Don’t you love it when a project turns out even better than you expected? If you’re like me, that doesn’t happen very often so when it does, it’s time to celebrate (crack open the champagne, please). I picked up this cute red cotton dress at a thrift store for 80 cents – you read that right, less than one dollar! It was in excellent condition, and I really liked the checkered pattern and seersucker feel of the fabric, but the style wasn’t quite right for me. It fit me pretty well, so it seemed like the perfect candidate for a make-over.
red dress before upcycling
My general first steps for an upcycle is to cut off the sleeves and improve the neckline, and this project was no different. Next I needed to cover up those raw edges. First thought – double turned hem. But then I realized I might not have enough fabric to do that, so I put my thinking cap on (actually, I had another cup of coffee to get my motor going).
I have been perfecting my technique for neckline and armhole edges using fabric folded like bias tape. Sadly, I didn’t photograph the steps , so I will have to save that for a tutorial later. I’m not real picky about the edging as long as it adequately encases the raw edges of the dress. To create this edging I dug through my fabric stash and come up with a small scrap of a very lightweight pinkish floral cotton. I cut it into 1.5″ strips and sewed them together to create a long strip.
neck and armhole edging
I attached the strip to the neckline, and then did a double top stitch. I did the same for the armholes.
My motivation for choosing the fabric was to offset the “preppyness” of the dress fabric with something softer. I like to mix and match interesting patterns and colors. The double top stitching also created a slightly “rougher” look which is exactly what I wanted. Once the edges were done, I thought it needed a little something else, so I cut a few of the flowers out of the fabric and using Steam-a-seam, I adhered them to the dress. Then I did some free-form stitching to secure them.
upcycled dress flower applique
I love this dress! A few simple changes can really alter the character of a dress. It is perfect for these hot days in SW Florida. Let me know if there are any questions on the techniques, and keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post showing the exact steps to finishing the edges of necklines and armholes.
upcycled dress success

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