Making Stuff: Frumpy Dress to Swimsuit Coverup {Refashion}

by This is Carrie on August 4, 2011

It was the cute print in all shades of purple that drew me to this dowdy church dress at the thrift store.  Upon further inspection it was just calling out to become an easy summer sundress.   It has quickly become my favorite swimsuit coverup.


1. Chop off 6″ at hem and gather the extra piece into a ruffle.
2. Chop off top of dress and attach ruffle.
3. Make casing around top and add elastic.
4. Make rosette pin out of discarded lace collar.

Find more of my women’s refashions HERE.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny August 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

that’s awesome! i’m really impressed that you looked at the original dress and saw potential.


KP August 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm

LOVE LOVE IT~ And I guess I will just keep on typing until it tells me that my comment isn’t too short. Is that something you can control? It is sort of lame! I don’t feel like adding a whole book of sentiments. Just a simple Love it! I tried Love it and then put love love it and then decided to annoy the he** out of you by posting the longest comment known to blog land! Your fashion sense never ceases to amaze me! I do really wish that I had your talent! I possess many talents but sewing and crafting is not one of them! I can however make a mean baked mac and cheese. I know my kids love it anyway. It seems to get better and better every time I make it! In fact as I sit here and keep on typing, I am thinking I should make it tonight! It is easy and yummy and it is the only thing my 20 month old will eat. Aside from suckers. She is eating one now. She is going to make a huge mess all over the new outfit I put her in after nap. But hey, she is happy! It is HOT here! Is it hot there in Orange? At least it is not 115 like where my dad lives. Who would want to live where it gets that hot? HA~ are you still reading this? I am feeling like I should stop. But my point would not be made! I have found this feature on both yours and Kristy’s, I mean Kage’s, to be utterly dumb! I should check and see if it happens on mine? Oh wait, no one comments on mine so it doesn’t matter! How are the kiddos? I miss you and I miss their little faces. I bet number 4 is huge now! When can I see you? You never commented on my hair that I ruined trying to get a digital perm. I made an appt to hack it off next week. I have tried to save it, but no luck! It is JACKED! Curious, when does a comment become too long? Do they kick it back for being too long? We will find out I suppose. How is DH? My DH is good. Workin like a dog as always. I think he is waking up to golf and then take Dalin to MB2. He has been asking me all day is it 7:00? Cuz that is when they are going and he is so excited! I am so ready for school to start! I need to be back on a routine. Mostly so I don’t get easily agitated by blogs that tell me that my comment is too short. I sound a little nutty huh? Wonder if my point has come across yet? Well, after all this, I just wanted to tell you I LOVE the refashion. It is super duper cute and you should really do project runway or something like that. I will sign you up for it or something. Is it still even on? I have never seen it. It is no Kardashians! Love that family! I decided because of that show I want more kids. I wonder how long this is now? I have to go check on my kids who are playing out front, since we live on a busy street and do not have the glorious luxury of a culdesac with 27 other kids, it is like dodging bullets out front at my house! Just waiting for one of them to get hit! How do you spell culdesac? It keeps correcting me when I write it, but I can’t think of any other way to write it. I was spelling bee champ in 2nd grade! Or was it 3rd? Anyway, I am still the speller in this house! Do you have words free on your phone yet? Get it! It is so fun. D and I play while laying next to each other in bed. Sad, I know, but we are addicted. Well I am addicted. I am terrible at it, but it is so fun! I can’t wait til you see this! I hope you will not be too angry! Maybe it will prompt you to call me and chat! I miss you. I think I said that already! Can you believe people still comment on my post about being a doc’s wife? Crazy! I feel so lucky to have reached some poor ladies (and dudes) out there that are going through a horrible time that is called med school/residency. It is so not fun! Unless you enjoy being a single mother. Now I sort of do. When he is home it throws me off. I can’t take a nap when H naps, I have to look like I am working hard! It is not easy! I think you would agree. That is why it would be so much easier to be a polygamist. Ooh I spelled that right the first time! I know we agree on this… but it really isn’t such a bad concept at all! Help from three or four other women, who subsequently your best friends of course. Really sounds genius. I would be the working mom. The one who has to leave all day to pay the bills. You go ahead and teach my kids, make dinner, take care of hubby. I will just be at work. :) or should I say 😉 that is a wink btw. Meaning, I would really be off shopping or something. Okay I really do have to go now, I hope this works.

Love love the dress!!


Liz Standridge Reply:

I just read thru your “long” blog. Followed it very well. I liked the dress maker over. I would never have thought of it.


Laura Reply:

THIS made me laugh so hard I cried. Great refashion, great comment. I thank you for both! LOL


Roxy Reply:

HEHEHE :) loved this comment! made me smile. x


chels August 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Carrie that is SO cute!


Secret Mommy
Twitter: Secret_Mommy
August 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

OMGEEEEEEE! Love, love, love! I was JUST sitting at the pool yesterday thinking, “What can I turn into a swim-suit cover?” I’m looking at the dowdy blue nursing dress in my closet in a whole new light now…. :)


Lindsay August 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Wow. I am very impressed. I don’t understand how you can look at such a frumpy dress and envision that adorable cover up! I would have never thought of that! It is so cute, really.


generic Reply:

I think she was looking at the lovely colors and interesting pattern while ignoring the style. It definitely is a real talent, being able to see the hidden gem.


rachel August 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Brilliant refashion!!! I don’t know which amazed me more, the dress redo or the length of “KP”s comment… haha!


Jill Browning August 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

Love it! You have mad skills!!

Ps. I hope you know KP. If not, you may want to lock your doors!!


Shannon August 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Brilliant! This is going to sound lame but hopefully you will understand my lame sewing skills but what part did you make the ruffle from? I am so impressed that you saw this lonely Aunt Bea dress and made it a bathing suit cover up.

P.S. KP’s comment too funny:)


Denise Reply:

Dear One, The ruffle is cut from the bottom of the dress.


sara August 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Hi KP (love you :)

And Carrie, the refashion is awesome!


Twitter: TheMamaChaos
August 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Wow! I had no idea that coverup had frumpy dress roots when I saw it the other day. Seriously, mad skills.


Chelsea August 9, 2011 at 1:00 am

Wow I love a bit of Upcycling!!!! I would never have seen the potential out of that old dress. Time to hit the op shops for some bargains.


Kirsten August 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

I love this idea! What a great way to refashion something not so flattering into something really adorable. I’ll be adding this to soon!

Thanks for your inspiring creativity!



Twitter: ohjennymae
August 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

i saw you run by me sunday morning in san diego & thought you were too adorable for words. i have such a pile to refashion. sigh.


This is Carrie
Twitter: thisiscarrie

There will never be enough time to refashion the pile I have sitting in my bedroom. I wish I could sew straight for 24 hours with no interruptions. I like to imagine how much I could accomplish. But alas, I doubt that will every happen.


Darlene October 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

What a great transformation! Good job!


Olivia May 3, 2012 at 9:21 am

Wow! That is really great!! I have clothes I need to redo…keep buying things thinking I’ll fix the shoulder or something and they’ve sat in my closet for years!! I really need to break out my shell and try this!! New to sewing, have made a few quilts though. Anyway, wish I had your vision and skills!! Thanks for the great inspiration!! Seeing that “before” pic….wow!! Lol


Pam June 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Very clever refashion!!! So simple, but so effective!!! You have turned an old fashioned garment into something fun and modern…


Lulu June 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

Wow, that lady with the long comment sure has ADHD. I recognize it because my husband has it, too. Anyway, adorable idea for a swimsuit cover up dress!


PATRICIA PADILLA June 16, 2012 at 11:48 am



eva June 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Wow, this is incredible! I have one of these 80s dresses in my closet that I loved the fabric but couldn’t figure out what to do with it…and the fact that you made a lovely flower out of the collar as well…well done! Know what I will be doing with the sewing machine tomorrow :)


Kitty F June 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

I really like your dress but my favorite summer dresses are long to hide my bare legs so why not use the sleeves for the top ruffle and leave the hem where it is? LOL just another idea. Kitty


Susanne Rice June 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Love that you took this utterly dumpy dress and turned it into this very very cute summer cover up. I will have to keep my eye on the stuff I find a Goodwill to make over.


Amanda @ The Little Giggler June 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm

AAAAMAZING!! LOVE IT! I’m pinning this and doing this! LOVE IT!


pat April 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

frumpy dress to swim suit cover up or day dress


Jodi April 30, 2013 at 5:23 am

What did you do with the closure ( zipper in the back, or buttons in the front? just seam them up?


Janie July 13, 2013 at 7:15 am

Yes I to like this ‘makeover’. I recall doing similar one year for Halloween. We owned a Pub/restaurant and we naturally had to set a example for ‘dress-up’. Hiring is expensive plus I wanted to do something really special. So I found a rather old tatty dress in a thrift store. Made a gathered neckline and puffed sleeves, a long underskirt, made from a old sheet, which I gathered and then attached under the skirt at the waist line. Cut skirt of original dress, in half and then curved it to form a medieval look ( Nell Gwyn ). I then made a very wide belt stiffened to push up the breast line, and pulled in with lace up. A mop cap was next and voila you have a great costume. PS there are many great books in the library with so many ideas check them out…. Well done


Mimi May 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

noo it was better before :(


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