Sunday, May 13, 2012

Upcycled Skirt from Thrifted Shirt

make a skirt from a shirtrefashioned skirt tutorialDIY skirt

At this point some of my friends are starting to think that I have a problem with sewing.  I promise, I can quit anytime I want.  It's just that I don't want to right now.  And, since it is Skirt Week over at crafterhours I felt inspired to pump out some skirts.  This project is one of my favorites because it was quick, my daughter (actually) loves it (this is not always the case), and it was cheap :)
I found this shirt at a thrift store a couple of months ago thinking it would make a cute dress.  My very headstrong daughter had other ideas in mind.  She is so into skirts right now.  At first I was disappointed and tried to convince her that a dress is waaaay-cooler because I didn't think a skirt would give me much of a challenge or creative possibilities. All I would have to do it cut it off under the bibby-thingy and add some elastic at the waist... BOOOOWING!

But then I got the idea to completely deconstruct the shirt so that I would lose all of the shirt's structure and would basically be working with small bits of fabric.  So... after deconstructing the shirt I had something that looked like this.  Tiered skirts are very popular now and I figured that all of these little pieces would lend themselves to that kind of design.

The piece that is being cut in this picture is one of the side pieces from above.  It was originally part of the front of the shirt, under the arm and beside the bibby-thingy.  I cut the end off to create a rectangle and did the same with the piece from the other side.  These two rectangles formed the top tier of the skirt by sewing the two short ends together (with right sides in) and then finishing the edges all the way around the top and the bottom.  This gave me a circle of fabric about six inches long.  It looked like this:

Next I made a casing for the waistband.  I made the casing just over an inch wide because the elastic I was using was 3/4", leaving a two inch opening in order to put the elastic in.  Then I put this piece aside without inserting the elastic yet.  Now... to make the other tiers...

This is the back of the shirt folded in half.  I cut the top portion off so that I had a large rectangular piece of fabric.  I cut along the fold.  So... I am really into winging things and in case you were wondering I did not measure any of this.  I feel that adds a little bit of excitement and adventure to my sewing projects :)

Anywhooo... I then folded the fabric again to create more rectangular strips.  Two of the strips are narrower than the others.  I wanted the bottom tier of the skirt to be wider.  Here is what my strips looked like:

Again I cut along the fold.  So now I had two wide strips and to narrower strips.  Oh... this is important... the narrow strip still needs to be wider than the top tier, but narrower than the bottom tier.  In order to get the tiered effect, each layer needs to be wider and longer as you go down the skirt.

These strips were the perfect width for me, but they weren't long enough to give me a tiered look.  So, I needed to get more strips to add more length.

The bibby-thingy had fabric that was wide enough to give me a third rectangle for the bottom tier.  I was able to use fabric from the sleeves to add length to the middle tier.

Next up... back to the trusty Singer.  Just as I did for the top tier, I sewed together all the short ends of the rectangles with right sights together.  And I finished all the edges.  Here is a look at all three tiers before I assembled the skirt:

Yes, I know my floors aren't the cleanest... but sewing comes first.  I gotta keep my priorities straight after all!

Being the cheap (*ahem* thrifty) crafting-mom that I am, I used this piece of lace that has been sitting in my craft bin for... oh.... perhaps a decade or more.  I think it originated from my mom's stash that was also quite old.  So, let's just say it's aged.  Anyway, I sewed the lace to the bottom of the bottom tier with the right sides facing each other.  Then to help it lay flat, I folded the lace down and top stitched over my original seam.

Now for the gathering.  This is really easy to do.  Along the very top edge I created a basting stitch.  All that really means is a straight stitch in the longest stitch length possible.  It's important to keep the ends open (i.e. don't go back and forth over the end to secure it).  With a long piece like this it can help to take one or two breaks along the way, create a small gap and then continue on.  The gathering is accomplished by pulling the bottom thread carefully and then gently pushing the fabric in the opposite direction.  This can put a lot of pressure on the thread, which is why is can be good to break it up into smaller sections.  Again, this was not an exact science.  I just eyeballed it until it appeared that it was about the same circumference as the middle tier (wow - that was a big word!).

Next I took the middle tier, folded it inside out and slipped it over the bottom tier.  I carefully pinned the two together with their right sides together.

Two tiers down and one to go!  I measured from the top of my middle tier to the bottom of the skirt.  I had some leftover tulle that I wanted to use to give it a little pouffy-ness.  I thought it would give it a cute peek-a-boo look at the bottom.  I cut three strips of tulle so that they would be the same width of the skirt (from the top of the middle tier) and slightly longer than the skirt.

With the skirt inside out, I pinned the layers of tulle to the top of the middle tier.  I carefully sewed a basting stitch along the top (being careful to  sew through the layers of tulle and the skirt).  I used the same technique as above to gather the middle tier.  And just as above I pinned the top layer to the middle with the right sides together and sewed it up!

Then I measured my daughter's waist and cut a piece of elastic that was one inch shorter than her waist.  I pulled it through the casing (using the two inch gap that I left) and sewed the ends of the elastic together.  I usually don't sew up those two inches of the casing until I am sure that the waist band fits.  I tend to err on the side of too loose because it is way easier to cut some elastic off than it is to grow elastic.


Just add one happy little child....

A little bit of sunshine...

And a dash of free spirit ;)


  1. Hi, I came over from the Refashion co-op... your skirt came out cute... and it looks like she will be wearing it to bed too.... if she can get away with it! LoL... Way to go mom! Nothing like having a happy child, and feeling good about what you sew.

    1. Thanks so much Jean! I'm so glad you stopped by :)


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