Upcycle & Refashion: Zara Tafetta Blue Plaid Midi Dress

Another "New" Website For Me

I finally did it! I started another website for myself dedicated to:

Upcycling, Refashioning, Altering and Styling

thrifted Fuddy-Duddies into modern, wearable style!

For a while now, I have been posting all my fashion creations on my costume rental business's website www.CostumeTakeOut.com.

Because of Covid, my local business came to a grinding halt, leading to, of course, disappointment because things were starting to finally take off for me.

In the beginning of Quarantine, I pulled weeds in my backyard for 3 weeks. What resulted from a somewhat meditative and repetitive work, was a ton of introspection and a bad shoulder injury with sleep-interfering carpal tunnel syndrome.

I put down the shovel, knee pads, and sun hat, and with new resolve to pursue what I have always wanted to do,

Me, the Dirty Garden Hoe, in my weed-free yard

Whilst delivering costume rentals to mothers in the school parking lots (CTO is a mobile delivery costume rental business), they would always ask if I sewed for myself. And at that time, my answer was 'nope'. I explained that I did not have the time and desire (being burned out from sewing costumes).

What I did not share with them is that I just didn't feel confident in my sewing abilities to make something that I would want to wear.

However, I was skilled enough to sew over 1000+ historical costumes for children!

For 5 years straight I Upcycled costumes from thrifted textiles like curtains, drapes, duvet covers, and dust ruffles. My costumes range from Pioneer, American Colonial, Medieval, Renaissance, to Ancient Egyptian, Rome, and Greek eras! I also enjoyed creating Wax Museum characters because it was an opportunity to delve into creating for other historic eras like Victorian and Civil War.

some of my costume designs

But I've always had that nagging desire to sew for myself because I USED to sew for myself as a teen.

Not having much money while growing up in a Polish immigrant family, I had to learn to be resourceful with what little money I earned from my deli job right around the corner from my humble house in San Francisco.

In high school I started sewing my own skirts, dresses, costumes, and prom dresses. At that time it was cheaper to make a prom dress than buy one. Now-a-days, it's quite the opposite.

1988, me at 16 with my brother...I made the peplum dress without a pattern!

I also started going to thrift stores to buy clothes. And with my frontal cortex not fully developed yet, I would have died of embarrassment if anyone found out, because back then, thrifting was not a 'thing'.

I continued throughout college buying my clothing at thrift stores, altering items here and there--not major sewing projects.

Let's fast forward through college and my first professional career! Thrifting was OUT!

I finally made enough money to buy NEW clothes and support myself.

It was not until I was a mother (20 years later!) when I would return to thrifting to make costumes for my daughters for Halloween, school historical learning days and musical theater. And this is how I got into costume design and Costume Take-Out.....this is the Cliff Notes version of my history ; )

my daughter as Cinderella in 'Into The Woods'

...costume made from 2 prom dresses and 1 little girl's dress

Time For Me!

Full circle, and I am back to thrifting and sewing for myself...just took 30 years!

Not so sure how long Covid and shelter-in-place type life with last, but now it's time for me. And I am thankful I don't have the stress of Costume Take-Out right now while I create a whole new business. Because blogging is no joke. On top of my Upcycling and Refashioning--which can take 2-3 days per project, there's writing a blog.

Celebrating with a Red, White and Blue Dress

I was supposed to publish this post around 4th of July but life does get in the way and I underestimated how long it would take to create this new website and transfer older blog posts from one website to another--manually.

So 4th of July? Independence Day! A New Beginning!


And, a New Beginning for ME!

Welcome to www.StyleMyThrift.com!


Let's Start Upcycling & Refashioning!


A Frumpy Zara Dress

Interesting to note, I saw this dress one day at the Goodwill, went home, thought about it obsessively, and went back next day specifically to buy the dress.

Hard to tell by this picture, but the dress is taffeta. I LOVE taffeta. So it wasn't the print of the dress, but the fabric. I love hearing the swoosh of this kind of fabric and reminds me of my Gunne Sax holiday dresses for high school Winter Ball.

But the shape? Just not great.

me in my $6.99 Goodwill Zara Dress

the original on the Zara website styled with tall white boots (no idea original price)

um, these prices making me reconsidering re-selling instead of Upcycling & Refashioning!

...but this dress kept charming me and my creative sensibilities with the sound of

swoosh, swoosh, swoosh!

(reminds of one of my daughters' childhood books...something about a fish--swish, swish ; )

Let's Talk Ideas

I love girly, girly party dresses. I am a lipsticky kinda gal.

I can handle ruffles, and skirts, and volume like a champ!

Since I did not have much fabric to work with, given the dress was only 2 sizes bigger, I could not do a major Upcycle. So you might say this project was more of a Refashion--looks different, but serves same purpose (versus Upcycle that serves different purpose).

The first thing that came to mind with this Zara dress was Vivienne Westwood and her plaid creations. I love VW because of her nod to punk, Victorian, steam-punk before steam-punk was a thing vibe.

Somehow tulle & taffeta & ruffles seemed like a great combination. How did I come up with that? I like juxtaposition or combinations of different textiles. I just think it's very interesting.

Also, Blair Eadie at the website and blog Atlantic-Pacific is a huge inspiration for me. You will see me trying to channel her in this post and into the future! Yes, I am a wanna be ; )

And J'Adore anything vintage. I did not go about trying to make a vintage dress, but you'll see that my styling became that!


The Steps


1st Step--Cut Dress into Basic Parts

  • Cut or use seam ripper to remove top part.

  • Remove sleeves.

2nd Step--Reshape Shoulder/Arm/Sleeve Hole

  • Use chalk to trace new arm hole...

(I use the actual dress form because it's my size.)

  • Fold dress over on itself and match up front curve with the other front curve.

  • Cut along the chalked line.

3rd Step--Take in Side Seams

  • Turn bodice inside out and pin the excess fabric in the sides.

  • Stitch down new seam.

  • Trim off excess.

  • Check to see if the the seam is correct...

(seams don't have to match up at arm hole or waist).

  • Try on.

  • Sew down other side.

4th Step--Place Darts in Back of Bodice

  • Turn bodice inside out.

  • Pin two darts in the back and sew down.

  • Turn bodice outside out.

5th Step--Place Darts in Front of Bodice

  • Turn bodice inside out.

  • Pin front darts and sew down.

  • Turn outside out.

6th Step--Attach Skirt to Bodice

  • Stretch out skirt breaking threads holding the gather.

  • Sew with baste/gather stitch skirt--two rows.

  • Pull baste/gather stitches to where fits bodice

  • Stitch skirt to bodice.

  • Top stitch outside of bodice onto skirt.

Skirt Attached!

so we are all good so far! skirt attached!

7th Step--Make Sleeve Ruffles

  • Cut Sleeve down seam to open/butterfly.

  • Pull gather out from distal side.

  • Cut 4 strips.

  • Sew 2 larger sizes with 2 smaller sides into loop.

  • Serge distal edge.

  • Baste stitch ruffle & pull threads to gather to make ruffle.

8th Step--Realize That I Can Make Mistakes

(insert Barf emoji!)

  • Pick color of tulle...

  • I made a HUGE mistake by chosing red...just AWFUL!

  • Abandon red and return to white!

9th Step--Sew 2 Layers of Taffeta & Tulle

  • Pin pleated 1st layer of white tulle on 1st layer of taffeta.

  • Pin smaller 2nd layer of taffeta on top.

  • Pin smaller 2nd layer of white tulle on top.

10th Step--Looks Like A Scrunchie!

  • Sew the 4 layers (2 layers of tulle & 2 layers of taffeta ruffle together)

  • Look at the pretty layers!

11th Step--Looks Like A Scrunchie!

  • Pin tulle and taffeta ruffles to shoulder.

  • Sew layers to bodice.

  • Top-stitch where bodice meets shoulder ruffles.

  • Look at at final sleeves!

12th Step--Make Skirt Ruffle

  • Pin wide strip of hem to make ruffle.

  • Cut that wide strip into 2 strips.

  • Sew strips together to make one long infinity loop.

  • Serge 3 thread narrow rolled hem edges on both sides of loop.

13th Step--Make Skirt Ruffle

  • Baste/gather stitch down center of skirt ruffle.

  • Pull threads to make ruffle.

14th Step--Make Tulle Skirt Ruffle

  • Cut out strips of white tulle.

  • Gather tulle & pin to hem of skirt.

  • Sew tulle ruffle to skirt.

  • Sew taffeta ruffle on top of tulle ruffle.

It's done! I am so excited to show you how it turned out!


Let's Style This Lovely Dress!


I just LOVE the way it turned out!


Stay tuned for my next Upcycle & Refashion!

Here's a peak into the next project:


Links To Other Dress Upcycles

Upcycle Balloon Sleeve Dress from a

Thrifted 1987 Roll of Drapery Fabric

Upcycle Ruffle Sun-Dress

from Maxi Dress


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