Skirt re-fashion

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Its a bit of an exaggeration to call this a refashion as its so simple.

I was given this skirt by my daughter ‘for the fabric’ . It’s a half circle skirt in a medium weight 94% cotton 6% elastane originally from Top Shop, made in Turkey.

I tried it on and liked the length but the waist was too small, by 3 or 4 inches.

The plan was to cut a small band of fabric from the top of the skirt, therefore increasing the waist size, and add some fabric onto the hemline to maintain the length – but I didn’t need to. The half circle design means the waist is cut on the bias, and after removing the interfaced waistband, like some miracle the skirt actually fit, I just needed to make a new, longer waistband.

After toying with the idea of using wide bias tape as a waistband, I instead cut a strip of fabric and sewed it on from the wrong side first with a straight stitch, then on the right side with 3 step zig zag. This stitch offered a better chance of catching all of the underside seam than stitching in the ditch would have done, and I quite like the look of 3 step zig zag.

I was lazy and didn’t change the thread on my machine from the previous project because I am never going to wear this skirt with a tucked in top, but I’ve included a tucked in photo here.

Being so simple this was a super quick fix.

Any flared or A-line skirt could be made bigger by this method and I was lucky that the bias cut in stretch fabric was so flexible. I probably made the new waistband a bit big and it does tend to flare out a bit because the main skirt fabric is a bit stretched but its a wearable item.

Dress to skirt refashion

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This dress was a longstanding inhabitant of my refashion stash, in fact it had been in there for maybe 4 years, how long was this going to go on?

I had bought the dress for next to nothing at a jumble sale, which had reached the ‘fill a bag for £1’ stage and I was swept along in the buying frenzy. I picked it out due to the Berkertex label but despite pulling it out of my refashion stash and examining it on several previous occasions I always found myself lacking in inspiration.

The dress was at 2 sizes too small for me and constructed of several panels running right down its length. Re-donation was looking like the only option but honestly, there are probably not many buyers out there for this type of dress in my local shops. I decided that I could make a skirt from it using my new favourite pattern, view D.

Fabric was a light weight viscose with mother of pearl buttons.

The pattern includes side pockets below the yolk but I decided to change these to side seam pockets, less cutting through panels involved. I had made this before what could go wrong? Here are all the elements before it was sewn together.

I had to move the buttons – more around the waist and toward the hem and split the front yolk to incorporate the front fasten – the pattern has a rear zip fasten. The yolk ended up a bit short so I had to add a small extension which made it somewhat untidy but as I rarely wear tops tucked in that won’t show.

On the hanger
On me

It’s a bit mumsy, but I suppose that’s my look.

Tablecloth to circular skirt

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I bought this tablecloth in my local Oxfam, and as you can see it cost £14.99.  Wouldn’t normally have paid so much but could see there was a lot of fabric and I had a definite project in mind.

The fabric was a loose weave 100% cotton with a batik style pattern, made in India.  It was very nice and in good condition, I can’t imagine why someone would have wanted to get rid of it.


I bought it to make some trousers, but in the shop the cloth was folded up and it wasn’t obvious that the pattern radiated from a circle in the centre, and was therefore crying out to be made into a circular skirt.

In the past I have attempted a circular skirt but messed up the cutting out, quite upsetting.  This time it was almost impossible to mess up the cutting because I could just follow the pattern on the cloth, no folding or seams necessary.


Once the inner circle had been cut out, as it was on the bias it began to grow.  I had read about this and allowed a couple of inches for it but even that was insufficient for the growing capacity of this fabric.

Adding the waistband did seem to reduce the waist size a couple of inches but not enough.  I gave up and inserted some fairly insubstantial elastic inside it to take up the remaining slack.


In future if making another circular skirt ( I like this one so highly likely) I will cut a very small waist to start with and work from there.  Worst case scenario will be that the waist has to be enlarged a bit and the skirt ends up a bit shorter.

Only thing left was the hem.  This hem was miles long and probably the biggest job of the whole make.  Fortunately the fabric responded well to  steam so the hem could be turned up into shape and maintain the curve of the hem.



The whole skirt was finished in an afternoon, and that included going to the shops to buy the elastic.






And guess what? – there was still enough fabric left to make trousers from the edges, in fact they are already made, blog post to follow soon. It was a very big tablecloth so maybe £14.99 was a bargain after all.

Bonus feature – camera case

I bought a new camera but there was no case, so I made one – it involved a lot of hand sewing.



No time to waist

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I bought this skirt on a whim for £7.99  from Oxfam, a bit pricey if you ask me, but that’s Oxfam for you.


It was originally from the mid range ZARA brand, I liked the colour and the style, it looked in pretty good nick in this year’s colour of purple.


There was one problem, it was in a size smaller than I normally wear, but I knew I could fix that.

I would normally wash anything on my normal cycle before working on it but the laundry instructions for this garment were, shock horror, ‘do not wash’ – silk,  should have known.   Well here was a dilemma,  only a few days before a trip on which I wanted to wear this skirt.  It didn’t smell, there were no obvious stains so I decided to work on and wear it as is ie unwashed.

The style was flared panels with a secondary flared band at the hem.  Easy to make bigger just by shortening the skirt and therefore enlarging the waist a couple of inches.


Deconstructing a commercially produced garment is quite interesting.  The waist of this skirt gave up various items of piping cord and binding tape as I continued to unpick it, they will be going in my stash.


In the end, weary of unpicking just cut through the top 1.5 inches of the top of the skirt, outer and lining fabric combined, but unpicked around the zip.  This immediately unleashed the unruly nature of the slippery silk fabric and lining.  The new waist was turned under by about 1cm a couple of times to secure it.



The skirt ended up a bit shorter but I am a bit short so this wasn’t a problem.

The lining ended up sticking out from under the hem a bit, so turned it under to solve.  Those commercial manufacturers don’t miss a trick,  I could see that the stich length was time and thread savingly longer on the hem of the lining.

The zip was tucked under and finished with a couple of hand stitches and it was ready to go.20180313_105329

 I wore the skirt for the planned trip to Florence



Bonus Feature

Next to my fabric stash is a smaller but longstanding yarn stash.  I’ve had some of this stuff for 20 years and asked myself ‘if not now, when?’

So I’ve been through a bit of a knitting phase and produced this from some brightly coloured 100% cotton yarn bought a long time ago.


Suit to skirt refashion – refashioners 2017

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The challenge this year seemed difficult, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tackle it, but as the inspirations started to appear I could not resist.

Once I’d started looking for suits in my visits to charity shops I discovered that there aren’t actually that many of them, and if you do find a suit it’s usually quite boring.  I wasn’t going to be keen on making something I didn’t want to wear.

On a particularly productive visit to Tunbridge Wells, a town of many charity shops, I found quite a lot of good quality mens suits in the shops.  Some of them had very nice linings and I started to think I could feminize the refashioned item with some of the fancy lining fabric, but in the end I didn’t buy.

My lack of buying turned out to be the right course of action because the very next day I spotted this skirt suit in my local charity shop, Geranium.


It was too small in size and too short in length but the blue denim coloured fabric with its inlaid pattern was more likely to be something I would like to wear than a man’s suit would ever be.

I am always interested in the type of fabric a garment is made of and its origin.

The whole world lives in London and this suit was made in France, by the Morgan de toi brand.

I think the fabric is like chambray but it has 4% elastane and the rest of it is not cotton. The pattern looks a bit like embroidery but isn’t, it’s more like an embossed effect slightly raised and not visible on the underside and unironable on the patterned side.

The jacket was lined and under the lining the ‘chambray’ was mostly covered with a black mesh glued in interfacing.  During the deconstruction the interfacing was easy to tear off the back of the fabric but it did leave some dots of glue behind which I removed onto a cloth using a hot iron.20171002_145727

First thing I did when I got this home was wash the whole thing on my normal cycle. Best to get any potential shrinking done now.

The unwashability of fancy men’s suits was another thing that has steered me away from them. Top quality Italian wool is all well and good but if you can’t wash it in a machine then that’s a major drawback in my book.

I spread the jacket out and the bottom part of it looked a bit skirt shaped therefore it was going to become a skirt. I like skirts.


I realise that an actual ready made skirt was the other component of the suit but it’s dimensions were so far away from my requirements that I am afraid the role of this simple little skirt was to be donor fabric.


I cut the jacket all along the back just below the sleeves and unpicked the skirt seams. Laying these pieces together gave a long enough strip for the bottom half of an A line skirt. The sleeves could be cut into panels to make the top half of the skirt.


I made the top half of my new skirt first which, once I had worked out my panel dimensions was fairly straightforward. The sleeve fabric was plain denim colour  with no pattern but I also incorporated a less patterned part of the jacket.


Next was to put together the bottom half of the skirt. I unpicked the hem from the jacket to give a bit more length and lined up the patterns from the skirt elements and sewed it all up into a long wrap like strip.


Now I had to attach the top and bottom halves of the skirt together

To try and make it look a bit more finished I decided to use a new (to me) technique of piping using a recently purchased invisible zip foot.


I was delighted to be able to use up some of the jacket lining to make the piping.

Apparently you can buy special ridgid piping interiors to make piping with. I decided to see if an old shoelace would work just as well – it did.

I rough cut a strip of lining and sewed it tightly around the shoelace.  This zipper foot was good.  It could even keep the slippery lining fabric under control.

Once the shoelace was encased I cut the lining down to the right size and sandwiched it between the seam holding the top and bottom parts of my skirt together.

As the shoelace was rather thick I left the end of it sticking out so I could pull the lace out of the piping once the sewing was finished – this worked for me.


I wanted the piping to lie downwards  so I ironed the seam to face upwards.


I was so pleased with the zipper foot that I decided to keep it on for normal sewing because it was easier to guide the needle to the exact line I wanted to sew, and pins could be left in place because they were not in the way, however the zipper foot, being fixed rigid with no lift at the front like on a normal foot, did not cope well with any lumps and bumps.  When it came to a join for example, it tended to stub its toe on any slightly raised element and I had to hike the tension right up before it would budge.

I haven’t yet mentioned the many times I tried on this garment. When I say ‘tried on’ I mean wrapped the strips around me to see what it was looking like.  This is a vital part of any refashion I undertake. I am obsessive about it, usually sewing when home alone partly because it makes such a mess and partly because I am constantly taking my clothes off at each stage to try on .

The purpose of the trying on at this stage was to see which part of the wrap would hang best to use as the front.  There was a problem in that the shaping of the jacket got in the way of the drape of the skirt. It really would have been better if I had just harvested fabric but I wanted to be more ‘authentic’ and retain some of the jacket seams. 

I had also cut the fabric too wide but terrified of cutting too small, I always err on the side of wide and cut down later.

I stitched what was now a wrap of fabric together to make the skirt. A bit more seam tweaking and cutting down was needed to make it hang better and the right size.

I was going to use the original skirt zip but the 4% elastane gave enough stretch to pull this thing over my head so I missed the zip out and made a soft and comfy waistband with a strip of fabric left over from my previous project, treating it like a big strip of bias binding.

I had read a tip about using a strip of card to keep hems an even width and used this method to keep the waistband even.


All that remained was the hem.  Unfortunately this contained two notches where there had been some grading of the jacket seam.  I was intending to keep these notches as a ‘design feature’ because to get rid of them would have making the hem shorter and the skirt length was already at about the shortest I was prepared to tolerate.  Alarm bells started ringing when my husband, who normally never notices anything about clothes, asked me if the hem was supposed to be like that.


This led me to infill the hem notches with some scraps turning them from design feature to hopefully invisible feature.

I removed the original label from the inside of the jacket collar and sewed it onto a visible place on the skirt, my aim being to fool some innocents into thinking this was a RTW designer item.






Reflections on this project are:

Negative : I could have bought a different item cheaper and made a skirt more easily if I hadn’t been constrained to buying a suit.

Positive : My charity shop wanderings were made more interesting by having a definite aim.

Negative : I already have enough skirts, many of them similar to this one.

Positive : Its fun to join in and I tried a new technique of piping.

Positive : Therefashioners always challenges me out of my comfort zone and I take more care with these projects than most.

Positive : This skirt is super comfy to wear because of the high elastane content, I would never have normally thought of making a skirt out of a jacket.  I am even happy to wear it with a top tucked in.

Conclusion: More positives than negatives, I will be joining in again next year.

















Dress to skirt refashion

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Starting items:

Dress, too small and too short, fabric a very lightweight polyester, viscose 3% elastane mix with some texture, made in Morocco.  There’s some difficult to see olive green in there as well as black and white.

Skirt, also too small and definitely too short, fabric 100% canvas weight cotton, broken zip.

Both items were originally from Primark, the epitome of fast fashion, and were given to me by daughter.

The plan was to combine them to make a skirt.

I was unsure at first if the two fabrics would work well together, because of the different weight and composition as well as the colours.


I decided to go for it, the heavier green cotton would be used to lengthen and add weight to the dress fabric.

First step, chop the dress


I know the cut is very high up the dress but I was unsure how much of the length could be used.  I tried this bottom section on, and although it was still small, the stretch in the fabric provided quite a lot of give, it didn’t look ridiculous, (but maybe not suitable for a blog photo)

The green skirt had quite a deep hem, so this was to ripped open, then cut two as wide as possible strips to sew onto the bottom of the dress.


In the lengthening process it would be necessary to follow the flared shape of the dress, and as the skirt does not really flare I decided to make some pleats to make sure the shape looked right.  The skirt was constructed of panels so there was a natural place for each pleat to go.

I sewed the 2 skirt strips together to make one long one, and hemmed it.  Before turning the hem over, cutting into the serged seams to reduce bulk.


Finished hemline with pleats.


This adds a nice amount of length and weight.

The waistband:

The fabric is so lightweight and stretchy and does not fray.  I am going to leave it as it is for now,  just turning over the right amount for a supremely comfortable yoga type waistband. I’ll try it for a few wears and review the situation. Because the cut was made so high in the dress and above the natural waist, it seems to work without slipping down.







Long skirt to top refashion

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I bought this long skirt because I was attracted to the large amount of fabric and attractive border and it cost me £3.49, which was 10% of the original, still attached, price tag of £35.


The fabric was 100% polyester and there was a short gauzy white underskirt which I ended up using for facings.



My plan was to make a top, using a pattern given to me by a friend, incorporating the border of the skirt and the original hem.

The fabric was very light and floaty and the brand was ‘Glamorous’, one I had never heard of.  I looked it up and it appears to be an online shop of the type that claims to offer massive discounts. I don’t think that glamorous would have been my first choice of description for the original skirt though.


When I started cutting the pattern pieces out, it became obvious that this fabric was trouble.  It slipped and frayed all over the place,  even after weighing  it down in every place possible.

My newly and expensively purchased ‘walking foot’ did help in the actual sewing though.


Here is the finished top.  It will be good for travelling light because it takes up only the space of a light scarf and doesn’t really crease.



Bonus feature: Refashionables in Modern Art


On a recent trip to Tate Liverpool I was drawn to the above exhibit by Michelangelo Pistoletto  entitled  ‘Venus of the rags’ .  The description describes the mound of clothes as  ‘the detritus of modern society’ but I was thinking ‘that looks like a rather nice vintage scarf’











22 inch waist scuba skirt to 2 hour top refashion

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Rather guiltily I went into my local Traid as they were having a sale (again).  I think they were trying to get rid of all their summer stuff.

Why the guilt?  Because to be honest, I already have enough clothes and could probably afford go a year or two without buying anything at all, but the trouble is I like making things so am now regarding refashioning as a fairly harmless hobby but nevertheless gave myself strict orders that I could only buy one thing.


My eye was drawn to this skirt.  I liked the pale turquoise colour and also the fabric was a nice light scuba jersey knit, quite with a sort of shiny finish. This fabric was excellent to work with and scuba is certainly something I will be on the look out for in the future.



The amazing thing about this skirt was the teeny size of the waist.  It was 22 inches (I measured it later).  I don’t know anyone with a waist that small, and clearly there was no great demand for skirts in that size because it was brand new with labels.

This was the only way I could wear it.


I could see that despite the small waist size, the large pleats meant there was actually a decent amount of fabric in there, enough to make a top anyway.  The sales assistant gave me a funny look as I handed over £3.

I gave this skirt a wash using my usual cycle before attempting a refashion, it seemed to survive OK.  The wash was also necessary because there were a couple of dusty footprints on the skirt.  It had obviously fallen off the hanger a few times and been trodden on.


I removed the offending waistband to reveal a 56 inch wide tube of fabric.

There was also a nice organza lining in a matching colour.

I downloaded the 2 hour top pattern from sewdifferent.  This is a simple pattern with just 2 pieces to make a raglan top

2 hour top FREE sewing pattern – Step-by-step tutorial

Actually wordpress, the link does work.

I took the precaution of making a toile from a sheet to check the fit – I wouldn’t want to go wasting a £3 charity shop skirt now would I?

The fit was good but I added a couple of inches to the body length and removed an inch or so from the sleeve length.

Sadly there wasn’t really enough fabric to make the whole thing from the skirt.  I could have compromised a bit on the along the grain layout and patched a bit to make it fit, but I decided to instead use a contrast fabric for the sleeves.


I bought this lovely fabric on a recent trip to Norway when finding myself with about £12 in Kroner left over, and thinking that it was unlikely I would return to Norway anytime soon – no offence intended to Norway, I was just being realistic,  I went into a fabric shop to see what I could buy with that sort of money.  It was also jersey and a similar weight to the skirt fabric.

I think it looks like some kind of background wallpaper photo on a phone.

I made binding for the neckline from the skirt remains. The stretch in the fabric meant I could cut a less than 45 degree angle, and make sufficient binding with less fabric, and bound the hem with the contrast fabric.20160926_1922351


The fabrics were a stretch jersey so I used a narrow zig zag stitch throughout, as I don’t have a serger.  This worked surprisingly well.

The pattern instructions don’t tell you that there are no seam allowances included so it is up to you to work out where these are needed (everywhere except neck and hem) and add your chosen allowance accordingly when cutting out.

I only discovered this when reading the comments on the blog about the pattern.


Now a word about scuba fabric, which I have read up about since making this top  It behaves very well under the needle and drapes smoothly.  It also, apparently does not fray at all and when I made this top I thought it would look very nice without any hem but wasn’t quite brave enough to leave it like that. Information I have also found says that scuba does not breathe at all … UH OH.  I will have to see how sweaty this fabric is IRL as a top.






Although I was only supposed to be buying one item in Traid, I was amazed to find this beautifully hand crafted unworn dress.

It was originally priced at £18.99 but was now reduced to £3.

Someone had put hours of work into this dress, it was lined and had these lovely bows on the front and then they had donated it, why would they do that? and all their hard work was being sold for £3. I had to rescue it.


I have no idea what I am going to do with this dress but will try and find something to do it justice.









Auntie’s antimacassar to skirt refashion

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This project started off as one thing (the bottom of a top) and ended up as something completely different (the top of a bottom)

When making my Refashioners denim dress I made a toile for the bodice.

It seemed a shame not to make a wearable garment out of this bodice so I headed to my stash for a suitable fabric partner and this is what I came up with.


This piece has a bit of a back story.  I inherited it in a case of household linens from my great aunt.  The fringe at only one end suggests to me that its some form of antimacassar .

I wouldn’t normally go using old pieces of fabric in a refashion, because I know this will speed up its demise,  but this woven piece had some damage already.


Consequently I decided to use it with the underside to the front, as its woven it still looks good this way round, just an inverse of the front.


This item has been stuck away in a cupboard since 1993 and before that I don’t ever remember my aunt having this thing in use. I honestly don’t think she would have objected to the refashion.


I  removed the fringe, which interestingly, had been added before the hem, cut the piece in half lengthways, and made a tube. The edges had been machine sewn with a long stitch.  It was just the right width to attach to my bodice, give or take a couple of darts at the back and a bit of shaping.



This could have been left as a top at this stage but I decided to continue and make a dress  because as a top it was a little too short and the stiffness of the antimacassar made it stick out a bit.

I cut some wedge shapes from the legs of 2 pairs of similar brown corduroy trousers I had in my stash.

The length of the wedges was limited by the knee to hem length of the trousers.

This pair was one I had been keeping as a sort of diet  ‘target’ pair.  They used to be comfortable about 10 years ago.


I  laid out the panels under the bodice then stitched all the wedges together to make a skirt piece and pinned it to the top.


Unfortunately it looked OK on the table but when being worn, the antimacassar just didn’t seem to sit in the right place, and also seemed a bit too stiff.

As I had now cut up this old piece of fabric I had a responsibility to it, so the bodice will have to wait for another day  and plan B was a skirt.

I unpicked the antimacassar from the bodice and sewed it onto the cord panels, having first adjusted the cord panels to fit the right size to fit the antimacassar.


This looked better but was not long enough for a skirt.  I decided to add a yoga type waistband to both increase the length and make the skirt super comfy and also I would not then need to add a zip.

I cut a long tube from a t-shirt donated to me by my daughter, shaping the tube with a waist in the middle so it was designed to be folded over.

I cut this tube a tight fit so it would be stretched and keep the skirt up – that’s the theory anyway. I am always going to be wearing a top to cover the waistband, it isn’t designed to be on show.


Finally, I didn’t want to take any length off the cord panel section for a hem, so made some bias binding from a pillowcase to bind the hem.


Here is the finished skirt.





It has only taken, one antique antimacassar, 2 pairs of trousers, one t-shirt and one pillowcase to make so I hope I get some wear out of it.



Skirt made bigger

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This is another skirt I bought for £1.


I knew it was going to be a bit small but I liked the colours and the shape is my style.

It was by ‘Fat Face’, a brand I usually like, in 100% cotton, fully lined with a thin, plain brown fabric, also 100% cotton, made in India.



The waistband area had several elements, there were the belt loops  (no belt supplied with the skirt), and additional decorative belt loops secured lower down the skirt with buttons.

The basic waistband was a rather nice contrasting piece of Indian style binding with no stretch,  which I removed and put in my stash.


I couldn’t just shorten the skirt from the waist to make it bigger, the length was OK anyway, I would have to add an insert panel as well as a new stretchy waistband.

I cut open the back seam and inserted a triangle of heavy duty elastic .

I also added a new stretchy waistband, which involved removing and re-attaching the decorative belt loops.



Front and back view of insert, adding 2 inches to the waistband.

Skirt is now a perfect and comfortable fit.  I won’t be able to wear it with a tucked in top, but rarely do that anyway.



Having worn it a few times, I did wonder if the insert would have been better placed at the front because there is a small change to the drape, probably only noticeable by myself – something to consider next time.