five minute frock and blinged bag

The frock and the bag are not a set, and the only thing they have in common was that I rushed them off before my 5 day work week routine began.  I was a bit frantic trying to ‘finish’ projects before part time work status ended, and I got these two out of the way.


The five minute frock was pretty much that! I had found a wallis maxi polyester skirt on the reduced rail (€1) in the charity shop and picked it up with the intent of maybe making another skirt, for the new job.  Some days later I wondered if I cut armholes in it would it make a dress? I did and it was.  I wore it for the day to see if it was comfortable to wear – it was – so shaped the armhole cuts to curves and hemmed them, and sewed down the elastic waistband which gives a slight structured boat-neck collar.  It also can technically be converted back to a maxi skirt later …..should it be needed!



The blinged bag was a whim.  I had picked the bag up for €3 in a reduced bin.  I figure it was reduced as the lining was shredded and the bag, while being a functional black, was also a vinyl bag.  I had been rather inspired by Kate’s cross stitching (at our knitty-stitchy group that meet up in Carrolls pub, Dominick St Wednesdays if anyone is in Galway and wants to pop in!) and Lulu Guinness Handbags when I planned this bag.  What I had not realised is that Kate makes cross stitch look easy, which it is not.  I had trialed a few cross stitch hearts and they were disastrous… resorted to a few hours on the embroidery machine and did this one!


I used a screwdriver to loosen the bag, and made a new lining.  I then embroidered the vinyl, and then got the gutterman glue, put it together again and hoped I did it right.  I get a bit frantic towards the end of fixing the bag into the clasp again as i am always convinced it will fall out or I will have missed a bit, but this is the second one ever I have done and both have been fine.


The motif I downloaded for free (and edited it to make the single smaller hearts) and when I find the link I used, I will post it here!




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.

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……………….

McCalls 7530 – Pauline Trigere Dress skirt to dress

This is the most expensive pattern I have ever bought! ….. and I am beginning to be a fan of Pauline Trigere.  I also love coats so thought at least this was a 3 for 1 pattern.  I also thought I would do the dress first as it was probably easier than jacket/coat.(not so famous last words)

The bodice takes up a little bit more fabric than you would think (or I would think), so getting the right fabric, with right amount from a secondhand piece of clothing was the next hurdle (as in the pile of stuff on the chair beside mannequin).  I did have an orange wrap skirt 100% viscose which I did first and then a blue silk wrap skirt as the next one.

I made the pattern to the envelope size, even though I am size or two larger on hips (classic pear).  The skirt fits me – but just about.  I thought if I made it to the envelope size it would give a truer indication of design, and then either i could finish for someone else to wear or use the fabric for something else.  

The orange dress has the perfect weight for the dress, and ultimately the only issue I had were the facings – I used interfacing on autopilot where I shouldn’t have, and they did not fit as well (I cheated and used a seam on centre back and front).  Straps are still pinned on as the facings will be redone.

Pauline Trigere Dress, McCalls 7530, remake a skirt to dress

The dress is flat-lined which is something I have never done before (strangely enough), and it gave good weight and form  to the bodice, which is a simple but a very effective cut.  The fit of the bodice is great especially when you consider there are only 2 darts used.  There is a short underskirt underneath, and a waist stay.   The skirt has a small amount of gathers so I thought up-sizing would be little issue and if anything should be easier as there would be more fabric to gather in larger size.

mccalls 7530 pauline trigere refashion skirt to dress

The blue dress is a light silk (so I starched it plenty before I started!).  The interfacing went on easily by stretching the bodice, and I decided I would also add the pockets for this dress (so handy).   I am still undecided about the blue dress as the silk is so light I now think I could have used a heavier lining fabric, whereas the weight of the orange dress is perfect.  I am unsure also about the extra gathers and wonder if soft pleats could work better…………………..  so I didn’t hem this one yet either!

Simplicity 4826 Purple Smocked Frock – skirt to dress

simplicity 4826 smocked dress

This is definitely a great upcycle as there were only tiny scraps left, and I forgot to take a photo of the skirt in its before state.  The fabric is a purple polyester shantung, so easy to sew and easy to launder. 

This pattern is so so quick.  I traced the smocking dots and then used carbon paper to apply to the dress front.  The direct smocking (unlike traditional english smocking) is super fast!   I managed to get the dress cut from the skirt, and the lining was re-used also.  The waistband became the belt (that still needs a buckle).  I prefer the dress without the belt, but I think my sister prefers it with the belt.  

The dress is simple to make, after cutting the front is smocked and some pleats tacked into place.  the back has a zipper and two neck darts and then the back and front are sewn together.  I lined the dress as there was no fabric for facings, and used bias binding on the neck and armholes after to strengthen them.    

This dress has found its way to my sisters wardrobe as I made it in her measurements.  and I intend to make another, and this one will include beading in the smocking.  I got this pattern from Amanda at OhSewCharming .

simplicity 4826

Simplicity 4826 Purple Smocked Frock - upcycle skirt to dress

Simplicity 4826 Purple Smocked Frock - upcycle skirt to dress