As I said yesterday, I wanted to share the process I took to DIY this maxi dress to a maxi skirt. This was a dress that one of my Grandmother’s friends made that was handed down to me along with some fabric but in no way would ever fit me in the bust/shoulders. I know it seems pretty simple to convert a dress to skirt but, in this case, I wanted to make it a half-elastic waist, so the front would be flat and the back would stretchy/gathered. I have learned gathered fronts don’t suit me, which probably has to do with the fact that my waist is small in comparison to my hips. I need to have extra fabric at the waist so I can get skirts over my hips, so it all looks too poofy.
Besides the dress, all I needed was a piece of 3/4″ cotton webbing (you could use a ribbon or strip of fabric or binding) that was around 2/3 of my natural waist and a piece of 3/4″ no-roll elastic that was 1/3 of my natural waist. (These were these were the final measurements—I originally started with longer pieces and trimmed down to what I wanted. I suggest you do the same depending on your body shape and desired stretchy-ness.)
First, since this dress had a lining, I did a quick temporary basting around, through the lining and outer fabric, by hand, below the point at which I wanted to cut. To determine the point to cut at I went with the overall desired length plus 2″. One thing to note, like I said earlier, if you are an hourglass or pear shape, make sure the point you cut at is wider than the widest point of your hips otherwise you won’t be able to get it on.
Then on the inside I marked 2″ from top raw edge. Then folded down twice and pinned.
Then I stitched all around, about 1/8″ from the edge, as seen, leaving an opening a few inches wide. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches at the opening. Since I wanted only the back to have elastic, I left my opening on the side. If you want a full elastic waist, you can leave the opening in the back and bypass the next couple steps.
With a safety pin attached to the elastic as seen, I started threading the elastic/webbing through the casing. When the point at which I stitched the elastic and webbing together reached the opposite side seam, I did a vertical stitching as seen, to hold it in place there. That was so the webbing stayed in the front and the elastic in the back and would ‘migrate’ in the future.
At this point, I temporarily pinned the elastic to the webbing and tried the skirt to see if the waist felt comfortable and it would stretch enough to get over my hips. Then I trimmed the webbing and elastic so it would overlap 1″ like before, at the size I wanted. Then I stitched the square and X and slipped it back into the casing neatly and stitched closed the opening. Just like the other side, I did a vertical line to hold the webbing and elastic in the front and back, respectively.
The original dress was designed with a seam running down the middle, giving it a total of four seams. I had hoped to off-set this by having two seams in the front and two in the back and give it a paneled look but there were a little inserts at the side bottoms to give the skirt more flare, so I kept the seams as they were. Odds are the secondhand dress you use will have only two seams and you’ll keep them just as is.
It’s that simple!