Old Skirt Meets New Techniques

The very first garments I made were gathered dirndl skirts with elastic waistbands. I wore them with long t-shirts that covered the bulgy, gathered waist. Among those skirts (most of which now reside in a storage box for posterity), was one made from vintage plaid wool, given to me by a friend.

The fabric is beautiful and I love it. But my style has changed over the past 3 years and I don’t have any t-shirts to cover the waist up anymore. So it was time for a revamp with a proper waistband and back zipper.

Looking over this old skirt was like examining an ancient artifact. There were SO many things I didn’t know about sewing back then. I was in awe of my own ignorance.

wp-image-338884082jpg.jpgFor starters, I didn’t finish a single edge. That’s right – all the edges were totally raw! Apparently I also hemmed the 2 skirt pieces separately before joining them together, which isn’t necessarily bad but quite bulky.

The first thing I did was unpick the waistband and remove the elastic.wp-1486738192099.jpg

Next, I cut the top of the skirt across the width so I had fabric for the new waistband. Before I went any further, I finished the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch. Whew! Crisis averted!

Now I had an un-gathered skirt and fabric for the waistband, but the skirt had to be taken in so it would fit the new waist size. I referred to a couple of my skirt patterns for the sizing – both my DD Chardon skirt and my CP Zinnia had finished garment waist sizes of approximately 27″, which provides me with enough moving/eating room to be comfy so I went with that.

I measured the width of my skirt top and subtracted the desired finished waist size to determine how much excess fabric I had to deal with. I had already decided to use pleats to use up the excess without reducing the overall volume of the skirt (I really love a voluminous skirt).

I did a few calculations to decide how many pleats I wanted or would need. I did this by simply dividing the raw width by the prospective number of pleats, which told me how wide each pleat would have to be. I wanted the pleats to be about 3″, which meant I needed 6 of them.

Using the Chardon as a guide, I marked the pleats on my fabric and basted them. They were so close to being right but were ultimately too big! I unpicked and adjusted until they were perfect.

Now that the hard work was over, I took my waistband fabric and cut it lengthwise, creating 2 waistband pieces that I interfaced and stitched together in the usual way.

I happened to have a red 9″ metal zipper  in my stash. I installed it as a simple lapped zipper. Unexpectedly – the red zipper lined up exactly with one of the red stripes in the fabric pattern! Happy accidents! If I had been more proactive, I could have matched the waistband stripes to the skirt, but I thought of it too late!

The last order of business was to press the pocket openings. With the new design of the skirt, they sat a little higher on my body and were bulging out. Pressing with a little steam got them back in line. In the future, I would drop those pockets about an inch.

The skirt fits great and looks nice with a shirt tucked into it. It’s a big improvement from its previous iteration.wp-1486740617569.jpg


I am very pleased with the finished product!



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