Remember those cute little patchwork hippy dresses of the 1990s? You could occasionally find them online and while they always looked homemade they were still charging around $100 for them. I thought that was way too expensive and decided to make my own. From there I really delved into up-cycling used clothing. And after that I started sewing and dressmaking professionally, but it all started with those patchwork pieces.

I hope you enjoy my round up journey of learning to make patchwork dresses.

This was my very first simple patchwork hippy outfit. I wish I’d documented more of my early work but this was before digital photos. I made dozens of these before moving on.

My love of sewing scored me a job at Hancock Fabric. This was my second patchwork dress. I had moved onto a love of Asian inspired prints.


Many times I have purchased fabric to make a quilt and that quilt has become a dress. This was to be a strawberry snowball quilt I saw on Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting television show.

Over the years they have taken on a life of their own. The larger the pieces the easier it is to work with.

You can’t tell from this picture, but I reworked the front of this dress three times to still have a belly button hole in the center of the design. Again I tell myself, “The road to success is all about making mistakes and not giving up.”

Along that road I dabbled in making dresses from Jelly Rolls. Jelly Rolls are pre-cut quilting strip packs you can buy at your local fabric shop.

Sometimes I would buy fabric and make up my own shapes. For the two piece outfit I patchworked the pieces and then cut out my design. The second dress was shaped into a wrap.

I have made a few quilts, not many, but I would like to make at least one more.

I prefer to cut up others quilts and make wearable art out of them.

I’ve designed custom t-shirt skirts for clients. This style takes an entire day to design from start to finish.

In the last four years I have become obsessed with designing my fabric prints on Spoonflower. Before you can make a design for sale you have to buy a test print. I have designed a simple top that can be made with three fat quarters.

These two were made from all recycled materials. This has been my goal for 2021 and I am calling it, The Year of Less.

I’m not sure where I am going with this adventure but it has been one of the most fun collections I have made.

Behind the Scenes~

I have been interviewed for The Kettering Leadership Academy and hope to hear something in July. Jeffrey (my husband and co-owner of Juicymelt Supreme Hot Sauce) and I were also interviewed for the cover of the Kettering Neighborhood Magazine.

The group I facilitate, The Dayton Garment Designers Meet Up, have our next meeting/swap June 25th at 5:30pm located at Carillon Park near the bells. More information along with monthly challenges and new friendships await you when you join our Facebook group.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!


Tracy McElfresh