Refashion Vintage Tunic Dress into Drop-Waist Party Dress

Updated: Aug 9, 2020



Freakin' HOT Summers

No Freckled Chest Skin For Me

San Francisco--Its Own State?

Moving To Sacramento

Pool Toys

Me, American Ninja Warrior

How I Chose My Thrift Clothes for Upcycle & Refashion

The Dress Refashion Steps

Shoe Styling

Making a Party Shoe!

Final Look!

Next Refashion



Freakin' HOT Summers

I live in a part of the world that is freakin' hot in the Summer. And this was by my choice, having grown up in a city, San Francisco where the average temperatures are between high 50sF to low-70F.

On rare days, If we were lucky, it might spill over 70F into the 80s and nothing is better than a day like that in San Francisco. My husband and I got very lucky on September 23rd back in 2000--the sunniest, warmest day for our wedding.

Here's a kicker, San Francisco can be at its coldest in the Summer! Yep, you heard me right. Because San Francisco is a peninsula and surrounded by 3 bodies of water, it brings cool air from the Pacific Ocean which collides with hot air from the East Bay--and wham, bam you got cold fog.

Photo Below: You can see the fog coming in from the Pacific Ocean side and the Sun just North of San Francisco on the other side of the bridge...guess which side I lived on??

photo source: Unsplash / photographer:

No 'Freckled Chest' Skin For Me

Add the fact that within the city, there are even more sub-divisions of micro-climates.

Where I lived, 7 blocks from Ocean Beach, fog was 90% of the year. I was miserable as a kid and a young adult. Fog day in and day out lends itself to seasonal depression for sure. I can only glean one benefit from those years, my skin is in pretty decent condition for my age, for example, I don't have freckled chest skin common for women of my age.

Besides seasonal depression, throw in some vanity issues like constant hair frizz. I would call myself a 'hot mess' back then, but again, the word 'hot' is a misnomer here given the weather : )

Also, seasons didn't "Turn-Turn" in San Francisco. For 90% of the year, it was one monochromatic day-- a la 'Ground Hog's' day.

Us, natives would always get a good chuckle on to see tourists in their tank tops and shorts doing their 'Keeping Warm' dance while purchasing over-priced souvenir sweatshirts they were not planning on buying and hunched over their bread bowls full of hot clam chowder.

photo source: Unsplash / photographer: @iago-godoy

San Francisco--Its Own State?

San Francisco is NOT Southern California and NOT Northern California either...probably should have been it's OWN state. And this is not a political statement--oy! that would open a Pandora's box-- I'm just talking about the superficial stuff...keeping it light over here at StyleMyThrift!

You won't see beautiful beaches in marketing pieces for San Francisco--beach culture does not exist there.

I craved heat. I dreamed about sun. I daydreamed about all the cute outfits I could wear if I just did not live in San Francisco. And my time came to leave San Francisco.

Nothing cues a move like getting married and realizing you can't afford to buy any house, or even a condominium in the city you grew up in.

Moving To Sacramento

Twenty two years ago, my husband (fiancee at that time) came up to Sacramento on a fluke--a friend was celebrating his 30th birthday. Two weeks later, we bought an affordable house for as a young couple--fawns in their newly careers. We were lucky, both in sales, so we could live anywhere.

In Sacramanto, homes--houses, apartments, condominiums, etc.-- come with a pool for the most part. Our first house did not have a pool. Living in the that first house was short lived (no pun intended) because we added a dog and then a baby, and then.....and then we needed a new house.

With our growing family, we would be dumb not to get a house with the pool the next times around.

By the time we settled down with 2 kiddos we were living in our new house, we were in that pool all summer long!

photo source: Unsplash / photographer: WK

Pool Toys

When you think pool, water, fun-in-the-sun, summer time, and little kids, don't you think, POOL TOYS?!

At first it seems fun! It starts with a pool ball, then some inner tubes--but not just any inner tubes--ones that look like donuts!

my two daughters and the beloved sprinkle donut float

Then Daddy spoils them rotten and buys them kitschy 'lay-down' pool floats in the shape of pizza (insert eye roll).

nobody laid on the pizza float--ever!

Now throw in the diving toys and spray guns...

You might think this is loads of fun! Yes, for the kids. Not for me. You know who had to clean up the pool when the pool person came once a week? Me!

the inflatable pool toy weekly stack-up

And if the amount of pool toys I had was not enough, why doesn't someone design a pool float in the shape of a Swan?????

As if I needed one more thing to deflate and clean and store in our small garage.

My girls wanted the iconic Swan/Flamingo pool float....they H A D to have one. We got them one for X-mas one year. Pool swans are NOT cheap.

No one told me that the swan would take up 1/4 of my pool.

our Swan

Me, American Ninja Warrior

Oh my girls loved that darn thing. At first I thought it was cute, but quickly I grew annoyed by it--I began to feel like an American Ninja Warrior, constantly stressed out by having to figure out how to navigate around it all the time. If there's a pizza slice, a donut float, miscellaneous floating toys like balls and adult chairs, there's not much room to do anything. Problem was even if I removed everything and left the Swan, the pool felt full. It was just no fun--for me.

And then something fabulous happened!

With no guilt in my heart as to how to get rid of all these ginormous pool floats,

The Swan Died!!!!!!

It was the beginning of the end these space takers.

My girls were so sad. They even hoped I would agree to buying another for them. NO WAY!! NEVER AGAIN (until I have grandchildren!)

R.I.P. Inflatable Swan



I think I'm done talking about pool toys!

maybe it's time to:


The Before

So what you do you think of my "Before" dress? Kind of feeling my pool float theme of this blog post?

Swans aside, why did I chose this dress?

Fabric is almost always my lithmus test of whether or not I will pony-up the money. This dress was $2.99--not that much of a financial investment.

Questions I ask myself:

  1. Is the print and color attractive?................I loved the color! I thought maybe it might be dated though, but that's what made the print charming.

  2. Is the fabric quality weight or texture?...................This fabric was a cross between a light weight canvas and denim. I was worried the fabric might not bend or fall nicely for my creation, but the structure actually worked to my advantage. The plus? it was lined!

  3. Is the fabric in good shape?................Although this was a vintage piece, It was in pristine shape.

  4. Is there a good amount of fabric to use?................Yep, this one is very oversized.

Most important criteria:

Does it look like a Pool Float???



Keep scrolling, you'll see what I mean

photo source: Unsplash / photographer: Rhema Kallianpur

Was I right? Do you see what I mean by the print of the fabric? What the heck can I turn this into beside a pool float?

My concept is a party dress...after all, August is my birth month!


Let's Get Started!


1st Step--Make Box Pleat

  • Fold and press ONE front box pleat. (This was done because the neckline was way too large for me and straps falling off my shoulders. I did not intend to do the Refashion this way, but it turned out being a cute, unexpected element in design!)

  • Fold and press One back box pleat.

Shown is a close-up of the back box-pleat. The front looks exactly the same.

2nd Step--Check Sizing

  • Check to see if I can get into dress over my head!

  • Check to see if I like the box pleat idea.

Can you tell I'm pleased??!!

3rd Step--Determine New Waistline

  • Chalk where you want new waistline, giving you the desired end hem height .

I chose a drop waistline.

4th Step--Cut New Waist

  • Cut into fabric so falls in one continuous loop.

5th Step--Determine Skirt Length

  • 5.1 Determine how wide skirt ruffles will be.

  • 5.2 Fold over and press.

  • 5.3 Cut fabric and lining layers.

  • 5.4 Place layers on top of each other and trim uneven layers.

6th Step--Gather Skirt & Lining

  • 6.1 Baste stitch layers

  • 6.2 Pull baste stitches into gathered tops.

  • 6.3 Lay out layers where you want to connect to top.

7th Step--Pin Skirt to Top

  • Pin top of gathered skirt to bottom of the top at new waistline.

8th Step--Hand Baste Layers Together

  • Use some bright colored thread to hand baster the skirt gathers to bottom of top at new waistline.

I do this by hand because a sewing machine will shift the gathers.

9th Step--Sew & Serge

  • 9.1 Sew gathered edge and top together (remove baste stitches.

  • 9.2 Serge the edges for a clean finish.

10th Step--Hem Skirt & Lining

  • 10.1 Hem skirt fabric.

  • 10.2 Hem lining.

And TAH-DAH! It's finished! This Final Drop-Waist Party Dress was perhaps one of my easiest Refashions!

But I am not quite finished yet! I had to pick out which shoes I wanted to wear with my new dress.

And although each shoe was pretty on its own and neutral-ish enough, none of these shoes felt right and I did not have any other suitable options. If I paired these shoes with the dress, I did not feel like I'd have enough 'wow' factor I like in being more "Avant-Garde" or have the Fashion-Week kind of vibe.

I had seen a pair of shoes on Pinterest with tons of bright colored feathers attached to the toe, and that's when I had the idea to attach strips of tulle to a shoe!

I know, not for everyone, but for me a YES!!!

I had purchased a bunch of bright colored tulle at a thrift store and had not used them once until now....until I realized the colors of the tulle match the colors on the dress!

You can see how I started adding strip by strip different colors to make the cutest pouf! But in the end I did not like the mint green shoes with the dress. The dark color on the shoes was too grounding. I need a pair of shoes that just melded into the background and let the tulle-poufs be the star!

I returned to my selection of shoes and chose the metallic Aldo pair. I removed my tulle-pouf and reapplied in same fashion to the metallic shoes, and BINGO! Styling Kismet! I felt content.

My New Silly Party Shoes!


Ready To See How This Turned Out?

And Guess What?





Here's a sneak peak of the next Upcycle & Refashion!


Too-big-for-me Neon Jeans Meets Bad-FItting Floral Print Dress that my husband NEVER liked!


Links To Other Party Dress Upcycles

Refashion Plaid, Taffeta Zara Dress

into Party Dress with Ruffles & Tulle

Refashion Long Sleeve Shift Dress

into Sleeveless Ruffle Fitted Dress


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