In my drive to clear all clutter out of my room in preparation for my move to Wisconsin, I’ve been going through all of the fabric I have laying around from old projects. This particular floral fabric was actually cut from a dust ruffle that my neighbor gave me a long time ago. While I was originally perplexed as to what I could do with such little fabric (it was about four feet long and a foot and a half wide), I realized that it was the perfect amount for a gathered – or dirndl – skirt.
What’s really useful about making this skirt out of a dust ruffle is that the dust ruffle will come pre-hemmed on the bottom (yay!) and will possibly already have a way to attach to itself. I was very lucky and found that my fabric had cute yellow buttons and buttonholes already in place, which made this project ten times easier. If your fabric doesn’t have buttons like mine, you’ll have to either sew your own buttonholes (here’s a relatively easy tutorial on how to machine sew buttonholes) or add a zipper.
- Skirt fabric – the longer this is, the fuller your skirt will be. You want the width to be the length from your waist to your ideal skirt length, plus a couple of inches for hemming. If you’re working with a dust ruffle, disregard the hemming part. You can use many types of fabric for this – I used a cotton but special occasion fabrics would also give this skirt a little oomph.
- Waistband fabric – get fabric in a matching or complementary color. You won’t need much, just long enough to go around your waist and about 6-8 inches wide depending on how thick you want the waistband to be.
- Matching thread
- Optional – interfacing for the waistband (to make it stiffer – I didn’t do this but you could), buttons, and zippers are all optional.
- Gather the skirt fabric – Baste (loosely stitch – I set my stitch width at 4) two lines across the top of your fabric. Pull one thread from each line on each side, scrunching up the fabric as you go. The fabric should slide pretty easily over the thread. Make sure that the skirt is distributed evenly over the thread with the gathering pretty even overall.
- Sew the fabric to the waistband – With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the skirt to the waistband. Sew the two together (back on a normal stitch – I use 2), making sure that you are sewing lower than the two gather threads (so they end up inside the waistband, not visible to the outside world).
- Slipstitch the waistband closed – Iron the free edge of the waistband over about 3/8 in. Fold the waistband in half, and slipstitch the ironed edge to the other half of the waistband. If you’re using interfacing, apply (iron or sew) the interfacing to one half of the waistband before you sew it shut.
- Optional: Hemming the skirt and sewing it closed While I didn’t have to do this, if you don’t start with a dust ruffle, you’ll have to hem the skirt. Fold 3/8 in. of the bottom of the skirt under and sew it. Then, fold it under again until the skirt is your desired length. Pin it in place, and slip stitch the hem. To close the skirt, fold over and hem the two edges, sewing buttons and buttonholes down the skirt’s length. If you’re using a zipper, figure out how long you need the zipper to be (probably 7-9 in., but it needs to be able to open up to fit over the widest part of your hips). Sew the skirt closed up to that point. Next sew in the zipper, following the above tutorial.
I absolutely love my new skirt, and I’m so glad I’ve finally found a use for such charming fabric. Depending on how you style the skirt and what fabric you use, a gathered skirt can be used for almost any occasion – work, leisure, special occasions. I would recommend wearing it with a tucked in shirt, however, since the gathers might look awkward if the flattering waist is hidden. If you use enough fabric (more than I did), you can also wear a petticoat underneath it, and wear it like a classic vintage skirt – there are so many possibilities.
When summer comes around, I can’t help but be drawn towards preppy staples like nautical stripes, navy blue, and kelly green – all I can dream about is lounging on the beach or on the back porch in classic-looking clothing. When I saw the “High Hamptons” collection in Joann Fabrics, I knew that I had to make something with it. I’ve also seen a lot of chevron patterns and textiles all over Pinterest recently, which inspired me to take the stripe fabric I found and play around with it a little.
The most important part about making your own chevron clothing is making sure that the stripes line up. That’s really the key to making your dress (or skirt) look expensive. Overall, it’s it’s pretty simple, you just need to be extra careful when cutting and sewing your pieces.
Here are the materials you’ll need:
- 1-2 yds striped, knit fabric – I ended up doing chevrons only on the front panels, so I needed a bit less. The amount you need will depend on the size you’re making and the difficulty of matching the stripes. It’s usually better to err on the cautious side. My fabric is a lurex blue and green stripe poly blend from the High Hamptons line at Joann Fabrics.
- 1 yd matching knit fabric (Optional) – I chose a kelly green knit fabric to complement the front of the dress. If you instead want to do chevrons on the side panels as well, add this amount of fabric to the striped fabric requirement.
- Matching thread – I chose to use navy thread to match the darker of the stripes
- An old tank top – Grab an old tank top, skirt or knit dress that you like the fit of. This will provide a loose template for a pattern.
- Large sheets of paper – This can be any type of paper – we need it to create a paper pattern to help us cut out the pieces. I ended up using a couple sheets of newspaper.
How to make it:
- Step one: Create a pattern
Spread your tank top or dress down on your paper. Sketch out a loose outline of the clothing. Each half of your body (top/bottom) will be covered by eight pieces. After tracing out a loose copy of your tank top, cut it in half down the middle (where the two “1” pieces separate). Draw and cut a line where you want the front panels to separate from the side panels (i.e. cut your pattern into “1” and “2” pieces). Cut the pieces apart. Decide where you want the waistline to fall, and cut the bottom of the pieces off there. Now, sketch out a pattern from the skirt. Again, cut the piece in half and then into front and side panels (cut 3 from 4). Made sure that the top and bottom panels meet each other at the right place and are the same width there.
- Step two: Cut out the fabric
This is one of the most important steps – cutting out the fabric and matching stripes. For each pattern piece you’ve made, you’re going to cut out four copies. I started with the “1” pattern piece. Position your pattern on the fabric so that the stripes are going at the angle you want them to – I did a pretty steep ~45 degree angle, but it’s up to you. Cut out that pattern piece. Now, here’s the trick. Place that piece of fabric back on top of your striped fabric, and line it up so that it intersects with the stripes next to it when they are also at the same (but reversed) angle. A good way to check this is to look at how wide the stripes are at a given point, and make sure their widths match up. They should form a perfect chevron together. When you’ve finished matching up the stripes, place the paper pattern down on that section of fabric, so that cut fabric and the paper form a mock-up of the whole front “1” panels. Pin that pattern down, and cut it out. You should now have matched, cut “1” panels. Continue this for the two back “1” panels. For the “3” panels, using the same method, match the waist stripes from the “1” panels into chevrons, and then match the center chevrons again. Do it again for the back “3” panels. The end result of all the matching and cutting should look like the right image in the above illustration. For my version, cut “2” and “4” panels out of your complementary fabric. If you also want to make chevrons there, follow the above method to match stripes.
- Step three: Sew, sew, sew!
Now’s the time to sew all the pieces together! It’s really important to match up the stripes, so carefully pin each piece together, matching stripes as you go. Sew all the pieces together following the diagram above. You should probably use a “stretch” needle to sew the knitted fabric. I also used a zigzag stitch, because I find that straight stitches tend to be less forgiving on stretch fabric. Hem the bottom, neckline, and armholes of the dress, making sure the seams hit the same place on the dress (the stripes will make it painfully obvious if the neckline isn’t hemmed evenly).
There, you’re done! Wear it with classic wayfarer sunglasses and cute sandals on a sunny summer outing or with a cardigan for casual summer work attire. What I really love about this dress is that it’s so easy to wear but still so cute (also, let’s be real, the chevron stripes are visually slimming and create a pseudo hourglass shape). Enjoy!