Refashioned Thrifted Sleeveless Dress Into Puffy Sleeved Blouse

Prologue: my photography is awful...I have so much to learn...blurry photos are no fun : (

...keep reading and scrolling, you'll see what I mean...but that's what I am doing with CoronaVirus Shut-In: learning...learning a little photography, how to improve SEO, how to make nicer looking Pins for Pinterest...I'm 48 years old and proud of it--you can still teach yourself anything--go for it!


Corona-Virus and Grinding Halt of Costume Take-Out

I haven't written in a long time...a long time...

My last blog post was 2 months ago on February 10th 2020.

It's not that I haven't written blog posts, au contraire I have 4 sitting in the publishing hopper. I just feel a little guilty about posting about trivialities when people are dying of Covid-19.

But now I am coming back to writing and postings because this is my business. It's what I do and I should not feel apologetic. Took me a while to come to this conclusion.

Some people sell pizza, some people sell shampoo, some cars, some high tech, some sell services like estheticians, or dry cleaning...

...I sell costume rentals and it's as legit as any business

My local costume rental business "Costume Take-Out" came to a grinding halt which was so disappointing for me because this was year #4 and I was about to come over to the other side with zero debt.

racks of costumes

When the reports came in of schools closing and cancelling field trips to the numerous local historic venues where kiddos get dressed up in Pioneer clothes and learn about the California Gold Rush, Pioneer Era, and Missions (layers that make up our relatively young state), the gig was over for me.


I feel compelled to tell you that I don't 'kill it' financially in this line of work.

In fact, the money I make from my $17 rentals ends up being pocket change. This 'cute, charming, hobby job' I started for myself when I realized one day my girls were going to leave me empty-nested, has me working endless, endless hours resulting in horribly cracked fingers and a hunch in my back.

AFTER paying annual LLC fees, insurance, taxes, machine repairs, electricity (which is ridiculous here) & water. I make about.......wait for it....


---what amounts to a couple Botox treatments a year for this 48 year old woman. And I go easy, so I can have a little expression left ; ) .

Don't get me wrong, with my humble immigrant family roots I appreciate everyday dollar I make and have, that's how I got into thrift shopping when I was 16. I didn't have money growing up.

But between 40-60 hours of working every week for one year, um, it's not very rewarding financially.

So I do this for other having a reason to get out of the house so I don't grow green moss on my body.

'Bill-The Husband'

Thankfully my financial supporter, 'Bill-The Husband', has his job and can support all of us. 'Bill-The Husband' has supported me from the get-go when I stepped out of the pharmaceutical industry to stay at home and raise our babies.

I can count on 'Bill-The Husband' always supporting me, so during CV I don't worry about paying my business bills. Although I am entitled for small business assistance during this time, I opted not to apply, but rather free up my funds for people like my immigrant parents who struggled all their lives with small businesses--a cafe and then a flower stand.

Thankfully I Don't Need Botox (I just want it)

Oy! But just keep scrolling down and wait until you see my forehead in all it's expansive glory.

But more than Botox, I want to get my business momentum going again. I am crossing my fingers for school back in August/September and a strong Fall costume rental season.

In the meantime, with all this time on her hands, what does the Costume Lady Do?

Manic Gardening

Cue some damaging manic gardening...

I gardened for the first 3 weeks of CV shut-in...specifically 8 hours a day of weeding on a 1/4 acre of property (we have 2 acres) which I call my mini homestead.

Being a woman of a distinctive age means things body-related are more susceptible to injury, even though I am physically fit and healthy.

'Over doing it' has led me to develop a bad case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome where at night, my right arm goes completely numb. It's so uncomfortable to where it wakes me up. Then throw in a little 'Tennis-Elbow' (not from tennis), and top all those maladies off with a little 'Rusty Shoulder' an illness name I made up to describe something that needs something, maybe surgery, to relieve the pain.

Carpal Tunnel + Tennis Elbow + Rusty Shoulder ='s imminent surgery

(or maybe, just knock it off for a while)

I've experienced this pain once before when last year I spent a month extracting the roots of THREE 30 year old trees in hard clay soil. (Hindsight, shoulda asked the arborists to grind stumps more peripherally, not just the immediate base.)

"Over Doing It" is not new to this lady. So now I know when to cool it with the manic gardening.

me pulling tree roots

Me, overachieving...extracting tree roots

Ok so NOW WHAT as I heal my arm?...

Oh yeah, you guessed it

Eva is back in 'dah sewing room!!!!

However, this time I am sewing for myself...something that I have been dying to do for a very long time. My last project was the Refashioned, Upcycled Tiered New Year's Eve Dress you see below.

upcycled anthropologie dress

Crocheted Zig-Zags

I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to Refashion first...

a 'too long for me' Missoni style dress...

Missoni having it's hey day in the 70's, has never been a style I was particularly attracted to before. I'm not a bohemian type of girl. Click on my lap-top image below so you can check out some of these thousand dollar dresses!...I know they must be beautifully made, but my price range is about $5.99.

link to missoni dresses

But just because I am not initially attracted to something (skinny jeans back in 2008 or mom jeans a 'la Jessica Simpson 2009), doesn't mean I won't challenge my fashion senses like a fashion influencer at Paris or Milan Fashion week.

And that's why I like thrifting--if item doesn't work, I won't miss my couple bucks.

Below is my 'Wanna-Be Missoni' I wore when I visited my parents in Poland a few summers ago.

me & daddy in Poland

That's me with my daddy or in Polish, my 'Tata'

With a band-aid of a belt, and the top bloused over to deal with the length, I felt at best 'meh'.

It was okay. Not great, not bad.

But definitely something I would never reach for again because I have way more cuter, more stylish, more flattering things I'd rather wear. So into the 'donations' bag it went.

At least, I challenged myself.

It was okay to let it go.

Bad A$$ Tingle (B.A.T.) (and not the one in my shoulder)

My ideas of refashioning thrifts or upcycling textiles into costumes come to me during the many quiet hours of gardening--with the exception of when I listen to podcasts about true crime, I really gotta focus on the story lines.

Normally, I am not too creative when it comes to clothing 'structure' ideas--that's what morning coffee with Pinterest perusing is for. However, what is part of my original, organic artistic process is adapting inexpensive thrifted textiles into things I see on Pinterest. So I will buy something that catches my eye at a thrift store, bring home, and sit on it until an idea hatches.

And that's how my 'Puffy Sleeve' monomania started. Seeing Pinterest images of women walking the long Tuileries path to this or that fashion show, made me want in!


80's Puffy Sleeves

As I was torquing my shoulder and elbow leveling clay soil, I was zapped with flash of brilliance to resurrect my wannabe Missoni dress from the donation bag and alchemize it into a 1980's Poof blouse.

I was finally feeling that 'Bad A$$ Tingle' which is my ultimate 'high' with projects I create.

My Pin-spiration

A quick side-note, for those who don't blog...I can't directly post pictures of the Puffy Sleeve inspirations because there's too many ways to go wrong and get into an copyright/infringement lawsuit. I'll explain this fun in another blog post.

Check out what inspires me on my 'Me Can Puffy Sleeves' Pinterest Board. Click on image below to take you there.

My 'Puffy Sleeve' Pinterest Board

link to my Puffy Sleeve Pinterest Board

Hungry for 'B.A.T.', just like a hawk swooping in for road kill, I beaked that Missioni-esque dress right out of the donations bag to breathe some new life into a zig-zagged, crocheted, ill-fitting dress.

Before image of Missoni-esque dress

the 'meh' Thrifted Missoni wanna-be dress...just way too long...I am 5'4".

1st Refashion Step

  • Find a 'Poof Sleeve' pattern from my immense collection of 80's patterns (Proof fashion always cycles back.)

I honed in on the orange blouse on the McCalls 8100 pattern. Perfect exaggerated sleeves for what I am trying to accomplish.

McCalls Pattern 8100

2nd Refashion Step

  • Removed the top of the dress from the bottom.

cutting top off bottom of Missoni-esque dress

3rd Refashion Step

  • Placed the puffy sleeve pattern where I wanted it on the fabric lines. Thankfully there was plenty of pattern where I needed it and could discard the heavily orange pattern (see above picture.)

cutting out sleeves of Missoni-esque dress

4th Refashion Step

  • Added a stiff tulle layer to address the issue of the floppiness of the heavy 2 layers of fabric--the crochet and polyester lining. Without the tulle, the poof would not happen.

adding tulle to stiffen poof sleeves of Missoni-esque dress

4.1. Ironed out the tulle and cut out pattern sleeve shape

4.2. Placed layer of tulle on zig-zag crochet fabric

4.3. Made layered sandwich of crocheted zig-zag fabric, tulle, and polyester lining.

4.4. Basted layers together on machine


As you can see, the single layer of tulle made a world of a difference when it came to adding structure to the sleeves. My idea worked : )

sad, floppy sleeve without tulle and happy, puffy sleeve with tulle

5th Refashion Step

  • Attached the first sleeve only to realize I did not like how dark the blue zig-zag on front sleeve looked.

5.b. 'Kick Myself' Sub-Step


  • Detached a serged sleeve--you can feel bad for me now--what a pain to remove painstakingly with a seam ripper

  • Reversed the sleeve so the more beige coloring in the front (you'll see the difference in the final photos)

finished puffy sleeve of Missoni-esque dress

6th Refashion Step

  • Added cuffs per the McCalls 8100 pattern.

adding cuff of Missoni-esque dress

7th Refashion Step

  • Tailored the inside of the torso to remove the fluting and flaring of the previous dress shape.

taking in sides of Missoni-esque dress

8th Refashion Step

  • Swelled with pride how my idea actually worked!!!

  • Had a glass of wine to celebrate completion.