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June 13, 2011 / HL

Sewing Tutorial | Making a Skirt from a Dress

Since the summer is here, I have been reviewing all of my dresses in my closet to see if I should keep them, revamp them or give them away.

I have a lot of work dresses in my closet that have not seen the light of day in a while, since I no longer work in an office (read: do not need to look presentable) so I was looking at some of these dresses to see what I would refashion it into a skirt.

Here’s the one that I found for this project:

I like the color of the dress and it has pockets, so it has good potential to be turned into a skirt. In addition, the dress is loose so there is enough room to slip on as a skirt. The dress originally came with a matching belt, which at some point I lost. That would have been really useful here as that would have served as a waistband.

The easiest way to make a dress into a skirt is to attach it to a wide elastic waistband. Otherwise, it’s hard to recreate a structured waist band since you are probably limited in the fabric you can reuse.

Step One – Mark and cut

I measured 2 inches above the waist to make sure I had enough fabric to work with. I just got this great Omnigrid 24 inch ruler so that I can make one solid line across the dress.

I have pinking shears that I use to eliminate unraveling edges. Since my dress also had a zipper in the back, I ripped out the zipper and sewed the seam back up.

At this point, I have something that resembles a skirt without a waist. This is a good time to double check that you will be able to pull the dress on (meaning, that the circumference of the top of the skirt is wide enough to get over your hips). If it does not, you won’t be able to use this to make your skirt, unless you put in a zipper.

Mine is good to go!

Step Two – Iron!

Since for my version, I don’t want the elastic waistband to show, I wanted to sew the skirt so that the fabric would hide all of the elastic, so I went with a wider fold at the top of the skirt.

I turned the skirt inside out, folded over the fabric and ironed.

Step Three – Make the waistband

I bought a big roll of black elastic from downtown Los Angeles’s fabric district for, like, 2 bucks. A steal.

Measure a length of the elastic by wrapping it around your waist and pull slightly for a snug fit.  Add about 3/4 inch for the seam allowance.

Sew the right side to the right side and secure each side of the seam down to make it as flush as possible. (Sorry this is hard to describe but see below)

This is what the seam of the waistband looks like and this is also the side that will face your skin. The seam wasn’t lying flat, so I added an additional stitch across the middle too.

Step Four – Pin the Skirt to the waistband

Pin the skirt evenly to the waistband to ensure that the gathers will be evenly distributed. I start by pinning two evenly across. And then adding more 2 at a time in the other direction. I stopped when I pinned at 8 locations.

Also, since I want the fabric of the skirt to cover up the elastic waistband, I’m pinning the fabric so that it’s at the top of the skirt. If you want to show the waistband, you can pin the fabric lower.

 Step 5 – Sew!

If you have never sewed on to elastic before, this will be different to you but also surprisingly easy. As you sew each section, pull the fabric and elastic until they are flush and sew a pinned section at a time. It will help to use your other hand to pull the fabric through on the other side of the needle.

I stitched 2 rows to secure the skirt to the waistband and placed the stitches towards the center to give it more of a paper-bag skirt look. You can place your stitches anywhere on the waistband depending on the look that you want.

I also ended up removing the hem on the skirt since it was too long.

And ta-da!

The Finished Skirt

I can see myself wearing this skirt with a thin belt or just like this. The grey color is pretty versatile.

And everything is made better with pockets :)

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