks for taking the time to look through this post and if you have a chance be sure to have a browse around my blog and check out some of my other tutorials and adventures (I’d love to have you become a follower too if you like – that way you’ll be sure to not miss any of my refashioning or from scratch tutes!). Also be sure to check out some of the wonderful blogs that host link parties (on the sidebar) for an endless supply of craftiness and ideas!
Oh… and while I think of it I am contemplating having a follower giveaway soon – I’ve made a couple of items from scratch as ‘testers’ for final products and patterns that I will be marketing soon in either an Etsy or Madeit store – what do you think? Would any of you like that?

And on a final much more serious note … please keep all the people affected by the floods here in Australia in your thoughts and prayers – it really has been an unbelievable tragedy, already such tragic losses and unfortunately the next few days look set to be worse still. Nature is such a beautiful thing because it is wild and untamed, free and uncontrolled but that same beauty can be absolutely tragic for those very same qualities.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones who have lost loved ones, homes, businesses or livelihoods…


The Spangler x0



  1. this is ADORABLE!! I love what you did with the dress! And what a cute model! If you have a chance come link up to Handmade Tuesdays @ Ladybug Blessings www.ladybug-blessings.com :)

  2. Your lil miss is ONE LUCKY little girl to have such a clever mummy!!!!

  3. This is so cute. I've refashioned some of my shirts for my little one as well. I need to practice my shearing and this would be a great way to do it. Nice job.

  4. The dress is perfect!! So cute! Hey, I gave you a blog award, too, so check it out if you get a minute! (www.excellcrafts.blogspot.com)

  5. Little girls really love swirly dresses. Beautiful job and great tutorial.

  6. I'm not going to lie - when I saw the Before picture, I was thinking, that's kind of an ugly shirt, how is she going to make it cute? But when you showed the after picture...I gasped! That is GORGEOUS!

  7. Wow, you did an awesome job! It looks great!

  8. oh that is too cute! I love that last picture, she is totally a magnet for the camera!
    Great re-design

  9. Thank you so much for linking up on my LET'S SEW project linky!! Love the dress!

  10. beautiful! Emily @ domesticdeadline.blogspot.com

  11. I LOVE refashions!! You did a great job with this little dress. It turned out lovely!

  12. This is so pretty!! I love how it turned out. <3 I'd love for you to link up to my new linky party, Tute {Yourself} Tuesday!

  13. I love it! Too cute! Thanks for linking up to Sassy Sites- Trash to Treasure Tuesday! We are doing a LABEL giveaway today, so come back and check it out!

    Marni @ Sassy Sites!

  14. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday over at Sugar Bee Craft Edition - I featured you today! Mandy, www.craftedition.blogspot.com

  15. This is adorable! I'm impressed it only cost a dollar. I like the shirring in the back.

  16. this is so cute, I cannot believe that this was an upcycle! It looks like it has always been a little girls dress.

  17. You've totally inspired me to check out the womens section for shirts with a print that my girls like. Maybe I'll tackle their summer dresses now, since summer clothes are super cheap.

  18. That's impressive. I can't sew a button on right!
    New blog hop follower
    Sweet T Makes Three

  19. This is great! I am always so impressed by those that can sew and create things like this!

    Thanks for linking up!


  20. Great design! It looks adorable on her and for only 50c! Well done.

  21. How cute!! I just love dress makeovers, theyre so fun

  22. Wow I LOVE the finished product! I'm so sad that 1) it's not in stores and 2) it's not adult sized. Seriously though, great work, I love it.
    Amie @ http://www.kittycatsandairplanes.blogspot.com/

  23. Hello! I just wanted to stop by and congratulate you for being a January finalist at Saturday Mornings! Voting for the winner begins this Saturday, so get your crew behind you!


  24. You did it again XD
    The shirring does her job well. It looks totally different from the original
    I hope you get your best luck on the voting :)


  25. Another Aussie. I love your site and ideas, just fabulous. I'm just getting into sewing and am looking for creative ideas (perhaps I should buy a sewing machine first huh?).


    Great post.

  26. What a great transformation, I too love upcycling clothes, my latest post is a girls dress I made from a ladies top! Saw you on link party, now following you via fb,google and pinterest, Karima x www.karimascrafts.com

  27. how clever and utterly cute & adorable--what a darling little girl

    1. just have a two week old granddaughter--she's too little now but I'll be using your ideas soon enough

  28. wish I had the motivation to think this up and the granddaughter to wear it--you sure must have fun together

    1. I now have a two week old granddaughter named Ava and will be saving your grand ideas for the future

  29. Loved this idea. I will now be looking for a top so I can try this.

    Your model is adorable...and a great "twirler"

  30. Very nice job on the refashion. You're so inventive. Your daughter seems VERY happy to model your creations for you. She is adorable in the last picture! :)

  31. es un hermoso vestido escontre este blog con suerte desde otra pagina q habia tomado una foto tuya la verdad hay talento en ti para remodelar y crear. los vestidos mas bonitos delicados y creativos estan aqui... besos desde buenos aires <3


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