Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick and Dirty: Tricking out a Thrifted Skirt

Greetings, again.

Today I'd like to post a brief how-I-did-it piece, on tricking out a skirt I found at a thrift store that was closing (which meant the skirt cost me 90¢!)

Below is the skirt, which had an Italian label and is made from 100% cotton.  
Front (taken with flash)
Back, taken without flash
The skirt was pinned up entirely randomly, at different height levels.  It also had two braided ties (?) at the sides, made of the same skirt fabric, which were very long, and in these photos, can be faintly seen, clipped up at the top to loop them.  I considered keeping the braids, but they were at a height and angle which I found difficult to work with attractively.  Since I was going to be wearing a corset over the skirt, I ultimately decided the extra bulk was unnecessary, so I unpicked their stitches to remove them from the skirt (and have kept them just in case I find another use for them).
Skirt pinned to dressform under corset.  (Braided ties still attached)
After staring at the skirt awhile on the form, I decided I wanted to trim the hem, and definitely embellish and accentuate the pinned-up portions.  So I went and sorted through my accumulated trims and buttons, etc, and ended up starting at these selections:
Trim I have from previous projects & shopping trips
Buttons bought online
I went a bit nuts, and began pinning things to the skirt on the dressform.  (I was also working on the corset at the same time, and pinned things all over it too.  See separate entry earlier on the corset mod)
I decided to attach the fairly stiff, light tan & white striped, narrow ruffle trim (which was slightly elasticized) to the hem, and use the fancy buttons to accent (and reinforce) the pinned-up sections, with some of the plaid ribbon dangling down.  

Upon deciding this, I pinned the striped trim to the entire hem.  Turns out when laid out, the hemline was a huge rectangle.  Pinning elasticised trim is frustrating (and turned out to be pointless ... once the machine hit it, my pinning was moot, as the pins took up more trim than sewing did, so my pins were all off).  After I was done sewing, I measured the hem circumference ... 19 ½ feet of hem.  Yikes.  No wonder it took forever.  After sewing, the skirt looked like this:
I wasn't happy with how much the hem now stuck out, but realized, when worn under the corset, it wouldn't be so bad.  At this stage, it took me a week to figure out exactly where to go next, what to do with the pinned-up parts, and with the braided ties (which are still in place here).

Since I only had 6 of the large fancy buttons (3 really cool, 3 slightly less cool), I decided to use small brass buttons for the smaller, less prominent tucked-up bits.  And I decided to add some coppery-ish soft ribbon, in addition to the plaid ribbon, to accent the pinned-up parts.  When attaching the ribbons and buttons, I took care to use the opportunity to reinforce the tacking, since the fabric is thin and I was worried there would be tearing eventually in the original tacking.
So, the plain cheap 90¢ skirt ended up looking like this:
And like this, when worn with rolled stockings this April at Norwescon 34 in Seattle:
So, this goes to show you can buy a cheap skirt at a thrift store, and with trim on the hem, dangly ribbons, and buttons, trick it out a little.

Thanks for listening, and as usual, feel free to comment below!


  1. So cute! The final product is awesome.

  2. I generally crosspost most (tho not all) costuming blog posts to the Steamfashion LJ group. Link to the related post on this open group and the comments engendered can be found here: