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Oscar Wilde once called fashion something so ugly that it must be changed every six months. He said this ironically, but he did have a point about the cycle. Fashion trends are non-stop. As Heidi Klum famously said, “One day you’re in, and the next you’re out.” Of course, she was talking to the contestants on her reality competition, but the concept applies to fashion trends.

Staying stylish and relevant is almost a full-time job. It can certainly be a huge investment. How many of us have gone crazy one season buying something that was very trendy only to have to get rid of it the following season because it was clearly not in fashion anymore? Not only can it be taxing on the wallet, but it can also create a lot of clothing waste that puts a strain on our environment.

If you’ve spent the lockdown reflecting on your fashion choices or feel like you want to get a little bit more conscientious about your choices, then thrifting is a fun alternative. We often give away a lot of the clothes we’ve accumulated to thrift shops. In recent years, thrifting has become somewhat of a trend in itself. A lot of people have turned to thrifting as either a sustainable alternative or to get creative in their own way by up-cycling vintage finds rather than purchasing fast fashion.

One 33-year-old mom of three and a military wife spent the majority of her pandemic lockdown combining her love of thrifting with her love of sewing. Caitlin Trantham loves to hunt for bargains at the thrift store. She never spends more than $10 on an item. After she brings them home, she uses her sewing skills to transform them into fashionable wear that is her style.

Her creations are quite incredible and they certainly show how one can breathe new life into old clothes. She posts a lot of her transformations and alterations to Instagram. But we have 10 of our favorites below:

1. A shirt becomes a dress.

Here Caitlin shows how two sizes too big can actually fit – if you nip and tuck it in the right places.

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Honestly, I can’t even believe THAT shirt turned into THIS dress 😂🙌🏻 I cut out the bodice using another dress as a pattern, and just winged everything else. I changed out the buttons and found the most perfect belt at Goodwill! 💕❤️🦋

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2. From 80s bridesmaid to modern-day wedding guest.

The 80s fashion was definitely something. But to wear it now would be very jarring and dated. But here she took an 80s dress and gave it a modern facelift.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s my 80s bridesmaid dress turned perfect pink 50s party dress 🥰❤️💕 I hope some of you were able to watch my stories and see this come to life! This dress is made from acetate, and it’s basically like sewing with a plastic table cloth from the dollar store. 🤣 There was a lot of drama. Things that should have been easy became insanely hard, because the fabric rips easily, can not be ironed, has no stretch and is slippery! I started by dismantling the entire dress with a seam ripper. The collar on top was sewn into the top seam of the bodice, so it all had to come a part. I made the straps from pieces I cut off the skirt. I re-used the collar and the bow (thanks for voting on that one guys!) on the waist, and that’s all hand sewn. I TOOK OUT AND PUT IN A ZIPPER. Ahahaha that’s big time for me! It turned out exactly how I pictured it when I tried it on at goodwill. 😭🙌🏻 Now someone invite me somewhere fancy! 🤣 Again, thanks for all the encouragement and participation on my stories, it helped me not give up on her!

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3. Summer fun.

Another perfect example of taking something two sizes too big and making it fit. It might be hard work but the results are worth it.

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This print had got me feeling all the tropical vibes 😍🌴🌺 This makeover was way harder than I expected. I had to do a lot of creative cutting and piecing to get everything in place 😂 I used the So Classic Sundress pattern from Patterns for Pirates, and modified it to fit the elements already on the original dress! ❤️

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4. No more shoulder pads.

Sometimes all a dress needs to feel fresh and modern is to have the sleeves removed and the waist taken in.

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I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH! Maybe it’s just because there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears involved 😂🤦🏼‍♀️ This 80s beast had so many layers, fabric that frayed and shoulder pads… PLUS bonus stiff ruffled fabric in the shoulders. (Because God forbid the shoulder pads didn’t give enough volume 😑) I had a lot of issues fitting the bodice, and had to make some fancy seams to get it right! The bows on the shoulder and made from the ties that were in the back. I thought they really softened the silhouette, and added to the sweet vibe of the rose embroidery! Also- I’m actually getting decent at putting in a zipper. BIG STRIDES GUYS! 😂

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5. Less fabric.

Flowing dresses are great. But sometimes there is such a thing as too much fabric.

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Used the Hepburn pattern from Patterns 4 Pirates to restyle this Lularoe Ana dress! I cut the back of the bodice from the back of the original bodice, and then cut the front from the upper part of the skirt. I added pockets and I’m IN LOVE! 🥰

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6. When in doubt turn it into a romper.

Sometimes all you need to do with a big, overflowing dress is to turn it into a romper. It definitely looks much more modern afterward.

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Long dress to romper! 😍 Trying to do projects on the road is… challenging. And did ya’ll know making a romper isn’t as easy as Pinterest makes it look!? I totally just winged this one, and learned a lot for next time! 🤣🥴

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7. Dye the ends.

Just like our hair, there are times when a dye job for a dress can give it a brand new look. And this dye job definitely made the dress feel more youthful and fun.

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I’m in love with this dress! 😍 I tried dip dyeing for the first time with this dress from @rentadress.rad and it turned out so cool! As soon as we got to the beach, the waves got me, and that’s why the bottom is so much darker 😂🤦🏼‍♀️ I posted the process over on my TikTok, and I’ll post it on my stories here! The sleeves and cape are all one piece of chiffon. It’s 2 yards, and was only around $5. I used one bottle of RIT synthetic dye, and that was only $4! My girls helped me dye and beach pic credit goes to Eden 😂❤️

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8. Skirts can become dresses.

This skirt has a great pattern. Caitlin decided to use the ample amount of fabric to create a top portion in order to transform it into a dress. Clever.

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I got this skirt for $3- but there was no top to be found. After lots and lots of thinking, planning and pattern drafting I was able to make it a full dress! WITHOUT LOOSING ALL THE LENGTH! 🤯🙌🏻 (Being short came in handy for this one 🤣) I was inspired by a dress @taylorswift wore to the Golden Globes. It was completely backless, and I couldn’t find a similar pattern. I almost gave up and did a different bodice all together, but I’m so glad I didn’t! 😍

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9. Adios applique.

From tacky prom dress to princess, this one was a pretty straight forward change. Not a lot of drastic measures were taken other than removing a peacock appliqué and adding some dainty off the shoulder sleeves.

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DONT @ ME ABOUT THE BROWN PEACOCK APPLIQUÉ 🤣🤣🤣 Jk, I was just so surprised when the people of TikTok got big mad that I took off 🥴 Let’s talk about the real challenges of this dress- 5 layers of tulle and underskirt! This was my second attempt at anything tulle. The first one failed miserably 😂 Also, this dress had a side zipper that I had to take out to size down the bodice. I put it in the back and it does not look… polished. 🤣 Anyway- this was just a fun experiment for me! I love testing my abilities, even when it doesn’t turn out 100%. But, sad news- this was the last dress I got at Goodwill before the shut down. I have other stuff to work on, but it was bittersweet to see this one finished! ❤️

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10. Tags still on it.

A lot of people will often buy something new and then when they get it home they realize they don’t like it anymore or don’t know how to style it. Eventually, these items end up in a thrift shop with the tags still on them. It’s not because they’re ugly and a lost cause, they just need someone with a vision to have a little fun re-designing them.

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This dress was new with tags 😂 (I wonder why? LOL) from Goodwill, and I was able to turn it into this super cute sun dress! ❤️ The pattern is McCall’s/ Gertie B6453. I actually downloaded it from the McCall’s website and followed her blog for step by step instructions. I reused the trim on the neckline, and added the bow! ❤️

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