Dress to a Playsuit (Without cutting the waistband)

I'd been searching the web (youtube mostly) to find a tutorial to turn a slightly too big vintage dress that I bought online, and was less that enthusiastic about, into a playsuit. Nearly every single tutorial (that I found anyway) required you to detach the reattach the waistband. But some dresses don't even have a waist band, and others, like mine, have an elasticated waist that would be painfully time staking to do this to.

So I did a few trial runs on old too small dresses, and finally found this way that admittedly, sounds tricky and might take you a while to get your head round, but just try it out on something old first, because when you actually start doing it, it seems to just fall into place and you know exactly what should be folded where and what pinned to what.

You will need:
  • A dress that you want to change into a playsuit (I find that looser fitting ones make a more flattering playsuit, as the legs can be flow-ey)
  • A pair of shorts that fit well (particularly in the crotch area!) 
  • Dressmakers Scissors
  • Dressmakers Pins
  • Matching thread
  • A sewing machine or needle if you are handsewing
  • Popper/Button/Hook and eye depending on how you can put the playsuit on


Lay your dress flat and smooth out any gathers. Make sure both sides are flat and the hem is even. Pinch together both pieces of fabric exactly in the centre of the hem, and also the neckline. Lift up these points so that your dress falls exactly in half.


Lay the folded dress flat once again, making sure that both sleeves are together and on the opposite side to the fold line. Again make sure the fabric is flat, even and taught ready for step three.


Fold your favourite pair of shorts in the same way that you did to the dress in step one. Hopefully if you were struggling to fold this picture will help as you can see the shorts clearer, it should be folded so that only the front of the item is visible and the back is touching in the fold. Lay the folded pair of shorts against the folded side of your dress. Both folds should be together facing the same way.


Leaving extra room for the seam (too much is always better than not enough, you can always go back and make a garment smaller) cut the fabric mimicking the curve of the shorts.


Unfold the dress and lay it flat. You should now see a cut out diamond shape in the middle of your dress. Cut from the hem to the bottom of the diamond. This will make the skirt of your dress into two separate pieces, only attached by the waistband. Now turn inside out and lay flat with the front of the dress facing you.


Apart from the confusing folding, making sure you are sewing the correct pieces together can leave you boggled for awhile. With the dress inside out, pinch the left side and right side of the front of the dress together and pin. If you are struggling to understand how to pin the fabric correctly place your hands together as if you are praying, and then keeping your fingers together, pull your palms outward. If this was the fabric you would pin through the finger area. I hope this is understandable? Do the same to the back part of the skirt, attaching the right side to the left side in the same method. Leave the bottom part (which will be the legs)


Sew along the pinned areas. Note, you should only be sewing two pieces of fabric together. After you have sewn both the back and front seams you should have a fully attached skirt again. Take care to not get any puckers or gathers in your seams, especially if your dress is not full, as this will be the seam that goes from the waistband to your crotch (look at one of your playsuits you already own if you are confused).


Lay your dress flat once again. Pin together the front V shape (this will be the only un-stitched edge) and the back V shape. This will completely close the centre portion of the skirt and create the shorts. If you are able to, try on before sewing to make sure the crotch is correct.


Sew the V shape shut, in one go. Sew one half of the V, then pivot the fabric while still in the machine and sew the other half. The bottom should now be a pair of shorts.


The next step isn't a compulsory one, and if your dress was a button down, stretchy or you can get it on by standing in the neck and pulling it up your body, then you can stop here and will have a playsuit (congrats!). But if like my dress, it had to be put on by pulling over your head, you will need to use this step, because you've just sewn the skirt shut.

Start by laying the playsuit inside out, flat, with the back side facing you. Estimate how far down you will need to open the fabric in order to be able to open it wide enough to fit your booty through. Again, cut a little at a time, trying it on as you go. Then cut a tear drop shaped hole, with the point being at the very top of the neckline. Hem all around the opening by turning the fabric over on itself twice. Sew on a fastener of your choice to keep the neckline closed. This will create a cut out back effect.

Now is the time to shorten the legs of your playsuit if necessary. Even if the dress you started with was the perfect length, I find playsuits are always more flattering that little bit shorter than you'd imagine (no bum checks on show though please!)

And you're finished!!!


As you can see my dress was a sheer material so I will need to make some little shorts to attached underneath, so make sure you keep the fabric in mind when picking the dress you alter! You can't just pop a slip under a playsuit like you can a slightly sheer dress.

I hope you enjoyed this D.I.Y and don't forget to follow on Bloglovin' so you don't miss next Saturdays installment!


  1. Great post! It looks fab! I never would have thought to do that! Xx

  2. Thanks for this- this was the easiest/clearest tutorial I found! And it actually worked! tb

  3. Thank you, what a great tutorial. I have wanted to create this for ages. Thanks to you I now have.

  4. Thanks for the tutorial! I was looking for something like this!

  5. Now I know how to do it myself. Thank you!

  6. Thanks so much, I've been trying to work out how to do this for ages x

  7. Amazing! Just about to start it now


  8. Thank you so much. It is tricky to get your head around but I am sure it will work in practice. thank you so, so much for your creative genius!