DIY Dolman Sleeve Dress Transformation

Thank you all for your honest opinions on my last post. I liked both H&M; dresses but wasn’t in love with either. Your comments confirmed the features that were bugging me, and I didn’t want to keep something that wasn’t perfect! I ended up parting with the emerald (already have other items in that exact color), and taking matters into my own hands with the mint:

Drawing a pattern based on my bust and shoulder measurements:

Chop chop!

“Click to Read More” to see how this turned out!

Voila! Strange kimono/dolman sleeve turned classic sleeve. I am now completely in love with this dress.mintdress2

Creating a “pattern” for the armholes and sleeves was unfortunately not easy. It took about 3 attempts to get right (with numerous photos from the side and back to identify fit issues). The ideal way to make good patterns is to cut apart a top that already fits well and to trace the pieces, but who has nice-fitting tops just lying around for dissecting?

For anyone who is interested in making this dress sleeveless, this is how it looked before I attached the sleeves. I thought it looked nice sleeveless, but because the dress is so slim and almost rectangular, I like the balance that sleeves add. With sleeves, I can also wear this dress to work and not worry about an additional layer.


Lastly, the author of PAB expressed interest in writing some guest posts during my blogging slowdown. If you have any questions for him or topics on which you’d be interested in hearing a male perspective, please leave us a comment below!


93 thoughts on “DIY Dolman Sleeve Dress Transformation

  • BooBooNinja February 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Your "new" dress looks fabulous!

  • Susan February 16, 2012 at 12:03 am

    The dress looks so much better now, amazing what a difference that a proper fit makes!

    For future PAB posts, I would be interested in reading more styling tips for men and good sale deals. 🙂 There's only so many plaid BR/JCrew/Gap shirts that I can buy for my husband. Since I'm the one styling his outfits, I'd like some cost-effective tips!

  • With Each Passing Day February 16, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Great job on the alternation! The dress looks fabulous with the new sleeves.

  • Ping February 16, 2012 at 12:16 am

    jean– you did a great job! no botching here
    looks much better with those slim sleeves….will you do one for me 😉

  • Nng02 February 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Alterations look amazing! Any recommedations on sewing machines?

  • myhanh February 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Great tailoring job, Jean! Good luck with your studies!

    Ideas for PAB: How to "kill time"/entertain yourself during early morning Target runs, long H&M; fitting rooms, etc.;
    Crock Pot recipes for Winter and Spring; or tips on how to scout good photo locations?

    I liked the spirit of the first post even if it was for April Fools Day! Can't wait! Thanks, Nick.

  • Tam February 16, 2012 at 12:24 am

    You did such a great DIY job on this dress–what a difference a proper sleeve makes! It looks so classic and lovely on you. I had been thinking you should keep the emerald dress, but this one is definitely my favorite now. I am feeling inspired; I really need to break out my sewing machine and start doing some of my own alterations here soon.

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Your altered dress is amazing!

    Your PAB is so adorable, too, for wanting to help you…or we could also have a closet exhibitionist at hand! Look forward to anything he wants to write about, but if he wants some suggestions:

    1) his favorite looks on you, and if he can be diplomatic, his least favorite looks
    2) what trends/styles you have never tried before that he would want you to try
    3) his top Spring/Summer 2012 picks (for the general population and also specifically for you)
    4) and since Fashion Week is going on, his top Fall/Winter 2012 picks (for the general population and also specifically for you)

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 12:36 am

    the altered dress looks great! you are so skilled.

    i'd love if PAB did a cooking post!

  • Mary Ann February 16, 2012 at 12:44 am

    You did the sleeves yourself? I'm impressed….sleeve installation is definitely not on the list of easy DIYs! 🙂

  • Sophia February 16, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I can't wait for the PAB posts! His previous ones were sooooo funny 😀 I enjoyed the sarcasm about girls' shopping habits.

    And the dress looks great by the way.

  • Annie February 16, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Wow, it looks like you don't even need a tailor – your self-alterations are amazing and professional!

  • Katherine February 16, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Wow you did such an amazing job! Love it , you make it all seem so easy 🙂 I love the existing posts that PAB did, maybe he can share with us the women's fashions that he loves vs. hates? I want to hear his take on harem pants and rompers!

  • Pretty Gossip February 16, 2012 at 1:13 am

    That looks AMAZING! Great job. xoxo

  • Karen (littlepiecefnb) February 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Omg you did such an incredible job on the sleeves…what a transformation! Looks so much better now! Also, all of my local H&M; stores are completely out of the small sizes of that blouse…I really liked it too!

  • Michelle February 16, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Dang! Great job with those alterations!! Glad you got the color and fit you wanted!

    I like anon's suggestion of Nick doing a "favorite looks on you….his least favorite looks" post.

  • ღ Caroline♔ February 16, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Where did you learn how to sew so amazingly like that?! Your DIY tailoring was executed flawlessly–you should make a video the next time you do alterations on a piece. Just a suggestion 😉

    As always, I adore you, Jean!
    <3 caroline

  • Lloyd Lim February 16, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Wow. I do like the altered version. It fits you much better and I think the shoulder to arm line is beautiful. Amazing work. (I would re-position my response to your earlier post: pick whichever and alter!)

    – Lloyd

  • Canadianpetite February 16, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Umm…have you ever taken a sewing class? Do you think I could sew as well as you if I took a one-day seminar? Geez, you made that dress look so good Jean!

  • Rachel February 16, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I just purchased the white blouse few days ago ! it's definitely a great deal, love the gold button accents 🙂

  • Liz February 16, 2012 at 2:43 am

    That's fantastic. That dolman look was a hot, trendy mess but this is completely chic and classic!

  • Diana February 16, 2012 at 3:07 am

    What a great transformation. Go you! love the DIY.
    It's true…that dolman-ish thing was not doing you favors. But the color was too divine to let go. So happy you worked your magic on this dress because it's definitely worth it. Very 50s chic 🙂
    and thank you for the H&M; coupon you linked the other day. got me some leggings that I'd been eyeing. Ugh…I might have to go back and get that cream-colored blouse!


  • Diana February 16, 2012 at 3:11 am

    For PAB: love to gain some insights on how a stylish guy's dressing routine goes. And what are men's staple wardrobe pieces?

  • Fashionable Memories February 16, 2012 at 4:24 am

    You are very talented!!!! I love the new look!!!

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 4:29 am

    Wow, that dress is amazing on you! I can't believe you altered the sleeves yourself! Where did you learn to sew like that? I can hem pants, but that's it….

  • SewPetiteGal February 16, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Wow, great job!! I'm glad you kept the sleeves. It looks great sleeveless but it also looks more average that way. The sleeves are what give it character. 🙂

    As for PAB posts, I'd love to hear about any photography tips! I cannot for the life of me get a good photo straight out of the camera. My whites are either blue or yellow and then I have to color-correct.

  • Miriam February 16, 2012 at 4:57 am

    I love the dress after the alteration and the new sleeves make you look taller in the dress. Amazing job!

  • Missy February 16, 2012 at 5:18 am

    i loved the new dress!! fits you like a glove

  • hannah love February 16, 2012 at 6:02 am

    the after picture is AMAZING! i'm so impressed. beautiful 🙂 🙂

  • Shy February 16, 2012 at 6:36 am

    I'll echo the others with a "wow!" on the sleeves.
    For PAG post I did Love the humor of his previous posts; more please. (I like the previous poster's suggestion about how to spend time while waiting on a shop-a-holic)
    Yet I'd also like some men's clothing suggestions.
    My hubby lives in jeans & then has suits for special occasions. Nothing in between.
    I'd love a list of men's basics as well. Dressy/casual would be great.
    Maybe some reviews of versatile items for regular guys (not the fashionista-men) lol

  • pandaaa February 16, 2012 at 7:45 am

    i'm hunting down those chiffon-like blouses! thanks for the info!!

  • PetiteLittleGirl February 16, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I am seriously impressed with your DIY. The dress is now perfect! I absolutely love it. Are you thinking of hemming up the dress to above-knee or keeping the length as is? I forgot to mention on Twitter that the orange blouse might be big for you since a size 2 fits me perfectly. As for PAB posts, I would be interested in photography tips and recipes =)

  • Terapia de Meninas February 16, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Olá!!! Eu visto tamanho pequeno também, aqui no Brasil meu nº é 36 mas mesmo assim é muito difícil achar algo que fique certinho, sempre preciso fazer alguns ajustes, o problema é que muitas vezes eu não tenho tempo e com isso a roupa fica parada por tempos. Isso muitas vezes me desanima muito de levar alguma peça que eu tenha gostado, que é uma pena!!! Bjs!!!

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Absolutely fantastic job on the alterations!! It seemed a perfect fit after.

  • Elle February 16, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Holy moly!!!!!! Jean you have outdone yourself with this DIY…uh, want to alter one for me (I kid I kid)?

    As for what PAB could write about…maybe share some recipes as he seems like an avid cook? Or photo tips for fellow photographers?

    Back to drooling over your newly altered dress!

  • Kira February 16, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Great job! Love the dress now on you!

  • drippinjewels February 16, 2012 at 9:43 am

    any tips on how to alter sleeves of Denim jackets!! I always get ones that fit well on shoulder n bust…but has long sleeves…that is even difficult to fold due to the nature of thick denim. I really hope you could answer me someday…

    Thank you

  • Jen February 16, 2012 at 9:52 am

    PAB guest blogs would be great! My boyfriend never shops for himself, so I always go out and purchase things for him. I'm getting a bit tired of the JCrew sweaters and button-downs. Or, some fresh suit/tie/shirt combos would be great!

  • Annabelle February 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

    So much better! I continue to be amazed by your tailoring skills.

  • Gracie February 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

    The after looks fabulous! Just some food for thought, have you considered making the sleeves a tad shorter? With so much sleeves fabric, they make your shoulders look a smidge wider.

  • My Dressy Ways February 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Great job with DIY alteration Jean! It's a great color on you so I can't wait to see you style it!

    Looking forward to the PAB posts! I'd love his behind-the-lens perspective. 🙂 Or how about, when bloggers meet up and PAB 'tags' along. "my life as an assistant to a style blogger" (shopping, blogging, taking pictures, web support etc..)

  • dietingfashions February 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Amazing job you did. I would be so scared to take apart anything!

    I have some questions for PAB for a male perspective:

    1. If a guy has everything, what's a cool gift to surprise him with?

    2. What's a trend that most guys like to rock nowadays for professional attire and just casual wear?

    Thank you,

  • The Little Dust Princess February 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

    You did such an amazing job, Jean! I also love how it looks sleeveless. For Nick, maybe share his fave recipe (as Elle mentioned above)… professional attire for men?

  • Panina(nana) February 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Okay, now I think the dress is perfect! Lol at "strange kimono/dolman sleeves" hahaha… I also like it sleeveless, so Posh! I want to try some DIY transformations with some old clothes now! Also, I noticed in your previous post (one of the first pics with the white/black H&M; skirt) and in this one: You're arms are so toned! ^_^

    Can't wait to read PAB's blog posts!!!!

  • Janki February 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

    It looks perfect! I need to take sewing classes ASAP. You're eye for what "can be" is really developed. I normally would not have picked it because I wouldn't have been able to see the potential. I'd love to see it styled for work. I have a tough time with dresses at work, esp with accessories.

    PAG is hilarious and would be a welcomed guest blogger! In addition to the things mentioned above, perhaps he can give some ideas on quick, stylish "recipe outfits" that can be used when we are running late.

    I made your Oreo truffles for my son's Harry Potter Party (the golden snitch they became). They are fantastic! They taste much better than my super labor intensive cake balls. The trick with the fork/spoon worked great.

    Keep up the great work, and study hard!

  • Annie February 16, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Love the after tailor effect of the dress! looks so much better!!

  • LC February 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    wow! i really need to brush up on my sewing. i used to do it all myself, but i got soo lazy. you`re definitely inspiring me to start up again. i actually prefer the dress sleeveless on you! it makes your arms look super toned.

    xox, LC

  • Liz February 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Let's get some input from PAB about going out/date looks!

  • newpetite February 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I love the dress now and love it more without the sleeves 🙂 Cant wait to see what PAB has to say here! 😀

  • JenlovesBal February 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I LOVE the sleeveless version. Very classy. Great job on the alterations.

  • Benjamin + Trang February 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Great alterations!!! I'm glad you kept the mint 🙂

    You really have toned arms! What kind of workouts do you do to get them so toned??


  • AubreyOhDang! February 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    obsessed too. can you do a pretty lookbook photoshoot so i can pin this? hm…did u ever put the price for this dress? i know it's a TREND line so I wouldn't be able to get it, unless I felt like driving over an hour, but just curious to know how much they're charging.

  • Elizabeth Keene February 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    You are like a fashion wizard, lol! This dress turned out so good. Great job.

  • Melanie February 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Oh wow, that dress looked so much better when got done with it.

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Cant wait for PAB posts on Mens professional wardrobe! Picking the right shoes, proper fit for suit pants/jacket, good deals…but of course will miss you Jean! Just got a bit excited to share this blog with my man. Goodluck on the CFA!

  • Riani Irawan February 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I'm your new fan!! Please check out my blogs to at

  • SamanthaF February 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    ok. Now I'm sold 🙂
    Happy studying.

    cheers, Samantha

  • Victoria February 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Wow you have skills!! I actually like the sleveless version on you too! I really hope PAB can do more posts, they were some of my favorites!

  • Satin And Salt February 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Gosh I need to learn how to work a sewing machine! Like you, I have issues with fit and learning how to alter my own garments would be a HUGE help. So glad you kept this one! I loved it the best!


  • SugarNikita February 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Very nicely done! I thought at first you WERE making it sleeveless, but I like it with the classic sleeves too. It's always a little frightening altering something without a pattern, isn't it? 🙂

  • Tiffany February 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I actually just bought those two blouse today. I wasn't sure what color to get but since it's only $9.95 I decided to get both since I could wear it to work or for the weekend if I decide to dress up for a dinner or something. Love it.

  • Joy February 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I love how it looks sleeveless! But you're right about the sleeves being more appropriate and more hassle-free for work.

  • Suzy February 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    agreed! it looks even more amazing after the alterations 🙂

  • ellabella February 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    i want to hear about PAB's favorite eats in Boston!

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I second the photography tips! I assume that he learned a lot of tricks on his own, but if he can also offer his top online resources and blog recommendations, that'd be appreciated.

  • littlemissandrea February 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Jean you are so brave! I'm glad the DIY alterations worked out well for this dress – the fit looks so much better and gives it a classier feel. Good job!!

    PS – Canada finally is having 20% off at H&M.; They didn't forget about us this time! 🙂

  • Sarah February 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    great job with the dress! im sure all the hard work was worth it to have something fit just right

  • Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    wow amazing! it looks fantastic on you

  • noniq February 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Wow you're awesome and it turned out to be even better 🙂

  • Erica February 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Wowza!! Incredibly impressive. Especially given that you are so busy! 🙂 How did you fit in the time?

  • Anonymous February 17, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I would suggest trimming off a little from the bottom and wearing a belt to raise your waist line. This will elongate your legs. Just my 2 cents. very nice DIY!:)

  • Alice February 17, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Wow, I am really impressed by your DIY alterations. I really need to learn how to sew. But how does one start with this task? lol

    But on a dress like this, would you ever DIY dissect the dress at the waist line and then reattach the two pieces with the chest portion shorter? I feel like I've gotten dresses that fits, but they fit my body different than how the designer envisioned – like an empire waist dropping lower and changing the shape of the dress. I'm not sure if that would look better or worse, but I am curious how it would look in comparison.

  • Amy February 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Great decision to keep the mint dress, I really like the color and front pleat. And you've done a great job with the alterations!

  • Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews) February 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Wow Jean, I saw you post on FB but only got a chance to view now, turned out great! You are BRAVE!!!

    I'd love to hear photography and photoshoot stories of a day in the life of PAB following PAG around 😛

  • Anonymous February 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    What sewing machine do you use? I'm dying to start doing my own alterations, but I'm having trouble picking the right machine. Please help!

  • Anonymous February 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I would love to learn about PAB's skin regime, my hubby's skin needs help and I don't think there's much resources on that. Thanks!


  • Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I second the request to hear about PAB's food adventures in the Boston area.

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I use a simple older Brother machine, but it looks really similar to this model for $80

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I use a simple older Brother machine, but it looks really similar to this model for $80

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    If the waistline were too low, I think the best approach with something like this dress would be to take it in along the shoulder line. That way you don't tamper with the waist line and the zipper. I've done that with blouses in the past. When I tried on this dress and pinched the shoulder up 1 inch, I felt the waist line was then too high. I wonder if the shoulder line alteration would work for your empire style dresses that are too low.

  • R.L. February 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Jean, you're so talented with DIY alterations! Love the finished look. I agree with hearing about PAB's food adventures and maybe even a "pairings" entry or vid either on his clothes or yours.

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    How funny! I love the thought of the Oreo truffles as golden snitches : )

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Denim alterations are really tough when the material is thick. I've broken several needles before on my sewing machine due to the thickness. There are some YouTube videos on altering/hemming denim, so check those out. I would personally take it to a tailor to do, especially if you want to maintain the original hem on the sleeves to keep the rugged/washed look.

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I'm a complete gym novice…so pardon this crude explanation: I just do some sets each week with 5lb weights over the head and out to the side.

  • Monkey February 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I am SO impressed! Seriously, I thought there was no saving that mint dress from awkwardness but now I love it too! Completely fabulous on you.

  • Ania February 19, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Wow, it's so great!!

  • February 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    wow amazing sewing skills….looks so much better…I am not liking the "dolman" sleeves or shirts I keep seeing

  • Moo February 20, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Omg the dress looks wonderful now. my heart skipped a beat when i saw the chopped up pieces in the preview. haha but it turned out very nicely after your diy alterations. and I am so glad you didn't keep it sleeveless too :)) Thumbs upp!

  • Jen February 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Really late in commenting, but you did a fantastic job with this! I'm so afraid to do alterations myself. This is very inspiring!

  • DiamondsandTulle March 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    The transformation on that dress looks incredible! I actually love it sleeveless but I understand you want more coverage for work. Great job!

    xx Vivian @

  • gigiofca March 9, 2012 at 2:39 am

    You did an amazing job!

  • Anonymous March 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

    do you have the code for this dress? I cant find it in my HM store

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

    #059894 – It's in their "trend" department which is only in major stores, I think. Just call ahead and ask if your store carries trend. Good luck!

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