D.I.Y Projects, Re-fashion projects, Style, Vintage
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How To: Quick and Easy Vintage Re-Fashion. An 80s Shirt Dress Alteration.

How to quick and easy vintage re-fashion. An 80s shirt dress re-fashion.

Vintage 80s dress, one hour sewing project. How to take a frumpy 80s frock and turn it into something more wearable.

Since it’s been ages that I have done anything more than shorten a hem on my sewing machine I thought it best to start with something basic to flex my sewing brain. Hopefully the more projects I do the more of my pattern cutting and sewing knowledge will come back. It really is a case of practice makes perfect with sewing.
Yesterday I took the day off and spent the day sewing. I did various bits, but the first thing I did was to re-fashion this 80s dress. I wanted to see how long it would take and also to see if it would be an improvement.

I’m not really one for hacking up vintage dresses just for the sake of it, I’ve gotten Sissor happy in the past with dresses and totally ruined them…but a hideous 80s dress surely your doing it a favour? and with my resent obsession recycling clothes I’m all for re-purposing and altering to bring life into dead stock.

I have a big stack of vintage dresses that are all too big, too long, to saggy or generally needs some repair and some TLC. This green nylon nightmare was one of the first ones off the pile. Green 80s vintage dress for re-fashioning sewing project

It’s not particularly my colour or fabric choice. Think of it as more of a practice run if you will, testing it out the methods to de-sleeve, shorten and all round polish up my skills.  I studied the dress before rushing in a cutting it to pieces this time. I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted it to look when I was finished and thought about what I needed to do.

  1. I cut off the sleeves. They had to go! This started a bit haphazzard but I soon got to grips with un- picking the seam and the overlooked seam. (Note to self – buy a seam un-picker) close up of vintage dress before cutting sleeves off for a alternation vintage sew project

2. Next was to un-pick the side seams all the way down the sides of the dress, so it was only attached at the shoulders. I’m not too sure unpicking the skirt was necessary to take the skirt apart but it helped in my mind to put it back together!

80s dress deconstruction for sewing project refashion vintage dress3. I snipped the elastic at the waist to make it looser and also cut the belt loops on the front off.

4. I sewed a roll hem around the sleeve edge which was easy to do when the dress was apart atthe side seams. (A roll hem is simply rolling the edges of the fabric in and sewing in place.)

5. I then sewed the sides of the dress together making it a little smaller. I made the dress shorter by cutting 5 inches or so off the bottom of the dress and re-hemming.

6. Lastly I added some pretty lace to the collar by sewing it on at the edge of the collar.

If I was to do this again, I wouldn’t make it as short as the balence of top to bottom is all wrong..(the golden rule) but I love the shirt top. So next up is making some oversized 90s shirts smaller and sleeveless and I’ll show you how I got on.

Let me know what you think or if you have blogs where you have re-fashioned vintage dresses. I’d love to see!


  1. I think this is a good way to get some old-fashioned dress back to our wardrobe. Fashion changes, we don’t need to renew our wardrobe every year.


  2. I agree! I’m trying really hard to stop impulse by high street and only stick to vintage and quality staple pieces that can be worn all year round!


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