Previously on Makeover Monday, I cut up a stretch-velvet dress I had made several years ago for ballroom dancing; so far, this has netted me an asymmetrically-hemmed top. Today, I’m taking the remainder of the erstwhile dress, adding some contrasting velvet, and turning it into a tango skirt!
Here’s my ballroom dress, before I went a little scissors-happy:
After cutting this dress diagonally into 2 pieces, here’s what the skirt portion looks like; I’ve laid it over a pencil skirt to get an idea of what I’d have to add to turn this oddly-shaped thing into a useable garment.
My next step was to decide what kind of fabric to add on to the top, so I started digging through my fabric scraps.
Tip: There are 2 ways to go with the contrast fabric. 1. Since the dress is made with a very stretchy velvet, the easiest thing to do is to pair it with an equally stretchy contrast piece, in which case I’d finish it with an elastic waist. 2. I could also use a non-stretch fabric, which would give the upper part of the new skirt more stability; if I do this, I’ll have to add a zipper, probably to the center back seam. Decisions, decisions…
When I ran across a piece of stretch velvet in a beautiful deep coral color that looks amazing with the wine color, I knew I’d found a winner:
Going back to the silver pencil skirt for a moment, this is featured in my post about creating a custom muslin to make this skirt. So it makes sense to use the same muslin to cut the coral velvet into the right size to make the top of my skirt:
Tip: This muslin was created for non-stretch fabrics, so I cut my new pieces slightly smaller than the muslin to compensate for the additional ease in the fabric itself, and also so that the coral part would fit easily into the original skirt when I sew them together.
Tip: In order to keep side-seam bulk to a minimum, I decided to press the side seams open, rather than serge them and press to one side; this results in a much flatter finish.
After sewing the side seams of the coral part, and making sure that this new piece will smoothly fit on top of the original skirt, I pinned the parts together, sewed the seam all the way around the skirt, then serged the raw edges of the seam and around the top (waist):
Tip: As you can see in 2 (above), I like to use a wide, shallow zigzag stitch for sewing most stretch fabrics; it gives a smooth, strong, and flexible seam.
Now all that’s left to do is finishing the waist! I’m using a piece of 1″ wide non-roll waistband elastic, cut to 2″ shorter than my waist measurement, with ends overlapped and sewn together to form a continuous loop; I’m going to zigzag-stitch this to the top of the coral part:
Voila! This type of elastic waist results in a smooth fit and finish on the outside, which is particularly desirable in body-hugging dance clothes. It’s also a great choice when using a slightly bulky fabric like velvet; if I had made the typical elastic waistband, by folding over the velvet to create a casing, the waistband would be twice as thick. (No, thank you.)
My finished skirt:
Now, instead of a dress that was beautiful but basically unworn for at least a few years, I have a top that can be worn many different ways (including for tango), and a skirt that is admittedly pretty tango-specific, but trust me, it’s not possible to have too many tango skirts! And in case you were wondering about the 2 different garments this dress turned into, here they are together:
I could think of many variations on this theme of cutting a dress to make a top and skirt. For example, if the dress in need of a makeover is way too long on you, it shouldn’t be too difficult to cut it so that you wouldn’t even need to add contrast fabric, as I did here; you could either finish it with an elastic waist treatment like the one I used on my skirt today, or create a fitted waistband (this could be done with contrast fabric, if you like).
Not sure if you have a candidate for this type of project? Go in your closet and see if you can find a dress that you used to wear and love, but which has been hanging back in a lonely corner for a while now. Got one? Good. Now ask yourself why you haven’t given it to a thrift shop yet. If your answer is anything like, “Because I loooooove it”, get out your scissors and sewing machine, and get creative!
And then go out dancing.
Makeover Mondays are posted on the second Monday of each month, right here on Changing Your Clothes!