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!

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  2. newpetite wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  3. Liz wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  4. LC wrote:

    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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  5. Annie wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  6. Janki wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  7. 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!!!!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  8. 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?

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  9. 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,

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  10. 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..)

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  11. Gracie wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  12. Annabelle wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  13. Jen wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  14. 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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  15. Kira wrote:

    Great job! Love the dress now on you!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  16. Elle wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  17. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  18. 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!!!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  19. 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 =)

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  20. pandaaa wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  21. Shy wrote:

    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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
    the after picture is AMAZING! i'm so impressed. beautiful 🙂 🙂

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  23. Missy wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  24. Miriam wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  25. 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.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  26. Anonymous wrote:

    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….

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  27. You are very talented!!!! I love the new look!!!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  28. Diana wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  29. Diana wrote:

    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!


    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  30. Liz wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  31. Rachel wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  32. 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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  33. Lloyd Lim wrote:

    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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  34. 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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  35. Michelle wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  36. 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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  37. That looks AMAZING! Great job. xoxo

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  38. Katherine wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  39. Annie wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  40. Sophia wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  41. Mary Ann wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  42. Anonymous wrote:

    the altered dress looks great! you are so skilled.

    i'd love if PAB did a cooking post!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  43. Anonymous wrote:

    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)

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  44. Tam wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  45. myhanh wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  46. Nng02 wrote:

    Alterations look amazing! Any recommedations on sewing machines?

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  47. Ping wrote:

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

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  48. Great job on the alternation! The dress looks fabulous with the new sleeves.

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  49. Susan wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.16.12 Reply
  50. Your "new" dress looks fabulous!

    Posted 2.15.12 Reply

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