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Refashion: Sheer Black Dress

It’s week three over at Refashion Runway and I’m so excited that I’m still in! The theme this week is “copycat”, where the contestants have replicated a design found online. Pop over for some refashion inspiration and don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

Urban Outfitters Dress

I love this sheer black dress I found at Urban Outfitters. Feminine, versatile and a bit sassy. So I set out to recreate it using this gem:

Refashioning a Sheer Dress

It looked to me like it had been lovingly homemade by someone. They did a great job, but quit before putting any cuffs on. And see that one panel on the left? See it?! Argh!! The stripes are the only ones running horizontal and it drives the perfectionist in me NUTS! Obviously the garment was too big for me anyway.

Pattern Drafting

I started with some pattern drafting. Yikes. A lot more work than my usual “pin and sew” method. Because I haven’t done much of this before, I opted to combine several patterns. Armholes scare me a little and I really wanted to get the right shape for the wrap around bodice, so I pulled out bits from each of these patterns:

Use multiple sewing patterns to design your own pattern.

1. Armhole area // 2. Back // 3. Wrap around front (a perfect gift from the lovely Miriam!)

Skirts are a lot more straight forward and I just cut a trapezoid as big as the limited fabric would allow.

After three pattern drafts and a trial run, I was ready to tackle the real thing.

Lined bodice piece.

Turning the garment upside down (to work around the mismatched panel), I cut the bodice from the bottom of the dress. Each piece was lined with identically shaped pieces cut from a black valance I found.

I removed the sleeves from the garment and tailored those in, adding pleats to the tops, before attaching them to the new bodice. The collar was also removed and turned into cuffs.

Refashioning by

The rest of the dress became the skirt.

Refashioned Sheer Black Dress by

Refashioned Sheer Black Dress by

Refashioned Sheer Black Dress by

Refashioned Sheer Black Dress by

Here’s the comparison with the original again:

Copycat Refashion by

I’m not going to lie … this refashion was a lot of work. Making patterns isn’t economical use of your time if you only intend to make the garment once. If, however, you plan on using it a few times, the economies of scale are much more in your favour.

Maybe if I were better at pattern drafting though, I’m sure it wouldn’t take me so long to put it all together. I’m feeling inspired to read up on this a little more and learn new techniques on this, so if I find a good book, I’ll let you know!

Filed under: Women

About the Author

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Freelance writer, sewing enthusiast, and coffee appreciator living in NZ


  1. That is fantastic! and that right there will be why you’re still in the running 🙂

  2. i have a good book you could borrow, if you promise to post it back? i used to be a pattern maker for a small label, and yes it is very time consuming thats why some of designer clothes are expensive. can send whole book….about 6cm thick or can photo copy the best bits. oh, and well done (loved your teapot post too)

    • Wow, thanks Brenda! I may have some books coming from my sister, but will email you when I know what’s in the collection. Are you in New Zealand??

      • yes im in whakatane. i have (the main ones) pattern making for fashion design by helen joseph armstrong, pants fit and design, metricd pattern cutting by winifred aldrich

  3. Catherine

    Go you – that is/was a lot of work but you did it and it looks fabulous

    • Thanks Cat. You’re so sweet! Nothing like a deadline to stop the project going in the too-hard pile 🙂

  4. Goodness lady! What a great restyle! Looks fab despite the time and effort – so flattering!

  5. photosarah

    it looks great! I really like the stripes on the sheer. good job 🙂

  6. Oh.My.Gosh! Are we sure you didn’t just buy it 😉 it looks AMAZING! I feel like I might be commenting on the winners post this week 🙂

  7. zibergirl

    Very chic! What a great refashion you have done this week. Good Luck!

  8. You did a great job with this! The new dress looks almost exactly like the inspiration picture. I can see that it was a lot of work to get to this stage as well. Well done!


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