DIY Color-blocked Dress to Skirt Refashion

Happy Friday! I am excited for another weekend. Can you believe it’s one of the last of the season?! I hope to get a long bike ride in with Dave, spend a day at the beach with the boys, and skype with our family back west. Whatever I am doing, you can bet I’ll be donning this color-blocked refashioned skirt.

There are a few trends I have really fallen in love with this summer: color blocking, maxi, and high-low hemlines. I was thrilled when I spotted this dress on the Old Navy clearance rack for $12.00 that combined all three! Not to mention it is made of the most wonderful, silky, lightweight fabric. The strappy, keyhole bodice was far from my taste, but immediately saw it’s potential as a fabulous skirt, and took it home with me to make the easy change. Luckily, both boys napped that afternoon, so I was left alone to refashion this baby immediately. I finished right as Eliot was waking up (I think he sat on my lap for the final rows of stitching.)

It isn’t exaggerating to say I wear this skirt every week. I do. Sometimes more than once. I love it to pieces and wish I would have bought the other colorway of this dress when I saw it  (now sold out!). The refashion was pretty straightforward, but I did a couple things to make it nicer looking than just a plain elastic waistband. I kept the front flat, and added iron-in interfacing to add some structure to the waistband. I also added several rows of stitching across the gathered elastic waistband in the back, to keep it sleek.

I took photos for a step-by-step tutorial, and they will apply for turning any loose-fitting dress into a gathered skirt. Read on to make your own!

1. Cut the bodice off of the skirt

2. Cut out any elastic at the waist

3. Using the bodice fabric, cut one rectangle 1/2 the width of the skirt’s waistband (for the gathered back), and another 1/2 of your waist circumference (for the flat front). Both pieces double the width you want the finished waistband.

4. Fold the rectangles in half lengthwise and press, then stitch the short ends with right sides together to make one long circle

5. Gently gather the front of the skirt to the measured waist size

6. Align the skirt front with the flat front waistband piece

7. Align the side seams of the waistband, and pin it to the skirt, RST

8. Stitch around the top edge

9. Measure and cut a piece of fusible interfacing the length and width of the flat-front waistband

10. Iron the interfacing into the waistband between the seam and the fold

11. Fold over the entire waistband and turn raw edge under. Pin in place and topstitch around the circumference of the waist, leaving 1″ open along a side seam for the elastic

13. Cut a piece of elastic 1″ smaller than 1/2 your waist circumference and thread it into the back of the waistband.

14. Pin the elastic in place

15. You should have a flat front, and a very gathered back on the waistband

16. Stitch the edges of the elastic into the waistband with a secure stitch

17. The front of the waistband is flat and nice

18. Stitch several rows through the elastic back, while pulling the elastic tight. This will secure the fabric down and keep it looking sleek.

Don your new skirt and enjoy!


  1. Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I am bound and determined to learn how to sew! This is such a beautiful skirt, looks so comfy!!!!

    • Miranda
      Posted August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      I fully support that goal Christina! Go for it!

  2. Linda
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I have this dress in the blue! I love it, but you are right about the top. It was never quite right for me, but I loved the feel of the skirt. I used it as a coverup at the pool all summer, but now I think this is a great way to repurpose it. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I am so pumped to try this!

    • Miranda
      Posted August 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Linda! I had both the blue and pink in my hand at the register and decided on the pink. I went back a few hours later after finishing the skirt so I could buy the blue and it was sold! I love love the navy/teal combo–it’s going to make a fantastic skirt, too!

  3. Posted August 20, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    As a Utahn who sees her fair share of “white tees under tank tops and strappy dresses”, I cannot thank you enough for bucking that very odd trend with this refashion. It looks awesome!

    • Miranda
      Posted August 20, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Haha, I just got home from Utah and had forgotten how widespread the tee-under-tank trend is. Not my favorite, either. For about three years I have tried to wear/make only tees that are sleeved and long-enough, so I don’t have to layer. Both for style and practicality with the heat. Thank for your comment! Good luck if you go for the DIY!

  4. Posted October 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    haha i just saw this post, but i refashioned the same dress into a skirt this summer! mine’s an elastic waisted maxi, and i lived in it all summer long:

    great minds. 😉

    • Miranda
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      That’s crazy! It’s my fave, too!

  5. Posted March 3, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m SO glad to see this post!!! I have had an empire dress hanging in my closet for months because I saw the potential for a skirt, but had no idea as how to carry out that vision. Yay! I’m so excited now!

    • Miranda
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      So glad you can use it, Megan! Good luck!


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