Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday's Tute: A Child's Skirt from a Formal

The Holidays are coming up quickly. It's time to think about that special dress or skirt for those family gatherings and pictures. We see so many beautiful fabrics and beaded dresses in the children's boutique catalogues. But, oh the price!
Well, here's a way to create your own from a formal gown, thrifted for from the closet. And, as usual, it's actually so easy you'll wonder why you ever purchased one of those special dresses to begin with. Or why you slaved through a pattern and bought that expensive fabric at the fabric store. Although this tutorial is for a skirt, you can easily gather and attach this skirt to a bodice for a dress instead.

Pattern (or skirt) for a length measurement
3/4" non-roll elastic
Sewing Supplies


l. Lay the pattern onto the dress, using the bottom hem for your hem.

2. Measure up 1 1/2" from the top of the pattern and mark/pin a line for the casing. If attaching it to a bodice, measure up the amount of your seam allowance.
3. Remove any beading that might be in the way when sewing the casing or seam.

4. Remove the zipper (if there is one in the way). And fraycheck the raw edge to prevent fraying or bead release while you are working.

5. Stitch closed the zipper opening. One side of my zipper opening overlapped the other slightly. So I stitched along the edge (black line) to close up the opening. The stitches will be hidden with the casing/gathers.

6. Casing/seam: Finish the raw edge to prevent fraying with a zigzag or overcast stitch. Casing: Fold over the top edge 1 1/4" and press. Then stitch, on the wrong side, with the edge of your presser foot to the right side of the seam finish. Leave open about 2" to insert the elastic.
7. Cut a piece of elastic to fit the wearers waist, and thread the elastic through the casing.
8. Overlap the elastic ends and sew them together.
9. Tuck the elastic inside the casing and close the casing.
If your dress was any type of a-line (narrower at the top than the bottom) you will find that your casing's raw edge is smaller than the dress it's folded on top of. This is fine simple tuck up the dress to fit the casing as you sew. It will leave a few little pleats, but they will hide well in the gathers the elastic will create.
Attach to the Bodice: Finish the raw edge of the skirt. Gather the skirt, and attach it to the bodice you have prepared.
We used extra fabric to create the ruffled bias trim on the skirt and the sash from the formal. Our red version, above, is going to be attached to a black stretch velvet bodice, inspired by a picture from the Wooden Soldier clothing catalogue, using our Fun and Easy Knit Dress e-pattern. The black stretch velvet is being repurposed from a thrifted ladies dress. I'll share pictures of our Christmas dress when I get it finished.
Happy Sewing!


  1. That is beautiful, Debbie! Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. Popping in from Seams Inspired Thrifty Christmas Challenge.

    This is such a great idea! I'll have to keep it in mind for all those occasions that seem to happen from this time of year onwards!

  3. Love this - I always make my daughter wear a dress to her annual Christmas program (which she hates doing). This year I promised her a skirt instead and this might be just the ticket.


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