How to Refashion a Dress That’s TOO SMALL


Okay. Real talk time. We talk a lot in sustainability conversations that it’s good to refashion existing garments. It is great to take something unloved that already exists and make it into something you will wear a lot. That’s a really sustainable way to source materials and get a new garment without using anything that has been newly manufactured. I had a conversation with Emily (@notinator) on Insta recently about the downside to this. Often we are told to scour charity shops for the biggest garments we can find in order to get the most material, I feel like this was particularly mentioned a lot during the refashioners challenges.


Plus-size dresses and coats yield the most amount of fabric to be turned into something new, that is true. But what about plus-sized people who need new clothes? Due to various societal biases there is evidence to show that fat people are paid less and unemployed more, so thanks to these important conversations, I have realised the importance of leaving good quality plus-size clothes in thrift/charity shops for people to wear. After all, many of us will have clothes that are too small for us already sitting in our wardrobes, they might still be great for refashioning!


SO, I want to talk about how I made a dress that was WAY to small for me into a top that I will get tons of wear out of, to show we don’t always need to look for the biggest garment in the shop to get a great new refashion!


This crappy insta-collage is the only digital picture I can find of me wearing this dress. I know I have some printed in albums from 2011/2012 but they are in the loft and I can’t be bothered to retrieve them. It was a size 8 and I wore it loads during those years that it fit me. Now I am more of a RTW size 14 and the days of me fitting into this dress are long gone. I have no intention of crash dieting in order to try and fit back into a size 8 dress again, my body has changed and I am ok with that but I was sad to say goodbye to this dress. When we were packing up to move house last year, I put it in the donation pile but kept looking at it longingly, I really love the fabric and was sad to say goodbye to it, so I decided to give it the chop!


The bodice was intricately pleated and very fitted to a size 8 bust, not a lot of fabric there and it would have been a pain to unpick! So, I cut the skirt off the bodice and took a good look at what I had – definitely enough for a small sleeveless top. The Pepppermint Peplum top immediately came to mind and I cut it out from the skirt portion of the dress with ease. I even managed to cut the peplum frills at the hem of the skirt so that they were already hemmed! Yay! This is one of the greatest advantages of refashioning if you can pull it off!


Anyway, this is a pattern I’ve made before so I won’t bore you again with all the details but I can promise you it is fun, easy to make and FREE! AND BONUS – you can get one out of the skirt of a size 8 dress! I love my new top and I am super pleased to not say goodbye to this gorgeous fabric. I know I will wear this for many more years to come!



PatternPeppermint Magazine Peplum Top

Fabric: Old dress from many years ago!

My Measurements:

Bust 36″

Waist 31″

Hips 44.5″

Anything Sustainable about this one?

Yes! It’s a refashion so all the materials were already in existence, I even used bias binding I made myself from fabric scraps to finish the neckline and armholes.

6 thoughts on “How to Refashion a Dress That’s TOO SMALL

  1. Love the top! You are so clever. I never get inspired with things like that and I know I should try more… Your necklace is gorgeous as well, by the way. And those shoes!!! Oh my! ❤❤❤


  2. The fabric is lovely and it’s great you can get more wear out of it and also great that it was your own garment in the first place. I agree that it’s not always necessary to buy the larger sizes. The style is important as well e.g. pleats and gathers yield more regardless of size. If you fancy a large size item in a charity shop there is no need to feel guilty about buying it. The chances of you depriving a poor and needy fat person are less likely than the no sale and land fill route.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree! Often clothes that don’t sell in charity shops are sent to landfill or burned so it’s definitely best that things are bought and then the charity gets some money too!


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