Maxi Dress into Ruffled Hem SunDress ...a Beginner Refashion

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Am I The Only One?

About a year 4 years ago, well before I began my journey of Upcycling clothing for myself--which started last summer 2019, interrupted by long pauses with my DIY costume blogging-- I starting looking for others who were interested in the same hobby.

I googled bloggers 'well niched' into Upcycling and Refashioning. Out of about 20 I looked at, most links not current, I found a handful of good quality artists, and I did my subscribing.

Following these women over the years, I would grab my morning coffee and sit down to enjoy my inbox full of links to familiar faces and their delightful creations. With my history of thrifting for clothes--most of them ill fitting--these blogs really inspired me to do my own alterations, not even recreations just yet.

Blogging About Costumes or Clothing?

Can I Have It All?

But something even more magical happened for me, I saw how I could transform thrift store household textiles into lovely garments! And then pursued my interest in sewing historic costumes for children locally, turning my inspiration into a money making business (not a lot, just hobby-level amount).

While I sewed over 1,000 costume pieces for my business, and with lots of time to think, I started to think maybe I should be blogging about the costumes I am making...and I did just that. I enjoyed blogging. And with more time to think as I sewed until the wee hours of the morning, I thought maybe one day I will also blog about creating garments for myself.

Thrifted Clothing Ready For Me to Upcycle!

Cue Covid-19 and Q-Time

My business, which was on track to finally be in the black after 4 years of renting locally, came to a grinding halt because of Covid-19 and Q-Time. Because I was in the midst of my busiest season, I had just delivered almost 100 costumes to local schools. And had 2 more racks--another 50 or so costumes--ready to go to the next schools.

Thankfully my costumes are with good natured customers who will keep my costumes safe until the Quarantine is lifted.

My Costumes Ready To Be Delivered

With time on my hands now, I have been able to revisit the thought of publishing blogs about MY upcycled clothing. I have published 3 new upcycles so far--this one being #4. I am loving it.

In a short period of time, with minimal outreach and social media efforts, I have been able to get a nice blog following and subscribers. Because of my blog following and increasing awareness of what I do, I am starting to have some collaborative opportunities.

Collaborative Opportunities

In fact, I have a couple of my upcycles being featured soon in a magazine in New Zealand...I live in Northern California...clearly across the world. I can't wait to post about this when this happens!

Also, I was invited to join a styling group Match Made in Seven, which is just a fun group of ladies who blog about styling creations suggested by a member's theme. My next post will be an outfit I upcycle with the theme 'Steel Magnolias'. Wait until you see the 'BEFORE'!

Wanner Label,

A Sustainable Swedish Clothing Company

More recently, through Facebook Upcycling Groups, my path came made acquaintances with a woman named Josefin Wanner, the owner and creator of a Swedish company Wanner Label, which produces and sells lovely, wearable clothing from second hand textiles.

Although enchanted with design, style and construction of garments, Josefin, a 2019 graduate of fashion studies was concerned about the large fashion companies adding to climate change as one of the earth's largest polluters. Josefin could not envision herself working for a corporation where her voice about the environmental impact of mass produced, 'fast-fashion' would most likely go unheard. Therefore, she launched her own company focused on sustainable luxe apparel made from reclaimed textiles like cashmere blankets.

Wanner Label's Garments

When I first started my thrifting journey, I was 16 years old and the need was pure financial necessity. The idea that I was being 'green' was not even a concept in my simplistic teen mind. My mind-set it was more "How can I achieve the same 'look' as the other girls with my $6/hour minimum wage job".

Not only until my late 40's I learned that the fashion industry is a huge contributor to carbon emissions, water pollution, and exponentially to land fills. And although we as a society donate our clothes to charity to help others in need or sell to others, there's a tertiary market of selling unsold donated goods to 3rd world countries which at first seems like a great idea, but actually is detrimental to their economies by reducing their industry and employment opportunities.

Although thrifting and upcycling clothing back out of the system is my blip in effort, I still feel good about trying. And with many more people like me doing the same, collectively we can make a difference.

I admire Josefin's resolve to follow her heart and take action against the negative rippling effects of fast-fashion on our planet in a bigger way. As she is busy producing her 2nd collection and continuing to launch her new company (and I know what that's like!), she reached out to me to work collaboratively. Enthusiastically, I agreed to creating a Beginner's Upcycling Series for her website.



CTO does not receive any compensation, financial or product, for this post. Costume Take-Out and Wanner Label are not connected in any legally binding arrangement. CTO is not responsible for any claims made by Wanner Label, and all opinions here on CTO, are exclusively that of CTO.


Beginner Upcycling Series

Although I tend to be a little more trendy in style and Josefin's aesthetic is more earthy, bohemian with an emphasis on cozy textures, I will be producing a beginner upcycling series which applies to ANY style of clothing. Sewing is Sewing regardless of style.

My Beginner's Upcycle Series will be in addition to my personal styling upcycles. Right now it will be in blogging form, but come Fall 2020, as my daughter moves out of the sunniest room in our house, videos will be coming out!


So Let's Start Upcycling & Refashioning!


I may be middle-aged, but I pride myself on not having lost my pulse on what styles are currently trending. It doesn't mean I follow all of them--let's cross off booty shorts or strapless anything. The first is just not appropriate for me and the second, well, I have never liked strapless anything, ever...just kind of how I don't like asparagus.

The thrifted dress below was Target's Merona brand. When I bought the dress, I thought I would wear it casually, with a belt and blousing the top over the bottom, in a boho 1920's vibe.

Well, in typically Eva-lutionary style, I got bored of that silhouette last summer (but not the pattern!), and knew the dress was begging for a face-lift.

My vision was simple:

...Maxi Dress to Short, Summer Ruffle Dress

You are probably thinking:

...this can't be a Beginner's Upcycler project?

My definition of Beginner Upcycler:

Can you do a basic straight stitch on a sewing machine?

Can you figure out where your zig-zag setting is?

Then you can do this!


4 Parts to Upcycling This Maxi-Dress:

Although for a beginner upcycler, this dress project might seem challenging, it helps to break it down into overall parts.

I designed this tutorial so you can do just the 1st & 2nd Part to create a bottom ruffle for your dress. If you feel like your dress needs more, you can continue to parts 3 & 4, which are easier tasks th