Friday, January 31, 2014

fabu-less friday: goodwill maxi turned ruche midi

I love Modcloth, Ruche, and Shabby Apple. I do not love the prices. Ruche is more affordable, but I have issues with spending money on clothes. I hate spending more than $20 on pretty much anything. However, I've been obsessing over plaid midi skirts for months, and I've been trying to convince myself to buy one.

"Ayrshire Plaid Midi Skirt" at

Luna Skirt from Shabby Apple

Office Envy skirt from Modcloth
However, none of these are even close to my $20 panic point. SO I decided to venture out into my new town and find our Goodwill. Best discovery: it's like a mile and a half away. I found a less than fabulously cut skirt that was quite a bit too large for me, but had a beautiful purple plaid for $3. I also found a great checkered pencil skirt to wear as-is.

Before and After--excuse the greasy hair in before, focus on the fab hair in after
The best thing ever happened this week...IT SNOWED! Snow is literally my favorite thing that exists on earth so when we had a two day snow day this week, I was SO happy. I took the opportunity to sew like mad on Tuesday and watch Harry Potter all day with the husband Wednesday. Being married is great for blogging, by the way. I have someone to take my pictures for me again! Thanks Drew!

This refashion wasn't very conducive to a tutorial, but I'll show you some of the steps. It was a long process and took me a day and a half to finish once I realized the original side zipper of the skirt had been damaged and was un-reusable, and my zipper foot for my sewing machine had disappeared. So after the South re-opened after Snowmaggedon yesterday I went over to Hancock, grabbed a few zippers to keep on hand plus the one I needed, and a new Coats Invisible Zipper Foot (I highly recommend this, by the way. It guides the zipper teeth through for you, saving time and frustration).

She got a donk...should've shown this from the back so you could see what a pear shape looks like!
The first thing I do with any garment is determine what fit I'm looking for. I placed this skirt on my adjustable dress form that is set to my measurements to start pinning and marking what I was going to do. After examining the skirt, I decided that the best way to takle it was by cutting every seam entirely off except the hem. I kept the original hem because I knew that cutting from the top instead of the bottom would give me the gather I needed to get a fuller skirt like those I was getting inspiration from.

Cut ALL the seams!
After I had done that, I took the two halves of the skirt and laid them side by side. I measured about 3 inches from the top to get my next cut, and then sewed those two strips together to make what became the new waistband.

Daisy stayed like this the ENTIRE day Tuesday while I sewed. Snoring on the daybed, occasionally looking up to check out what I was up to.

Two skirt halves ready to be chopped up!

Stitching those two strips from the tops of skirt halves together to make one long strip.

Fusible interfacing is your friend!
To add stability to my waistband since this fabric has a slight stretch to it, I added fusible interfacing and then ironed the waistband almost as though I was making bias tape. I was going to attach the skirt by sandwiching it between the two sides of the waistband and sewing along the bottom edge to create a barely-there seam.

Gathering is easy--sew two lines using a long or basting stitch and then tug on the ends until you get the right amount of gather.

There is the sandwich technique!
After this, I sewed up one side seam, leaving the other open for zipper installation. I had to go purchase a new zipper and an invisible zipper foot, but then was able to install it with relative ease. I forgot to take pictures of this step, but invisible zippers are wonderful because it truly can't be seen without searching for the zipper pull. It gives homemade clothing the same feel you get from storebought, when installed correctly. This tutorial from Sew Serendipity is the best and easiest to follow invisible zipper guide I've ever consulted.

The Coats & Clark invisible zipper foot is great because it can be made to fit any machine.

Midi-skirts are great for work--not too long to be casual, and not too short to be inappropriate.
After all of the deconstruction and essentially making an entirely new skirt, I got my copycat look for a grand total of $5.99 including the new zipper. I didn't factor the foot into the total price because it was a replacement for a staple part of my sewing life. That means I saved almost 90% by doing a DIY version instead of buying the skirt retail!

Part of the reason I chose the midi length skirt was for work. Being a young female in a male dominated workforce, with somewhat of a "good ol' boy" culture, I have to work harder to be taken seriously. I never mention my age unless I have to, and am very very selective with my work clothes. If the hem is above my knee at all, I don't wear it. I rarely wear pencil skirts because when you have the kind of butt Sir Mixalot writes songs about, pencil skirts will always ride up in the back and look more sexy than savvy, which is not the professional persona I want to give off. This skirt meets my need for style and fun, which I can get away with more being in the arts, while also being a serious enough wardrobe piece to become a work wear staple.

What have you done as a woman or young professional to help your image? Have you been up to any DIY lately?

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