Party dress to gypsy skirt

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I bought this party dress from my favourite charity shop of the moment, (Penketh School, Warrington), from their £1 rail. I liked the colour and drape.  In fact there’s nothing wrong with it, but it just wouldn’t really look good on me.


I nearly missed it because in a moment of hesitation another shopper picked it up, but didn’t buy because she thought it was too small – obviously not a refashioner, I seized my 2nd chance, grabbed the dress and held onto it while continuing to browse.

I knew it would be too small for me too but I my plan was to make it into a skirt.

The brand label didn’t give much away.WP_20150606_18_08_24_Pro

Just said ‘COTTON CLUB’ and when I googled this brand, a dozen or more similar style dresses appeared on ebay for only a few pounds, so maybe £1 wasn’t that under priced.

Outer fabric was heavy cotton with a 3% elastane content making it quiet stretchy.  The dress was fully lined  as you can see, with a bright red lining and there was a strip of black netting adding detail at the hem.

I removed the lining and zip and separated the bodice from the skirt.


There was virtually no hem on the original dress, a millimetre or so was turned under and overlocked.  I decided the hemline needed a frill of some sort to add a bit of length and tone it down from party dress to everyday skirt – my fabric of choice for this would be denim.

I have loads of old denim from worn jeans in my fabric bag, and edged the denim frill with some of the bright red lining, using bright red thread throughout.  I think red stitching looks good on denim.


I had been a bit worried that the heavy denim would pull down the cotton fabric too much and spoil the shape, but I tacked it and tried it on and this didn’t seem to be the case.

The lining trim had to be hand stitched on the wrong side – I couldn’t do it neatly by machine, this was a fairly big job, took a whole film worth of TV to finish it.


I believe there is a saying in woodwork which is ‘keep your wood as long as you can, as long as you can’.  I think this applies to fabric and sewing too, but now the time for deciding how much fabric to cut off to make the skirt the right length could be delayed no more.  I tried on and measured again and then cut.


Now what to do with the waistband.  The original zip opening was now so short and the fabric so stretchy I thought a waistband with a simple loop and button would suffice.

I made a waistband the cut off parts and stitched it on.


I ended up fastening with a couple of heavy duty hook and eye fasteners.

Throughout this re-make I always had a degree of doubt about the sizing – I was worried it would end up too small.  Before I cut the skirt down to size from the dress, each trying on seems to indicate a continuing size problem, but this fabric was really quite stretchy and the panelled style is quite forgiving.  I have found that panelled skirts, with the waistband removed are size flexible.

Around town:


I have left the waist opening so small that I can not actually pull it on over my hips but have to put it on over my head, probably not acceptable in a commercially made garment, but OK for my own use.

This skirt will be good to wear for everyday and casual nights out.  It maybe looks a bit Christmassy? but will be getting plenty of wear whatever the season.

I wore it on a recent trip to the newly opened foundation Louis Vuitton building in Paris.

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This is a superb new art gallery in the bois de Boulogne, all the staff look and walk like models.


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