Upcycled California Dress to Celebrate Earth Day

I’m a sucker for upcycling and re-using any type of fabric I can get my hands on. In my stash, I have several laundry baskets full of things to re-make into something else. Problem is, I have so much that I don’t have time to do it all. So when Ula over at Lulu & Celeste put out the call for an upcycled/recycled Earth Day Blog Hop, I knew it’d be just the push I needed to dig through my baskets and make something old into something new.


I’ve been craving a new sundress since the last snowfall (which, at my house, was on Easter weekend), so I’d kept my favorite California Dress pattern in mind as I went through my “to upcycle” items. My hands landed on this fabulous vintagey floral full-size flat sheet and I knew it needed to be a maxi so I dug until I found a coordinating knit dress with a wide enough skirt to cut my bodice from.


As I was cutting the skirt off the dress, I got the idea to re-use the shirred waistband on my new dress. I slipped it on myself and it was just big enough to fit comfortably. Yay! I cut it off, leaving about 1/2 inch above and below the shirring for the seam allowance to attach it to the new bodice and skirt.


From the skirt of the old dress, I cut the scoop neck bodice for both the front and back of my new California Dress. There was just enough width to the skirt for my 1x California bodice to fit and I cut it straight across at the pattern’s waistline marking since I planned to attach a woven skirt. Because there was a seam down the back center of the old skirt, my back bodice gained a “design element” as I used that seam for my fold line.

I assembled my bodice as per the pattern instructions, using the old dress scraps to cut binding for the new armholes and neckline. Then I sewed the bottom edge of the bodice to the top of the shirred waistband, stretching the band’s fabric slightly to make it work.


I love all the hem length options on the California Dress, but adore a floor-sweeping maxi dress. As I folded the length of my full-sized sheet I realized that, if I cut the top and bottom hems off, it was nearly the same width as the hem of the pattern (in the picture above, the sheet is folded into fourths and the bit above the pattern is the top/bottom hems). I decided to simply cut a rectangle for a gathered skirt rather than following the a-line of the pattern.

I cut the width of the sheet to match the length of my skirt (below the California’s waistline marking) and cut the hems off the top and bottom. I then only had to sew those cut edges together to make my skirt. I did have to lightly gather the top edge to be able to attach it to the re-used shirred waistband and then I stretched out the waistband to fit the width as I sewed it on. Since I used the side edge of the sheet for the bottom, I didn’t even need to sew a hem to finish my dress!

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I love the end result of my upcycled California Dress! It will be so cool and comfy to wear all summer long. I am so glad I answered Ula’s call to re-use old things and make them new again!

Check out all the stops on the Earth Day Blog hop:

April 18:
Vicky Myers CreationsCoral and Co.

April 19:
Seam of My Pants

April 20:
EYMMCreate 3.5

April 21:
PenSeb&RoxCandice Ayala

April 22:
Lulu & Celeste (Round Up post)

Happy Sewing!!  ~  Joelle

2 Responses

  1. Roxanne
    | Reply

    I love that you reused the shirred waistband! The dress turned out great.

    • Joelle
      | Reply

      Thank you!

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