Yellow organza dress-turned-skirt


I paid $12 for this elegant little pale-yellow sundress at a Kind Exchange in Toronto in June 2017; it has a layer of synthetic organza over a polyester lining. The organza has a floral pattern that catches the light readily, which I love. There are two reasons why I’m definitely not wearing it as is, though. One is that the straps are worn out; at the very least, they’d need to be replaced. But the other is that the bodice doesn’t fit me – not even close. The waist is fine, though. So. Skirt!

I begin by putting my feet up on the coffee-table and spending a couple of hours with my seam-ripper, removing the bodice. The zipper, up the back seam, is now very much unsure of what it’s supposed to be doing.

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The zipper is going to be maybe two inches long if I leave it there, so I remove it, try the dress-minus-bodice on a few times, do a few quick measurements, and cut the top 4-5 inches off. Then I open the back seam a few inches down and start thinking about the waistband. My general tolerance for pins is low, so I tend to either use craft-clips or do a lot of hand-basting to hold things in place temporarily. In this case, definitely the latter. I add some twill-tape and baste it into place.


Feels kind of off, so I redo the hand-basting at the top and bottom of the twill-tape and put the zipper in, hand-stitching it into place from inside the lining. There we are: for once I inserted a zipper tidily (and almost invisibly).


The waistband is still acting wonky, though: the drape of the skirt is not particularly satisfying, and all of a sudden it’s too large for me by several inches. This is what clues me in to the problem: I was stretching the fabric out as I attached it to the waistband, which distorted it considerably. Aha!

I leave the zipper, but redo the hand-stitching around the waistband, making sure not to stretch the fabric out along the twill-tape this time. Much better. Then I cut off several inches of unnecessary twill-tape.


Then I fold the fabric under the twill-tape and hand-baste it into place, but not through the outer layer this time. After that, I get out the machine and stitch it like that about a sixteenth of an inch from the edge of the bottom of the wrapped twill-tape.


The next step is to sew around the top of the waistband and take out the last of the hand-basting. Oh yes.

The fit is okay but not perfect: the back is fine, but the front is not. I play around with adding a pair of small front darts.


That’s looking promising, so I measure and sew them in. Now I have a skirt that fits! Yep. That’s all it needed. We’re done.


Some of the work was done for me thanks to the fact that this is the bottom of what was a dress. Nonetheless, this is by far the best skirt I’ve made yet. It’s not perfect – the zipper is still too short, honestly – but it’s good enough that I want to wear this. I really want to wear it. A lot. I wore it all evening after I finished it and I wore it to work the next day as well. It fits well and it’s comfortable and I love the fabric and I didn’t wreck it in the process of making it. Yep. Success! And a thing or two learned about how to handle organza.

Also worth mentioning: the only thread I had in any reasonably close shade of butter-yellow was on one of those tiny inch-long spools from an old repair-kit. This is what was left of the bobbin and machine threads after I finished the skirt.


Which means that two very lucky things happened. One: I didn’t quite run myself out of thread in the end. Two, earlier on I’d somehow managed to wind the bobbin such that I’d gotten within about four inches of dividing the remaining thread exactly in half. A wild guess that randomly hit right next to the target.

Edited to add: By March it finally warmed up enough to want to go outside and have my awesome semi-professional-photographer sister take some photos of me. I wore this skirt with a black velvet top from Value Village (probably Bloor/Lansdowne, Toronto, spring 2017) that I altered to fit me better. It has princess seams but was cut for a more rectangular figure.

Thanks to the lovely evergreens serving as the backdrop, including one of these!


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