Fashion Forward – Upcycling for the Holidays

In Louisiana, summers are active and fun; however, it’s the holiday season that takes socializing to new levels. In this section, we wanted to help you take that old dress tucked away in the closet and repurpose it for the holiday festivities ahead! By using a dress you already own and making a few changes, like shortening the length and adding or taking away embellishments you turn a onetime use into a new holiday favorite.

We tried to keep this simple so those who don’t use sewing machines can still create something fresh and new. Cutting off a formal gown can sound scary, however as long as you follow a few guidelines you’ll find converting that beautiful gown from a onetime use garment to a fun dress for the holidays can be easy. Mermaid or fishtail gowns are usually simple converts because they typically have a seam that joins the tail to the rest of the dress. Most often, you’ll find that it falls at the perfect length. Dresses with netting can be a bit more work, however they may not all require a new hem, only the underskirt will need it. Others will demand a hem and it can be done with a washcloth, water, a few standard items like scissors and an iron, and a “tape” used for hemming that you can find at most big box stores.

In the article, our upcycling examples are dresses that were either stuffed in a closet or bought for around six dollars through thrifting! Most important is preparation. With more time, you can also add or remove different elements to make it unique!

Needed: seam ripper, scissors, fabric pins, Stitch Witchery, clothing iron, washcloth

  • A fishtail gown like the orange one is easy to do. You simply take a seam ripper and carefully take out the stitch that joins the two pieces of the bottom as shown. 
  • With dresses that have frills like the black one and the blue one, you must be careful to cut UNDER one of the frills on the base fabric about a half inch longer than the length you want.
  • Cut the gown to your desired length. Don’t rush, because if you cut too short, it could be ruined. Put the gown on and place a pin about an inch lower than you actually want the hem. Then you can decide where to cut.
  • Once you’ve cut, prep the seam by turning the dress inside out. Cut strips of the Stitch Witchery, place at the edge of the fabric and fold. Pin it and move along until you’ve pinned the entire seam down.
  • Set iron to a low-medium heat. I have found this works all on types of fabric. Get your washcloth and dampen it. (I like to have it on the wetter side; however, the dress will need time to dry).
  • Place the cloth over the seam and iron for 10 seconds, lift, and then repeat. Move along the seam repeating these steps, being sure to dampen your washcloth throughout, until the hem is secure.

As seen in Modern Grace Magazine