This summer I’ve become absolutely obsessed with dresses. The last couple of years my summer staples have been shorts and knit pencil skirts, but this year I’m all about dresses and have found every excuse to add as many as I can to my closet (both buying and making). They’re perfect and lightweight to wear on hot days, so comfortable, and easy to throw in a second and look put together.

I often look through my closet and look at each piece and see if they’re working for me, and there are always a few pieces that I love and have so much potential, but they just don’t get a lot of wear for one reason or another. This white maxi tank dress was just that. It has so many pretty details, but I just don’t get a ton of wear out of sleeveless dresses, or maxi dresses, so even though I loved the dress, I didn’t ever feel like wearing it. So rather than letting it hang in my closet unused, I made it work for me. I chopped off the bottom, cut it up, and made the extra material into sleeves. Now it’s a dress I will wear all the time because it’s the perfect summer dress-up or dress-down dress.

It’s an easy fix and there’s a simple tutorial at the end of the post so you can make one too!

photos by jylare smith
lulu*s dress, c/o (refashioned), similarsimilar
old navy sunglasses, similar 

As a part of the Melly Sews sundress series, I’m sharing how to make this pretty refashioned dress. Also, be sure to check out this post to enter a fabric giveaway and to see a running summary of all the sundresses in the series!

1 // try on your dress and measure your cutting length. Mark with a pin. Then lay the dress out on a flat surface and cut the hem to your desired length. If your waist has elastic, remove it if you’d like so the dress is flowy.
2 // Take the extra fabric you just cut off (or if it’s not enough, use another similar fabric) and lay it flat and folded. Cut two (2) SLEEVE pieces along the fold, as shown. 
3 // Take the two SLEEVE pieces and, with right sides together, sew up the side seams, as shown. 
4 // With more scraps from your cut off hem, cut two rectangles along the fold, just slightly longer than the measurement around your arm. These are the CUFF pieces. Cut two (2). 

Then fold them in half width wise so they are double thick and have a folded edge, then sew them together with right sides together to make two cuffs that will fit around your arms. 
5 // With right sides together, pin the cuff to the end of the sleeve and sew around it to attach them. Repeat with the second sleeve and cuff. 
6 // With right sides together, insert the sleeve into the bodice armhole pin, matching up the seams at the armpit. Sew around the armhole, attaching the sleeve to the bodice. Repeat for the second sleeve. 
7 // Hem to your desired length and you’re done! 


  1. beaner says:

    That is an adorable dress. You are very talented. Someday I will try one of these things. I love seeing the tutorials, you even make it look like I could do it!!

  2. LOVE this! That dress looks gorgeous on you and I love how you styled it with the colorful clutch and gorgeous sandals! Hope you have a great weekend!

    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

  3. Holly says:

    You do amazing refashions and are so talented. Whenever I think I want to refashion one of my pieces, I just can't get the courage up to cut up a piece of clothing. I'm always so scared I'm going to ruin it!

  4. Erica McLeod says:

    This turned out so pretty! And talk about being able to expand your closet – it is like you can refashion a whole new wardrobe with your sewing skills. I have basic sewing abilities ( I can rock a pillow cover) but sleeves are daunting for me.

  5. When you mentioned adding sleeves on Instagram I could not envision it. It turned out amazing (as always) and rather quickly might I add.

  6. ok, WOW. I have this dress and I want to refashion it now, too! I saw your wearing it on IG the other day and I was wondering how it had sleeves, I thought you wore a blouse underneath! For the crocheted sleeves, did you just use extra from the dress to add that? And did you end up buying new fabric, or did you use excess from the dresss?!

  7. Jasmin daily says:

    It is amazing that you can do this, and I much prefer your take on the dress, way more versatile! You look stunning as always xxx


  8. Kristin says:

    This is one of your best refashions yet! I am a huge fan of white dresses and I absolutely love how made this one even more boho chic!


  9. Kacie Ellis says:

    I know I say it all the time but you are just so so so talented! Can we be best friends and you can work your magic on my clothes? I love both the before and after of the dress but I can totally see getting more wear out of the after dress. When I wear white maxi dresses, I feel like I look like a runaway bride. lol

  10. Melissa says:

    Love it Merrick! I had no idea when I saw the teaser photo that this was a refashion. Thanks for sewing along this year.

  11. AMAZING! It never occurred to me how simple it could be to add sleeves to something sleeveless. I am guessing you are getting your sleeve cap and width of the upper sleeve from the armscye of the dress. I'm thinking as long as I'm somewhere in the ballpark, perhaps erring on the generous side, it should ease in and look great on this style dress. Thanks for the great idea and tutorial! Your site is the best!

  12. I like it much better this way! Good eye for seeing what it could become. 🙂

  13. so i'm about to embark on my first summer since being married in the temple, so i'm sure you can empathize with the feeling of being able to find things you can wear without burning up in the heat! anyway, this post has definitely inspired me that i NEED to learn how to sew, STAT. the stuff that you can do with clothes is amazing. what a great skill to have!

  14. OMG! I have this same dress and would do anything to have you make mine into the new version! I absolutely LOVE it! You are SO talented lady.

    XOXO, Jenn
    The Stylish Housewife

  15. Leanne Dolan says:

    Wow you did such a great job. I really envy your skills!

    ​Leanne @ Leanne-Marie ​ x

  16. Esmée says:

    Thanks! I really want to add short sleeves to a simple business type of LBD. Do you have any tips?

  17. sturdydesign says:

    The after is much better than the before. You should have your own clothing line! As soon as I saw this dress I thought how cute it would look with your green utility vest (the one you refashioned from a faux leather sleeved jacket) layered over the top of it. Total cuteness no matter how it's fashioned though. Great job once again!

  18. bethany says:

    So beautiful! Any chance you could make an adding-a-sleeve tutorial one of these days? I always get stuck on that one and it freaks me out a little.

  19. Paige Flamm says:

    I am loving this refashion! Your dress looks fabulous!


  20. Holy crap I love this! I find sleeveless maxis all the time that I love but I'm not a sleeveless girl either…voila! Gonna start buying more now! And that clutch is absolutely TDF!

  21. K says:

    I cannot express how bummed out I am that I cannot go buy this dress. I absolutely love it! Great job! (P.s. Sell it me! :). )

  22. Carrie says:

    Hi! Gorgeous dress!!!!! Totally off topic but is your tan natural? I love the glow of your skin in these photos. If it is, hopefully you know how rare that is. ;). If by some miracle it isn't, and it is from a product, perhaps you could do a tutorial on that. Sorry if you've already addressed this in a previous post. I'm fairly new to your blog and I'm not able to follow daily. Love it all though! You're an amazing talent!

  23. Lulu Soler says:

    Ok, that is totally amazing! I wish I had your talent 🙂 Can you come and remix my closet? Truly a beautiful gift and you use it so well!

    XO Lulu

  24. Sierra says:

    Oh my goodness. I can’t even explain how much I love this dress!!! So cute!

  25. Layla says:

    Want to sell me yours?!?!? I am so sad this dress isn’t in stores anymore:(… seriously, i’ll buy it off you!

  26. Ashley says:

    Stunning! Do you ever sell any of your creations? I’d buy this! haha

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