Thrifting a skirt into a dress.

Sometime last year I was having a rummage round in a charity shop and come across a skirt that was so full and long with gorgeous material. I had to have it with a view to up-cycle it. 

 It sat in my wardrobe doing nothing for a while but just before christmas, I took it out and started to examine it. Upon closer inspection it was more interesting than I first thought, the material seemed to have been cut on the bias although I believe only partially (go figure! :/) as the skirt draped beautifully on one side but was rather average on the other. Then I noticed that the stitching wasn't too straight and curiously I wondered what size it might be, only to find the was no label or tags. This could only mean one thing, it's hand made! 
I was quite excited by this. I assume that who ever made the skirt made a lot of their own clothes as it was difficult material to stitch for a novice and she had used french seams too. There was also two panels towards the back of the skirt to complete the bias cut or at least I think that what it was.
 The size and length of the skirt was another point, I would assume the lady too have been around 5ft10-6ft (yep pretty tall)  with a big build, so she more than likely found it difficult to find clothes that fit and made her own.

Material wise the skirt looks to be either Chiffon or Georgette with a ombre effect. The lining on the skirt is quite interesting. It was awfully stretchy, creased badly, and so painfully thin, you could almost spit through it.  When viewed more closely I could almost make out a sort of print on the lining, but one that looked more like a logo?? The sort of print you would see on Hessian sacks contain coffee beans or some other south american product. Interesting choice Huh!! 

So story over, I bundled together a pattern, mostly from my pleates complete project, but I shortened the pattern, added a waist band and used a circle skirt from another pattern I'd drafted a while back. 

The original skirt lining was such a nightmare, stretching and distorting that I only cut the dress skirts lining out of it. I used left over black material as underlining for the bodice of the dress and stitched the chiffon material onto it.

I have to admit that I was surprised how well this dress turned out. The down side is that although the waist band fits lovely the bodice was too big, but I wanted this dress to work so bad I unpicked the lining and added elastic to the top of the dress, but this didn't work so I took it back out.

The construction of the underlining was all in panels (princess seams) so I took all of the seams in, around 0.5cm each. This did the trick although it meant regathering the main fabric to fit.

(it's a bit difficult to see on on this picture. Gnarled lining from too much un-picking) 

I'm glad I persevered and got there with the zip but the disappointment was that if this had turned out well it would of gone on my stock list of things to sell on etsy. Looking back it's a good that the lining is gnarled as I've decided I'm not happy with the original skirt lining either, and the bodice could do with boning if I am honest, but I do like this dress, I love the colours and the way the skirt hangs, so I've put it to one side for now and am going to tackle it properly in a few weeks, re-lining it completely and adding boning and then just maybe it will go to my etsy list.

A little note on upcycling:
I quite enjoyed transforming one garment into another, it was quite satisfying knowing that I was effectively re-cycling and has opened my mind to looking out for clothes that can be transformed or have bulk material that can be used to make other things. It is also something I would consider selling on etsy as long as it's in line with the type of clothes that I would  want to sell on etsy.


  1. ahh, there's nothing sweeter than transforming one garment into another. Especially when the fabric involved would have cost you an arm. I upcycled a skirt for my friends wedding last year, and I loved it. Your dress looks lovely, and I love the colours.

    1. thanks Dibs! There was heck of a lot of material with this skirt, I dread to think how much it would of cost, certainly not what I paid hehe!! I've even got some left over, maybe a matching scarf wouldn't be a bad idea lol!

  2. Pretty good job and a sustainable way of recycling existing garments. I also liked your observations about the previous skirt's owner. It read like a sort of "tale" and we, the readers, are taken in it.

    1. Normally I don't think too much about clothes previous owners, just the skirt was so long and big that it got me thinking. It's certainly made me think of observing second hand clothing with more thought and maybe I'll be able to unearth some more 'tales'.


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