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DIY: Swinging Sixties Mini Dress

Posted by Helen le Caplain Oxfam Fashion blogger

25th Feb 2014

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It seems my secret is out. I'm a little, well a lot, obsessed with all things 60s at the moment.

Whether it's ginormous bouffant dos or teeny tiny mini dresses it seems my love for this subversive decade shows no sign of abating any time soon.

I spotted this dress in a rather dingy vintage shop in Manchester which has since closed down.

It had the air, and smell, of a ripe flea market with prices to match. I found this over-sized dress stuffed on a rail with equally dowdy dresses for the princely sum of £3.

Having worn it a couple of times in its pre-upcycled state, and resembling a middle-aged Russian peasant from a couple of hundred years ago, I knew it had the potential to be a swinging 60s wardrobe that was just begging to be unleashed.

You will need:

  • Button-down dress
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Wonder web
  • Tape measure (optional)
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Step by Step

Step One

Put the dress on and, using safety pins, mark where you want the new side seams and hemline to be to adjust the length and shape of your garment.

NOTE: Be aware that when making changes to a button-down dress you need to allow for a little extra wiggle room at the sides so the material isn't over-stretched, leaving you with unsightly gaping.

Step Two

Take off the dress and allowing for a 1.5" seam allowance, tack together the new side seams. Once you're happy with the look and feel of it, stitch from the armhole down the hem on each side.

Step Three

If you want to remove the sleeves entirely, carefully unpick the seams and place them to one side (we'll be using them later).


Step Four

Cut off the required length across the bottom, allowing for a couple of inches when making it up. I initially removed about 8" of fabric, with a view to taking a couple more inches off by the time I'd finished.

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Step Five

Using straight pins mark out the new hemline, on the wrong side of the material, until it's straight. 

Step Six

Press the seams with a hot iron.

Step Seven

Starting from one side take out the straight pins and fix the hem using wonder web (or stitch it). Do this all the way round until the entire hem is secure.

Step Eight

Turn the dress the right side out and press the hemline to ensure the wonder web has bonded and the hem is straight.

Step Nine

To give the sleeves a neat and professional finish use the sleeves you removed earlier on and cut them down to the required size as a matching facing.

Neatly stitch onto each armhole to hide any raw edges and press with the iron.

Step Ten

Press the entire dress for a neat finish.

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Although it may not be warm enough to wear this dress on its own at the moment, you can always layer up - either a blouse underneath or a gorgeous vintage coat thrown over the top.

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Blog post written by Helen le Caplain

Oxfam Fashion blogger

More by Helen le Caplain