If you have a dress that you’re a little tired of, turning it into a skirt is a perfect way to give it new life. Depending on your dress you can even make matching separates (I like my results so much I even included them in my summer capsule wardrobe)!
This is a tutorial designed for a fitted dress with a waist seam* and a zipper. It is a project that requires some basic sewing skills, a sewing machine, pins, thread, a pair of scissors, and an iron is also helpful. You might also want a hook and eye and depending on your skirt, some elastic, grosgrain ribbon, or bias tape – see step 7.
*If your dress doesn’t have a waist seam, you can still turn it into a skirt but you will have to draw a line at the waist and cut above that, you might also need to add elastic or a band to ensure that it fits your waist.
Here’s how you do it:
2. Unpick the area at and above the waist seam, unpick through all stitching in this area (roughly 1-2 in.) so the zipper is unattached.
3. Cut above the waist seam all around the fabric (I cut about a 1/2 in. above the waist because I still want to make a cropped top with the top part, if you don’t want to use the top part, I would recommend cutting about 1 in. above the waist seam).
4. Cut the zipper (between the teeth if metal) about another 1/4 in. above where you cut the waist.
5. Press down the cut edge along the original waist seam. If your dress has a lining or waistband (like mine) ie. you had to cut through multiple layers, press the cut edges towards each other creating a clean finish.
6. Take the zipper ends and bend behind the waist seam, pinning and hand-tacking in place.
– Either fold the cut end over the zipper or sandwich between outside and inside layers. This is a great trick for shortening any zippers at the top. If you want, for extra security you can also hand sew a thread stop at the top by wrapping thread between the teeth at the end.
7. Stitch along top edge, stitching down the cut edge and trapping the zipper (be careful stitching around zipper teeth! It’s a good idea to just use the handwheel in that area so you don’t wreck your needles on the zipper).
– Depending how you want your waistband to look and feel there are a few different optional ways of finishing the waist:
- you can add a grosgrain ribbon on the inside for stability and a clean finish
- you can stitch on an elastic if it needs to more fitted
- you can add bias tape to the inside edge for a clean finish
- you can also top-stitch across at multiple allowances for stability and a top-stitch look
* Your waist will have stitching along the top. My waist band had a flap over it, so I decided to stitch under the flap.
8. After everything is finished on the waist, you can also add a hook and eye at the top of the zipper. This will relieve pressure on the zipper (so it won’t unzip while you’re wearing it!) and will hold the waist seam.
I hope these instruction are clear, if you have any questions please ask! Also if you’ve tried this project I would love to see your new skirt!