Do It Yourself

Bohemian Dress DIY

If you are a frequent online shopper or like me, just window shopping with Google – you may recognize this bohemian dress. While I absolutely love the look in the promotional photos the reality is quite different. When I looked in the mirror, it was another reminder why I don’t bother buying from these companies. I can’t tell you the actual brand as it is widely available across an endless array of Asian clothing sites – you know the ones I mean. While I don’t particularly think $40+ is even remotely fair to charge for such an item… that’s not the topic of today’s discussion. 

Long story short: it didn’t fit. But having paid so little for it in thrift (it was brand new still had the tag hanging off it) I was willing to attempt a considerable alteration. It has been hanging in my sewing room for the better part of a year because it became too frustrating and I felt immense pressure to lose weight…. as you can imagine, that just made me feel worse all because of a cheap dress that was made to fit a very specific body type. 

For reference, this dress is labeled “XL”. I wear anywhere from a 6 to a 10 depending on the style and brand.

The Process
  • Before anything else I had to cut open the sleeves so I could actually put the dress on properly.
  • I cut both sleeves into a shorter cap style and saved the excess fabric for later.
  • Opened up the armpit by about an inch.
  • Finished the edge of the sleeves and armpit. 

The arms now fit properly. 

  • Now the shoulders no longer fit due to the arm alteration. Created a 1 inch hem along the shoulder line to raise it up higher.
  • Neckline is now too tight. I folded the existing hem under and stitched on a diagonal to allow the neck a little more breathing room.

Now the arms, neckline and shoulders fit properly.

  • Fixed a careless design flaw (about 3 inches of gap underneath the front tie that exposes the skin) by stitching the sides together.
  • Using the closest matching strips of sleeve fabric I started sewing in one (3 inch) strip at a time. The sleeve design didn’t perfectly line up but its close enough that nobody would notice.
  • I stitched each strip to the previous allowing for a very gradual triangle in the front so my hips had room. I was unable to do up the buttons before.
  • I removed 6 of the loops and buttons as they no longer serve a purpose.
  • Tried the dress on again to make sure the hip area had enough space – it was a bit too much so I went back to the sewing machine and stitched it down further, slightly less angled. 

The dress now fits everywhere.

While this is not a “how-to” tutorial I wanted to give you a little taste of the process I take to alter thrifted items like this. I use the sewing machine wherever possible to ensure the stitches are tight and straight, I find I can control it much better than by hand. After every little alteration I went back to the mirror and tried the dress on… its a lot of back and forth, pinning and unpicking… but in the end I feel like the extra care was well worth the end result.

1 thought on “Bohemian Dress DIY”

  1. Beautiful job! Sometimes I want to alter a piece, but if I think it may take trial & error and repeated try ons … I tend to put it off. Thanks for your encouragement to Keep Going — and end up with a lovely result !!

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