DIY suede wrap skirt // vintage fabric salvage

A few months ago, I stumbled across a vintage coat dress at an estate sale. The suede was in mixed condition, but there was an awful lot of it in the circle skirt design of the skirt. It was only $10 so I figured I would cut it up anyway (but not before I played a little dress-up).

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When I bought it home, the first thing I needed to do was address the old, dusty smell. It wasn’t offensive, just old. I hung it outside while I did a bit of research online. I discovered that it was possible to launder suede. I had nothing to lose.

I washed my coat on the gentlest machine cycle using a wool detergent and a smidgen of fabric softener. And then, because I was impatient, I decided to test out the dryer theory too. I dried the coat on the lowest, delicate cycle (which I use for drying silk). It worked beautifully. I feel like the gentle motion of the dryer eliminated any possible stiffness from the water. The end result was that the good suede on the coat looked, felt, and smelt better than before. The damaged suede didn’t, and in fact, was probably more obvious than before the wash. There were initially a few small (oil splatter?) stains in the suede too. These didn’t come out, probably because the washing process was so gentle. So even though I would still generally prefer to air suede, it’s good to know it can be washed safely on the odd occasion, particularly when hunting second hand goods.

But now I need to talk about the skirt. I salvaged the good suede from the coat dress to use for the outer skirt and since the coat was lined in silk, I used that to line my skirt too. I used the same sewing pattern that you’ve seen me use before (here and here). This time, I shortened the length and extended/straightened the front for full coverage.

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Instead of a waistband, I used a facing and I secured this down with a very wide topstitch, rolling the outer suede in towards the facing as I did so. This ensures that none of the contrast facing can be seen from the outside.

The skirt has some oddly placed seams because I focused on retrieving the best sections of fabric in the coat rather than avoiding the seams. Also, I quite like the asymmetry of surprise seaming here and there.

I opened out, topstitched, and trimmed back all my seams. The existing seams weren’t topstitched but were pressed so flat that I didn’t want to touch them. I also left the side edges and bottom hem unfinished. Suede won’t fray!

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To fasten the skirt, there is a lightweight ribbon tie on the inside (which looks like it needs to be tied a little tighter as I can see a little bit of the inner skirt front hanging down in the photo) and a single large button on the outside. I made a bound buttonhole in the suede. It sounds impressive but it wasn’t difficult at all. Suede is a pretty easy material to work with.

I’ve seen so many little suede minis in the past few months that I’m very happy to finally have my own. Watch out 70’s, here I come!

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Off the shoulder silk dress and a solution for strapless-bra haters

Can I just say how much I love this dress, perhaps even more so now because I have come up with an alternative to wearing a dastardly strapless bra.

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First, let’s talk about the dress. I feel like these photos don’t do the fabric justice. It’s actually a slightly warmer grey, in a luxurious double crepe silk. It’s a beautiful weight, completely opaque, and perfect for Spring, Summer, or in between. I’ll be using this dress as a transeasonal piece, possibly layering it over jeans and adding a scarf until the weather warms up.

I used my Branson Top pattern as a starting point for the dress pattern. It’s a pattern that fits me well, and it had a front bodice and sleeve shape that gave me a good starting point for the shape of flare I wanted. You could easily use another woven shirt pattern though.

My first step was to remove the CF front placket to turn the front bodice into one piece. Then I extended the lines of the pattern to a dress length. I then simply slashed and spread all three pattern pieces (the front, back, and sleeves). Because the front of the Branson Top pattern is already flared somewhat, I only spread the front by a little. The same applied to the wide Branson sleeves, which I shortened before spreading. I left the back hem a touch longer than the front.

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Now, about the strapless bra situation. There isn’t one (unless I want one of course)! My solution to the bra dilemma was to sew two tubes of matching fabric, press them, and thread them over the straps of an existing bra (I have enough bras in my arsenal that I won’t miss one for the time being). I machine basted the fabric tubes in place and I can remove them at any time or I can leave them on for as long as I want. Perfect!

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Vintage refashion

I found this wonderful pink silk dress at an estate sale recently. It is completely covered in sequins and beads which obviously made it irresistible to a magpie like me.

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The dress was a very good fit exactly at is was, but with the wide, unfitted sleeves and shoulder pads, it was also quite old-fashioned looking. However, I could see that it had potential.

My first job was to remove the shoulder pads. This was as easy as a quick snip, and it let me get a better visual of how the dress would look with simpler sleeves. Losing the shoulder pads helped the look of the dress immensely, however, I still needed to do something about the sleeves.

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I thought about slimming down the sleeves and then re-attaching them, but the armscye was set too low for a slimmer sleeve and the fabric was too delicate to play around with too much. In the end, I simply unpicked the sleeves, brought the side seams in a little (by a tiny wedge under the arm) and then re-finished the sleeveless armscye. To maintain the contrast edge beading and to keep the whole thing neat, I stitched everything by hand.

 

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I thought about shortening the hem of the dress, but I’m going to keep it long. I’ll probably need to wear a slip though. That silk is sheer in the light!

 

Reversible wool cardi wrap

The great thing about double faced wool is that you can completely hide the seams for a neat finish. After you pull apart both sides of the fabric, you can fold them in on themselves and stitch in place. A concise picture of the process is here. It’s the perfect fabric to create a reversible cardi wrap like this. You can revisit the sewing tutorial here.

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Zippered faux leather skinnies

I’m not going to lie. This was a slap dash, poorly thought out project. I just suddenly, desperately needed a pair of leather skinnies with feature zippers and I thought I could whip them together using a bit of cheap, novelty fabric.

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I freestyled an existing trouser pattern into a slimmer design. However, I realised along the way that the fabric (faux stretch leather) needed to be very close fitting in order to minimise the sight of ugly wrinkles and creases. I should have started with a leggings pattern, not a pants pattern. I had to narrow the legs further as I went, by inches at a time. It was never going to bode well.

The irony of the matter is also that this faux stretch leather is only slightly stretchy, and in one direction only. It’s like wearing skinny jeans in non-stretch denim. There’s not a lot of give when I bend and stretch. I’m pretty sure I’m going to rip the crotch seam next time I wear them, but I’ll still happily wear them until I do.

The three feature zippers are non functional. I installed them as per this tutorial, however I covered the backs of mine with a soft fabric, rather than add pocket bags.

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In any case, it was a fun make. I needed a frivolous sew after I spent so many hours on my coat, and these pants suited the purpose well. And besides, everyone needs the occasional wadder to keep things real!

 

A silk button up and DIY distressed jeans

Once upon a time, this shirt pattern was an Archer. I’ve adjusted it quite a bit to fit, as well as switched out the cuff plackets for a more polished look. I also removed the back pleat. In this version, I introduced a covered front placket, lengthened the back hem, and left off the collar.

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The fabric is silk crepe de chine. I was immediately drawn to the colour of it. I love silk CDC. It’s not difficult to sew, but it does take time and patience, especially when you start adding extra design features like cuffs, plackets and collars. I couldn’t use my standard shirt interfacings on a silk shirt like this, which was lightweight and slightly translucent. I needed an interfacing that wouldn’t be too stiff or visible through the fabric. I used beige silk organza (hand-basted in place) to interface the placket, cuffs, and collar band and it worked beautifully.

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The white jeans were thrifted from an estate sale. They were too big around the waist but fit fine on the derriere (my standard issue with RTW jeans). The legs were also a looser, straight leg style, which unless I wanted to dive headfirst into a BH90210 episode, needed to be corrected immediately. I narrowed the waistband and the leg inseams. I also shortened the crotch a smidgen. I didn’t touch the outer leg seam because that would have twisted it around too far towards the front (and I was being lazy by skipping seam-ripping with this seam).

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Lastly, I attacked the knees with a cheese grater. I went conservative on the DIY distressing because I’ve learnt from past experience that dressing quickly (which one always does if they have kids under eight) results in one’s feet being pushed through the distressed sections of jeans. These jeans will no doubt become more distressed as time progresses, which is kind of what I want anyway.