Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Turn an old dress to a maxi skirt

Sometimes the best fabric for making new fabulous things can be old clothing. Ok, so I apologize if you liked the original dress. I do think it could have potential, but it was the wrong size, super low cut and, well, since I already had my wedding years ago, I didn't have use for it. But there it was on the thrift store rack screaming, "I want to be a skirt!" Pretty much everywhere you look there is some version of a lace maxi skirt. I have been wanting to make one for quite some time.

I have been shopping for lace skirts (shopping = looking at them online and being too cheap to buy one) for a long time. Ultimately, I decided to sell this one, so you can buy it on Etsy if you want and I'll be your BFF. This means I am still skirt shopping for myself! I will probably find the perfect one after they go out of style. I like this one a lot- but I would like one more of a off-white color. IDK, maybe I just want to sell it because I paid too much for it at the thrift shop.

But enough of that. Here is how to make one for yourself. It is mostly glaringly obvious, but there are some parts that I had to ponder longer than I would like to admit, so I thought these tips would be helpful to share.

An old dress. The one I used came with a contoured liner and zipper which made it more complicated since I wanted it to be used with an elastic waistband.

Thick/wide elastic- 1-3 inches smaller than your waist.

Now you see how much I paid for it. I would like to note that it was previously on a red tag clearance for $20.00.
Since every dress will be different there are a few things you will want to look for.

Find the waistline. Is it sewn to anything else? Is it lined? Is it already ruffled, or is it an A-line?

In my case there was a thick trim covering the waist. I had to remove it from everything else, so I got to work with my trusty seam ripper.

I saved the trim for something else. It is hard overcoming these fabric hoarding tendencies. Ha.
You might end up using some of the bodice material before you are finished, so try not to cut too much of it.

After separating the skirt, I noticed that the lace was already ruffled, but the liner was contoured to a specific size. This meant that I would have to add gussets to make it big enough so that it could be put on without a zipper.

My next step was to get rid of the zipper. I seam ripped it out and sewed up the opening with two straight seams and one zig-zag stitch.

If your waist line is not contoured, you can skip the next few steps. Time to make those gussets! A gusset is a fancy term for a triangular piece of fabric sewn into a seam to make it bigger. This is where the leftover bodice pieces came in handy.

Since these were not going to be seen, I didn't over-exert myself in making them perfect. You can find out what size to make them by measuring your hips (and adding a few inches for wiggle room) and comparing the size to the waist of the skirt.

Seam rip some more to make openings for the gussets.

I used French seams when I added the gussets to prevent fraying. Gah, I have been French seaming almost everything. I will get a serger one day!

At this time, you are nearly finished! Since the lace was already gathered, I had to rip it out and baste it (to gather it again) so that I could remove the basted stitch after it was sewn to the elastic. It would be nearly impossible to remove if it wasn't resewn. Baste both the lace and the liner (if your dress/skirt has one) and gather to fit your waist band.

Sew your waistband so that it is 1-3 inches smaller than your waist. Use an elastic stitch if you have one. If not, do multiple rows of zig-zags.

Sew the skirt to the waistband using a zig-zag stitch. If you use a straight stitch it will not stretch. Try not to sew over your basted thread as that makes it a lot harder to remove- which you must do after sewing to the waistband. If you can't get it all, that is OK. Just make sure it can stretch.

I like to finish my skirts by adding elastic lace to cover the hideous seams. Of course, it is not that anyone would see it, but isn't it nice to know that it looks good on the inside? You can find very cheap elastic lace on eBay.

And voilà, you are done!


  1. Haha, I actually do really like the style of the original dress, but I feel like the skirt is so much more versatile.(: And so pretty too! Great DIY!


    1. Great idea except your waist band makes it look like kids clothes. A covered waistband would have been better to match the skirt. You have some great idea here,

  2. so lovely!! I'm seeing this dip-dyed!!


  3. Lovely skirt! I like your pix. showing you doing what my nieces have always called the "spin test". Looks like it passes! For what it's worth, I think the "elogence" factor makes what you paid for the dress a steal! Nice job!

  4. Wow this is amazing! Thank you for sharing, it turned out perfect! xoxo

  5. Thank you for sharing this information and Very good looking blog.
    It is Very nice info.............
    The Cobbleroad


Thanks for stopping by! If you have a particular question, you can always email me at rebekahbethany {at}

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