Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


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Makeover Monday: Ballroom Dress to Tango Skirt!

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:

Velvet dress

Velvet dress, pre-makeover.

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.

Mockup 1

Skirt mock-up 1. Since the original dress was quite close-fitting, I thought this slim pencil skirt would give me some idea how to add on to the remaining velvet piece, to create a new skirt.

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Makeover Monday: Sew TTTW!

Previously on Makeover Monday, I showed you the beginnings of my Take Tango to Work (TTTW) wardrobe, thanks to a fantastic find at one of my favorite thrift shops. I also concluded that, to make my tango wardrobe work-appropriate (and vice-versa), I should focus on professional fabrics and colors, and wear them in tango-ready silhouettes. Now that I’ve started sewing a few things based on that general concept, today we’ll be talking about how to choose patterns for maximum garment versatility. And I’ll show you a fabulous skirt I’ve just made, in 2 outfit variations: Professional Lindy and Tango Lindy!

Since I’ve decided a new skirt is a top wardrobe priority, my first step was finding the right pattern.  I was lucky enough to find this in my pattern collection:

Butterick 4859

Butterick 4859 skirt pattern. I made Version B. Sadly, this pattern is now out of print, but I found this one that’s similar (and still available): Vogue 7937.

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Makeover Monday: She Shops… She Scores!

Previously on Makeover Monday: Last week I told you about the launch of my wardrobe-wide makeover, that will transform my motley assortment into a cohesive collection. My most pressing need is for more professional wear, but I would also like to incorporate additional garments suitable for Argentine tango— without having to create 2 separate wardrobes. Hence my new and ongoing Makeover Monday project: Take Tango to Work!

My main issue: For me, virtually all clothing currently sold as tango wear is inappropriate, both as part of a professional wardrobe, and for a woman of a certain age. (Not to mention that tango clothes frequently come only in various combinations of red and black, neither of which is a personal favorite.)

What kinds of pieces would work? Even outside of dancing, I prefer wearing skirts, so I’m starting there. But even with the fashion latitude a creative professional enjoys, I don’t think slinky skirts and dresses are proper. So I’ll look for more structured pieces, meaning made with woven fabrics, including stretch wovens; these materials typically result in a more substantial garment, as opposed to one that would cling inappropriately.

Since I really wanted to get this makeover project off to a quick start (I have a tango lesson tonight, after all), I dropped into one of my favorite thrift shops, Value Village. (If you happen to be in the Portland area, the one I usually go to is the Tigard branch; this is a fairly large chain of stores, and you can search for the one closest to your zip code.) I was looking more for tops, of which I found a few, but my big find for the day was this skirt:

My new gray skirt!

SCORE! My new gray skirt is a lightweight wool pinstripe from Jones New York, fully lined, with an invisible zipper, in like-new condition. And it fits me perfectly! (Skirt price: $7.99!)

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Cutting a New Hem: The Tango Skirt

The Tango Skirt. I spotted it languishing on an overcrowded rack in a consignment shop. It flirted shamelessly with me on the hanger, looking all cute and mysterious, and I just knew we would be going home together. I admit, I didn’t know anything about it, really, just that it was the dark, rich brown of the best espresso, in a soft, slinky fabric that was ruched and gathered at the back in an utterly beguiling manner. I didn’t even try it on, just handed over $18.00, and dashed out, clutching it to my heart. It was a magic moment.

Alas, poor Tango Skirt! The magic died when I pulled the skirt on at home. Yes, the ruched-and-fishtailed back was nearly as flattering as it had promised on the hanger, and I loved the way it swished around the backs of my calves. But the front! The front of the skirt, so plain, cut straight and drooping sadly below my knees, was not flattering at all. It was as if I had brought home two different skirts instead of one. Brokenhearted and embarrassed, I hung The Tango Skirt in a dark corner of my closet, where it stayed, unloved, for several months.

The Tango Skirt The Tango Skirt, pre-alteration. Looking at the plain-Jane front, you’d never guess such fabulousness could be lurking in back! (The pin in the front of the skirt marks the length of the lining, something that’s important to know before you start cutting anything! (Trust me.) Continue reading