How To · Sewing

DIY Toddler Christmas Dress Makeover


Two years ago (when Evie was just a little thing) I was given a bag of used hand-me-down children’s clothes from a friend. Among the numerous items of clothing and shoes I was excited to discover Christmas outfits for all three of my kids, including a dress for my baby girl… until I realized that the dress was awkwardly sized and the skirt was in bad shape. I spent only $5 rehabilitating it into what became my all-time favorite DIY project ever. I have a much-loved sewing machine but no professional training so this is a surprisingly simple project. I’ll do my best to walk you through the steps.

The “BEFORE” Dress

The bodice was in good shape and fit my daughter beautifully but you can see how awkwardly short the skirt was. Plus the skirt fabric was in bad shape: faded in areas, frayed and missing glitter in large patches. It actually looks significantly better in the photos than it did in person.

The length was awkwardly short.
Closeup of the original bow: Frayed with the rhinestone dangling off.
Just a basic mass-produced affordable Christmas dress in “well-loved” condition.


Cut and sew

I painstakingly cut the threads with a seamripper.

When it comes to sewing, I’m definitely an amateur. So cutting that first thread was making a stressful commitment to this project. Mess up and the baby wouldn’t have a Christmas dress. 😦

OMG! I did it!!!

Unfortunately the waistband was attached to the bodice by the side seams, so I had to cut those with the seamripper too.

Waistband removed.

I turned the bodice inside out and stitched the sides closed again (where it’s pinned). Then I used the old skirt as a pattern to cut out the new skirt, but I made it several inches longer. I put a basic baste stitch into the waistband of the new skirt, then I just cinched the fabric until it matched the size of the waistband on the bodice and attached the two with a zigzag stitch (to allow for stretch).

The “AFTER” dress

Instant upgrade achieved!

I had a 60% off coupon for Joann Fabric, so I only paid $3 for the skirt fabric. The lace ribbon was $2 at Walmart. The new sash is made from the backside of the skirt fabric. I stitched the lace to a long strip of the fabric, sewed that strip into a long tube (with the lace on the inside of the tube), turned it rightside-out and ironed it flat. Tah-dah: Sash! 🙂

Sash closeup. Again, I’m NOT very good at sewing. You can see here that my seams aren’t straight and nothing is perfect. Still, the overall finished product turned out beautiful.

I had an extra strip of fabric leftover, slightly more narrow than the piece I had used for the sash. I folded it in half and used a simple baste stitch to make it into a long tube, then I cinched the fabric (until the length of the folded fabric strip matched the size of the bottom hem of the skirt) and attached it to the skirt to make a ruffle along the hem for a little Victorian flare.

The princess in her gown

Fabric flower option

I made a fabric flower with a leftover scrap of fabric and lace ribbon (as well as a few plastic pearls from a broken necklace). There are easy fabric flower tutorials all over the internet and I strongly suggest doing a search to find a style you like. Once I had made mine, I attached it to a clip so it could go on the waistband or in my daughter’s hair. In the end, she refused to wear it either way though. Still, I gave myself an “A” for effort.

Nice in thought, not in practice.

Celebrity sighting!


Taking a picture in her new dress with the big man himself.


What do you think? Like it? Love it? Loathe it? Let me know in the comments!


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