Week 4 of Project Run & Play was the Upcycle Challenge, we were tasked to create a look using only things that were thrifted. NO new fabric.

I actually happen to love upcycling, I find that using old clothing to make new items can actually make the finished product look nicer. It can also make the sewing process easier and more fulfilling. Depending on what you are creating, very often upcycling eliminates the need for making hemlines or other finishing touches – and can make your hand sewn garment look professionally made because of the finishing touches you can incorporate from the original garment. Lastly, it brings costs way down, and helps save the environment at the same time! How can you beat that?!!

For the Upcycled Ruffle Dress, the main body of fabric I used was an old skirt I found at the local Salvation Army.

Initially I wanted to use more of that lacy curtain you see in the photo above…but it just started to look like a giant hair net. Ha! Sometimes you just need to make it work :).

And in the end, this was probably my very favorite look I submitted for PR&P. Something about the outfit as a whole…the dress, the boots, and the hair clip. I was in love.

Did I mention this was also the easiest dress I made for the competition?

Seriously, it doesn’t take that long. And it is even better if you are using a fully lined adult sized A-Line skirt to upcycle from – no hem lines!

Let me show you how…

So I started with these three thrifted materials. You really only need the skirt, as long as it is fully lined, it will have all the material you need! The other fabrics only serve as a bonus for alternating layers within the ruffles, as well as the bow.

I then cut across the skirt right beneath the zipper, this gives you the skirt portion of the dress – as well as separates most of the lining so that it can operate as a second piece of coordinating fabric.

Then cut up alongside the zipper, removing it from the top piece of the skirt, and cut off the waistband. This gives you a second piece of skirt fabric to work with for the ruffles.

Determine the length you want your bodice to be, and cut a piece of the lining to that length. For the width, I just used the natural size that the lining was once it had been cut open! But figure about double the size of your child’s chest circumference.

Use your smaller rectangle of the top portion of the skirt fabric, and cut into long strips. You can also use any other coordinating fabric you may wish to incorporate.

Hem the bottom of each strip cut. Sew these strips directly onto your bodice rectangle in rows, using a zig zag stitch on top of the raw edge to prevent fraying.

Once you have all of your rows sewn on, we are going to take another large piece of lining fabric. This piece should be the same Width as your prior bodice piece + 2″ in Length.

Take one long raw edge and pin right sides together to the top of your ruffled bodice. Sew.

Now, fold over the piece of fabric we just sewed on, so that it is now towards the back, BUT leave 3/4″ still showing on the other side on top. Press.

Sew at the seam (where you see my pin in the third picture). This will leave a casing opening for the elastic to be inserted.

Take a piece of 1/4″ elastic that is approximately 90% the size of your child’s chest circumference. (You want it to fit against the body, but not be too tight. We are not using this elastic to hold up the dress – there are straps for that).

Insert the elastic through the casing.

While inserting elastic, pin the edges of the elastic to the sides of the casing. Sew to hold in place.

You now have what is starting to look like a ruffled top…YEAH!

Fold right sides together and pin along the short edge. Being sure your ruffles line up, sew together. You will want to zig zag stitch or serge the seam to prevent fraying.

Now we are going to work with the remaining larger portion of the skirt that we cut off originally.

Take the top raw cut edge of the skirt and place it right side together with the wrong side of the bottom lining of your bodice. (Basically, you are slipping the skirt upside down over your bodice and pinning together).

Sew, and zig zag or serge seam.

You can actually stop with the dress right here if you want – just add your desired straps and be done with it!

Now, I need to apologize in advance as I have no pictures of the next steps…I am SO SORRY!!! But hopefully you can follow along…

I wanted to make the skirt portion pull into the waist, rather than just hang. Here is what I did…

I took another piece of 1/4″ elastic that was about 80% of my child’s waist circumference and sewed the elastic together at the ends, creating a circle.

I then took this elastic and sewed it to the inside of the dress at the waist seam we just created. By pinning the elastic at the sides and center, then pulling the elastic while sewing it on with a zig zag stitch. There is a good tutorial that explains what I am doing with the elastic found HERE.

I then just added some straps. Using fabric rectangles sewn right sides together and then turned right side out, and sewn directly onto the inside top of the front and back bodice.

And lastly embellished the dress with the large bow in front. This is just a piece of fabric sewing directly onto the waist seam in front!

And there you have it…the Upcycled Ruffle Dress!

It came out super cute. I love it because it was easy to make, has tons of movement and is super comfortable for Chloe to run around in. Chloe loves it because it has ruffles and some pink in it. HA!

As for the absolutely adorable dog in the photos? That would be Tinkerbell, my Mom’s puppy. The kids looooooooooooove her, and thankfully she loves my girls in return. You should see them when they play together, it is so much fun!

Later on this week I will show you how I completed this look with the matching boots and hair clip!

Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…

Happy Sewing!