Upcycled Victorian/Steam-Punk Inspired Dress from Thrifted Denim and Curtains

Updated: Sep 10, 2020


Upcycle Inspiration


Magazines Before Pinterest

Not Freezing in the Winter


The Riff On The Riff?

The Before

The Process

The Final Pictures

Next Upcycle

Links to Similar Projects


Upcycle Inspiration

My inspiration for Upcycles come from many places.

No shocker that I get a lot of ideas from Pinterest.

I am very active on Pinterest as a browser and a creator of Pins. I have my boards organized and collect pins that excite me on an artistic level.

Pinterest also sends me emails with 'ideas I might like'. Pinterest gets it wrong maybe 30% of the time, but the other 70%? are spot on, right up my alley of interest.

My preferred Pins are for Runway Fashion or the fabulous "It" women in amazing outfits walking the cobbled roads and Italian gravel pathways to the seasonal shows in Paris, Milan, London or New York.

me, 2014, Paris--of course!--not the styling 'it' girl, but the practical tourist in sneakers


I enjoy the Avant-Garde, high fashion styling of these well-put together, seemingly effortlessly, mostly wealthy ladies. Who else can afford designer clothes? or even more so Haute-Couture?.

Their lifestyle is quite the contrast from my more practical way of life with daily drudgery of the mundane. Okay, it's not as bad as descriptions of the Victorian sweat shops of the Dicken's novel. But my life is not-so-exciting (cooking for the family, gardening, some shopping, occasional dinner party--but that's about it), and my humdrum life has gotten even more repetitious by the 'stay at home' mandates of Covid. I am not complaining. I just want some excitement.

me, morning computer work

For some people, their guilty pleasure is "90-day Fiance" TV reality show, and my escape?...it's high-fashion. OK, I admit. I am addicted to watching "90-day Fiance". My husband and I thought there was NO WAY we could get sucked in, but we did!

High-Fashion is a dream world for me where I can pretend to be somewhere else: sitting outside drinking a coffee at a French corner bistro, eating pasta out in the country in Provence, or looking at art in one of London's museums.

me, shoving a baguette sandwich in my face sitting outside the Louvre

...that sandwich tasted so good

Magazines Before Pinterest

Pinterest has also been instrumental in introducing me to new designers! Before computers, there were fashion magazines, and then I only knew about the designers that could afford to buy the advertisements.

Yes, I knew about Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, etc. But I would have never found designers like Joanna Ortiz, Ulla Johnson, and Silvia Tcherassi if it weren't for Pinterest.

I mean

IN-L O V E !

These three designers are fabulously similar in their aesthetics: flowy fabrics, layers of skirts, meringue like sleeves, elegant yet not formal, unique silhouettes, surprising fabric print combinations....and I could go on.

Where you can find ALL 3 of these women designers is on a website called Moda Operandi , an online retailer of not only my favorite 3 designers, but many others who are similar in charming designs----NONE I can afford. Or maybe I could, but I'd been living on rice & beans for long stretches at a time and couldn't afford Air Conditioning in the Summer or Heat in the Winter.

(FYI: I am not sponsored by any of these designers or Moda Operandi--just wanted to throw that out there! So the links aren't click bait. Just a quick way for you to see what I am referring to.)

Not Freezing In the Winter

Let's get back to the the prices of these designers' pieces--like me freezing in the Winter...

No, I will never buy one of these $600 dresses. It will never happen. Even if I won the lottery. It just doesn't make sense to me to spend that kind of money. I am too fickle in what I wear and get bored, so I would not get $600 worth of wear--ever!

Thrifting, more so the act of Upcycling thrifted textiles, is the only way to sustain my passion for high fashion......which gets me to the point of today's blog post.

I had seen this lovely Johanna Ortiz combination of a denim jacket and lace skirt tied with a burgundy colored oversized bow. If you google "Nuevo Mexicana Denim Trench Coat by Johanna Ortiz | Moda Operandi" you'll see the dress I've wanted! This is what came up when I did the search:

You know I wanted to make this outfit.

But I don't make copy-cats....only because my Upcycles depend 100% from the thrifted textiles....there's never guarantees whether I will have enough of a particular thrifted item to make into the desired end result.

As a result, my outfits are riffs. Sometimes my Upcycles are riffs on riffs.


Recently I was asked by a fellow blogger Shelbee from Shelbee On The Edge to participate in a fun Steam-Punk collaboration. Unfortunately due to timing issues and production and publication deadlines, the collaboration could not work for me : (

But I could not get Steam-Punk out of my head. If you don't know what Steam-Punk Fashion is, here is Wikipedia's definition: