So, I got this dress at the thrift store because I really loved the print. The colors were just right for that 90's look I was thinking of. I didn't feel like trying it on, which is something I rarely feel like doing- so, I just threw it in my cart and continued my epic thrift shopping with my BFF Angela. Needless to say, I got it home and realized this dress is like, 5 sizes too big for me. I tried taking it in, but with the sleeves and the pleats, it was just too epic of a Moo Moo for me to do a quick and dirty fix. The dolman sleeves and the princess seams are so dated, but I still needed to keep this dress for the print potential.
When I started on this little project, it was so hot in my apartment- I was thankful my roommate left so I could commence sewing in my underwear. What I wanted to do was to cut the top part of the dress off and convert this crappy dress into a sweet mid length skirt. I had to pull out all my old supplies; it has been a little while since I did any pattern drafting or sewing projects. Life gets busy and I hadn't been able to take the time to work on the things that inspire me. Things are changing now!
Things you would need for this type of project:
Paper, pencils, scissors, sewing machine, thread, hip curve or dress makers ruler, fusible interfacing and a crappy dress.
I find it is best to work with woven dresses for this type of project, a knit (t-shirt material) type of dress needs much less construction and is a completely different process.
Difficulty Level: This is a pretty difficult project for a new sewer. If you want to do this on your own you should have basic pattern making skills, be comfortable sewing, making button holes and know how to measure yourself properly. From start to finish it takes about 4 hours to complete.
BOX OF SEWING SUPPLIES
THIS IS MY LITTLE SEWING BOX. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE CRAZY STOCKED TO HAVE THE TOOLS TO MAKE SOMETHING COOL. YOU JUST NEED A FEW THINGS.
SET UP YOUR OWN LITTLE SEWING BOX WITH THESE ESSENTIALS:
STRAIGHT PINS, SEWING NEEDLES, 3 CORE COLORS OF THREAD, (BLACK, WHITE AND GREY OR NAVY- TAKE A LOOK IN YOUR CLOSET AND SEE WHAT COLORS YOU WILL USE THE MOST.) A GOOD SCISSOR, (FOR FABRIC ONLY) AND A TAPE MEASURE.
THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR YOUR SEWING KIT. I HAVE WORN MINE AROUND MY NECK FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS.
DRESS MAKER'S RULER
TECHNICALLY, THIS IS A HIP CURVE RULER BUT IN A PINCH, IT WORKS JUST FINE FOR THIS TYPE OF PROJECT. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A CURVE RULER, BE CREATIVE- THE MAIN GOAL IS TO KEEP THE CENTER FRONT (CF) STRAIGHT.
Now lets get started!
Once you figure out what length you want for your skirt to be, chop the top off the dress!! Make sure it is laying flat on a hard surface, measure and mark with straight pins a line across where you want to cut. Remember we will be adding a waist band so, add a couple of inches to your total length for that. When you are picking the length for your skirt, remember we need to use the bodice for the waistband material, so, keep in mind you will need to have enough left on the top to use.
For this dress, I added 4 box pleats, 2 in the front and 2 in the back. You could either do box pleats, or you can gather the waist by hand stitching 1/2" from the top, using a loose running stitch and then gather to fit your waist measurement (MM). Once you have your flat waist MM you can then set this part aside and draft your waistband (WB) pattern.
Your flat waist MM should be 1/2 of your total circumference MM. Figure out where you want your skirt to sit on your waist, measure that and then divide by 2. If you decide to make a thicker WB, you will need to measure yourself at both the top of where the WB sits, and the bottom. What you will do, is draw a rectangle using your measurements and your decided WB height, the font waist MM should have 3/8" drop and the back should have a 3/8" rise. You can use your dress maker's ruler to make a clean curve making sure it isn't too exaggerated.
This may be a little complicated for first time sewers, if so, don't worry- there is always something new to learn. So, just hang in there and soon you will get it. Once you have your patterns, it gets kind of tricky to cut them out of your bodice, you have to be very strategic so measure twice, plan it out and cut once. Don't fuck this up, but if you do, you can always make the WB from another type of complimentary fabric.
Once your WB is finished, you are in the home stretch! Connect the front pieces to the back piece at the side seams leaving it open at the bottom to attach to the skirt. Sew the outside seam first, press and then fold back and pin your inside WB for a clean finish. You will stitch this down across the front seam, or seamstress speak...stitch in the ditch. You will do this to hide your stitching and make the outside look clean.
Next steps are making your button holes, just a little hand sewing and you are DONE!
Below are the scraps for this dress transformed to a skirt. Often even donated items find themselves in the trash- thrift stores decide which items are salable and which are not. By using the whole dress to make a skirt, I am saving money, giving an old item new life, and there is no need to buy yards of fabric, which can itself be very expensive.
You can also keep the scraps and use them to make other small projects too! :)