A Child’s Formal Dress Sewn from an Upcycled Silk Sheet

2013 Trashion-Refashion Show dress (1 of 1)

Need something sustainably fashionable for that next big event, formal occasion, or fashion show fundraiser? Here’s how I sewed a formal dress for my daughter to model in our town’s Trashion/Refashion Show–from bloomers to bodice, it was created entirely from one silk sheet.

2013 Trashion-Refashion Show dress (1 of 4)

The entire garment is composed of a fitted bodice, a cascading petal skirt in three layers, and a matching pair of bloomers to wear under the dress. The bones of the bodice come from the bodice pattern in Little Girls, Big Style; I sized it down one size to make it more fitted, then added several inches to the length to compensate for the smaller sizing. I cut the sheet so that the interesting detailing from the top hem shows up here–I didn’t want to waste that part of the sheet, and this was the most likely place for it to be included.

2013 Trashion-Refashion Show dress (3 of 4)

I completely lined the bodice using more fabric from the silk sheet (although if I’d known how closely I was going to cut it–literally–by the end of this project, I may not have done this step). I wanted to use as few elements as possible that did not originate with the sheet, so instead of including a zipper in the bodice, I sewed the two shoulder straps only halfway across in the back. The straps are wide enough to provide plenty of support even so, and the extra room I eked out enables the dress to be put on over my daughter’s head without any zippers, buttons, or snaps.

I used the rest of the sheet’s hem for the ruffles on the shoulder straps. Sewn into tubes, the fabric encases sturdy webbing, but is easily four times longer than the webbing, so it naturally scrunched up into ruffly-looking straps that add a lot of volume to the shoulder with little additional weight, and look puffy and soft while remaining quite substantial and supportive.

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.


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    • For some reason the shine on the silk also makes people think that the dress is actually made of rubber, which cracks me up–a rubber dress wouldn’t be comfy at all!

      The show is on Earth Day again this year–April 21st, I think? I really hope that the jury accepts our garment, because Syd is already practicing her runway walk and figuring out how she wants her hair done.

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