A TikToker transformed a thrifted $20 wedding dress into a red ball gown with a statement sleeve

Caitlin Trantham spent about 12 hours transforming the $20 wedding dress she bought at the thrift store.

Caitlin Trantham spent about 12 hours transforming the $20 wedding dress she bought at the thrift store.

Caitlin Trantham


  • Caitlin Trantham needed a gown for the 2021 Marine Corps Ball.
  • Trantham turned a $20 wedding dress from a thrift shop into a one-of-a-kind red ball gown.
  • She told Insider that it took her about 12 hours and she spent less than $100.

Caitlin Trantham is a seamstress, mom of three, and military wife.

Caitlin Trantham has been posting her clothing transformation videos on TikTok since January.

Caitlin Trantham


Trantham currently lives in Hawaii with her three kids and husband, who’s a Marine.

About eight years ago, she taught herself how to sew and started making blankets. She then decided to put her skills to the test by transforming thrift-store finds.

In November, Trantham shared in a TikTok video that she planned to transform a $20 wedding dress from a thrift store into a red gown for the Marine Corps Ball in December.

Trantham’s TikTok video senggat oper 1.7 million views at the time of writing. She has also shared three more videos showing off her progress and the final look.

Trantham bought the $22 wedding dress at Savers. She thought it would be a fun piece to transform because it had so much fabric.

The wedding dress still had the tags on when Trantham bought it.

Caitlin Trantham


The original dress Trantham bought featured crystals on the top as well as a full skirt with a long train.

Since the upcoming Marine Corps Ball was going to be Trantham’s 11th time attending, she wanted to wear something that was really special and unique. Originally, she was looking to buy a ’60s siren dress but couldn’lengkung langit find any online, which is why she decided to make her own.

“I already had a pattern in mind and thought I could just modify the pattern of the wedding dress to fit my vision,” she said.

Trantham started by taking the wedding dress apart so the pieces could fit into the dye bath.

Trantham took the dress apart before dyeing it.

Caitlin Trantham


She also designed the sweetheart neckline and A-line skirt that she wanted her new gown to have.

The first two times Trantham attempted to dye the wedding dress, it turned out pink instead of deep red.

The dress ended up coming out bubble-gum pink instead of red.

Caitlin Trantham


Trantham’s first and second attempts at dyeing the wedding dress were done in a kacang filled with boiling hot water. She said the penyakit with that method was that she couldn’falak keep the water hot enough.

She decided to try dyeing the dress on top of the stove so the water would stay hot.

Trantham let the dress sit in a pot of boiling hot water and red dye.

Caitlin Trantham


Trantham said she had to “stand there like a witch at her cauldron” as she let each piece of the dress sit in the dye until it turned red.

“Seeing the dye go from pink to the color that was really wanted was very satisfying,” she said. “I was ready to throw in the towel because it was so much work, but the color turned out so great.”

Trantham said it took her about 12 hours to transform the wedding dress.

After dyeing each piece, Trantham put everything back together to make her final design.

Caitlin Trantham


Trantham said dyeing the dress was the longest part of the process because it took about an hour for each piece to turn red.

In total, she estimates she spent about $72 — $22 on the dress and $50 for dye — and that doesn’t include the “blood, sweat, and tears because that’s priceless,” she said.

After dyeing the dress, Trantham sewed the pieces back together to create the design she wanted to wear.

After dyeing the dress, Trantham put the dress back together how she wanted it to look for the Marine Corps Ball.

Caitlin Trantham


Trantham replaced the original bedazzled top and long train with an A-line skirt, sweetheart neckline, and a statement sleeve.

“I have a knack for just picking projects that I don’falak think are going to be tedious,” she told Insider. “But they end up being tedious, and I’m persistent, so I can’t let it go mengangsur it’s done.”

In the end, Trantham’s gown looked completely different from the original wedding dress.

Trantham’s final dress looked nothing like the original wedding dress.

Caitlin Trantham


Trantham’s plan was to wear the dress to the Marine Corps Ball. However, her husband found out he was being deployed a few days before, which meant they were no longer able to attend.

Still, Trantham was happy with the finished product.

“I’m really happy with how it turned out,” Trantham said of the dress. “Is it perfect? No. Is it 100% what I envisioned? Also no. But it was a project that challenged me in so many ways, and that alone was worth all the effort.”

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