Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Orange Linen Dress Becomes a Skirt

The fabric was absolutely gorgeous. The partial wrap design still intrigued me as much as ever. However, the simple truth is this dress just didn't fit me right. I wore it once or twice, but all the fit issues made it uncomfortable and meant it probably wouldn't get worn anymore.

The fabric though! It was pretty! A stunning shot-woven linen I bought from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabric last fall. Orange threads running one direction, bright green running the other. The fabric is almost a shimmery pumpkin-y orange color. Hard to describe, but too beautiful to abandon to the back of my closet for all time!

After trying to figure out how I might possibly be able to fix this dress, I finally decided that a re-fashion was an order. This dress needed to become a skirt. Ideally a partial wrap skirt so I could keep all my favorite parts of the dress and just get rid of the part that didn't work out so well - the bodice.

On this dress I had a full circle skirt, with pockets, already hemmed. The hard part was done. I just had to sort out the waistband.

The dress fastened without any zippers or buttons, just ties which were sewn into the back of the bodice and wrapped around to tie in the front. To keep this fastening on my skirt, I started by cutting into the back bodice right above the ties.

This section of the back bodice would be my new back waistband. Unfortunately the front waistband wouldn't be as simple as that. There were bust darts to contend with.

The shaping the bust darts provided, while very useful in a bodice, would not be helpful in a waistband. If I cut strait across the front of the bodice to make my waistband, the way I did with the back, those darts would cause the upper edge of the waistband to stand away from my body, rather than lying flat and hugging my waist like a waistband is supposed to do.

To get around this issue, and still avoid needing to construct an entirely new waistband, I cut at an angle from the side seam to the base of the bust dart, where the front midriff piece of this dress design began.

Then I used my seam ripper to separate that front midriff piece from the upper part of the bodice.

Once I did this on both sides (cut at an angle from side seam to dart, them seam rip from dart to center point.) The ill-fitting dress bodice was completely separated from the skirt, and I had what looked like a zig-zagged front waistband. Really cool looking, but a bit fussier than what I was looking for.

I took the skirt to the ironing board and applied some fusible interfacing to give my new waistband a bit of structure. 

Once the required interfacing was applied, I pressed under the upper edge of the of the waistband and the waistband lining about half an inch.

Then, to fill in the dips in the front waistband, I cut pieces out of the back of the discarded bodice.

I took these pieces and pinned them into the front waistband, with the lower edge sandwiched between the waistband and the waistband lining and the upper edge level with the center front waistband point.

This gave me a front waistband with a straight upper edge, rather than finicky zig-zags.

I then proceeded to pin together the turned in waistband and waistband lining layers all along the upper edge, and finished the skirt by hand sewing the two together.

And with that, my ill-fitting dress became a fabulously versatile linen circle skirt.

I've worn this skirt about once a week since finishing it.

In the past few weeks of being a skirt, this orange linen has already been worn more than it was in the entire 6 months of its life as a dress.

And it deserves to be worn! This fabric is too pretty to languish unworn in my closet!

I really like the way wrap/tie closure translated from the dress onto the skirt.

I might have to do a similar closure on future skirts!

I love the interest and adjustability the ties add!

Speaking of interest, the zig-zaggady, pieced together, front waistband sure is fun!

I'm glad I was able to figure out a way to make the front waistband work from the existing bodice, rather than having to make a completely new waistband from scrap fabric!

Gosh this project was fun! I love the puzzle re-fashioning presents!

It's immensely satisfying to creatively turn an unloved garment into one that will be worn again and again!


  1. Well looks fabulous!

  2. I’ve done the same thing to an old dress and it’s my favorite skirt! I want to figure out how to make another just like it.

  3. That is fantastic, from a creative problem solving perspective and being able to keep the fun parts of the dress perspective. The fabric is lovely and has a great drape for a circle skirt.


  4. The dress was lovely, but the skirt looks fabulous! I love when a refashion to an unloved garment turns it into an instant favorite!
    I often try to use the bodice fabric when cutting off a dress to a skirt. It is so fun finding the best place to cut form and get the most use from the fabric. I love how you cut around the darts and filled in the gaps.