Monday, June 13, 2011

Convert to Skirt Tutorial

I've really been wanting a white skirt for a while, and conveniently, they are in style this season!  The only problem is that I haven't been able to find one that I like, that meets my needs.  The other day I was telling my sister about my search for the perfect white skirt and she in return told me about this old Jody dress that she has that she's been wondering if it's a bit outdated. I started to tell her that I had been wondering the same thing about my Jody dress of that style, and suddenly it hit me! The dress I was speaking of is white!  Ereka! I can turn my outdated white dress into a skirt!  It's eyelet lace, and both white and lace are 'in' right now so it will be perfect!  So last Friday I spent a few hours and made it happen.  Here is a little tutorial. I highly suggest you read the whole thing before starting as dresses will vary.  Enjoy!

The dress.  Try it on inside out and decide where you want the waist of your skirt to be.
If the dress has a zipper you'll need to decide if it goes low enough down the back to work for your skirt. If not you'll want to remove the zipper before you do any cutting so you can re-insert it a bit lower. (Here's a video for installing an invisible zipper.)
Mark it where you want to cut it. Be sure to unzip the zipper if you're planning to keep it.  Otherwise you'll cut the tongue of the zipper off when you cut your dress.
First cut a little notch on one side just to get through the seam.
Following your marking, continue cutting but this time only cut through the front layer(s) of the dress, this will help you keep your cut straighter.

Turn the dress over and carefully cut through the back layer.
Until your dress is in two pieces. Note: the zipper is unzipped so I don't lose the tongue.
Whip stitch the ends of the zipper to keep the tongue from zipping off.
If your dress is lined or can fray easily, stay stitch around the top edge of the skirt to keep the lining and overlay together. This will also work the same for your zipper as the whip stich, so if your are going to stay stitch you can probably skip the whip stitching.
Try on your skirt. If it needs to be more fitted around the waist, add some darts. Using a seam gauge measure from the side seam in to ensure the darts are the same on both sides.
Make sure the darts also have the same amount of material cinched in. 

You can figure out how big your darts need to be by pinching the extra when you try it on, then measure how much too big the waist is, divide that number into four.  Say it's 4 inches, you would make four darts that are all 1 inch.
To learn more about sewing darts check out this video tutorial.
Once darts are sewn, press them toward the center  . . .

On both sides. Try on your skirt again to see if you really can get into it with the darts in place.  If not, you maybe need to replace the old zipper with a new one so you can open the skirt a bit more.

To finish the top edge of the skirt, you can surge the edge and fold it under and hem, but I prefer to use binding in situations like this.  It is less bulky, and I like the look of it.  I usually make my own binding by using a long length of ribbon which I have pressed exactly in half.  Then pin the folded ribbon along the edge you are finishing, making sure the raw edge is tucked as far in to the crease as possible. Once pinned, stitch along the bottom of the binding. 
There will probably places where you stay stitching shows underneath the edge of your binding.  You can unpick this now as the top edge is finished and no longer needs the stay stitch.
You can either trim the ends of the binding, fold the edges in and stitch, or you can leave them long like this and tie them like a sash. I chose this later method because one detail I liked about the top of the dress was the white satin bow.  The sash recreates that same type of detail for me in a functional and fun way.
To keep the edges of the ribbon from fraying I melted them carefully with a lighter. Be sure to test this method on a scrap first in case the ribbon is quite flammable. Or you can apply some fray check to prevent fraying.

Convert a dress to a skirt?  Converted!