Turning Last Year’s It Dress Into This Year’s Midi Skirt

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Hands up: who has *that* ruffle hemmed Zara midi dress from last year, or if not the original then one of the very, very many lookalikes that all the other brands came out with soon after? Keep your hand up if, even though you love the dress, it’s a little too tight across the boobs because none of these places thought to use a material with any stretch in. Then keep your hand up if you left it too long to return said dress so you’re now suck with something that you like very much but haven’t been able to wear.

If the above isn’t too hyper-specific, and anyone still has their hand up, then this post is for you! The version of the Zara dress I went for was a Missguided one, the print is somewhere between dalmatian and Flintstone rather than the original Zara polka dot, and that’s why I love it! It was earmarked for a friend’s wedding, but I just wasn’t happy with how tight the bust was. I’m a dab hand at chopping dresses in half, I’ve done it before, and figured why not do it again with this guy so I can get some wear out of the print I like?

The last time I did this type of alteration I let the fact the dress had a zip intimidate me, well not this time! If you have one of these dresses, or something similar that you’d like to repurpose as a skirt then let me show you how I – a fairly inexperienced sewist – managed to successfully complete this side zip dress to skirt DIY.

What You’ll Need

  • Dress to be altered
  • Sharp scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Pins
  • Safety pin
  • 1″ wide elastic (about an inch shorter than your waist measurement)
  • Sewing machine / needle and thread (I’m using a sewing machine for this tutorial)

Side Zip Dress To Skirt DIY

1. First you’ll need to separate the top from the rest of the dress. I laid the dress flat then measured and pinned an even line 3″ up from the waist seam. Making sure the side zip is in the open position, so the zip is at the bottom, cut across using the pins as a guide.

2. This is where you decide what you’re going to do with the waist. You can either keep the side zip and create a fixed waist by folding the 3″ of extra fabric back in on itself, then sewing in place, and securing the top of the zip. Or you can pick the zip out, sew up the side seam where it lived, and go for an elasticated waist. I went for elasticated, as it’s more comfortable,

3. Decision made, I removed that extra 3″ inches of fabric from the waist seam because I wasn’t going to need it. If you’re making an elasticated waist too, do the same then take out the gathering threads before running a tricot or zigzag stitch all along the raw hem to prevent fraying. I only used tricot because my dress is slippy polyester.

4. With the skirt inside out, fold back the fabric just slightly more than the width of your elastic and sew in place leaving a small gap you can manoeuvre the elastic through.

5. Pop a safety pin through one end of the elastic and feed it along the channel of the waistband you’ve created, gathering the fabric slightly as you go.

6. Overlap the elastic by an inch or two and then sew the two ends securely together. It doesn’t really matter what stitch you use, I just went with how I remember seeing someone else do it.

7. Tuck everything away and sew up the gap. Turn your new skirt the right way out, even up the distribution of the gathering around the new waistband, and that’s it – you’re good to go.

The main thing I struggled with, because I’m still a bit of a novice, was stopping the stitching wandering off and ruining the straight lines. In a couple of places I noticed the channel for the elastic was a little narrow which made feeding it though slightly harder, but not to the extent that the skirt was ruined. I’ve still been wearing it, which is more than I was doing when it was a dress, so I’m calling this midi dress to skirt DIY project a success!

If you liked this post then check out some more of my growing archive of sewing posts, or for more general DIY writing click here.

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