DIY: Transform Your Oversized 90s Dresses

Whew! It has been an INSANE couple of weeks! We have officially moved into our new home and are finally getting into the swing of things. There was a minute there when all of our appliances decided they didn't want to work and we were struggling to get things settled, but now, it seems that we are finally on settled waters.

 Now that we are officially into our new home (and studio) I have some fun projects to share with you all in the form of a DIY! Aside from a few custom wedding gowns that are hanging on the studio racks, I have been a busy little bee whipping up two new Redesigned dresses!


Let's start with the before on these babes:

Dress A: The fabric on this dress is amazing, but I've never been a fan of dresses that cut you off at the ankle.

Dress B: I loved the print, but it reminded me of a moomoo dress.


 Now, I love a good 90s style dress and when I saw each of these at the thrift shop, I knew I had to snag them up. However, the 90s were an interesting time for fashion, and these two items desperately needed a style update. So, I grabbed the only pair of scissors I can currently find among the boxes and I got to work!



The fabric on this dress is so super cute. It's a looser weave with a muted, yet colorful print over-top. There were no tags in this dress when I picked it up so I am assuming based on the hand feel and characteristics of the dress it must be a poly blend. I'll have to do a burn test to be sure.  Regardless, there were some changes I knew I wanted to make right off the bat!



I almost always start with hemming my redesigns. Sometimes, a hem is all a dress needs to brighten its style! Take a look in your own closet: Are there any pieces you absolutely love but something doesn't sit right when you are wearing it? Try pinning the skirt up (or adding a longer layer of lace if the hem is already short) and see how drastically the style changes!

I took off 19 inches of fabric: Whoa!


I wound up doing a basic folded 1/2" hem all around the skirt since it was a straight edge. A pretty simple fix to my least favorite part of the original dress (I mean, I don't know if I've ever been able to pull off an ankle length anything...)



Next up were the straps. Like I said, I REALLY liked the fabric of this dress, so originally, I had taken a small swatch of it for reference to create an entirely new dress from. Of course, I wound up taking the swatch from a very noticeable part of the dress: the right side strap. I couldn't just leave this open hole, so I decided to cut the straps off entirely and put my own little twist on things.

I took the fabric I had cut off from the original hem and created 4 equal length x width strips. I then sewed these strips to created 4 identical straps that would be sewn to both the front and back of the original strap line. This created a set of bow-tie straps that were easily adjustable!



Need I say more? Every dress needs a great set of pockets. With the remaining material from the hem, I cut out four pocket pieces. Then, I opened up the side seams of the dress and inserted the pockets. Who else exclaims as loudly as I do when they realize their dress has pockets?!

And I STILL have fabric left over! What should I do with it...



And here is Dress A fully complete!


Super cute, right? And it didn't take a crazy long time to redesign this piece. Maybe a total of 2-3 hours (if you count all the time spent thinking of what to do!)



 This dress had the cutest little floral print on a 100% Cotton Chambray fabric. I was absolutely obsessed with its front style pockets as well as the dress's button down front. I wasn't so obsessed with the baggy sleeves or overall frumpy nature of the dress, though. So I got to work! Literally, I jumped right into redesigning Dress B immediately after I had finished Dress A; I apologize in advance for the lack of documentation shots.



The first thing I removed were the sleeves of the dress. They just didn't suit the overall shape, and I have been really in to short, dolman style sleeves which I noticed could be made simply by removing the original sleeves. Off those baggy sleeves came!

Who else just loves seam ripping?



After taking off the sleeves and trying the dress on for a second time, I realize there was a bit too much under arm gaping. I went ahead and pinned out the excess before sewing from my newly pinned points, tapering my seam line back into the skirt side seam. This helped me loose ~ 8 inches from the underarm + 6 inches from the waist while retaining the fullness of the skirt.

Once I cleaned up the inner edges of my newly tapered underarm with a serger, I went ahead and did a simple rolled edge hem for the new dolman style sleeves.



I ended Dress B in the same way I had started Dress A: At the Hem. I took off quite a bit of excess fabric ( roughly 10.5 inches!) and finished it off with another simple 1/2" turned hem. It was the perfect way to end this dress, especially since it was well after midnight when I was wrapping up!



Here is Dress B fully complete!


So much more modern, don't you think? In the end, this dress took roughly 1-2 hours to complete, mainly because I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve before I even touched my scissors.

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I absolutely love redesigning items I find at local thrift shops. I feel like I am helping  breathe new life into garments that have seen better days. Each of these dresses has a history and a story associated with them. Now, they also have a future to look towards. Plus, it didn't take too much time to re-envision either of these garments into new, fresh designs.


What is currently in your closet that you can breathe new life in to? Share your DIY Redesigns with us in the comments below!


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Want to shop these looks? Check out Dress A here + Dress B here.
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Want to attend a workshop specifically geared towards redesigning garments? Check out our local class offerings here! More are being added all the time!
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