Regular customer, and long time vintage wearing enthusiast, Zoe, came to me with a project recently. She was rummaging in a vintage shop and came across an [ugly] skirt that no-one wanted. It had been massively reduced, seemingly because of no-one had seen its potential, but Zoe simply loved its crazy print and interesting bumpy velvety weirdness. So she bought it and brought it to me for a make over.
We spent about 15 minutes brainstorming what we could get out of it and she left it with me for a transformation.
The width of the existing hem and the length of the skirt was sufficient for a tunic dress, so I laid up Zoe’s bespoke dress pattern over the skirt and cut the front and back pieces. I lined them up to the original hem with the lining aligned, so that the existing stitches were preserved. The shaping at the neckline on each piece left voids which became patch pockets; a shallow broad pocket from the back neck, and a deep narrow pocket from the front neck; both utilising the original waistband as the pocket opening. We chose a card of clashing vintage buttons from my stash and decided to re-use the original coloured metal zipper.
With only 5 buttons available, we decided to place 2 at the front, one on each pocket and extend the usefulness of the skirt zipper by lowering the centre back opening and leaving a space at the neck with a button closure at the top. I removed the waist darts from the (now) shoulders of the pattern pieces and re shaped the fabric. All pretty straightforward, and very liberating getting stuck in free-style with so little prep or planning…until I began to sew. This fabric is some kind of skill-bashing, anti-physics monster! It required serious manhandling to force the edges to align and stay still for sewing…it wouldn’t even stay still enough to place pins. Thank goodness there were only 5 seams to tackle!
For the sake of historical interest, I kept the RenJoy fashion label inside the patch pocket and placed my own label on the inside of the lining. The fabric was so bulky that I removed the lining from the pockets and used colourful threads in the overlocker to edge the pieces before top stitching them in place. I’m entirely thrilled with the outcome of this little make-over, an un-loved skirt is totally transformed into a bold and wearable modern piece which will look amazing layered up or solo. It has a whole new life of style ahead of it now, which is why I am all for cutting up and remodelling vintage. Many people dislike the idea of modernising, or altering vintage, but if a garment will not be worn in its original form it can’t be better to disregard it than make it fabulous instead!
I can’t wait to see this bobby dazzler strutting around owning its awesome weirdness and being fabulous. What a glorious project! If you ever fall in love with something odd and unusual, and feel sure its not meeting its potential, give me a shout, these are my absolute favourite sewing jobs ever <3