Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!

Makeover Monday: Ballroom Dress to Tango Top!


Previously on Makeover Monday, I showed you how to change a top’s long sleeves into cap sleeves, making a little-worn garment much more versatile. (Since this top is black, having cap sleeves also means showing a little more skin, as opposed to looking like I’m being swallowed up into a black hole. This is a good thing.)

Today, I’m doing another quick project: converting a dress I made a few years ago for ballroom dancing into a top I can wear with multiple tango skirts— and I just might get another skirt out of it too*!

Here’s my dress, pre-makeover:

Velvet dress

Velvet ballroom dress, before its makeover.

I must say, when I took this dress out of my closet, I was tempted to simply use it as it was; the deep bordeaux shade is a great color for me, the stretch velvet is super-soft and comfortable, and with its tulle and sequin trims, body-conscious shape, and extravagant fishtail hem in back, it’s definitely a tango-esque silhouette! However… while it was perfect for ballroom dancing, this dress is (although I hate to say this) just a little dressier than I’d like for tango; it’s possibly appropriate for a performance, but not for the typical milonga (social dance event for Argentine tango). Also, the hem in back is too long for tango, coming down almost to my ankles, which is like issuing a personal invitation for my shoes to get caught in the skirt. Gracias, but no.

But I didn’t want this pretty dress to languish quietly in the save-indefinitely corner of my closet either. So I decided to make a bold cut, and turn my haven’t-worn-it-in-years dress into an eminently useable top!

After some thought (and trying it on), I changed my mind about simply cutting the dress straight across at hip level, and instead cut an asymmetrical hemline, resulting in a top/tunic hybrid, comme ca:

Cutting my top

After cutting my top, I just need to hem it, and I’m done!

To hem my new top, I serged the raw hem edge (you could zigzag the edge to finish it too), then folded the finished edge under about 1/4″, and machine-stitched the narrow hem in place with the wide, shallow zigzag stitch I almost always use for knit fabrics:

After hemming

Hemming my “new” top: I serged the raw hem edge first, turned under 1/4″, then zigzag-stitched the new hem in place.

And that’s it! This is a simple makeover that can be done with almost any kind of dress; maybe you have one that’s a little too short (or long), the skirt is damaged in some way, or you just like the top part better than the dress as a whole.

To be really honest, it’s hard for me to actually cut into a garment (especially one like this dress that I made myself)— you can’t undo that cut. Oh, the pressure to commit! Ultimately, although I may be losing a dress, I’m gaining a beautiful new top, that I can wear on and off the dance floor. I’m picturing it over grey pinstriped trousers and under a cropped jacket or cardi…

* For the next Makeover Monday (in 2 weeks), I’ll show you how I took what was left of this dress and transformed it into a beautiful tango skirt! You don’t have to have a ballroom dress; this project could easily be adapted for, say, a skirt with a tear or stain on the upper part— or just one that could use a fresh new look. Don’t miss it!

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

3 thoughts on “Makeover Monday: Ballroom Dress to Tango Top!

  1. Looks great! Just wondering, what do you do with the rest of the garment?

  2. Pingback: Makeover Monday: Ballroom Dress to Tango Skirt! | Changing Your Clothes

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