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

  • Reply 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??


  • Reply 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.

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

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

  • Reply Melanie February 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

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

  • Reply 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!

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

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

  • Reply SamanthaF February 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    ok. Now I'm sold 🙂
    Happy studying.

    cheers, Samantha

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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!


  • Reply 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? 🙂

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply Suzy February 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    agreed! it looks even more amazing after the alterations 🙂

  • Reply ellabella February 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm

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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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! 🙂

  • Reply 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

  • Reply Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    wow amazing! it looks fantastic on you

  • Reply noniq February 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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

  • Reply 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?

  • Reply 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!:)

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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 😛

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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!


  • Reply Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 9:11 am

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

  • Reply 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

  • Reply 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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply PetiteAsianGirl February 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply Ania February 19, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Wow, it's so great!!

  • Reply 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

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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 @

  • Reply gigiofca March 9, 2012 at 2:39 am

    You did an amazing job!

  • Reply Anonymous March 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

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

  • Reply 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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