How to Make an Apron Out of a Sundress: An Easy Recycling Project

A few years ago, Marisa Lynch gave herself a fashion challenge: make 365 wearable items for 365 dollars. She shopped at thrift stores and garage sales. I admired her emphasis on reusing existing clothing, but I was even more taken with how she did it. She bought items that were the wrong size or in the need of repair and then altered them to make her new wardrobe.

Her “anything goes” approach has changed the way I shop at thrift stores. I used to only look at items that were my size, and ignore the rest. Now I look for things I like, then try to figure out how to work with them. That’s how I wound up with this sundress, which I had no hopes of fitting into:

The strapless dress I started with.
The strapless dress I started with.

For a long time, I’ve been in need of an apron, and I thought this would make a fun dressy one, perfect to wear when hosting dinner parties. I bought myself 3 yards of ribbon to match the ribbon on the dress and got to work.

First, I opened the dress up along the seam in the back. I extracted the zipper and saved it to use later (just like Marisa would!). Then I pressed the raw edges over and sewed them down for a finished edge.

Just roll under and stitch!
Just roll under and stitch!

To place the ribbons, I laid the dress on my front and looked in the mirror. I cut two 32″ pieces for the waist ties and two 22″ pieces for the neck, completely using up the ribbon I’d bought. I stitched along the edges of the waistband ribbon and made sure the raw edges were turned under and tacked down for all of them. The loose ends are all cut on the bias to keep them from unraveling.

I tacked the waistband ribbon down with extra stitching since it will be under stress.
I tacked the waistband ribbon down with extra stitching since it will be under stress.
To keep the stitching from coming through onto the front, I temporarily removed the tacking stitches that hold the facing down.
To keep the stitching from coming through onto the front, I temporarily removed the tacking stitches that hold the facing down.

Last of all, I trimmed off some excess fabric that was flapping around and finished the cut edges.

Slice and sew!
Slice and sew!

It took less than 2 hours to turn the dress into an apron, and I loved the results! So much more interesting than an ordinary store-bought apron.

The finished apron.
The finished apron.
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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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