Selfish Sewing: Inkblot Skirt

Taking advantage of my recent joyous sewing mood, I welcomed Spring with three new garments: a knitted spring sweater, a refashioned skirt, and a self-drafted knit dress.

This skirt began as a dress that I acquired from a younger woman at a clothing swap. This is not a true before and after comparison, because I had already ripped out the bubble skirt structure of the dress.

Tribble Skirt Refashion
Spring has always been one of my favorite seasons for clothing.

Why I changed it: Originally the hem of the trendy bubble skirt hit mid-thigh (exhibit A: the original white lining in the left photo). This was too short for me. I look best in skirts that brush the top of my knees. Originally I intended to just re-hem the skirt and keep the garment as a dress. I like cowl necklines, but this particular bodice was not flattering on a small chest. It was too loose and I felt lost in the fabric folds.

The Wardrobe Architect program has increased my awareness of clothing silhouettes. I have always gravitated to certain shapes, but now I have a better idea why. With broad shoulders and a small chest, I prefer fitted shirts with wide necklines that focus attention on my collarbone or upper back.

What I did: After releasing the bubble skirt hem and removing the gathering stitches in the hem, I had to get rid of the skirt’s inner lining. Not only was it too short for this new skirt length, but the material was highly static prone. It felt terrible against my skin. Aren’t linings meant to prevent static cling? Lots more seam ripping at the side seams, the zipper (sewn to both the lining and exterior material), and waistband.

With the inner lining removed, I could finally access the waist line of the dress’s exterior. The grosgrain ribbon was top-stitched to the skirt and the bodice (on either side of the waist seam). First I ripped out the thread on the ribbon’s top edge, then I carefully cut the bodice fabric away.

Finishing in the waist seam: When I attached the new lining to the skirt, I just inserted the lining inside the skirt, pinned, and sewed the edge with a zig-zag. In hindsight, I should have draped the lining on the OUTSIDE of the skirt (right sides together), sewn it, then folded the lining back inside the skirt. This would have concealed the seam’s raw edges. At this point I plan to use the left over lining material scraps to make bias tape and use that to cover the raw edges of the waist seam.

The Zipper Challenge: The dress had a hidden zipper in the side seam that opened at the arm hole and extended down to just past the hip bone. After fighting with the hidden zipper in Elizabeth’s skirt, I was not eager to remove and reinsert another hidden zipper. So I opened the zipper to the point where the toggle was just below the ribbon, and I cut the zipper along with the rest of the bodice.

This severed zipper no longer had the little plastic “zipper stops”, so I had to be careful when I opened and closed the zipper, lest I pull the toggle off completely. I did ok, until I got distracted talking to Greg and zipped it right off. I was a quietly-burning ball of white-hot fury for about 15-20 minutes while I tried to push it back on from the raw zipper edge at the top.

Turning to the internet while trying to control my breathing, I found a tutorial that showed how to repair a hidden zipper from the bottom. So, I pulled the zipper apart completely (without removing it from the skirt) and carefully fed the finished bottom end of the zipper back into the toggle and zipped up the skirt again. Victory. To prevent this from happening again, I dabbed hot glue onto the top ends of the zippers to clog the teeth and added a hook & eye closure at the very top to keep the waistband together.

What I love: The airy feminine feel of the skirt’s semi-flared shape. As I mentioned before, I wear a lot of fitted tops so this will pair nicely. It also matches the color palette of my existing wardrobe and fits the guidelines I am following to build my new wardrobe.

What I will learn to live with: The bobbin tension on my sewing machine was acting up, so some of the stitches on the skirt hem are a little uneven. No one can see this, so I will not worry about it until the stitches come loose or break. A hem is easy enough to fix, especially with a new sewing machine.


4 thoughts on “Selfish Sewing: Inkblot Skirt

  1. Ugh, the zipper issue sounds frustrating, but I like the way you resolved it! Hot glue sounds like an ingenious way to fix it, so I am gonna store that away in my mind somewhere for when I need it 🙂 Lovely skirt you made!

  2. Oooh, that zipper fury…the same thing happened to me on my Alice costume dress, and instead of fixing it I’ve let it sit for two years.

    Fab skirt though! Love the neutral colors.

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