Upcycling a Vintage Skirt

upcycled skirtI’ve had a corduroy skirt put aside for a while to work on. I think it used to belong to one of my big sisters and then handed on to me for dressing up. Once I was past that stage, I left it in a box. Using it to protect the contents of the box, during the many house moves that followed. I’m not sure I meant to keep it. I can’t remember feeling particularly fond of it. The skirt must date back to the 70s.

The label is faded, so I can’t tell which shop it originally came from. Or what size it is. Or even the washing instructions, if I wanted to. The skirt has seen better days.

vintage corduroy skirt(I took this photo last week, but somehow it still looks like its the 70s)

This week, I offered it to my stargazing Middle Daughter. It fitted her perfectly, but she didn’t want it. Don’t be fooled by the happy photo just above. She said that there was no way she would wear it. For a moment I wondered if the skirt was about to return to it’s former role as cushioning in boxes.

Ok. I understand. It was not her style. It was longer than this Tween would wear and decidedly dated. As she modelled the skirt I couldn’t help thinking that if I added a bonnet, she could rock a “Little House on the Praire” look. Sweet but most definitely not her.

Her style is shorter. She loves to wear shorter skirts over leggings. Jeans are not comfortable for my gymnast, so she opts for leggings. If she wears tunics, then it looks great, but with shorter tops the leggings transform into pyjamas. As if she’s just rolled out of bed. By wearing skirts over the top, it helps to show that she’s sporting leggings not pjs and also adds an element of modesty.

So I offered to shorten the skirt.

I cut it down to size, which transformed it and she said she would wear it, but only at home. Not outside. Hmm. Not really a win then.

upcycling a vintage skirtShe didn’t like the buckle. It wasn’t adding much to function of the skirt and had left rust marks on the fabric. It seemed to be more for decoration. I agreed to remove it and add a different button. We had fun going through the button tin, selecting the perfect button. The joy of a button box. She chose an enamel style flower button which is more contemporary. It always amazes me how changing a button can transform an outfit. The same way that new handles on a cupboard can change the look completely. Taking decades off it.

Back to the skirt. The pockets now looked huge on the shorter skirt. Completely out of proportion. I removed them, which left an obvious line on the skirt where the pockets had been attached. There wasn’t an easy way to remedy the marks, as they were too deeply ingrained after so many years of washing and storing. The only choice was to cover them. Using some of the fabric cut off the length, I made new patch pockets. Smaller and rounder. I suggested a bit of colour too. I also used the buckle fabric, minus the rusting buckle, to cover up the obvious line where the pocket had been connected up to the waist band.

patch pocketsShe liked the idea, but once the pockets were in place, they stood out more than the original pockets. They had to go.

I removed the colourful edging and pinched the top of the pockets to change the shape again. Then positioned them back on the skirt, covering up as much of the old stitch lines.

before and after upcycled skirtAs an upcycle project goes this was fairly straightforward. A bit of extreme scissor work reminds me of my ugly jumper upcycle. It helps that the skirt was well made to start with. Threads had started to undo but apart from that it was perfectly wearable. I suspect there may be a few people that think I should have left it as it was, but then no one would have worn it. I could still improve it by playing with the position of the button and giving it a good ironing, but I may need to sneak it away from her.

She loves the new improved skirt. Apparently it is very comfortable. It does fit her in all the right places. I guess we’ll have to wait to see if she wears it anywhere than home.

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