Monday, August 18, 2014

Alterations: Turning a Size 6 Skirt Into A Size 14

This post is about a project that began with a pair of shoes :) Well, sort of - it's a project that got a kick in the butt by a pair of shoes. Modcloth was having a big time summer clearance sale a few weeks ago and I came across these Gee, Polly sandals by Miss L Fire and I absolutely fell in love. These babies were so mine - and for $29.99, I could not refuse them. This was actually my first ever personal shopping experience with Modcloth and I have nothing but great things to say. They have such cool designs that are so my style and their shipping was nice and quick. I'm sure most other women out there don't buy sandals at the end of summer, but I live in Florida - I will be able to wear these 11 months of the year. Plus they have birds, they have glitter, they have vintage style ... what more could you want from a shoe?!
When my fantastic shoes arrived, I was immediately reminded of a skirt I bought probably a year ago with the intent of altering it - I knew the alterations were possible, but I also knew it would be a bit of a puzzle ... so the skirt languished. Seeing that I want to wear these shoes almost everyday, I needed to get any clothes I could into rotation for wear and get them now! This simple navy skirt with a button front is something I have always wanted in my wardrobe anyway, now these shoes gave me the push I needed to buckle down and make it work for me :)
So, I began with this casual, cute button front skirt. I snagged this at a local thrift store for $1.00 (totally in my revamping price range, lol). The skirt had a pointed yoke with an eyelet lace accentuating it and clusters of 3 antiqued gold buttons all the way down. So, what did I need to change about this already cute skirt? Well, it was a strange length for one, but the biggest issue was the size:
(These pics are much more true to the real color, just fyi)
As you can see, this skirt was originally a size 6. Yeah, there was no way I could even try to put this on, lol. Normally I wear a size 14 in most skirts (as a side note, I'm almost amazed that I am ok with putting my skirt size out there on the internet - do I get extra "good body image points" for that?) After taking the Craftsy Alterations class, I knew I could make this fit me. The skirt's saving grace is that it flares out and it had good length. So, I just measured my natural waist (where I wanted the skirt to sit), then measured down from the original waist of the skirt until I hit my waist measurement and chopped it off a little shy of that point (I wanted to make sure I had a seam allowance there). Once I made some cuts, there were many more to follow. I had to keep trying it on and pinning the excess under until I got it on my waistline and fitting me properly.
When I had the skirt where I wanted it, I noticed it was gaping at my lower back so I decided to make a dart to close the space - I'm making it fit me anyway, why not get it as perfect as possible? This made for a very involved step - the seams are each sewn and then the seam allowance is top stitched down on each side - so I had to unpick the top stitching and the stitching, pin out the excess, mark my dart and sew. This was another step that involved much trying on to get the fit right (I made the dart too short at first and it made a right angle over my butt, lol), but once I had it snugged to my back I re-did the top stitching with matching thread. Admittedly my top stitching isn't perfect, but it blends with the color so well that you wouldn't notice unless I pointed it out (and no one stares at my butt that much anyway, lol).
Next I had to officially decide the new waist edge and make a waistband. I pinned it all down evenly, then added my new waistband facing: bias quilt binding :) I couldn't find premade bias tape that was exactly the same color, but I couldn't be bothered to make any and no one will see the inside anyway. I know some may find quilt binding a bit scratchy for inside a waistband, but it really doesn't bother me at all so I went with it. If you were doing this alteration yourself though you could always make your bias tape and make it any width you want - mine was 1" wide double fold quilt binding that I ironed out the middle fold on to make it wider which made for a quick alternative. I pinned in the bias tape keeping the bottom fold of the bias tape along my new waistline on the skirt, leaving about an inch of excess on the ends. Then I stitched directly on that fold line all the way around.
The first pic here is my bias tape before I ironed out the extra fold. After stitching, I pressed the seam, trimmed my excess fabric left over from the skirt, then allowed the bias tape to fold inward along the stitch line. I kept the bottom edge of the bias tape with the factory fold, but I pressed the middle fold out (basically I made double fold bias tape into wider single fold bias tape). Sorry if I keep mentioning that, but I really hope it makes sense. This step made the bias tape go from how it looked in the first pic above to how it looks in the next two pics. I ironed the bias tape a bit lower than the edge of the fabric just to hide the color difference on the outside.

Next I laid out the whole skirt and pinned the bottom edge of the bias tape to enclose the "waistband", I had to get creative with the button placket area - I folded under the extra bias tape to cover the exposed cut fabric edge, then folded the bias tape like with the rest of the waist. I stitched these edges first as they were really thick and tricky to keep everything held in place. I had a minor catastrophe here - I broke my needle AND IT FELL INTO MY MACHINE! This made me have to stop and take my machine apart in hopes of finding it - no luck. I even opened everything up and shook the machine upside down, still no needle piece. So, I cleaned out the residual fuzz from making the Princess Anna Cape, then put it back together knowing that needle would cause problems somewhere down the line. At least it's working now, right? Anyway, I then switched to a JEANS needle (like I really should have done from the get go) and stitched the edge of the bias tape onto the button plackets. I went right over the previous line of top stitching so you wouldn't even know I had done it if I don't point it out. Next I just went along the edge of the bias tape (using a foot with a guide to keep things nice and even) and stitched the waistband down. I took this fairly slowly so I could make sure the fabric was nice and smooth the whole way. This worked like a charm!
With my new waistband in place, I added a hook and eye to the very top to close it up and I was finished! Originally I was worried about not keeping any buttons as the top closure (I thought it would look weird without them to continue the design), but I am really glad I went with the hook and eye now. The buttons would have just added bulk at my waistline anyway, so now I don't have to worry. Nice and smooth on the tummy :) I actually like the "not quite the same blue" waistband inside. I think it adds a little interest when I put it on.
And the final result hanging up like the beginning picture. I think this pic really gives the scale of how much I cut off - the skirt started with 5 of the button clusters and now only has 3. I also worried that the buttons wouldn't go down quite far enough for this to be a knee-length skirt, but I haven't had any scandalous moments yet so I think it's fine :) As an added bonus, I have those 6 extra buttons in my stash now either to use if I lose one of these or to use as a set on another project - woo hoo!
And finally the finished product on me :) Sorry for the bad hallway mirror pics, but I had no one to take a pic for me. I really love this skirt! I love everything about it - it's one of my favorite neutral colors, it's a great length (not too short so I worry about flashing people but not so long that I look frumpy), it has visual interest with the button clusters, and it's full enough at the hem to be flattering. It even has a fun swish when I walk :) And even better ...
It's a fantastic vehicle for my new parrot shoes! I say this is a total mission accomplished, lol. I wore this outfit to work today and felt awesome. This skirt fills a nice hole in my wardrobe because it's casual without looking dumpy. My normal wardrobe has a lot of "work clothes" and then "t-shirts and lounge pants", so I'm always finding it difficult to still feel put together when I don't want to look like I'm going to work. This totally fills that void! And it goes with my favorite new Anthropologie sweater too - definitely a plus :)
There's the side by side view for ya :) Pretty cool, eh?
This project also happens to fall in line with the Repurpose Reuse Refashion competition put on by sew Amy sew. I found out about the contest through Sally from Charity Shop Chic, one of my favorite refashioners on the blogosphere. Sally has even written a few guest posts with refashioning inspiration for the contest, so it's definitely worth a look. I have to add my two cents to her affirmation at how rewarding refashioning can be. I mean, I bought this skirt for $1.00 and now have a wonderful wardrobe staple with just a few hours work. Refashioning is a great way to practice sewing skills without worrying about the cost - you're using items you wouldn't/couldn't have worn as they were so you're not really out anything if you mess up. It's a win win! If it doesn't turn out, you've lost very little (pretty much nothing compared to something you would sew from scratch) and you've gained the experience that you can learn from next time. Also, you're cutting down on garment industry waste which is such a big issue. Projects like this one make me feel like the smartest person around, because I've found a way to beat the consumerism system. I could wax poetic about alterations forever, lol, so I guess I'll stop. Just try it out, ok?!

If you'd like to enter the competition too, just refashion an item by the end of August and post your pictures to the Flickr group to be entered to win some great prizes :) It doesn't have to be anything super fancy or complicated - just take an item that wasn't getting any love as it was and turn it into something you can use. Easy peasy. If you need help getting ideas, definitely read Sally's blog - she's fantastic at this. I also can't recommend the Tailoring Ready-To-Wear class on Craftsy. I learned so much just from watching it (I've also got the Beyond the Basics class recently and I can't wait to watch it). If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you'll know my deep seeded love of anything from Craftsy, and I can honestly say this is my favorite and most beneficial class from them.

Anyway, I'll shut up now, lol. If you've hung in all the way to the bottom, I really appreciate it. I've got the refashioning bug really bad again, so I may tackle more of my pile to enter into the contest. We'll see :)

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