Vintage-y Skirt Refashion

I found this vintage-like linen skirt for either $.50 or $1.00 at a thrift shop last month.  I noticed it was a good quality (though a bit old) and pretty much knew immediately what I wanted to do with it when I saw it….but didn’t know until AFTER I paid $9.00 to have dry cleaned whether or not it would fit (there was no way I was trying it on before I had it cleaned!).  Turns out, it did fit!  Darn good thing, after the dry cleaning bill turned out to be so high!!
It’s a great red/pink/salmon color…I think it’s a different color in every picture!  I’m still not sure what color I’d call it…but the thread I used is somewhere in the red-orange-salmon family.

The view from behind: just a plain old skirt with zipper/button closure.

I began by making a fold for the finished length of the skirt.  There was a stain just a bit above the knee that sort of determined the length for me, so I made the fold just above the stain.  I then cut off the excess, leaving about 3″ below the fold, just to make sure I had enough to work with for a blind hem stitch.
I made the fold just above the stain, which my $9.00 apparently couldn’t remove!
Got rid of all the extra length!

Next, it was time to stitch up the remaining few inches of the slit in the front of the skirt, so I carefully separated the lining from the linen and stitched the slit closed, both on the linen and on the lining.

                 Before pulling the seams apart                   Separated and ready to pin

                     Pinned and ready to stitch               …this one’s pretty self-explanatory

Then came creating a new slit in the back, soI can get in and out of my truck and walk up or down stairs while wearing the thing.  So I did the reverse of the previous step along the back center seam: separated linen from linen, lining from lining, and finished the edges with a straight stitch.

Pulled apart…ready to pin and stitch
Stitching up the lining

Once the back slit was done, I put the skirt back on the dress form and used a very scientific method to pin the skirt up in preparation for hemming it:  I eyeballed it.  After turning the dress form around a few times and making adjustments in a few places, I removed the skirt and stitched.

Before I made the final adjustments- still a little uneven
Pinned…ready to flip over and repin for the blind hem stitch
Flipped over and ready to go.

If you’ve never done a blind hem stitch, it’s one of the zig-zag looking stitches on your machine that allows you to hem dress pants, skirts, etc. without leaving behind obvious stitches.  Basically, it sews the majority of the stitches on the part that stays flipped under (on the right in the bottom photo above) and every 4th stitch or so, zags over (or maybe it zigs!) to pick up the main part of the garment (on the left in the bottom photo above) so only a tiny bit of thread shows from the outside when you’re wearing it.

Dressed the dummy to check the hem before moving on to pin up the lining.

Ok, so after the skirt itself was hemmed, I undressed the dummy, turned the skirt inside out, and re-dressed her.   I pinned up the lining about an inch above the bottom of the skirt so it won’t show when I walk/sit down.

One last glimpse of the pesky stain!
Since this is just lining, I didn’t worry too much about making it exactly even.

After a few hours’ work Saturday evening, I left the skirt like so, with the excess I cut off the skirt at the beginning tied around the dummy’s neck (I really need to give her a name…I did when I bought her but apparently it wasn’t memorable enough, because I forgot it!).  I liked the look so much that when I got back to work the next afternoon, I strongly considered making a scarf out of the extra instead of the bow I originally planned on.  But in the end, I stuck with my original plans, SO…

To scarf or not to scarf?
Since the skirt was SO high waisted (above the belly button!) and different from what I’m used to, I decided to cover the original narrow waistband with a wider one to make it seem lower.  It was a little more complicated than I thought it would be, but definitely worth it in the end, I think. 
Excess fabric from the bottom of the skirt

I laid out the excess fabric from the bottom of the skirt and marked 4″ all the way down (the fold from the original bottom seam is on the left side – I left this so I could use it to hook over the top of the skirt later).  After cutting, I pressed the fold before moving on to the next step. 


Then, I laid the soon-to-be-a-new-waistband piece on the skirt, hooking the existing fold over the top of the skirt and eyeballed where the fold for the bottom of this new waistband should go (this was apparently so exciting that I forgot to take a picture of it!).  I then removed it, pinned, pressed, and basted the bottom edge (using white thread to make it easier to remove the baste stitch).  

Ok, this step is where it got a little complicated.  I pinned the waistband down, starting front and center, matching up the front, center seams on the skirt and the waistband (you may not be able to tell from the picture that there is a front seam all the way down the skirt). Then, I pinned around the remainder of the skirt, and realized that the waistband wouldn’t lie flat unless I added some darts.  So I painstakingly measured, cut, folded, pinned, and pressed where I needed to make a seam so that the dart of the waistband would line up as closeley as possible with the dart that already existed on both sides of the front of the skirt.

If you look closely, you should be able to see the dart seam right below the cut in the waistband.
Pinned…ready to press and stitch

I had to remove the whole waistband in order to stitch up the darts with right sides together, then pin it back to make sure everything lined up, then un-pin to sew the waistband onto the skirt from the inside.  Kind of a pain, to pin, un-pin, re-pin…Anyway, once I’d stitched the darts, I re-pinned the waistband to the skirt, starting at the center seam, then matching up the darts as well as possible, and matching the ends up at the zipper so they folded over nicely.  The new darts didn’t match up perfectly, but I was pretty happy with the way they turned out. 

Ok, so the zipper.  When I got to the ends of the waistband, I folded under the raw edges to make the seams here as un-noticeable as possible:

Using chalk, I marked where to make the fold
Folded under raw edge, trimmed excess, and pinned.
When I got around to the other side, I zipped the skirt before pinning
down the bottom edge to make sure that the ends were even when zipped.
Perfectly even and ready to stitch! 
The chalk mark on the top left marked the place for the button hole.

Once I knew everything matched up, I un-pinned the bottom of the waistband in order to stitch on the top of the band from the inside to hide the seam (See, I told you it became a pain here!  Wasn’t kidding!) 

Pinned wrong side to wrong side
Sewed along insde of skirt, making sure to keep excess fabric from
the waistband and skirt from getting caught up under the needle.
Finally!  Time to stitch down the bottom of the waistband!  I kept the needle as close to the fold of the waistband as I could.  Then, pulled out the white baste stitch.
After re-pinning the final time!!!
I used my automatic buttonhole foot to replace the buttonhole on the back of the skirt. I found a button of a similar size (so I wouldn’t have to remove the existing button) to use as a guide- see photos below.
Obviously the wrong color…but about the same size!
The machine at work

Turned out that the hole was too small for the button to fit through, I guess because there were 4 layers for it to sew through instead of two.  Rather than re-doing the buttonhole, I pulled out my antique jar of vintage buttons and, after sorting through them, came up with the following as finalists.  I decided to go with the pearly flower on the front left.

Finalists for the replacement button on the back of the skirt.

So I cut off the old button, after all, dropped it in the jar with the rest of the vintage buttons, and stitched the new (old) button onto the skirt.

Time for the bow!!  Using the last of the excess linen and lining fabric, I put wrong sides together and stitched up the 2 long sides, leaving a 2″ gap in one of them, to use later on for turning right-side out.

Preparing to make the bow!
To make the ends pointed, I used chalk to sketch the fold line, pinned,
stitched, and traced the line before repeating on the second end

Then, I trimmed the excess fabric on the short ends, turned it right-side out, pressed, and stitched closed the hole in the long edge.  I tried tying the fabric into a bow a few different ways, but I didn’t like the way this caused the bow to look – bulky and uneven, etc.  So I laid the fabric down, folded it in half, and folded it over until it looked something like this:

Eyeballed the way I wanted the bow to look

 …before stitching down everything in the center so it would stay (didn’t matter if seams showed since the next step would cover them).  With the last little bit of fabric, I made this little round piece to attach to the skirt and slide the bow into:

Measured by placing the bow on the fabric, folding over an edge, and pinning.
Stitched up.
Slid the bow back in to test it.
Almost there!  After testing, I pinned the little piece (not really sure what to call it!) to the skirt to make sure I liked the placement before committing to it.


Looks good!  Ready to commit!
I removed the original pins, pinned the thing to the skirt where it needed to go, then added an additional stitch after folding over the raw edges.  Nobody should see them, but just in case I wanted to know they were hidden!


Hiding the raw edges with a second stitch.


Ready to slide the bow in!

Last, I had to hand-stitch the bow in after I centered it in its little holder, and also stitched near the top of it so the weight of the bow wouldn’t make the holder flop over. 

 Finished product….tah-dah!!
Time:  5 hours
Cost:  less than $5