Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

A dumpy chambray dress makeover

I bought this dress literally years ago. Like, several houses ago... probably in 2010. It was on super clearance at Nordstrom Rack, and I really shouldn't have bought it, since I never wore it... but it was "such a good deal"--one of those purchases. I'm trying not to do that anymore, since I end up with a bunch of clearance stuff I don't really like in my closet, rather than paying a little more for the really good stuff. But, since I had the dress, and I've been trying to wear more skirts and dresses to my new job, I figured if I could make it into something cuter, now was a great time. That or send it to the thrift store!

Those sleeves are just terrible. The collar is awkwardly stiffly open... there's no shape going up to the bust and that tie belt is not cute.

But I remade it!

This remake took me seriously less than 20 minutes. I knew I wanted those sleeves gone, and I figured that making it sleeveless and finishing the armscyes with contrast bias tape would be the easiest way to finish them.

I first very carefully removed the sleeves... this was a little tricky because the puffs were only sewn onto half of the armscye; the underarm was finished with a bias facing. But I used my tiny thread scissors around those parts, and carefully dissected the sleeves. I also cut away a liiiiiiiittle tiny bit at the shoulder, to open up it up a little more and maybe make a more flattering, curved, open arm opening than the straight line that was there.

I used 1/2" double fold bias tape, in black. (There are tons of tutorials on sewing on bias tape. Here's one.)

I figured it'd be nice to tie in the black trim edge a little on another part of the dress, so rather than sew it all the way around the hem or something, I took apart the collar a little and sewed it all the way around. I trimmed just a few stitches at the collar opening and was able to wrap the bias tape around all the way into the collar seam. Then I switched to blue thread and sewed it back together.


Obviously I solved the belt issue by just removing it. But it's also cute with my fave wide black belt!

Sweet, right?! Saved that one from the Goodwill pile, made my $8 or whatever I paid in 2010 worth it, and hopefully found something to wear to work in these summer months. I highly recommend you try it out if you have any boring shirt dresses sitting around! ;)

P.S. Speaking of thrifting, have you heard of Twice? Nicer brands second-hand, online. I haven't ordered anything yet but am sending in some items to trade! Check it out if you like thrifting as much as I do!


  1. Wow! What simple alteration but an amazing transformation. The dress looks a lot better!

  2. I actually quite liked the 'before' photo until I saw the 'after' which is even better! I just found your blog yesterday so I'm off for a nose around your website :)

  3. Wonderful, few little changes for a great job! I will keep in mind this!

    Hugs from Italy,


  4. That looks just great on you. I have a few shirts and dresses with ugly sleeves on my thrift pile and will remember your remake..

  5. haha, i love the sad face-happy face
    it worked out great!

  6. much better! and so in-style right now. the belt definitely adds and helps define the waist too!

  7. Yay, it's fate that you found that dress... and that you have the mad skills to fix it, that dress is so lucky to have you ;)

  8. Really cute! I just found a chambray dress that I need to re-work: buttons especially are TERRIBLE! lol!

  9. I like the changes you made! I think the dress will look even more put-together if you used biased tape on the hem too!

  10. Hey,
    I like what you did with this dress. Really gave it some style! Have you thought of replacing those distracting white buttons with some nice black ones? I think black buttons might fit better with the black bias tape and the black belt.

  11. Awesome makeover! I'm with the ladies above, maybe black buttons would work better? Not that the white ones are bad at all, just black would fit with the belt and armholes!

    It's so satisfying when you take something unwearable and make it wearable again!

  12. C.B. Mrs. I was given a jumpsuit recently similar to your purchase. I also removed the sleeves and angled them. However it is too tight in the bust so I have added a panel to widen it with the sleeve fabric. Your bias tape idea is really creative though and I may incorporate it in my modification Thank You

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  14. I would have definitely change the buttons ;) The clear kind always makes a good piece look terribly cheap.

  15. Sounds like a great makeover!!



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