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how to turn a maxi dress into a maxi skirt

Maxi dress to maxi skirt refashion

We’re out of town for a huge summer road trip but I made time to join in the #restylingexchange2019  hosted by @amynicolestudio & @pilar_bear! Participants got matched up and mailed something off to someone else to refashion for them – this year I asked my friend Heather to swap with me but keep what we sewed instead of mailing it back! You can see the refashion I did last year with this dress to blouse refashion tutorial!

diy maxi skirt

Can you guess how I added the pink print?? My kids were so amused by this for some reason!

Before you start shopping or sewing, check out these posts!

refashion before

Heather knows I love purple and sent me this dated, mother of the bride outfit. I feel a tad guilty that I didn’t use the jacket material at all, but I just couldn’t make it work, it felt so fussy! So, let’s spin this as a good visual lesson for remembering you can totally disregard parts of an outfit and just use what you like.

block print skirt diy

And the after! I turned it into a modern maxi skirt, which is easy to wear and super comfy. This tutorial would be great to use on a silk or rayon maxi dress; you end up with a skirt made from beautiful materials for just a few bucks. I have done similar but different projects in the past – like when I kept a zipper in a dress to skirt refashion and when I created a casing for a knit dress to skirt refashion.

If you want more refashion inspiration, check out these past tutorials!

hand stamped fabric

I love how the pink looks on the purple, I bought white fabric paint to try too but decided to just go for it with the pink!

Pin this refashion sewing tutorial with this link or collage image:

Maxi dress to maxi skirt refashion

refashion sewing blog

Want to make your own? Here are the steps I took!



Step 1– Cut the shoulders of your dress! If it has sleeves, now would be a good time to cut those off too. Stay to the inside of the seam so you have the maximum amount of fabric on the body of the dress, since that is what you’ll be using.

Step 2- Put the shoes on that you’d plan on wearing with your skirt-to-be and then pull the dress up inside out. Use a pin to mark where you would want the top of the finished waistband to go, use a pin or a stick note to mark where that is on your waist as well, and take it back off.

Step 3: Going around the part of your body where you wanted the top of your waistband to hit, measure out how that fits with the elastic unstretched, and mark. Then subtract roughly 1.5″ off, and cut it.


Step 4: Lay your elastic right above where you added your pin (I made it easier to see with a yellow arrow). Then you’re going to add roughly another 1/2″ on top of that, and cut straight across. In an ideal world, I would’ve used a rotary cutter and ruler but c’est la vie.

Step 5: There are several ways to insert waistband elastic but I think this is easiest versus creating a casing and using slinky knit fabric. Overlap the edge of your elastic by 1/2″ and sew an x-box to secure.

Step 6: (left) Align the back middle of the skirt (mine just happened to have a seam already) with the back seam of the elastic, leaving roughly 1/2″ overhang above the elastic and pin. Fold the remaining elastic and skirt in half, marking the halfway points of each and pinning. Repeat for the remaining two sections created, and add more pins if desired, evenly distributing the elastic. It will look like the photo on the right!

Step 7: Time to sew! You can use a regular straight stitch lengthened a bit here; gently pull the elastic in between pins as you go.

Step 8- This is how it should look (ideally with matching bobbin thread instead of white like mine, but you can’t see it anyways!). Fold it over in half and gently stretch, pinning along the way. Sew along the top (use a stretch stitch!), catching the elastic in the seam you’re creating. For step 9, you now have a choice to leave that raw 1/2″ be (or trim it off); if your skirt is stretchy/knit it makes no difference and won’t fray.

If your skirt is woven or you like a cleaner inside, you need to fold it down and use a glue stick or more pins to hold it while you sew (see below)

Step 9- Sew the bottom seam as well, using a stretch stitch, catching the bottom lip of the elastic and/or the folded down fabric that encases it.

Step 10- Time to experiment! Cut your potato in half, cut a design with a butter knife, and practice on the fabric you cut off from the refashion. Here I tweaked the width of the bars, played with color and orientation.  (see how I used this same technique on a blanket here!)

Step 10- Layer cardboard in between and start stamping! Follow the bottle’s instructions in terms of washing and heat setting. You’re done!

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Jen Baker

Wednesday 21st of August 2019

love this idea and giving new life to old outfits you thought you wouldn't wear again!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 21st of August 2019

thanks Jen!

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