How-To: Shorten a Dress With 0 Sewing Skills

So, I posted earlier that I’d gotten a dress from eBay and when it came I wasn’t keen on it. For starters it’s too long, and it’s also got mega shoulder pads. I’m not down with shoulder pads.

Here I show you, in my own haphazard manner, how to de-eighties-ify a dress. I know there’s nothing you can do about the pattern…but that’s probably the only GOOD thing about the original cut of an 80’s dress.

1 – Get rid of the flipping shoulder pads

Shoulder Pads are NOT cool! Even if someone has convinced you that they are cool right now, in 6 months they won’t be. Shoulder Pads Have Got To Go!  Check out below how to get rid of these bad boys (it’s so easy that it’s actually obvious, but hey-ho)

Step 1: Find the Shoulder Pads. They are on the inside of the item – the shoulder area to be precise

Step 2: Cut them out.

Step 3: Say Bye Bye to Shoulder Pads!

Step 3: Say Bye Bye to Shoulder Pads! Byeeeee!

2 – Make the Length make sense

Nobody wants to have a big frumpy yellow patterned dress that is neither Mini nor Maxi. The Midi doesn’t really work for anything that isn’t bodycon. I don’t think so, anyway, unless it’s pleated and you’re a size 6… or Rose Nylan. Well unlucky for the Eighties, and this dress, I’m a size 12 so this beastly balloon has to be cut down! It’s time to give this piece of polyester a dresslift!

Here’s how I did it. This isn’t necessarily the right way.

  • First of all, I very elegantly hacked away the bit at the bottom of the dress, to make it about 1 inch longer than I wanted it. Personally, I did this by guesswork. I cut directly across the bottom of the dress then thought “shucks, I didn’t even think about how long it would be when worn”. Luckily, I hadn’t gone too short…
  • I put aside the severed fabric, because I think I might also want a headband. And a Bag Handle. And a book cover. And a MILLION other things made out of yellow
    polyester with teal triangles all over it. Every woman’s dream.
  • I carefully folded the edge over to make a new hem. This was, like I say, about 1inch thick around the bottom of the dress. A normal, respectable seamstress would have pinned this fold into place and ironed flat to hold it. I pegged them together with hairclips, mini clothes pegs, safety pins and double sided tape. True.
  • Here you have two options – sew or wonderweb. Personally, I sewed it, but if you’re no good with a sewing machine and the material isn’t too thick you can get away with wonderwebbing it. Just bare in mind that it won’t last as long.

    If you’re wonderwebbing just slide the wonderweb into the fold on the inside of the dress. Iron it. Bing, bang, boom. Job’s a goodun.

So, here is how I rescued this terrible, terrible 80s frock. It really was so bad it had to be called a frock. Now it’s beautiful!

Those Sleeves Still need to be dealt with

Edit: I revisited this post in 2015 and I’m so gutted to admit I no longer have the dress above. I admit, it wasn’t the best tutorial, but it was a nice buy!

If only I could remember what I did with it…



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