Part 2 Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress… plus 3 Looks!

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress… plus 3 Looks!

Hello again and welcome for another DIY / upcycling/ recycling/ thrifting (whatever you call it) project! I mean this social distancing/lockdown season is making me so productive, digging all the possible treasures in all our closets after a major decluttering session right after the Chinese New Year. I still have many extra fabrics, unwanted clothes including the kids’ uniforms that are not good for op-shops.

A few weeks ago, I shared my first school uniform upcycling here and I am surprised that many of you like my simple tutorial. This is why I am motivated to make episode 2 of my uniform upcycling story, now using the kid’s winter dress uniform.






Short History of Tartan

Who does not like tartan?! I think this is one of the classic and ancient cloth in the whole fashion history dated back from 3rd century AD earliest known in Scotland.

Tartan refers to the pattern of interlocking stripes, running in both the warp and weft in the cloth (horizontal and vertical), or any representation of such a woven design in other media (printed, painted, or otherwise rendered). Typically, today one thinks of “clan tartans” — that is, tartan designs that represent certain Scottish clans and families.

Originally, tartan designs had no names and no symbolic meaning. All tartan cloth was hand woven, and usually supplied locally. While it may have been true that certain colors or pattern motifs were more common in some areas than others, no regulated or defined “clan tartan” system ever existed. Tartan, in general, however, came to be extremely popular in Scottish Highland culture. So much so that by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, tartan clothing is seen to be characteristic of Highland dress.

So now you understand why many private schools prefer tartan fabrics in their uniforms. The fabric is practical and symbolizes a higher standard.

Enough for the history lessons and let’s proceed with my upcycling story.

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Many of you will think it is still a good uniform (well it is!) however after the school administration sent a memo of relaxing the uniform code (were girls can now wear the boy’s uniform, and those who hates wearing skirts can now wear pants instead) these dresses ended up in the file of unwanted clothes. 

And my thrifty side of me saved these pieces before they ended up in the trash for the Wednesday’s trash collection. 

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
For this upcycling project, I used two winter dress uniforms to make a longer dress. Before I made my pattern, I had to unstitched all of them: removing the button, zippers, bands, wide pleats so I can access how much fabric I could use. After unstitching them carefully while simultaneously watching the Madam CJ Walker biopic on Netflix, and wearing my Loreal face mask on, I laid the fabrics on the floor and start cutting my pattern (with already the design in my mind… yup I don’t do sketching, quite tedious). 

I didn’t bother ironing flat the fabric coz I’m quite lazy at that time (but I recommend that you do so). 






Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
After cutting the fabric (with the design on my mind) I created this skirt. It is quite short than I expected, so I decided to use the other skirt to extend the length of my skirt project right a few inches below my knee. 

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
The tartan fabric is quite tricky to sew, and if you do not sew it properly, it will end up losing the weaves, and it got messy. So, all the hemlines and edges need to be sewn neatly.

PS. Never mind about those loose white hair. My cat slept with it the other night 😊

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress


For my skirt hemline, I cut some fabric that is good enough to make a ruffle around the skirt’s hemline. I still have enough fabric to make a simple sleeveless top for this project. Using the remaining fabric, I sew it together and make a space to insert the garter (so the top dress kinda looks like a mini ruffled skirt, without the straps). 

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
For the inner lining of my top dress, I used the lower portion of this sport’s uniform and sewn it together with my tartan fabric. 






My cat really loves annoying me when I’ve busy sewing!

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Aside from inserting a garter on the upper part, I also insert garter on the lower part to cover my breast and secure for unwanted non-PG view, lol.

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
For the straps, I used the skirts' old waistbands.

It took me two days to make the whole process, as I still have other crafts to do, including editing my drafts for this blog, etc.. etc…

Don’t worry I am enjoying this isolation season.


And here’s the result…

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
I also made a matching huge scrunchie from the leftover fabrics. I think I still have pieces that I could use for other accessories such as face masks, especially that it became a must-have.

The following day with having a burst of good sunshine, I took out my tripod to our backyard and organized my own photoshoot. After all, this new thrifted dress needs a little flaunting and testing for 3 different looks.





Lookbook No. 01


Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
This whole look is perfect when the weather is quite breezy and cold outside, especially that autumn is around the corner. For my hair, I am wearing a matching big scrunchie in a lower ponytail, and a vintage earring that I got from Vinnies OpShop downtown. The bag leather bag is also from Vinnies Opshop that I bought for AUD10.00





Lookbook No. 02


Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
My playful side and love for cats dominate this look! There is my cat, Smokey trying to catch my attention while I am working, so I decided to include her in my photo. I guess she is a camera-shy fella. Pairing this look with my Sanrio Hello Kitty bag that I bought from last year’s trip to Japan, and white sandals that I got at a super-discount price (AUD$5.00) at Target.





Lookbook No. 03


Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress
A simple white top and skirt will suffice! For my hair, I decided to let it down and accessorized with these Dolce and Gabbana-inspired headbands that I got from Landmark. Both my white turtled-neck top (AUD8.00) and white shoes (AUD$6.00) are all sourced from Vinnies op shop.
Who cares about the label?! Op shops are my label!





Roadtest: Grocery shopping at Woolsworth

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress

Around 5PM on that same day, I decided to wear my newly thrifted dress during our usual grocery shopping downtown at Woolsworth. After all, this dress deserves attention!

Well, it did not disappoint. I overheard at least 5 women (and kids) saying “… is that St Paul’s uniform? But looks different!”

I hope I inspired a few Moms out there reading my post to do upcycling as well.

Uniform Upcycling: How I Turn this Old Winter School Uniform into a Dress

What do you think of this dress? How about my lookbook? What upcycling / recycling project you are doing recently?

PS. There is episode 3 coming soon, so stay tuned!

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152 comments :

  1. Wow this is a great upcycle. Loved how you make this so different and you got to do so many outfits with it.

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  2. This is a wonderful post. I love the step by step instructions. You look amazing in your creations.

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  3. So creative! What a great way to re-purpose a uniform!

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  4. ok wow you are talented. cute dress! also love. the facemask while you are sewing :)

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  5. This just goes to show you what a little creativity and some needle skills can do. I really love this!

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  6. Wow! Its pretty awesome. Thanks for the idea.

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  7. I can see you are using this time as an opportunity to be creative and resourceful. I wish I could have a talent like that of yours. The dress looks good and it fits for summer.

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  8. Wow! You are so talented! I can't even sew a button, hahaha.

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    1. I remember back in grade school, my Mom had this old Singer sewing machine and encouraged me to learn how to sew. In order to impressed her, I decided to learn the craft... now it is very handy for me :)

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  9. What an idea. U completely changed your uniform into an amazing dress

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    1. Hahaha yeah! Few days ago, I received extra fabric of red tartan from a friend. It's time for a new diy project!

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  10. This is awesome! I also dreamt of recycling my old clothes. I have the ideas but I don't know how to start :) Thank you for this post, I think I gained that guts that I needed. :)

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    1. Yeah you should try it! You can start in hand-sewing them. Start from recycling your old clothes, and when you got the grip and confidence, you can turn to new fabrics.

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  11. Cool!!! You look awesome on that dress. :)

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  12. This is awesome! I love to see clothing being remade.

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  13. You did such a great job with upcycling the old school uniform! I really like the skirt part of your design!

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    1. Aww thank you! My boyfriend thinks it looks fancy.

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  14. I love love love how it turn out! The third look is my favorite. Unfortunately I don't have the talent for sewing (nearly caught my finger in those sewing machines lmao). Would love to see more of your upcycling projects!

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  15. Wow!! You nailed all the looks! Thats's so creative gurl.

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  16. well done! love all 3 looks. and the ruffle is such a great addition. perfect for spring and summer.

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    1. Thank you! I can also wear them during autumn by layering!

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  17. upcycling is such a great talent to have, I’d never have the vision to do this

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    1. It was part of our school curriculum back in grade school, and I love doing it from school.

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  18. You are so creative! I love this outfit and how you managed to make a school uniform so trendy. I may try it out with my old one.

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  19. I love seeing upcycled clothes! This came out so good!

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  20. Love the work you did on how you turned an old school uniform into a new dress! Darcee, my wife, has been playing around with upcycling her old outfits or random materials into new functional items! She is going to love your plans!

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  21. I never imagined school uniforms to have different classy looks. I love how creative you see things. You look like a young teenager full of excitement in life!

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    1. Hahaha thank you Sarah! I love these activities :)

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  22. What a cute outfit! I love that you made it yourself./ By the way, a little off topic, but did you enjoy Madam CJ Walker?

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    1. Yes, I like the biopic movie of Madam C.J. Walker. She is a very inspiring lady, from rugs to riches.. the first Black Woman Millionaire in America.

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  23. Wow! You are so talented. Loved the dress �� and nice lookbook.

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  24. Ohh my...You're so talented in upskilling ideas & sewing too...Wishing I can do the same to my old clothes, but I just not interested in sewing :( lol...cheers, siennylovesdrawing

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    1. we have different skills. Mine is sewing, and yours is blogging!

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  25. How cute are you, you did a great job with this! Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

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  26. This 40s dress made me crazy, I think I'm going crazy for the fantasy as for the color and the model. Good job!

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  27. wow you are very talented and creative, i like the style and the colour.

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  28. i know why it's so cute!!! your cat helped you do that haha! <3

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  29. You did a great work with that uniform. It looks beautiful and comfy plus the Hello Kittie Purse is the perfect combo

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  30. Gawh, this is definitely a talent that I do not have! I absolutely love tartan, its one of my favourite styles, and the dress is beautiful. You should be very proud

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    1. Yes, I'm quite proud of the success of this dress. I initially thought the will be needing more fabric :)

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  31. Wow! your dress look amazing....... you are so talentful........

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  32. You did such an amazing job! You look fabulous in this. I wish I could sew!

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    1. Thank you dear! Sewing the oldest hobby I have :)

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  33. Tartan is very trendy. I love what you did with your uniform. You are very talented. You inspire me to get back to my sewing machine and do the same.

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    1. Sewing helps me to release stress, and keeps me busy.

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  34. This is amazing! It turned about absolutely beautifully. Such a smart way to use that uniform!!

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  35. I did not know that about the history of tartan and found it very interesting! I love how your cat likes to get in the shots :)

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  36. Clearly you are much more talented than me with the sewing. You have done an amazing job of this outfit xx

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    1. Awww, thank you Melanie! I got inspiration online and whenever I visit a department store, I scrutinize the dresses.

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  37. I love what you did with the Tartan, the dress looks amazing!!!! You're super creative, amazing...

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    1. Thank you Chad! It is only pity that the owners of this uniforms are not so girly like me, coz I should have repairs it for them, lol.

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  38. Oh my goodness, I love what you did. That's amazing! I wish I had talent with sewing but unfortunately I do not. I love the different ways you styled your new outfit!

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  39. Wow that came out so well, you have such creative talent. It's so beautiful and looks practical for any occasion.

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  40. Wow! you're so talented and creative. Really cutie outfit.

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  41. Kristine Nicole AlessandraApril 30, 2020 at 5:31 AM

    Oh wow. You are so creative! Reminds me of my mom who would upcycle old clothes too. I never really learned how to cut patterns or use a sewing machine. Would it be too late to learn now? I hope not.

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    1. It is not too late to learn! Now that we are all in social distancing, this is the perfect time :)

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  42. That is very creative. I love all 3 looks! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Keep on visiting my blog for more DIY projects :)

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  43. Thanks for sharing your talent. I always appreciatebtaking something unused and turning it into something I love

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  44. This is absolutely gorgeous and you rock it.

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  45. Wow - you are so talented! That is amazing! I also love your bag and your pretty cat too!

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    1. Aww thank you! I should include Smokey in my other pictures soon!

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  46. Wow this is amazing! I have lot's of unused uniforms and my mom is a great sewer and I should try make this . I love DYI uniform design so stunning.

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    1. The kids here in Australia doesn't have the culture of passing-on their old uniforms to others (unlike during my school days back in the Philippines). I saved their uniforms, coz they are still good, and throwing them to landfills needs us to pay additional fee.

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  47. That sounds like a great book to read. I will definitely check this out. Thanks for sharing the book review.

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  48. Oh my! You are such a smart and creative woman! Who would have thought of turning an old school uniform into s fashionable outfit! πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹ Amazing really! Thanks for the idea!

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  49. Wow, you are really good at it. I love upcycling but I'm not good at it. Loved this post. Absolutely!

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  50. You are a very talented lady that is for sure. You have done a fab job with this dress x

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    1. Thank you Melanie, I am having a lot of fun sewing :)

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  51. Tartan is one of my favorite patterns in the family of Plaids! I like how you made a little volume on the bust, it would fit me as it gives illusion to bustier bust even if I flatter one! hehe

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    1. That's true! That's why I love ruffles, it gives a lot of different :)

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  52. This is great! I am a huge fan of all things relating to upcycling - this is an awesome way to cut back on the amount of waste in the world. I LOVE Your cat! My cats like to 'help' when I'm crafting too lol

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    1. She is a very playful cat. And she loves my bag of wool!

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  53. This is so very creative! You are amazing to have come up with that idea!

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  54. I'm really loving the coordination especially the top and scrunchie! i also love how you paired the white top and the skirt! :)

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    1. I am enjoying these looks, which made me inspired to create more.

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  55. Wow that is so creative of you. I really need to learn to sew. I learned tartans patterns repeat I'd you rotate by 90° but plaids dont nessisarly (meaning all tartans are plaids but not all plaids are tartans)

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  56. I absolutely love it! I think this turned out even better than the uniform from the post before

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    1. awww thank you! If only uniforms will be these cute!

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  57. you did a great job upcycling this! napaisip tuloy ako if my old school uniforms are still at home. like its like 20 years old already haha. but super bright idea!! i love the 3rd look, im not into romper types for me kasi parang hindi bagay. but if the romper style, i like look 1 more, mas buhay na buhay sya.

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  58. You are so creative and talented. You did a great job at recreating this outfit.

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  59. I like how you upcycled the uniform. My daughter has the same pattern of uniform skirt though a different color. She is still using it for another year. So maybe next year I could also do something to it to reuse the cloth.

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    1. One more year to wait, and you can turn it into your dress!

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  60. I like the 2nd look! You're so creative. You make it look like it's easy to do. Hehe! Also, your cat is so cute!

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  61. Wow, napakacreative mo naman! Ang cute ng thrifted dress at nung cat mo. 😊

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  62. You are so creative and very patient! Who would've thought those are school uniform? I love how you wore them in different styles too. And, I miss woolworths! Waah

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    1. Awww even my boyfriend couldn't believe that I made it!

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  63. Very pretty and a great way to up-cycle. I will have to find a sewing machine and try something like that out!

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    1. Having a sewing machine at home is a great investment for you and your family. Happy sewing!

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  64. Wow what a great project. You did amazing job. Well done. All styles look beautiful on you.

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  65. I like how your mini project turned out! I wish i know how to use the sewing machine or as creative as you hehe! Upcycling is the way to go to avoid unnecessary wastage and to save the environment. Love the matching scrunchie you did too :)

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  66. Super creative!! This is how we practice sustainability in fashion. One of my dreams din is to make dresses talaga and reading this was refreshing. Hope i can try this as well.

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    1. Yes, you can try! If you have old clothes, that the best materials to use for your practice sewing.

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  67. You're doing well in stitching now. Good job! I hope you can do more formal or "runway" type dresses for fun!

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    1. Hahaha I will try! Thanks for your suggestion :D

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  68. Wow! That's so creative of you. I wish to do this but I'm not good in sewing so sometimes I put my clothes on sale. And who would've thought that dress was a school uniform?

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  69. I love it without the shirt inside. ang galing mo! nakatatlong looks ka sa upcycled project mo. I soo love this!

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    1. Thank you Wendy! More upcycling projects soon!

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  70. I am loving that after look on old uniform. That dress is so cute and really nice on you babe.

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  71. Gurl, you are really a talented person! And your creativity is great!

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  72. I love that you were able to transform that uniform! Such a great idea and it turned out so well!

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    1. I will share more uniform thrift flip soon, I have two more uniforms in hand.

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  73. This is a really great idea.It's better to recycle than to throw them away. It came out nice by the way, good job.

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  74. What?!?!? That is the coolest! How did you even think to do that?

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  75. Wow I never seen an upcycle uniform turn into fashion. I can see NYFW doing a whole collection with this style and a major label taking on this new trend! Very fashion forward.

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  76. Wow, the upcycle was topnotch! You have some great talent on sewing over here. That look was expensive blair! Pretty cool, skin care while upcycling was indeed a catch too.

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    1. awww thank you Franze! Yes we need to take care of our skin, and learn to multi-task!

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