If you have a dress that needs updating, this sewing tutorial is for you! Maxi skirts are very popular and you can turn a dress into a skirt with some basic sewing skills.
I love tutorials for repurposing clothes. When my girls were little I would use tank tops that were to short to create lightweight tank top dresses. Another one of my favorites is to make a purse out of worn out jeans.
If you don’t know how to sew (or are a beginner) all of these tutorials are easy to follow. You don’t have to know how to sew to turn a dress into a skirt. However you do need a sewing machine.
If you have dresses in your closet that you no longer wear, are too short, or perhaps are leftover from your maternity days, this easy sew tutorial is a great way to repurpose them.
You may be wondering why would you ever need to turn a dress into a skirt? Perhaps you have a dress that you no longer enjoy wearing but still like the print.
Maybe you are nursing a baby and a dress you like doesn’t allow for easy nursing. Or you might have a closet full of maternity clothes you won’t be wearing again. (Famous last words, lol!)
All of these are great reason for a dress to skirt transformation. Here’s how to do it.
How to Turn a Dress into a Skirt
- Sewing Machine
- 3/4 or 1 inch Elastic
- Safety Pin
1. Lay out the dress and line up the hem on the front and back. Make sure that the top of the dress is smooth and that the side seams are aligned. Pin it together.
This step helps ensure that the front and back of your skirt will be the same length.
2. Determine how long you want the skirt to be and mark a cutting line with a ruler and pins.
If you aren’t sure of how long to make the skirt you can lay a skirt you already own on top of the dress and add 1 1/4 inches to the length before cutting.
3. Cut off the top of the dress.
Sewing Steps to Turn a Dress into a Skirt
4. Serge or overcast the cut edge of the skirt without cutting any fabric off.
5. Turn the skirt wrong side out and fold the serged/overcast edge down 1 1/4 inches and pin in place.
6. (Optional) Press the folded edge with an iron.
7. Sew right along the serged edge all the way around the skirt leaving 2 inches un-sewn to insert the elastic.
This step forms a casing for the elastic.
(Bonus Idea) Cut a small piece of grosgrain ribbon and fold it in half. Put the raw edges of the ribbon inside the casing, at the back of the skirt, and sew during step 7 to form a tag.
8. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it through the casing.
9. Try on the skirt and adjust the elastic until the skirt fits well. Mark where to sew the elastic together using the safety pin.
10. Overlap the two ends of elastic, being sure the elastic isn’t twisted, and sew back and forth 3 or 4 times using a zig-zag stitch. Cut off the extra elastic.
11. Sew the opening of the casing closed just like you sewed Step 7.
12. (Optional) Turn the skirt right side out. Stitch along each seam line vertically, only on top of the elastic, to help keep the elastic from twisting in the wash. This is called stitching in the ditch.
It’s very simple to turn a dress into a skirt.
The best thing about this sewing project is that even a beginner can turn a dress into a skirt. If you don’t have any extra dresses, shop your local thrift store for bargain dresses with patterns you love.
I think this idea would help me turn cheap baggy dresses at Goodwill into skirts that can fit me. Simple idea.
Thanks! I hope you are able to make yourself some “new” inexpensive skirts. 🙂
My question is, does this method work for all fabrics? I have an acetate dress that I’d like to make into a shirt for Halloween.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hi, Julie-Anne. I think this method should work for all fabrics. I would make sure you have the right needle for your fabric to avoid any issues. Other than that I think you should be fine. Please let me know how it turns out.
Could you do this with a chiffon dress? I am new to sewing but keen to learn!! 🙂
Hi, Claire. I am sure you could do this with a chiffon dress. I think the chiffon might be a little tricky, but it could be done. Just cut and pin carefully and you should be fine. There really isn’t much sewing to this project. Let me know if you give it a try. 🙂
Thanks for this! I just finished making a too-short dress into a just-right skirt 🙂
This is a really great tip! Im gonna try this out during the coming week, but the dress i have, has a zipper in the right side of the dress. With the length that I wish to get the skirt, I will have to cut right through the zipper. Is this manageable in a pretty way? Or would it be better to try to remove the zipper entirely, and sew that part together?
I hope you can help me, sincerely Camilla 🙂
Toni Anderson says
I would remove the zipper if you can and sew up the seam. Will you have enough fabric for an elastic waistband if you do that?
Thank you! I ordered two beautiful dresses from an Asian website. Big mistake! The shoulders and chest are impossibly narrow for me but the skirt of the dress is fine. I haven’t sewn since high school but I’m going to give it a go.