Transforming an “Ugly” Vintage Dress: After

Transforming an ugly vintage dress BEFORE AFTER

Today I’m here with an update on my “ugly” vintage dress transformation and the finished piece…or should I say pieces?! Take a look at the original dress and my post about it here. For those of you that didn’t see that post, Revival Vintage gave me a challenge: they picked out an “ugly” vintage dress from one of their Kilo sales (I love these!) and asked me to do with it whatever I wanted to make it, well, not quite so ugly! I know to some people this dress might be lovely, but personally, it’s not a fave for me in its original state, so I was more than happy to take them up on this challenge!

Ugly Vintage dress transformation

You all had a lot of lovely ideas in the comments of my last post – I really liked the idea of either a sundress or a tulip style skirt, both of which would have suited the fabric perfectly. One of my first ideas when I put the dress on was to make it into a playsuit, making the skirt into a pair of baggy shorts and removing the modesty panel and puff sleeve shoulder, but I decided against that in the end as I thought I probably wouldn’t get that much wear out of it. In the end, I decided to actually go for two separate pieces: a fitted wrap crop top and a peplum fitted pencil skirt!

Ugly Vintage dress refashion into peplum skirtUgly Vintage dress refashion into wrap crop top

I felt like I was on the Great British Sewing Bee doing this challenge! Although I don’t think I’d do well with the time limit 😀
So let’s look at my thought process for it: I knew that I wanted to do something with the skirt – there was a whole lot of fabric since it was pleated and gathered, plus it was well below knee length. This is awesome when you’re refashioning something – it gives you the opportunity to do pretty much anything you want with it because there’s so much fabric to work with. I also knew that I had to remove the white insert at the bust and the giant 80s style shoulders – they just didn’t work with my style and were too fussy with the crochet lace.

Ugly Vintage dress refashion into peplum skirt

I started by pretty much unpicking and taking apart the whole garment. I removed the sleeves, took off the belt loops, detached the skirt and the bodice and removed the zip. This actually meant that the bodice came apart into two separate pieces. I started on the skirt first as it was the easiest. I chopped off a good foot at the bottom of the skirt to shorten it to a more modern length then pinned the skirt down the sides while it was on my body and sewed down the pinned lines to create a more fitted style. This took a bit of trial and error and needed a bit more tightening after the first go, but that’s how it works! Once I had the fit right, I grabbed the bit of fabric that I’d chopped off the bottom of the skirt and started gathering – once it fit my waist measurement, this became the peplum round the top which I then attached with a waistband. Finished off with the original belt, I think it looks a lot more modern with a vintage twist, definitely a lot more wearable!

Ugly Vintage dress refashion into wrap crop topUgly Vintage dress refashion into wrap crop top

And onto the top. I knew as soon as I saw this dress what I wanted to do with the top but I wasn’t sure it would be feasible. At the theatre before Christmas, I’d seen a girl wearing a wrap style crop top similar to this one with a pair of skinny jeans and really liked it. When I saw the faux wrap style of the bodice of this dress, I immediately thought I could do something similar which would also keep the lovely crochet lace in place while getting rid of the white insert and puffy sleeves. I was just worried I wouldn’t have enough fabric to create the wrap!
After separating the bodice from the skirt, I realised there was also a lot more fabric to the top too – it was gathered at the waist line, so I ended up with a good 12 inches extra there. Then I realised I had two strips of fabric from down the sides of the skirt that I had chopped off to narrow it – perfect for creating the ties! So I sewed the top down the centre back where the zip had been, created two ties out of the strips of fabric, attached them at the front and hemmed the top – sorted! Well, not quite sorted, as it turned out there was still a little bit too much fabric and it was billowing out at the sides, so I pinned, sewed and chopped that – and, voila! A wrap style crop top!

Ugly Vintage dress refashion into wrap crop top

Both of these are pretty simple refashions, even if you’re not used to much sewing. And they’ve really updated this vintage dress so I’ll get so much more wear out of both pieces! I have to admit though, I probably won’t be wearing both the pieces together any time soon for fear of vintage pattern and flounce overload!
Thanks Revival Vintage for giving me the opportunity to do this fun challenge! Make sure to check them out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

What do you think of this refashion? Would you have done something similar?


  1. Lynsey
    February 6, 2017 / 10:48 am

    Both the top and skirt are fab, you did a great job taking something unwearable and creating two great wardrobe pieces. Loving the peplum skirt, so flattering, it’s lovely you kept some of the original features.

  2. February 6, 2017 / 11:58 am

    Sian, I am so impressed you have done a fantastic job. Has been fun working with you. If you or any of your followers want to have another bash, we are happy to supply the uglies. Although you have set the bar very high already! Helene@Revival

    • Sian Thomas
      February 9, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      Thanks Helene, I’m so glad you liked the post and the transformation! I’d love to see other people take on the challenge too 🙂

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