The thing about sewing is that, like anything, the more you practice the better you get. I look back at old sewing projects occasionally (or pull them out of my closet) and realize what I shoddy job I did on some of them. I used to have the mentality that it didn’t matter what it looked like on the inside, as long as it looked fine on the outside, so I’d cut corners a lot and then my projects wouldn’t turn out quite right. Now, I definitely have the right mentality about creating my own clothes. I take my time, and if I do something wrong I go back and fix it. I rarely cut corners anymore, and it’s amazing how much better my projects turn out and how much more wearable they are (I’m not tugging on or adjusting them every time I wear them).

Case in point, I did a refashion almost identical to this one last fall. I purchased an oversized dress, altered it, and the refashion worked okay. But because I took a major shortcut, there were some wonky things about the dress, and as soon as I washed it (which I stupidly didn’t do before I altered it), it was even more wonky and almost unwearable. It was frustrating for me to have spent time on something that was suddenly barely wearable because I’d done in the wrong way. Hopefully some of you can relate…I’m not the only stupid one here, right?

Anyway, the point is that I’m learning, and I’m forcing myself to do things the right way the first time. Spending an extra ten minutes to unpick and re-do a seam makes a world of difference because I know it will now fit correctly and perfectly.

So here I am, re-doing this tutorial, showing you the RIGHT way to resize an oversized dress. And apologizing for leading you astray before 😉

. . . . . . 

When dresses are too short for me, I’ve found that the best thing is to buy a few sizes up, because the bigger size almost always has a longer hemline, and then alter it to fit the rest of my body. My normal size of this Old Navy dress was a few inches too short on me, so I picked up three sizes larger and used this basic steps to alter it. It’s now my favorite summer dress and I have to force myself not to wear it nearly every other day.

photos by Sara Walk 
outfit details here

1 // start with an oversized dress. I went up 3 sizes to give myself some extra length. 
2 // cut (or seam rip) out the sides along the bust seams, as shown. Then unpick the bottom of the sleeve (where the bodice is attached to the sleeve) about 4-5 inches, and then unpick the seam on the underside of the sleeve. 
3 // add darts to the bodice. this will help the excess fabric form to your bust.
4 // take the cut off sides and trim them down on the top. I trimmed about an inch off of mine. 
5 // with right sides together, re-attach the sides to the bodice. repeat on the second side. 
6 // With right sides together, sew from the armpits to the hem, taking in dress as much as you desire. Make sure your waist seams are lined up!
7 // With right sides together, sew up the sleeve seams so they are your desired width. 
8 // Tuck your sleeve inside the dress and then sew the sleeve back to the bodice, as shown. 
9 // And you’re done! 


  1. Erica McLeod says:

    I am always amazed by how easily you refashion (or completely create) clothing items! I am afraid I would ruin whatever I tried to do. The dress looks great- well done!

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  3. Love this! Have a great weekend!

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  5. Maria says:

    I can totally relate to your sewing learning progress and how you feel about "old" projects. I always wonder if one ever gets to a point where you are totally satisfied with a sewing job -even in a 1-2year retrospect. I haven't reached that point yet.. Anyway, great tutorial and lovely result.

  6. This looks great! You always impress me with your refashioning skills. Super cute result.

  7. Sara C. Walk says:

    I didn't know you MADE that dress!! You impress me!

  8. Sarah says:

    Wow you just made the seem super easy…super cute!

  9. This is adorable. Do you have tips for sewing on jersey or t-shirt fabric with a regular machine? I know it's tons easier if you have a serger but I only have a sewing machine and jersey is SO difficult for me to sew on.

    • Colie says:

      This isn't my blog, clearly, but I only have a regular machine too, and with it set to a zig zag stich and a ballpoint needle in exchange for the usual one, I've never had any problems 🙂

  10. Kacie Ellis says:

    Seriously, can I please be as talented as you without having to practice? When me and my friend we thrift shopping, we'd find cute items that were too big and say to each other that if we were Merrick, we could make it look so cute 🙂

  11. Maria M says:

    I totally agree! The more you practice, the better you get! And don't worry, you're not the only sifting through mediocre projects from the past… 😉

  12. Monica says:

    OK, I totally think I could pull this one off. Courage!!

  13. Phazer says:

    My dress came with the poofyish part beneath so I didn't had to buy an extra petticoat. I wasn't sure of my shoes too and asked them to keep it long, and there is plenty of space to work with.
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  14. Susie H says:

    I am definitely sharing your wisdom with my high school fashion construction students! I love how you tackle your refashions.

  15. Liz Johnston says:

    Can old navy just take note of your tutorials and see that we want things a little longer!? That just looks like so much work! awesome job thought. Hopefully the fashion peeps will see all the awesome modest bloggers and take the hint!

  16. Mindy says:

    Merrick, for step 4, need some clarification. Why the need for the trim and how do you know how much to cut of the top of the side panels?

    • Sorry about that…you need to trim it because you've just added the dart so the length of the middle of the bodice is now going to be different than the length of the side panels. If it's easier, just start pinning at the bottom and leave the extra length at the top, then trim after you sew. Hope that helps!

    • Mindy says:

      ok..that makes sense.

  17. Courtney says:

    Just bought the ON dress in an XL Long. Can't wait to get it in the mail so I can tailor it into a size Small. Thanks for the super simple tutorial!!

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  19. Jaime says:

    I love this so much! Your posts are always so inspiring! I ordered an xl for myself and started downsizing it last night. One question: did you not add darts in yours? I couldn't tell in the pics and wasn't sure if you did or not. I'm having trouble figuring out exactly where to place them- below the bust? Right at the bust? Also, when I put them in it makes the striping a bit wonky. Any tips on darts that you could pass along? Thanks as always for your hard work!!

  20. Bethany Rose says:

    Since the bodice will be shorter in the front after adding darts, how do you make sure the back of the dress is even with the front??

  21. Bethany Rose says:

    Quick question: Since the bodice is shorter in the front after adding darts, how do you make the back of the dress even and matched up with the front??

  22. Bike Pretty says:

    Try using a ball point needle (ask at your local sewing supply store) and a narrow zig zag stitch, instead of a straight stitch.

    You don’t need a serger since most t-shirt knits don’t unravel anyway.

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