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Woman Transforms Dowdy Thrift Store Dresses Into Fashionable Frocks

Thrift Store Transformation

Avid thrifter and crafter Caitlin Trantham has a knack for transforming her thrift store clothing finds into stylish outfits. With the innate ability to see the possibilities in a dress, she looks past the unfashionable elements that cause others to overlook it. Once she gets home, she takes to her sewing machine to make her vision become a reality.

“Last year, I got really into vintage clothing,” Trantham tells My Modern Met. “The style I wanted was hard to find and expensive. One day I came across this plaid 80s wonder. Huge sleeves, a crazy collar—a lot of qualities that would put people off from buying it!” All she could think, however, was that it could look amazing if she could fix its obvious fashion faux pas. “That was my first major flip and ever since then I’ve been obsessed with finding a garment's hidden potential!”

Trantham is no newbie to a sewing machine, though. “I started sewing 7 years ago,” she admits, “but I only did quilting. Clothing was scary! No one minds a quilt with flaws, but clothing with flaws is not as well received.” By taking apart garments—what Trantham calls “flipping dresses”—she was able to learn about clothing construction. “After winging the first few, I started using patterns, and then quickly started drafting my own!”

If you’re interested in transforming second-hand clothes into entirely new outfits, Trantham has a simple tip. “Just start! Flipping clothes is cheaper than buying fabric and not as painful if it doesn’t work out. Start cutting, start sewing, and don’t be upset with how many times you have to use the seam ripper!”

Caitlin Trantham transforms her thrift store clothing finds into fashionable frocks.

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Some of her “dress flips” need more work than others…

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…but each piece looks spectacular once she's worked her magic.

Thrift Store TransformationAltering Thrift Store ClothesAltering Thrift Store ClothesThrift Store TransformationAltering Thrift Store ClothesCaitlin Trantham: Instagram | TikTok

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Caitlin Trantham.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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