April 04, 2012

Snip, Snip, Sew, Sew

You may have seen this dress before.

purple dress
I made it for Caitlyn when she was in preschool and it's been one of her favorites. See it in the back yard, at the Ren Faire, on the first day of kindergarten, with a shark, and with a hat. It's had a long and much loved run.

And it'd become too short.

We'd recently read I Had a Favorite Dress, in which a girl outgrows her favorite dress and her (rather amazing) mother turns it into a whole series of things (a shirt, a skirt, a scarf, a hair clip, etc).

Inspired by the book and by my current clothing-making obsessions, I cut the top off, made a waistband and - ta-da! - "new" skirt!
purple skirt

For the most part, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. I picked out several rows of stitching to detach the bodice from the skirt, measured Caitlyn repeatedly, used two layers of scrap lightweight interfacing to give the waistband some structure, and finished off with some topstitching.

purple skirt

The fit isn't quite right, despite all the measuring, but I think it's because I let the new waistband follow the slight curve of the original bodice. Keeping the curve meant that the waistband could be a bit taller, but it also bows out a little in front instead of lying flat. This bothers me a lot more than it bothers Caitlyn. Also, she doesn't care a bit that the zipper in the back is off-center, or that I didn't do a fantastic job of putting it back in, so it's a more visible zipper than it was on the dress.

purple skirt
Nope. Caitlyn doesn't care. She's got her purple skirt again.


  1. What a great way to extend the life of a favorite garment and you did such a nice job. I probably would have slapped some elastic in a folded casing and called it a skirt, but you put in a zipper and a waistband and everything! Also, I bet that skirt goes OUT when she twirls. Not much feels better than when you're happy enough to want to twirl and your skirt twirls with you.

    Your story makes me think of the song "I had an old coat" I first heard from Sharon, Lois and Bram back in the 80's. Similar story: as it wears out the coat becomes a jacket, a shirt, a vest, a tie and so on until all that's left is a button and then when the button is gone, what's left becomes the song which, "I sing every day of my life." There are several versions on iTunes and one on YouTube if you want to hear it but fair warning, the chorus is very catchy and could become an earworm.

    1. Thanks! The song recommendation reminds me of two other books, neither of which have titles I can remember right now, that're basically the same story. One's got a Jewish flare to it, lovely illustrations, with a parallel story involving some mice. The other is about a much loved blankie that's too old and shabby to be socially acceptable. Both involve elders who transform the much loved item into increasingly smaller incarnations.

      I guess I should start planning now for what the next version of this skirt will be!

  2. I often buy printed dresses, skirts and printed t-shirts in UK because they got lovely printed designs there. You gave me some inspiration to repair and remodel some of them as how you did to that cute dress. Thank you very much.