I am far from a professional seamstress. My mother and grandmother have great sewing skills, but like many friends in my generation, those domestic skills didn’t really get passed down to me. Growing up, we filled life with school, sports, and other organized activities. I suppose I never showed much of an interest in learning, but I don’t recall ever being asked. In any case, my mom’s sewing machine sat buried under boxes and, at one point, a television, for many years.
After reading many blogs (like Merrick’s and Jean’s, both of whom show so many great and relatively simple but transformational tutorials), I have been inspired as of late to extract those sewing skills from my mom and grandmother and get creative with many of the “leftovers” from my closet that, in the past, have been donated or thrown out.
This dress that I stole from my sister’s “donation pile” a few months back (it still had the tags on it – ridiculous) did not fit my torso (so I couldn’t zip it up) but I really liked the fabric and the bottom fit quite well. Also, I did not own any full skirts, so I loved having a chance to add one to my closet for FREE!
I stumbled through the refashion, so I didn’t take any photos along the way. The process was a bit of a guessing game as I examined the seams, thought through each step one by one, and added a few “band-aids” along the way to make it work.
Generally, here are the steps I took:
- I put the dress on and determined where I wanted the waist of the skirt to be. I marked that spot with disappearing ink. After taking the dress off, I cut off the top about 2 – 3 inches above the line I marked to save space for a generous hem. (I wanted to have plenty of space for the elastic, described later, and errors.)
- Because a skirt lies a bit differently than a dress, the waist was a bit too large. The dress had a seam down the back (but any vertical seam would work) that I brought in a bit. I did this by turning the skirt inside out, putting it on, and pulling the middle seam together until the waist fit well. I pinned this as I liked it while still wearing it, took it off, and pinned it down the middle seam in the back. I sewed a new seam based on the pins and cut off the extra fabric on the inside.
- The bottom was already hemmed on the dress, so I didn’t have to make any changes there – who hoo!
- I folded the top hem over twice (about an inch for each fold), ironed it down, and then sewed the hem down (with the skirt inside out) all around the waist.
- For this step, I know my method is far from “the professional way” but I just did the best I could with my beginner skills knowing the results would not be visible. To avoid use of a zipper, I made the skirt with an elastic waistband. From the folded hem at the top of the skirt, I choose one vertical seam and picked the seam open just 3/4 of an inch or so on the inside of the hem. I used 1/2″ non-roll elastic and made the seam opening just large enough to thread my elastic through it. I measured the length of the elastic by wrapping it around my waist (ensuring to pull it a bit tight so it would be fitted when I wore the skirt). Pinning a safety pin to both ends of the elastic, I threaded the safety pin inside the hem all along the waist. The first safety pin is used to guide the elastic through the hem. The second safety pin is only to pin the end of the elastic to the fabric so it doesn’t get pulled into the hem opening, if needed. After threading the elastic all the way around the waist, I sewed the ends together and then hand stitched the small opening back together.