Something Old is New Again

A few weeks ago I got it in my head to try sewing something for my kids and also to not actually spend any money on it.  Yeah, I know, how very generous of me… the truth is, I’m not well-versed at sewing, really, so this was an experiment for me and I figured I had a much greater chance of creating a useless pile of cloth than a wearable garment.  And really, I have a ton of stuff that is no longer being used that is cluttering up my closet, so why not recycle it?

I chose a skirt I bought 12 years ago (and I last wore it probably 10 years ago) to transform into a dress for my daughter. The pattern on the skirt is sweet pink and purple flowers on a navy background, something my daughter would like.  Also it is a light-weight, non-stretchy fabric, which meant to me that it should be somewhat easier for me to work with.  Here’s the thing: while I was not confident I’d be successful,  I’m not one to be put off of doing something that seems theoretically doable just because I’ve never done it before.  And it turns out, this time, it was doable!

Here’s what I did:

1. Using a dress that currently fits my daughter, I checked the skirt for length and trimmed off about three inches from the bottom of the skirt.

2. I made a small nip on the inside of the waistband on each side of the button at the back of the skirt and, using a safety pin to help guide it through, I threaded elastic through the existing waistband to create a gathered look. I pinned the elastic with safety pins on each end and then checked that it fit well. I actually had to pull a bit of the elastic out and trim it, as it was loose (my take-away: when possible, checking on the actual person is superior to comparing to a current garment).

3. My machine is a basic sewing machine (I don’t own a serger or anything like that), so on the cut edges of the strips I trimmed from the hemline, I first sewed a zig-zag stitch to help thwart fraying edges (and as I found out, this fabric likes to fray!) and then I pressed the fold and sewed a straight top-stitch at 1/8 inch from edge, which matched the existing hem nicely enough.

4. I also re-hemmed the skirt end using the same technique (zig-zag stitch, fold, press, 1/8 inch straight topstitch).

5. At the back of the skirt, I stitched over the ends of the elastic several times to insure it would stay and then used a zig-zag stitch to close the nips I fed the elastic through.

6. I pinned and then sewed the strips of fabric to the elastic-inserted waist using a straight topstitch at both the top and bottom edge of the waistband.

7. I debated placing a button at the back of the neck, but settled on elastic, since a button required precision and I wasn’t in a position to try the dress on my little model when I had the time to finish it. (In reality, I’ve been doing this entire process in little spurts when I can sneak in a little time, but because each of the steps are relatively short, it has worked out well.)  So, I placed the softer elastic on the side that faces in, toward her neck and the corresponding rougher piece facing outward.

8. After trying it on, it was clear that, with the gathers, the halter was too thin, so I added the left over strips from my original hem cut to fill out the halter part of the dress. I simply attached them in the same manner as the first two at the waist, but then brought them to align under the original halter pieces and sewed them together at the back of the neckline (take away: sometimes a bit of a tweak is needed).

What do you think? Overall, I’m quite pleased and so is Immy.

I have a few more ideas knocking around in my brain – all “freebies” (reusing what we already have).  Hopefully, I will find some time to get those completed and share them soon.  Sewing is fun, but it takes me a while to put something together, since I’m more or less a novice.

Here’s wishing you success on your next attempt of a ‘theoretically doable’ project!

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