Dress upcycling idea. Refashion a dress into a top.

dress upcycling idea

How to upcycle a dress into a top.

In this quick and easy upcycled clothing video and sewing tutorial, I show you how I transformed a dress into a top with an elastic hem and added sleeves. This is a quick and easy upcycling and sewing tutorial and is suitable for beginner sewers.

A friend kindly gave me this dress. It was a little too big for me but, because I’m quite short, the long voluminous style didn’t suit me. But, I love the fabric and knew it would be perfect to upcycle into a pretty top.

Watch the cardigan upcycling tutorial below

Step 1 – Reduce the length

The first step was to cut off the excess fabric from the bottom (I’ve saved this for another project) and create a new hem.

Step 2 – Add an elastic hem

I wanted to take advantage of the delicate fabric so, rather than do a straight hem, decided to add an elastic hem which gives it a flouncy hemline perfect for the fabric.

Step 3 – Add sleeves

Next, I attached the sleeves I had salvaged from another upcycling project and top stitched these in place. You can see that super quick, 10 minute upcycling project on my channel.

And it’s done. All up this project probably took me under an hour. I can now wear the top on its own or couple it with the skirt I upcycled from the dress I took to sleeves from.


clothes upcycling

Why clothes upcycling is important.

Clothes upcycling promotes a more sustainable, creative, and responsible approach to fashion, all of which contributes to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.

Environmental Impact

Clothes upcycling helps reduce waste by repurposing old or unwanted garments, often diverting them from landfill.

With the fashion industry being one of the planets largest polluters, upcycling and repurposing clothing reduces the need for new materials and decreases carbon emissions associated with the product and disposal of clothing.


Traditional clothing manufacturing consumes significant amounts of water, energy, and raw materials.

Upcycling clothing not only extends the life of existing textiles, conserving these valuable resources, but promotes more sustainable consumption patterns.


Creative Expression

Upcycling clothes and other materials encourages creative freedom by transforming old clothes into unique, personalised garments.

Upcycling and sewing fosters innovation and encourages people to experiment with designs, creating one-of-a-kind items that reflect personal style and creativity.

Cost Effective

Upcycling clothing can be very cost-effective by reducing money spent purchasing new clothes but can also assist charities when clothes are purchased second hand from charities.

Quality and Longevity

Repairing and mending clothing enhances the longevity of existing garments, giving them longevity in your wardrobe and limiting the need to purchase new clothes.  This contrasts with fast fashion items, which are frequently designed for short-term use.