A Day in the Life of Me and Mine

Wife. Mom. Ambitious Crafter and Cook.

A New Life for an Old Dress July 14, 2012

Filed under: Repurpose,Sewing — cmcoker1 @ 11:23 am

I bought this dress at TJ Maxx to wear to my rehearsal dinner.

I’ve only been married for 2 years, so this isn’t actually an old dress, per se.   But one of the plastic adjusters on the strap had broken, and the strap kept falling off my shoulder.  There’s also the fact that within 5 months of wearing said dress, I found out I was preggers.  So I wasn’t able to wear this dress much past that point.  And this new Mom bod I am now rocking is no longer able to properly fit in this dress.

I had recently read an awesome tutorial from MADE, where Dana teaches how to make a circle skirt. I have already made 2 of these skirts, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the way my hips looked with all that fabric.  As I was looking at this dress and trying to figure out if I’d ever be able to fit into it again, I realized that the lightweight fabric would be perfect for a circle skirt.  (You DEFINITELY need lightweight fabric when you are making a circle skirt!! Unless you love the “Big as a Whale” look.)

Once again, I did not take step-by-step pictures of this process, but I’ll try to explain what I did.

I wanted to use as much of the previous “bones” of the dress as I could, so I cut the bodice off the top right above the front waist band and back elastic.  This way I would have an already finished edge to work with.  In a perfect world, my skirt would now be finished.  But I am 5’4″, so my new skirt now hit right below my calves.  Not a good length when you’re trying to elongate yourself.

I slipped on the skirt and placed the waist band to the point where I would like to wear the finished skirt.  I then stood in front of a mirror and placed a pin where I wanted the bottom hem of the skirt to lie, in this case, right above my knee.  I then cut the top fabric about a half inch below the pin.  This way I would have room for ironing the raw edge and a seam allowance for the finished edge.

With the raw edge now glaring at me, I got to ironing.  I turned the hem about 1/4″ and pressed.  Then repeated with another 1/4″ so that a clean edge was visible.  I pinned the hem every few inches to make sure the raw edge didn’t peak through and simply sewed a straight stitch along the bottom.

Side Note: This dress was lined, which is awesome, because I hate slips.  Even more awesome, the lining was a good 3 inches shorter than the dress, so I was able to leave the lining’s original hem intact.  I did have to roll it up once and sew when all was said and done.  But at least I didn’t have to iron a raw edge and a finished edge.

I slipped on my new skirt to find that it was actually the right length!  And the lining wasn’t peaking through!  That’s a huge accomplishment in my house:)

I still wasn’t completely satisfied with the waist, and it took everything within me not to just wear a shirt that covered the waistband.  But somewhere off in the distance, I heard Tim Gunn tell me to “make it work!”

I used a 2″ piece of black elastic that I had left from one of the circle skirts.  I simply measured my waist with the elastic at a comfortable looseness (You’ll want to kill yourself if you tighten it at all.).  I added 1″ to the measurement (which I’ll keep to myself) to allow for seams and finishing and such.  Using Dana’s tutorial, I simply placed right sides of the elastic together and took a straight stitch through both layers, using about 1/4″ seam allowance.  I think I may have done 2 stitches to make sure it was tight.  Turn the elastic back to the right side and sew down the loose ends, back stitching, as always, to lock your thread. (Dana gives perfect instructions, with pictures, on her tutorial.)

Now all I had to do was attach the elastic to the skirt.  I found the center of the back and pinned the seam of the elastic, covering about 1/2″ of the skirt.  Then I found the center of the front and pinned.  Then the sides, and so on, until I had pinned in about 8 spots.

Sewing the elastic on is not hard, but you do have to be careful.  I started at the back center where there was already the seam from the elastic.  The important thing to remember is to pull the elastic taut the whole time you’re sewing.  This is the only way you will be able to pull the skirt over your hips!!  I just pulled the elastic in the front of the machine and held the elastic at the back of the machine to guide the fabric through.

After zipping around the whole skirt, I was finished!! And, once again, I had done it correctly! Take a look at the finished product!  I’ve already worn it twice:)


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