tutorial: an easy way to turn a dress (or skirt) to a blouse

I was supposed to post my Valentine’s Day DIY today but I got excited over this new project. I did this yesterday and have worn the blouse to dinner and grocery shopping. Yes, I am in love with it.

First, a few things about the original dress. It was a tube dress that I thrifted several years ago. I probably wore it less than 5 times. The top bandeau section had a vertical seam right by the left chest area. It was quite a wayward seam that sort of annoyed me. This section was also a little too narrow for my liking. The bottom seam didn’t reach my underbust; the whole thing was a study in squashed upper body parts. The length of the dress was also problematic. I am nearing 30 and I feel like I have no business wearing things that reach no more than 2 inches above the knees.

And so I butchered it to make a blouse. (Finally, I have a cat motif piece of clothing. That I like.)

So you want to turn a dress into a blouse, too? Here are the steps I took. But first, some notes:

1. This will work best on jersey fabric.

2. I used a dress with an empire gathered cut. Any dress will do as long as the bottom section is gathered or pleated. This is because you will need wide fabrics to play with. Pencil or body-hugging dresses will not work.

3. You can also do this to a skirt by simply removing the elastic casing or the waistband. This method will also work using a shirt that is too large for you.

The tutorial:

1. Remove the top part of the dress. This will leave you with the bottom section. Mine was roughly 60 inches all the way around and 23 inches long.

2. Cut two equal sides. These would be the front and back sections of your top. At this point, you might want to adjust the pieces according to your size. As per the measurements above, my pieces were just right for my body.

If you want to adjust the size, with arms raised to the sides, measure from the middle section of one upper arm to the other. This will determine the width of your blouse. For the length, measure from the base of your neck to your desired length.

3. Fold the pieces in half and cut your neckline. To get the neckline, measure from one side of your shoulder to the other, keeping in mind the size of the neckline that you prefer. Mine was 8.5 inches from side to side and 4 inches deep down the front.

Note: this neckline should be big enough to accommodate your head. It will no longer be as stretchy after you attach the bias facing.

4. With right sides together, sew the shoulders of your blouse.

5. Now we making the facing for the neckline. You will need bias tape for this step. Attach the tape to your neckline, right sides together. Sew along the first fold from the edge.

6. Fold over to the wrong side and sew.

We’re almost done!

7. Fold and sew the sides of your blouse.

8. With the right sides together, we will make the sides of the dolman blouse. We do this by sewing a curved line from the armpit area to the hem. This part will need your own measurements. You will want to get your desired width for the hem and the measurement for the armholes. For my blouse, I started sewing 6.5 inches from the should top, curved around 2 inches deep towards the center of the blouse, and straight to the hem.

After sewing, cut the excess fabric. Hem.

Note: the farther your armpit stitchline from the shoulder (or the bigger your armhole), the more “balloon-y” your sleeves will be. 

And that’s it! You have a dolman blouse that is forgiving as far as tummy bulges go. I will be butchering more dresses and skirts this month. I might even play with different necklines.

Note: that Vader illustration was made by the boyfriend. You have probably seen a meme of it around. He didn’t make the meme; somebody stole the image. But you can buy a print of the original illustration HERE.

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7 thoughts on “tutorial: an easy way to turn a dress (or skirt) to a blouse”

  1. I knew I was gonna love this when I saw it on Instagram. I just adore the playful pattern on the fabric, and I need to find something similar with dogs on it. ;)

    Do you think this project is easy enough for a beginner?

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