grey skirt to grey dress (and still a grey skirt)

When I was 20 I went inter-railing and had my rucksack packed with stuff, including vintage dresses (3) and floral McHammer style pants (it was the 80s), leggings and lots of teeshirts, plimsoles and sandals…… and a few basics.  We met lots of wonderful people and I loved it all.  I remember meeting one girl, who had a much smaller and simpler rucksack, metal water canteen (like from the army) and who seemed to have a total 2 jersey skirts and 3 tee shirts and each combination looked so effortless, and ready for all occasions….. and funnily enough when I was working on this skirt, and how to make it multi-functional,  I thought of her (and how much I would like to inter-rail again….)


The skirt was in the charity shop, beside a rail of 1euro coats (seriously a whole rail)…. I adored the charcoal shade, and I wasn’t sure what it was, skirt or dress.  Its a bias cut, and had a half bubble effect at the front hem (elastic was sewn inside on the front hem), and there was one belt loop at the back –   I tried it both ways, as a dress and skirt and it seemed to be both.

I had a feeling it was a never-worn-sale-buy, and when I took it apart, sure enough, there was a green sticker that some stores use on the label, and no wear signs at all.  The skirt was a zip to the side, and both side seams sat a bit more towards the front, with the right side more so.  The back had two long darts, and a belt loop over one.

I put it on the mannequin a few ways, and finally decided on

  • taking out the elastic on the front hem, and re-heming the lining, and the front of skirt
  • make one strap which would tie with buttons, and go to a v shape at the front
  • to put a second belt loop on the back, over the other dart
  • to put a button hole under each one
  • to have a loop on the inside middle front of the skirt and to run the straps through this

I took some fabric from the belt (nearly half) and folded it over and sewed to make the strap.  I got the flattest buttons from the button box and used the super buttonhole maker (but still lined up one button-hole slightly off).  I undid the front loop and redid it.  Originally I didn’t like how the stitching showed, but after finishing, I also noticed that sewing the loop to the facing didn’t secure it enough, and also the dress sat up at the front, when I put the dress backwards, it sat level at the hem, so I resewed the loop with more even stitches, as at least its was now to the back!  The waist darts of the skirt, now acting as chest/bust darts!


I have been wearing it as a dress and I love it….I prefer it un-belted but have the option to belt it, and  I am still figuring a top for if I wear it as a skirt (thinking of maybe a white vest or a wrap top?)


I am rather chuffed to have a new summer dress as a few of my summer clothes got re-donated as they don’t really go with grey hair (creamy yellows).  I am finally getting used to the new hair colour as its now evening out and growing longer, as I love the texture of my own hair (dyed hair has the texture of a fake wig) but as I only really see myself in the mirror twice a day, it still takes getting used to seeing photos of myself!


spadea 256 by fontana – maxi skirt to mid knee dress

up sew upcycyle refashion skirt to dress

I was a bit aprehensive picking up this skirt at the Charity Shop.  The colour was lovely, the seams were minimal, and the label New Look.  New Look is like Pennys/Primark / Forever 21 – very fast fashion, very basic quality fabric.    However, I also wanted to try out this Fontana Dress so I picked this on up.  The fabric is viscose, so lovely drape, but so easily creased.  The Spadea pattern is incredibly simple which is just as well as I believe their instruction can be minimal regardless of the complexity of the pattern.  Its really a back, front, facings, tie and loop.

up sew upcycyle refashion skirt to dress

I starched the fabric to make it a bit easier to handle and hand basted the lining as  I wasn’t taking any chances here as the fabric was so thin – seriously, it could pack into its own evening purse.   Its only in the last year that I have lined pieces in this manner, previously I always did the lining separate, and it always hid the seam finishes of the outer layer,  the fabric used for these garments were the correct weight so didn’t need the support of the lining working as an interlining and, and most things I make have very simple lines.  This and the Pauline Trigere dress are the only patterns I have used to date that specify attaching lining, and while I can see the advantages,  I don’t like how my seam finishes are on show as I generally finish with a zig-zag.  I could make the supreme effort and do hong kong seams, but I am always thinking I may get a serger in the future.  I have not tried an overlock foot on my machine, and am curious about the finish – has anyone used these? I find the zig zag can buckle the seam edge with lighter fabrics…  

up sew upcycyle refashion skirt to dress

So as I said… I basted the lining, just to be sure.  Then it was just a matter of darts which were straight forward, and the facings.  There was not enough fabric for the facings so I got a small amount of polyester in a contrast colour and used that.  The tie was made of a mish-mash of scraps running in different directions.  I was not going to get pedantic there – originally I was going to use the contrast colour, but it looks a bit like over kill so I didn’t.  The dress is cut 10cm shorter than pattern as thats all the fabric I had, and this has the hem at knee length which I prefer. 

up sew upcycyle refashion skirt to dress

I have yet to put a zip in the dress and hem.  I don’t have any occasion to wear it in the near future so I have left as is but it is hanging in my wardrobe as opposed to work room cupboard, so it is just waiting for a suitable moment!  as a by-the-way, there is a good amount of ‘livability’ in the dress, I made the pattern up without alteration, and it easily fits my (non-conforming) hip measurement (up to 2 sizes bigger).when I sit down……………………….. very happy with dress, simple and effective.

marfy blouse – uaine on the bias

This poor skirt was sitting on the euro rail last year – I got it as I like green, and its a viscose linen.  As a bias skirt – I wouldn’t be able to wear it, bias enhances any potential curve (I think bias skirts are to be avoided at all costs  for pear-me ……) but as a top it could work out quite well indeed – I probably should have ironed the skirt before photographing as the creases do it no favours.  

refashion skirt to top restyle upcycle

I had come across a few versions of this marfy top online, and I was also curious about their patterns as there was a discussion on them somewhere on fb – so as this pattern was free, it was one way to find out.  I cut for a size 44 and did french seams.  I double checked on seam allowances before cut, and there are none so I added 1.5 all round, and as there would be no hem allowance, I decided to use the frill as the hem (which turned out to be an excellent decision).  

I ironed a crease at the centre front and centre back of skirt pieces to get the true bias, before laying the pattern over each.  In the pattern layout photo, the pattern is laid on the fold and then the side seam hem edge is at the skirt frill join on both, so that worked as my ‘marker’ or notch when I went to sew, I then marked 1.5cm seam allowances at the sides, armholes, and neck.   I put a small facing on the back for the opening, and then sewed the top, gathered the front and then bound the edges.  I decided not to use the neck band as I had seen one version without and liked that, and when I went to cut I may not have had sufficient fabric for the bands (judging from what was left over).  The top was quick enough to run up, and probably quicker for anyone else as I tend to hand hem bindings (my machining of them is rough at best), but in all I think it was 2 or 3 hours (I took apart a dress in-between).

upcycle skirt to top

I am incredibly delighted with the top.  This marfy pattern was easy to use but I don’t know how true this is for their other patterns as they seem to give limited instruction from what I gather on their site – but then again, early vintage patterns don’t give too many clues at the best of times either!.  

refashion skirt to top

Uaine (wen-ya), is an old Irish word for green – it is specific to something being coloured green as opposed to naturally green, and this month is going to be a Uaine month!  In January I did a bit of a rethink of what I was at with all this sewing and cutting, – and I am still without a master plan but now have a modus operandi!!!!  I had to find some focus, as I seemed to have lots of ideas, and projects started all over the house.  So now I am doing projects by the month and by general colour or theme as when I went through everything it turned out that there is currently enough charity shop buys to see me to the next 5 months of making! (its far too easy when things are 1 and 2 euro)  So I divided them into colour and drew up some plans for each, and also catalogued my small stash, so now I am only working a month at a time to stop me flitting from project to project, and have a bag with the next 4, but no more…………….

a month of swatches – skirt and skort

So the month has come to an end, and as its march next, so making way for some green makes!

This week I finished a skirt and nearly finished the skort  I had to launder both skirt swatches before I used them and thankfully neither shrank, so it was off to a good start.

The skirt was made using the vogue pattern 7776, and a pair of black trousers, pretty straightforward as this pattern uses petersham instead of a waistband (big plus, easy and comfortable), and I reused the zipper from the trousers.  I joined black fabric to the swatch in straight edge strips and then cut out the skirt front.  Its a nice skirt and worn a bit (constantly) last week!  

swatch skirt

The skirt put me in a very optimistic mood and this as well as some fine spring weather, had me making the skort.  I was cycling a few days ago and the weather was so sunny (not warm just sunny) which put me to thinking of making the skort in the same pattern.  I used a linen/viscose skirt for skort back and shorts front, and had to make the short backs from another piece of linen from a pair of trousers (same shade and weight and as they would not be seen I felt ‘safe’ enough)t , and the swatch made up the front flap.

swatches remade to skirts

swatch skirt

I am a bit / lot / seriously unsure on the skort.  The heavier weight of the swatch by comparison to the linen may or may not work, I put some interfacing on the pieces around to work better with the panel  The instructions were a bit fiddly and I am unsure if I did the hems the correct way. so I have basted hems for now.  Its not summer for a long time yet so plenty of time to figure final details.  The front of shorts, back of skirt were made from a skirt, and the back of shorts were made from a similar shade and weight of linen (linen trousers).  

The closure will probably be a button at the waistband as I think putting buttons on the lighter fabric could pull on it.  I will wear it about the house when the weather warms up and figure it then.    I am still undecided on the front section, as I don’t know if it looks too much like patchwork? However, as its a summer skort and a lot less revealing than my tennis skort – so perhaps a lot more practical. 

I have still plenty of swatch books! and and will probably be dipping in here and there for the next while – the black bag contains potential projects…………….. which means the mannequin will no longer be covered 24/7 in clothes and swatches trying to get colour matches

butterick 2704 – skirt to a dress

For a few reasons, I seem to have spent much of December trying to make winter dresses for myself.  I have a pair of brown boots I love but little to wear with them, so I figured I could run up some tunic dresses and have a great selection to wear within weeks, how wrong I was.  Between one thing and another, none of the dresses seemed right.  I wanted a dress or tunic that was semi-fitted, comfortable, and that would work with knee high chunky leather boots, and my body shape…..and that would be fab, so it became a month of trial and error.    It now looks like January will be a month of tweaking the nearly done flawed other dresses before I can get onto another coat remake. 

The first skirt was a polyester cupro, great weight, and the colour was a bit dowdy, but I thought I could figure something later.  I used the butterick beach dress and made it shorter.  The skirt was taken apart, and the side seams went out for hips, and in again – in a lot more than the waist width – probably to keep the line of skirt tidy, but I didn’t anticipate the loss of fabric here.(the skirt is  a uk size 18, I am a 12/14).  The dress pattern neckline is at the skirt hemline in the photo.    I was able to make the hips marginally bigger, and the overall length of centre front neck is 84cm, so a bit above knee.  I had made the dress before from cotton, and it was incredibly quick to run up.

In the photo, and on mannequin there is a drag of fabric above darts but this isn’t evident on when wearing it(?) – I am hoping its the fabric as it didn’t happen with the cotton version. I am not 100% happy with the balance of the tunic.  Where the dart ends’ the waist shaping begins and it seems to cut the line the dress in half and makes it look a bit dumpy (as it is made shorter than the pattern is ).  I am probably being over critical, I have worn it, and its comfortable, and has shape, so thats 2 out of 3.  I will consider applique trim of another colour for neck and hem if I come across an appropriate shade or fabric, but not until the other dresses are got to a finished state……………….

Simplicity 3636 – plaid skirt to plaid over blouse

I have now decided that overblouses are the best ever……… now that winter is coming, and jumpers are beckoning, an overblouse is a lot smarter (than some of my jumpers anyway) and I just love the pockets.  The style of this overblouse is not unlike a ‘kinsale smock’ (or fishermans smock), and its perfect ‘transitional’ wear, when its too warm for a jacket, but too cool to not wear one.  I had hoped to use up a red plaid from stash but there wasn’t enough (but I have a plan for that) so I decided to use the plaid from a pleated wool skirt I got a long long time ago, adored the colours but couldn’t think of what to do with it. 

Plaid is a tricky one.  Its not the hardest to match off once you decide where the match points should be, but when its off – its really off  (the last worst match plaid I saw was ‘Wolf of Wall st’, Leonardo diCaprio’s Prince of Wales suit).  When learning factory cutting, we had to do plaids, and cut them in layers of 20 plus careful laying and planning is key and then it should all work out fine.  I cut this top on the fold, but I can understand some people prefer to cut plaid on one layer only, the reason I don’t is that I am more afraid of cutting 2 left fronts or something by forgetting to turn pattern pieces over.

simplicity 3636 plaid skirt upcycle refashion to plaid blouse

I decided to put the main dark stripe as centre, as this gave the most fabric and I suppose ‘technically correct for plaid’ , however the side seams would be three square sides but it looked fine at that so I cut in. 

So when I was cutting this, I matched my centre front and centre back lines at the same plaid point for the vertical and then worked up from hem lines, checking then, the underarm match lines and the lines at the shoulder each side of the neck.  As this was a simple cut, this was straight forward enough but I had to pin it plenty for sewing to make sure the squares didn’t stray.   

So after all of this, I must have been a bit slap dash with darts and then one of my darts was slightly off, and fixing a slightly off dart is a lot more difficult than fixing the one that is miles off!  (and ironically you could spot the slightly off dart a mile off). 

simplicity 3636 plaid skirt upcycle refashion to plaid blouse

The buttons were from the button tin, originally from black coat …. .  I was going to include a collar, but the collar for this was designed to sit flat, and it looked a bit off, if there was sufficient fabric I may have tried one that stood up a bit, in the end, I used the collar as the facing.

skirt upcycle to long sleeve tee

I made a long-sleeve-tee to wear underneath – its a funnel neck.  I did a basic pattern draft for it, and used a viscose jersey skirt -the weight and drape of this fabric was divine.  Its was very quick, draft, sew, wear and I will be making more of these.