From Pants to a Skirt

You may remember seeing and reading about my “yacht pants“. Basically, they didn’t feel like a garment that I would wear much, yet I just couldn’t bear to let the beautiful cotton linen blend sit unused in my closet. Thankfully, since the pants were a loose-fitting style, it was very simple to transform them into a skirt that I can use.

Here are the pants:

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And now the skirt:

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This skirt is definitely more my style. It’s actually very similar to a favorite skirt that I made quite a while back (before blogging), except it has an elastic waistband instead of a zipper. I have worn this skirt a few times and it’s so comfortable and keeps me cool. I am just estimating here, but I would say this skirt is about 113% more my style than the pants version were! And it was simple to do.

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In case you were wondering how I did it, I will describe my steps here. (Sorry, I didn’t get any photos for the visual learners.)

1. Use a seam ripper to un-sew the center leg seams.

2. Try on the garment (or put on your dress form) inside out.

3. Pin at the center front and center back where you want your new seam. Try to make sure this seam is parallel to the grainline of the fabric so that your new skirt hangs nicely. (I didn’t get mine perfectly on grain, but I got pretty close and I think it looks good enough.)

4. Also mark where you want your hem. Unless you are starting with a very full-leg style of pants, you will most likely have to mark your hem at knee-length or above.

5. Take your garment off. You want to do this with the pins in partly just so that you know you’ll be able to get your skirt on and off with whatever type of waistband and closure the pants had, although this shouldn’t be a problem if the pants already fit you at the waist and hips.

6. Measure and mark your hem plus hem allowance. Cut off excess pant leg. 

7. Sew your new center front and center back seam. Press and finish the seam with your preferred method. 

8. Press up your desired hem width and sew.

9. Wear and enjoy your new skirt!

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Give it a Twirl Skirt

Last summer I went on a rayon challis spree when it was on sale. I made a navy tank top with it, a pink and red dress with it and also bought black for this skirt. Unfortunately, I didn’t get this skirt made during the summer or early fall like I had hoped. Even though it took me a full semester of school to get to this project, I think it was worth the wait. I always think that’s a good sign-when you buy material for a project and finally pull it out months later and still want to make the same thing from it. Don’t you? I’m certainly glad that happened in this case.

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As you probably know by now, my personal style tends towards the simple rather than the flashy. I love a good basic that I can mix into my existing wardrobe with ease. A basic black skirt is a necessity. It can be dressed up or down and worn through winter, spring, summer and fall. This particular skirt is twirly and light in black rayon challis, so I’ll definitely be wearing it more in the warmer months. However, I did wear it once already with a slip and tights underneath and a light sweater on top and it felt season-appropriate. Dora is modelling a more summer-y look with a gray tank top. (I actually only put the tank top on so that I wasn’t trying to take a picture of a black skirt on a black dress form.)

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Design/Pattern: The pattern is my own. It’s basically a half circle skirt, but made from two quarter circles. I cut it so that the center-front and center-back were on the cross-wise grain (perpendicular to the selvedge), which is what causes it to hang straight down at the center and flair out at the sides. The picture above shows how full the sides are when they are extended.

Materials: black rayon challis, invisible zipper, petersham ribbon, hem lace, hook and eye, matching thread

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Techniques:

  • french seams
  • applied lace hem tape to sew a curved hem
  • invisible zipper
  • petersham ribbon waistband (This was something new for me. I got the idea from a Threads magazine article about reinforcing the inside of a fabric waistband with petersham ribbon. I love how it worked and will definitely have to try it again. Maybe I’ll be able to post a tutorial.)

Alterations/Changes: I made the pattern based on my own measurements, so I didn’t need to make any changes or alterations. If I were making this in a fabric with more body, I would probably change my cutting layout.

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The only downside of this skirt is that it is necessary to wear a slip under it. I can definitely live with that though. This skirt is versatile and comfortable. It also just looks so classic to me. One of my inspirations for this skirt was seeing a friend of my husband’s grandparents at a wedding in the fall, and she had on a skirt of a similar style with a boat neck top and she looked so timeless to me. With ballet flats and a sweater or strappy sandals and a tank top, I’m sure this skirt will go many places. I can see myself wearing this and feeling stylish regardless of what the current trends are.

Corduroy Chevron Skirt

I’ve completed another piece of my 2012 Transition Wardrobe. It’s a navy blue corduroy skirt that plays with the direction of the cords as part of the design and forms a subtle chevron in the center front and back. This is my first time using the fabric’s direction as a design element, and I think it has been mostly successful. (The photo below is a good example of how the nap of the fabric affects how light hits the fabric and changes its appearance. It makes the chevron affect more visible in this fabric, actually.)

I cut the main front and back pieces on the bias, whereas I cut the waistband and hem band on the straight grain. The way the fabric lays on the bias makes the back of the skirt lay a little funny, but it’s something I can live with. Mostly, I just wonder whether a different fabric would behave the same way or if this is something particular to the corduroy fabric I used.

Design/Pattern: I adapted the Meringue skirt pattern from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I did a lot of adapting–my finished skirt doesn’t look much like the original design! I used this pattern as my template because I was confident that the pattern was well made, the fit would be good and that the instructions would be easy to adapt to my design.

Materials:

  • blue stretch corduroy
  • interfacing
  • invisible zipper
  • thread

Techniques:

  • mock flat-fell seams (tutorial here)
  • stitched in the ditch to finish hem band
  • inserted invisible zipper using invisible zipper foot
  • top stitched

Alterations/Changes: These are the changes I made to the Meringue skirt pattern.

  • Added center-front and center-back seam allowances
  • Cut skirt front & back on the bias
  • Omitted the scalloped hem
  • Added a waistband and omitted the facings by using this tutorial
  • Sewed the waistband by following this tutorial
  • Added a horizontal band at the hem

This skirt is a B+, I think. It gets high marks for the attention to detail (the directional design and top stitching). This skirt will also fit really well into my existing wardrobe. It will be easy to find tops to wear with this skirt. The overall skirt has a lot of positive attributes, but I can’t completely ignore the funny way it lays in the back. I am pleased with final result and the sewing process was also pleasant. It was enjoyable to focus on the finer details, without having to worry about too much complexity.

Half-Circle Wrap Skirt

I have a new skirt to add to my wardrobe. I was in need of a project that would be a sure thing after my recent trials working with jersey knit. This project was just the ticket. It was two pieces–a half circle for the skirt and a rectangle for the waistband/ties. I’m not sure I could have chosen anything easier! Best of all, since it’s a wrap skirt that I drafted based on my own measurements I didn’t have to do any fitting or altering.

I have to be sure to mention that I haven’t forgotten about sewing the jacket for my husband. I got this fabric during our first attempt to find fabric for his project, but we didn’t find anything that was perfect. After looking around for fabric for him, I got side tracked by some fabrics for me. I wasn’t really planning on purchasing anything–I was just enjoying looking. However, Peter convinced me that I had to get the printed cotton for this skirt. He had to try really hard to convince me to buy a couple yards. (Ha!)

Design/Pattern: Half-circle wrap skirt, drafted by me based on instructions from Sew What! Skirts book

Materials:

  • 2 yards of printed woven cotton (slightly heavier weight than quilting cotton, but not as heavy as twill or sateen), picked out by my husband
  • thread
Techniques:
  • hemming (lots & lots!)
  • stitch in the ditch (waistband)
  • stitching & turning a tube (ties)
  • buttonhole (to secure the tie at one side)
Grade: A+! Even though this project was extremely simple, I think I still deserve a perfect score for the final result. There isn’t a thing I would change about this project. The fabric is an adorable print that goes with several shirts in my wardrobe and the style is great for wearing to work. It went together without a hitch as well. What more could I ask for?