Sewing Circle: Upcycling those 90's denim jumpers you surely remember...

Funny blast from the past on today's Sewing Circle.  I got this fun question from Alyssa:

Q: I was searching through some old clothing bins in my attic the other day and found these two denim dresses that were my mom's from the 90's. I was thinking they could be super cute if I could upcycle them a little bit. I was wondering if you had any advise or ideas of what I could do. I still want to keep the 90's vibe to them, but make it a little more modern and wearable and obviously more flattering since they hang like a trash bag on me haha. Thank you so much for your help! 

A: Hi Alyssa,
Haha, I totally remember those dresses; my mom had those, too. I think you could totally upcycle them into something that gives homage to their original era but is also wearable! My first thought is something with a shorter, gathered skirt. Those “iceskater” dresses are totally in now—short and fuller skirt, like this Forever 21 lace dress for example.

So you could try something like that!  I have even seen some sort of similar silhouettes in chambray or denim:

Belted

Halter button-up

Sheath

Also, the easiest thing to upcycle them into would probably be a strapless or spaghetti strap little sundress like this ModCloth one, but that would probably only use one dress!

So, if you’re looking for a cute contemporary but 90’s-reminiscent dress, I’d say check out one of these patterns and cut up the two denim dresses you have (using this tutorial for technique if you need it).


  • Something like Simplicity 1873 for the bodice, no pattern but just the bottom of the fuller dress for the skirt, gathered into the waist.


  • For a similar thing but with princess seams, you could use Simplicity 1913, and again, give it whatever skirt works out.


  • If you don’t want to worry about a lining, you could use Simplicity 2497, but perhaps give it a contrast fabric bias binding (the denim will be a little too thick to do it on itself). I even used this one for a similar upcycling project--90's floral jumper into cute dress!




Of course you could use any pattern that used as much as or less than the fabric you have in the two dresses combined, but the denim is probably a little too thick to do anything with much fancy pleating or extra shaping seams over the bust, yoke, etc.  And really the key with making an upcycle look classy and original is keep it simple and let the fabric/base show off on its own!

Hope that gives you some fun ideas!

Readers, what great upcycling visions do you have for something like this?  Have you done a similar project before?

7 comments

  1. i would love for her to send in her pix! i actually just saw one at the thirft store yesterday!!!!! im so in love with the 90's!!!!

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  2. My husband actually loves to tease me because I still had a denim jumper in my wardrobe when I met him (granted, it was 2002 and I was only 14). My mom was convinced it was cute still and made me wear it on occasion. :sigh:

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    1. Haha, at least he knows something about fashion trends! =)

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  3. Sounds like a fun project, I would love to see what she comes up with!

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  4. Great ideas! Things like this inspire me to dust off the ol' sewing machine, and make something other than pillowcases!:-) xoxo

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    1. Great! Yeah, upcycling old pieces is a great way to start sewing more without the risk of expensive projects...

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this!! As of right now, I'm leaning towards something similar to the belted forever 21 dress. The one I was most interested in upcycling had the buttons down the front and should work really well with that style. I should have some free time coming up soon to work on it. I'll keep you updated!

    Alyssa

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