Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Transforming a Skirt

At the moment I am sorting out clothes to pack for a trip away with my daughter.  It was time for a new skirt, so I got this one from a charity shop.  Here it is, still creased after spending days bundled up in a plastic bag.  It is too wide on the waist and six inches too long, but apart from that it is a perfect fit.  Also, it is definitely not my colour. 

But for a penny under a fiver, I'm not complaining.  Somebody spent rather more than that first time round at Marks and Spencer.

It is a medium weight viscose, with 22 (!) narrow panels, and each seam has an inset bias strip.

The first job was to unpick the facing at the back of the waist and make two 8 inch long darts to take in the fullness at the waist.  The easiest way to place the darts was to take in a section at the top of a seam, so the bias strip now appears lower down the back of the skirt.

The overlap at the top of the darts gave a fair amount of bulk at the seam line when I re-stitched the facing.  Some ruthless trimming was called for.

Before I could stitch the facing back to the top of the skirt I had to cut out a section to make it fit the adjusted waist measurement.  The new seam at the centre back of the facing gave even more bulk to contend with.

Time for a quick rant now...  No, it's pointless.  The person or persons responsible for innovating the waistless-low-slung-hanging-on-the-hips-skirts-and-trousers-that-make-it impossible-to-tuck-your-blouse-in-so-you-look-and-feel-like-a-sack-of-spuds look won't be reading.  Suffice it to say that I have no idea whether this skirt was cut to fit on the waist or hang listlessly lower down.  I'm past caring.  Mass produced clothes these days confuse me.  I am still haunted by a rather quirky denim skirt I tried on a few years ago.  Whichever way I pulled or twisted it it seemed to have strange bumps and misplaced darts.  After five minutes of fidgeting in front of the changing room mirror it dawned on me that it was a strapless mini dress.  Definitely not my style.

Anyway, I mention this because I know from bitter experience that it is not always possible to put waist darts into one of those low slung skirts because the manufacturers sabotage your efforts with the zip.  As soon as you reduce the waist measurement you can no longer get in and out of the skirt because the zip is too short.  So before I got too engrossed in this alteration I checked the zip, which looked suspiciously short.  However, on the inside I saw the opening stopped on a level with a piece of ribbon stitched across the zip, below which there was a generous inch more for me to play with.  It was a bit messy, but I managed it.

As for the hem, six inches had to go.  I didn't want the skirt flapping round my ankles.  There was no actual hem on the bottom, just an overlocked raw edge.  Doing a turned hem would be a complete nightmare, with all the seams between the panels adding so much thickness. I decided to try my luck with the zigzagger.  I attached it to the Singer 201K treadle and hoped for a quick whizz around the bottom of the skirt.  Instead it was a rather stressful experience, especially when I heard the sound of unoiled metal parts.  Fortunately it was the zigzagger that was in dire need of oil, not the machine. 

Here is the finished edge, with the excess trimmed away after doing the zigzagging.  It is hard to see the stitching, because by the time I took this photo I had dyed the skirt.  Not my neatest stitching ever, but I was beginning to believe in slapdash by this stage.

All the turquoise synthetic thread still shows up on the inside, as does the zip and the button.  I might get round to doing something about the totally useless button loop, which doesn't even stretch over the zip runner, let alone reach the button.  Quality control in the factory in China missed that one.

And finally, expertly modelled by our home-made dress form, is the transformed skirt, ready to be rammed into my luggage and taken off on holiday.  Just what I wanted - a navy skirt with a bit of flare and enough weight to prevent it blowing up too easily in a brisk sea breeze.

Linking up to Connie's blog Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday


  1. You spent what looks to be quite a bit of time transforming this skirt into what you really wanted. I admire your ability to do this. I can sew garments from a pattern and have made lots of them. However, I am not sure I could take something apart to this level and have good results putting it back together! Well done! Hope your trip is a blast.

    1. Thanks Bernie. It was a brilliant trip.

      I bet you could do a hack job like this. It isn't a huge step between making clothes and altering them.

  2. Totally worth th effort! Very attractive and very useful.

    1. Thanks Linda. I wore it a lot on holiday.



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