Feb 14

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Old to New: dress to spring skirt

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I’ve had this dress for a long time. I bought it from the thrift store in around 2010 and wore it as a winter dress all the time with cardigans and thick tights underneath. At some point, it just got hard to put together an outfit with the dress without covering up the impractical top. The straps looked messy with anything underneath (even tank tops) and wearing it on its own just wasn’t flattering. Thus, the dress went into hibernation for awhile until I refashioned it into a skirt yesterday.


Here’s the starting point — there isn’t really anything wrong with the dress, other than the top being really unflattering on me. Well, it’s also now at least four sizes too big.


I started by cutting separating the dress into two parts, the top and the skirt. I followed the seams and just cut across. The dress isn’t of the best quality (originally from a mass retailer known for mediocre quality) so I discovered that a lot of the seams were crooked underneath where top meets skirt. I cut around the side zipper and kept it on the skirt part to use later (see photo below). Using a seam ripper, I then carefully removed the straps and the individual pieces from the top.
03 b
The two shoulder straps will be used later to finish the top of the skirt, kind of like a belt.

It’s clear at this point that the skirt will have to be taken in a lot.


I pinched and chalked markings for how much I need to take in the waist, then took a ruler and tapered downward (waist to hem) in a triangle shape to blend in the alteration. I’m pretty sure there are better ways of doing this, but because the skirt is poofy and pleated, it’s very forgiving and hides the slant.


I should probably mention that I sew messily. With many things in life, I’m very exact, but sewing is not one of them. So this is what it looked like after I took in the waist. The messy threads and unfinished edges on top were already there when the dress was purchased, so again, subpar production.


Next, I cut off the zipper to match the top of the skirt, minus one centimetre or so. Then I sewed across the tops of the zipper to prevent the pull from flying off the ends. I then made a small fabric strip and added a snap to fasten to top of the skirt.


After I folded down and hemmed the top all around, I covered the mess with bias tape that I made from some pretty vintage fabric my grandmother gave me from her stash.
Using my trusty Clover Wonder Clips (I tend to stab myself with regular pins), I clipped the bias tape all around, then sewed straight across. You can sort of see that I tried to hand-sew this in the beginning… I gave that up after about five minutes and used the machine instead.
Bias tape successfully installed!


Closeup of the button snap


I forgot to take a picture of the belt process, but it’s pretty straightforward. I took the two shoulder straps and sewed them together, then sewed them both about 1cm below the top of the skirt. Because the straps originally went over the shoulders, there’s a bit of a curve to them and also a seam on both. Again, I’m not that picky about it, it’s just going to be a practical skirt and nothing fancy.
09 b


Closeup of the zipper and the belt



I still had three larger pieces of fabric left from the top, so I sewed one into a rectangle, then folded it in on itself. A smaller strip went across the centre to make a bow tie. Basically like this tutorial, but without the bottom part.

I glued and sewed a pin back onto the back of the bow, so that I can pin it on wherever and whenever I want to. Could also be a matching accessory for a cardigan or pinned onto a hair clip.


Here’s the final product!

Without bow, with lace underskirt:

With bow, with lace underskirt:
The bow serves to also cover up the seam/curve in the middle of the belt, as well.

All in all, I’m happy to have my turquoise polka-dot dress/skirt back into wearable shape!

Permanent link to this article: http://project-aika.com/2016/02/old-to-new-dress-to-spring-skirt/

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