Hot! My Favorite Mod Dress aka The Branch Division Dress

Fabric: a thrifted polyester blouse/skirt set that’s been in my closet for years, waiting for the right upcycling moment to come along. The brand was The Branch, as division of Joshua Tree, hence the aka in my title… it sounded so silly, I couldn’t let it go.

Pattern: none

Year: now

Notions: thread, 2 stash buttons

Time to complete: ˜ 5 hours

First worn: to a screening of Silent Souls (highly recommend!)

Wear again: of course!

Total price: $0! If you want to get technical, I probably paid $4 for the blouse/skirt, but this was 6 years ago.

I was really excited for this week’s challenge, and immediately set to work culling a few inspiration pieces that I could pair with stash fabric. When I came across the My Favorite Mod Dress, I knew of just the fabric. Rather, just the outfit that had been waiting for me to reinvent it for quite a long time. This was a really fun project for me, and got me back to my sewing roots of taking an existing garment and making it something else. Goodbye 70s poly suit, hello cute modern dress! Minus the bow… not into the bow. I think I had a more liberal translation of the challenge this week. Rather than replicate an existing dress, I used my inspiration piece as just that, coming up with something similar, but not an exact knock off. Hope that’s cool.

Guess I’d already partially seam ripped the waistband of the skirt before letting this languish. The waistband was waaay to snug for me then and now. After lots of trying on, tucking, pinning, hemming, hawing, here’s what I did in a nutshell:

Took off the skirt waistband and the 6″ CB zip, then stitched up the skirt where the zip was. Unpicked the sleeves, collar and the blouse CF placket. Because of the buttonholes, I had to trim one side of the placket. I turned the blouse around so that the CF was now in back, then stitched up the new CB seam, leaving an opening at the back. Due to the aforementioned buttonhole issue, it’s slightly off from the true center, but I’m okay with that. I marked a new neckline on front, then trimmed off the excess. Then stitched down shoulder pleats, followed by armscye pleats with button detail, harvested from the original blouse. This was to prevent gaping at the armscye, as there was no room to add darts where they’d traditionally belong. I turned the armscye under twice and stitched a narrow hem. I then made pleats on the front of the skirt, darts on the back. Next were darts on the back of the bodice, and then stitched bodice to skirt. Bias tape was made from a sleeve, and I stitched this around the neckline rather than make a facing. I then stitched the back keyhole and added a hook and French tack to avoid a zip (passed the Mena test!). The final step was to stitch the original waistband closed, then add a second buttonhole. I tacked this down on the CB, and added two buttons from my stash to the front. I was lucky to find two matching buttons in the right size/color! The original garment only had one button (from the waistband) in the correct size, and the remainder were smaller from the blouse. The “belt” can unbutton, allowing the dress to slip over my head. Huzzah!

Doesn’t everyone put on some tunes and have their own private dance party post-garment completion?!






Lavender has sewing in her blood. Raised by a working seamstress, she was always surrounded by the craft, but defiant when it came to learning the proper way to do anything. After years of hacking up t-shirts, jeans, vintage finds and selling tie satchels (gasp!) in a local shop, she packed up her machine. A few years ago, she dusted it off, determined to learn the right way 'round a machine & pattern.


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  1. Oh my goodness, you’re a genius! It’s such an improvement on the inspiration and I can’t believe it’s up-cycled too. Great Job!

  2. I prefer your version to the original suit (of course) and the inspiration dress! Fantastic upcycling!

  3. What a fantastic dress! You are brilliant at refashioning – no one would ever guess that lovely, sleek dress came from that suit. Amazing!

  4. wow! you did a great job matching up the stripes and it looks fantastic on you!

  5. Fantastic upcycle. Really inspiring.

  6. You are so inspiring! I’m going to look a garments in the thrift with a new eye. I am so amazed at how your dress turned out. Very lovely pictures too. Yes, I agree it is a special feeling when you finally finish the weekly challenge.

  7. This dress is beyond lovely.

  8. This is a heck of a lot nicer than the both the original inspiration and the original blouse/skirt combo. Very elegant

  9. Oh my god, Lavender, this is incredible! My refashions always look like hacked up clothes and I never would have guessed that you made this from that blouse/skirt. I’m also super impressed that you’ve kept those pieces for 6 years waiting for the right project – so worth it in the end!

  10. Oh my goodness!! The dress is so awesome! Great job!!

  11. Wow! I love the bias around the neckline and the detail at the waist. Fabulous!

  12. Wow – I am so impressed. Love it!

  13. Wow Lavender this is amazing LOVE IT, of course we do a post garment dance. hehe

  14. That is one of the most incredible refashions I’ve ever seen. You are a genius. I love what you’ve done with the stripes making chevrons at all the seams!

  15. Fantastic. Just love it.

  16. Brilliant. The dress is fantastic and such a great use of old clothes :)

  17. Fantastic dress! I think it turned out better than you inspiration! Cannot believe it was previously that suit!

  18. Fantastic! I loe how you used the stripes and the colours are to die for!

  19. Lavender – this is awesome! I love the colours, the style the cute pleats at the skirt’s waist and the fact that it’s thrifted! And now pattern? You’re a star!

  20. That is absolutely amazing. Wow I wish I had your sewing brain and eye for such possibilities recreating garments. You look stunning in the dress. And yes, I do love a little victory dance once garments are completed.

  21. Oh wow! Thanks for all the sweet comments, ladies :) This was such a fun project for me, and if it makes you run to the thrift store/opp shop, I am a happy camper indeed!!! Six years is a long time to let a find & ideas “marry” as they in cooking, but I bet y’all won’t wait that long :)

    @Chris I can’t take credit for the stripe matching, as that was in the bones of the original… hehe!

    @Everyone Wouldn’t it be grand to do a little victory dance all together! Seamster dance party!!!

  22. I love it! Yet another amazing creation from the talented Lavender!

  23. I love the remake, it’s gorgeous and yes the Happy Dance is in my repertoire!

  24. How absolutely inspired! Bahahaha. Seriously, I’m in awe that you went patternless on this puppy, you kicked ass and took names and now have something excellent to show for it. Really nice, I love the chevrons at the skirt and the buttons at the waist. Well done, and yes, I dance the hell out of my finished objects. That’s why I make them, for the dancing times.

  25. FABULOUS UPCYCLE! I would never have guessed that it was once a blouse and skirt! So lovely – the stripes are divine!

  26. brilliant, brilliant re-use of fabric. i was shocked to see that in your post–what a great job on design and construction!

  27. Genius! You have definitely elevated the art of upcycling with this creation.

  28. Nice dress- I love a good re-fashion and you did this so well!

  29. Wow! What a beautiful upcycle, I would never have guessed that it was an upcycle project if you didn’t tell us. Bravo!

  30. Brilliant refashion!

  31. You did an incredible job with this. Thank you for sharing.

  32. Lavender…….All I can say is WOW and double WOW !!!!!!! What a fabulous dress.A celebration dance for a great creation is always agood thing. You go girl.

  33. Wow! I have a plaid dress, size 3X that I purchased impulsively from Old Navy for $4 with this exact project in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Wowser! This is so amazing! What an upcycle :D

  35. fantastic refashion!