Apples to Apples: How I turned an Ugly Hick-Tastic dress into the cutest little fall romper.


I don’t even know what anyone was ever thinking wearing  a dress like this.  It’s Bad, real bad. Bad to it’s fricking apple blossom bones.  But with it being fall, and the dress being covered with all of those cute little apples and apple blossoms- I thought it was worth rescuing. So rescue it I did.  At first I thought I would make it into a cute little dress, but, after looking at an old retro pattern the idea struck me to modify the design and create an adorable vintage inspired romper- with pockets perfect for apple pickin! See full tutorial below 🙂 Happy Pickin!


This shoot had my favorite little guest star- my small friend River, who’s talented mom Sally: owner of Toy Elephant Photography in Nashville, took these wonderful shots.

Pumpkin patch Heaven
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Notice the rock in his hand (which he kept putting in my pocket- the little cutie)
Vintage lace from my Grandmother makes these the perfect pockets…
Good-buy 😉  

The entire outfit is all Goodwill: Dress: $5 (and some elbow grease), Tank: $4, scarf $2 Goodwill,  boots: $1 from Goodwill outlet. $12 total! The little friend was free!

So… here is how I did it- this is a bit more of an advanced DIY- but I think a lot of you could create something like this!

The very first step is the inspiration step.  I always like to inventory the piece and see what I like about it and what details I can salvage.  In this instance- I really loved the buttons-  and the front bib seemed to be a workable detail.  Based on a vintage pattern that I found in my collection- I was inspired to design a little romper- so I created a board on Pinterest with some vintage inspired options.

Retro Inspo

Once this was done- I got to work with destruction and construction.

First: Slice the dress in two. I wanted to keep the pleating as it was so I made sure to cut ABOVE the seam line in order to keep the pleats in place.


As I mentioned- part of my inspiration was this adorable vintage pattern I had on hand (Butterick 6010 to be exact) So I decided to blend together and inspiration of this pattern with some basic pants pieces in order to create shorts. I just used a basic pattern from a garage store box-o-patterns given to me by a friend- any pattern with a crotch piece would be just fine here.

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I had cut apart the front and back of my dress bottom and then carefully folded it in half to cut out my pattern pieces.


The Butterick pattern had a “lengthen/shorten line- that, when reversed, was a perfect angle for shorts- so I flipped it around, added some length and drew on a new cut line for the shorts bottom.  As a note- you can fold your pattern as you cut it- in order to preserve the original pattern piece 🙂


These two patterns are layered on top of one another
Front pieces cut out and done!

Next I cut out my front pocket and back strap pieces and ensured that my front bib piece was cut to fit.

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As a note- I had run low on fabric pieces for the pockets- so I sewed three scraps together to create enough. For the inner pocket lining- I used some coordinating yellow print cotton that I had on hand.

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The next step is to create the pockets- I simply followed the pattern directions for this (right sides together- then flip) I had a few scraps of vintage lace from my grandmother- so I sewed these on to create a sweet detail (and also to break up the overwhelm of apples a bit)


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Right sides together again to finalize the pockets- then finalize the top section with a stay stitch.

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Once this is done- time to sew together the shorts section of the romper.  Then I attached a waistband. A couple tips here- make sure to cut out a crotch line that is long enough to suit your needs and measure your waistband to fit wear you’d like (I wanted a vintage looking- high waist approach- so that’s what I went for with mine) I mentioned earlier how much I liked those buttons- so I saved then and hand sewed them into thew back instead of a zipper.

Attach waistband- then iron in half and flip over and under.  Hand sew to the inside seam to finish.
Iron back seam under- match up buttons to waistband and hand stitch (I choose to hand stitch often when up-cycling because of the unique nature of the pieces I’m putting together)

I often take my pieces for a “test drive” (trying on as I go to get and idea of how things are looking) and the top bib- needed something- so I added this vintage lace coaster (also my grandmothers)

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I forgot to photograph the backstrap construction- but it is as simple as following the pattern and cutting out the back pieces- sewing right sides together, flipping right-side out, ironing, matching up to the front bib piece and then sewing together.  I then pressed the bib section and placed to fit the waistband- then hand sewed everything together.



The end result is that I turned this total fashion don’t in to the cutest little friends and family do ever.  It’s been an extremely warm fall this year (90 degrees on October 19th as I write this and my dad and I are about to go take a swim) So this little short set is just perfect for, well, romping…


I’m off to go swimming loves! See you soon!

Love and Thrift,


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