Skirting the Issue

Once upon a time, circa July 9, 2010, I had the privilege to be Katrina’s Maid of Honor.

Awww 🙂

It was a classy event. Katrina picked a summery blue-and-yellow color scheme.  The ceremony was sweet. The reception was delightful. There were cupcakes. There was dancing. There were toasts.

Look at me, rockin' the toast. I'm so funny.

Nearly two years later, though, I still have this flowy yellow dress hanging in my closet, waiting for its new purpose. I’ve got a billion other fancy-occasion dresses, so I decided this year that I would turn my bridesmaid dress into a skirt for Easter. Here’s part one of that adventure.

There’s a lot of fabric going on in this dress, so I wanted to keep things simple. Basically the plan was ‘detach from bodice, attach to elastic waistband.’ I didn’t want a white elastic waistband, or a covered elastic band, either. But finding anything other than white or black elastic in my fabric and craft stores wasn’t looking too promising.

Solution: dye it myself! I bought yellow fabric dye and 1 1/2 inch thick elastic. I basically followed the ‘sink’ method on the instructions, but used a bucket instead, and decreased the amount of water and dye (I eyeballed it. No exact measurements here).

Mix the dye and water, add the elastic, stir constantly for approximately one episode of How I Met Your Mother. Rinse and wash the elastic. Easy.

Here’s a freebie: if you’re going to stir by hand, make sure there are no holes in your rubber glove, first. My finger is still kind of yellow.

Once the elastic was dyed, washed and dried, I determined where I wanted the skirt to sit on my waist, and pinned the elastic where it felt comfortable. I stitched the ends together and trimmed the excess elastic. I then folded back the seam allowances, and stitched them down. Now I’ve got a neat yellow waistband for my skirt!


I removed the three layers of skirt from the dress, and used seam rippers to remove the zipper. The sheer outer layer was full and gathered. The inner two layers were fitted.

The skirt was longer than I wanted the finished product to be, so I measured and cut off about 5 1/2 inches off the top (so I wouldn’t have to redo the hem). The sheer layer was being stubborn, but it’s mostly even.

For the elastic waistband to work, I needed the outer and inner layers to be the same size. So I opened up the two inner layers from the dress (carefully keeping the nicely finished seam allowances) and attached them to each other to make one big inner layer.

Matching up center fronts and center backs, I pinned and basted the sheer layer to the new lining, so that I could treat them as one piece of fabric later. The successes pretty much stopped there.

Time for the waistband: I matched up and pinned the center front and back, and the sides of the waistband and skirt. The plan was to use a straight stitch and stretch the elastic as I went, but there was too much fabric to fit the stretched elastic.

And there were other problems: Attempt 1 the stitch was too long. Attempt 2 I wasn’t catching all of the fabric. Attempt 3 my needle broke and I decided to call it quits for the night.

So I’m back to the drawing board. I might try a covered elastic waistband, or I might try to gather the skirt a bit before pinning it to the elastic. Any suggestions?

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8 responses

  1. I’m interested to see how this plays out! Kudos for making use out of an old MOH dress. Mine from the same summer (July ’09 was jam packed with weddings for this girl) is just hanging out in my closet. I thought I’d totally get more use out of it, since it’s basically an LBD, but that hasn’t happened!

  2. I think you really have to do two rows of gathering stitches for this to work. Break the stitching at the side seams and gather toward the middle. I just made a three-tiered skirt for my granddaughter and had to gather each tier to fit the other–lots of gathering and basting did the trick. Also, could you fold over the top of the skirt to make a casing, and then just thread the elastic through it? (Even though it would hide that lovely yellow dye job?)

  3. I would suggest either doing two rows of gathering stitches (and then basting the elastic to fit so you catch all the fabric) or maybe a better idea would be folding over the top of the skirt to make a casing and threading the elastic through it. Good luck!!

  4. Could you run a very long basting stitch through the top of the skirt? You could thin pull the ends of the thread to gather the skirt until it fits the waistband. Be careful not to pull too roughly on the sheer fabric.

  5. I’ve been thinking about this since I read what you were up to, a few days ago. I made a gathered (but not multi-layered) skirt on my wedding gown, but I didn’t use an elastic waistband. (I actually sewed a LOT back then) Anyway, I think the advice to baste, baste, baste is most excellent. you wont have the pins in the way, and you’ll have more control over the gathering. Another option might be. To stretch the elastic a little and ppin it to a piece of fusible interfacing and then iron them toogether. Then, pin the skirt to that. It should keep you from over-setching the elastic. But basting would be my first choice. Btw, the project is brilliant, and I can’t wait to hear about how it turns out!

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