Refashioning old dresses into new tops

Vintage dress ready for upcyclingRecently I contrasted upcycling with "refashioning." Here are two examples of this idea. The first starts with a dress I've had since Reagan was president. Seriously. Purchased for a trip to Miami, I bring it out once each summer when the temperature in Seattle passes the magical 80 degree (F) mark. 

A few years ago, the dress lost its elastic waist and tie in back. But I really like the fabric and wanted to wear it more than once a year. Since I'm not moving to Miami anytime soon, I decided to transform the dress into a simple sleeveless top. 

Simplicity pattern 8523I chose a pattern I'd used once before, Simplicity 8523The skirt portion of the dress provided more than enough material, especially since I didn't need sleeves. Also, I eschewed the arm and neck facings -- simply turning over the edges works fine. And who needs extra bulk around their neck and armpits? Not me.
I'm happy with the final shirt, though it fits a bit snugly. Probably because the pattern is intended for more stretchy fabrics, not 100% cotton. Still, I'm happy with the result.
I decided to try the same transformation with a dress I discovered at a thrift shop.
Green patterned dress for upcycling
There's no way I'd wear this dress as is, but the bold green pattern caught my eye. An excellent candidate for refashioning. 

But after I cut the skirt from the bodice, I discovered that there wasn't quite as much fabric as I thought. The shirt would have to be shorter. (I was able to preserve the hem of the original dress, saving a step and buying a little length.)
And if I wanted to match the pattern, back to front, it looked like I wouldn't have enough fabric for the back.

So lesson #1 of "refashioning" -- if the item you start with has a bold pattern, make sure you have lots of extra fabric. (Maybe this is just a lesson of plain old sewing.)

I didn't like the pattern on the dress bodice, but the sleeves were more attractive. Could I use them to fill in the missing shoulder? Only if I cut the shoulder into halves and live with a seam in the middle. 
I think it works. Especially since it's in the back, and most of the time I'll wear a sweater on top (thanks, cool soggy Seattle weather). I'm glad I didn't give up.

Here's the view from the front. I removed the label from the original dress and added it to the new top. It adds a bit of polish and reminds me not to machine wash it (again).
Final upcycled top
More wearable than the original dress, at least for me.