• Jamie, from Mademyown

Upcycled dress (add a hem!)

Updated: Jun 7

In a bid to be more environmentally-friendly, I have been trying to minimize buying new things where I can. This Chinese New Year, I challenged myself not to buy anything brand new (it used to be a tradition to buy new clothes to wear during this festive season), but still come up with new outfits.


One of the ideas I had was to add a little something to an old clothing piece I had but never wore much!


Remember this shift dress I made 4 years ago at Sew Over It? I wear it sometimes, but not as often as I would like, because those of you who know me know that I’m not the most demure person, and like to sit on the floor cross legged, so the shift dress doesn’t quite allow me to do that (without indecently exposing myself).

I figured that the solution to my sitting preferences is having more cloth / longer hemlines, and I was inspired to add on a hem to lengthen the shift dress.


I found there was such a long list of types of hems, and I was originally thinking of knife pleats, but figured a ruffle hem might be a bit easier to start with.


These were my two main references online:

  1. How to Gather Fabric and Make Ruffles

  2. How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot

Bought some mustard-coloured muslin from Spotlight, which was a bit challenging to work with because it was quite thin (not so stiff)!


While I was halfway through the process, I was figuring out how to best attach the ruffle hem without it looking strange, and also kept thinking about how I wished I could add on other hems to my dress, or maybe have the option to remove this ruffled hem if I wanted, and then I figured “why don’t I make the hem detachable?”


The idea was born halfway, and I found some extra black bias tape stashed in my sewing box, and promptly used it as a “band” on the of the ruffles, to make them sturdier (to withstand being attached and removed multiple times)


I also found some stick-on velcro stickers (which I bought for something else), which I could use to temporarily attach the hem!

Inside the dress, black band attached to the original hem of the shift dress


Velcro stickers on the detachable black band & on the shift dress – my husband cleverly reminded me to put the “softer” side of the velcro on the shift dress, so it’s more comfortable in case I want to wear the dress without the extra hem ❤


Here’s the finished product! Extra length and cloth gives me more leeway to sit on the floor cross-legged more comfortably 😀

Wore the dress out to visit some friends, and some practicalities to incorporate in making the add-on hem work in the longer-term- the stick-on velcro bits don’t stick that well when I keep moving around while sitting, I’ll need to probably sew them down for them to be more effective (I thought they would work for at least the first wear, but I guess not! Should have known, since the original pain point for me was how I sit in non-demure ways haha)

“New” dress!


As a side update on the challenge to not buy brand new clothing – here are 2 other outfits I bought second-hand:

Bought this maroon qipao on Carousell


Bought this burnt orange dress at Refash


Looking forward to other projects to upcycle my old clothes, and making second-hand items work, to extend the life of whatever is already available in the system 🙂

Other ideas to upcycle clothes

Another of my favourite ways to upcycle old shirts – embroidering something on them. I’ve done two little projects to embroider something meaningful on my husband’s old shirts, and there’s one more project in the pipeline I can’t wait to get started on!

An old couple star-gazing – because I love stargazing, and hopefully, that’s something my husband and I can do together when we grow old


A sunset with a pair of birds flying – my husband and I painted a similar scene a few years ago as a Valentine’s Day project ❤


One other upcycling project I’ve done is to convert one of my husband’s old work shirts into a top for myself, based on a tutorial from Upcycle That

It was a fairly simple tutorial from Upcycle That!


#2020 #Upcycleclothing #Rufflehem #Sustainablefashion #Upcycle #Embroidery #Detachablehem #DIY #Sewing

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