A Dollar A Dress? Yes!

A creative blogger shows how learning how to alter clothes gets you new duds for pocket change.

By Emily Main

Photography by Marisa Lynch


This Barney-purple dress with sorely neglected beadwork became<br />
  the basis for one of Lynch's favorite designs.Rodale.com: Are there any dresses you're particularly proud of? Any you know you'll never wear again?

Lynch: There are things I think are less inspiring to me, but with every piece, I've been very proud of the outcome and having something brand new. I definitely have some favorites. There was one dress, lavender, that had a very "Dynasty" feel to it, a very '80s dress that was drapey and had long sleeves. It was made from this shiny spandex material with beads around the waist—I was so drawn to the beads. And the way the dress draped, there was something very Grecian about it. I was playing around with it, but nothing was really clicking for me. Then, for some reason, I turned it upside down and started playing around with it a little bit more. In 20 minutes, I knew what my next step would be. I wound up turning it into a top, and it's probably my favorite. I wore it to a party and the people there thought it was great, and nobody had any idea of what the original looked like.

This Barney-purple dress with sorely neglected beadwork<br />
became the basis for one of Lynch's favorite designs.

Rodale.com: Do you have any tips for newbie sewers who might want to give this a shot?

Lynch: For people who've never done this, I usually tell them to start off by first looking in their closets. There might be something that's been hanging for years in the back that you know you probably should get rid of but don't want to let it go.

When you first start this, a lot of people are nervous just using a pair of scissors. So start off easy and take baby steps. See if you have a dress that could be shortened into a tunic or top, where it only takes on big cut along the bottom to shorten it up. Or find a shirt with long sleeves that maybe you want to just cut short. That's a great starting off spot. I'd avoid anything made of silk because that can be hard to work with.

Rodale.com: What if you don't own a sewing machine?

Lynch: There are things you can do with a needle and thread, and you definitely don't have to have one. If you think this is something that you're going to be doing more often, maybe it makes sense to take a class in sewing at a community college or watch some YouTube clips on basic sewing techniques. For the most part, hand-stitching allows you to be more creative, and you can even use duct tape to get away with some things, like securing hemlines. But I'll have to say, having a sewing machine makes things much easier. You can buy one at Target for $69, a very basic model that can help you out. But still, it doesn't always have to be the most intricate, most intensive project to make something look great.