Friday, February 5, 2021

Lime Daisy: Smart Fashion Tricks for Modest Women on a Budget

Skirt Upcycling Technique #6

Failed Tank Dress Re-Upcycled into Fabulous Faux-Two-Piece

Once upon a time, I bought a tank and blouse set with the intention of sewing the tank top to a purpose-made skirt to create a loose tank dress, and wearing the blouse over the dress. I thought I was getting a quick new outfit. Little did I know...

The knit tank top was too loose to support the skirt well, creating an uneven hemline. The Indian cotton blouse shrunk in the first wash, shortening the sleeves by several inches.

My first fix attempt was to use machine embroidery, braid, twill tape, and fabric remnants from the skirt to lengthen the shirt sleeves and try to make the additions look intentional. It never felt quite right, and I didn't wear it much.

I'm glad I didn't give up there. In contrast, my second fix attempt has worked very well indeed. I feel great wearing it, and it gets many appreciative comments.

I sent the wrangled shirt to a charity shop. I separated the knit tank top from the skirt and set about creating a fitted bodice that would properly support the skirt.

The original skirt had side pockets, and their bulk meant I couldn't gather the skirt evenly all around the waist. I chose to centre the gathers at back and front, leaving easy access to the pockets.

Based on a favourite dress pattern, I sewed a bodice lining from the same smooth green cotton I lined the skirt with, and attached the skirt to this.

I sewed another bodice in quality quilting cotton in a daisy print that coordinated with the seersucker cotton of the skirt. The outer bodice has a floating hem, giving the dress the appearance of a two-piece outfit. The daisy fabric is attached to the lining at neckline and armholes. The zipper was sewn to the outer fabric, then the lining handstitched to the zipper tape inside.

I love how versatile this dress is. At home, I wear it sleeveless or with a cardigan. When I go outside in the searing southern sun, I protect my sensitive skin with a voile overblouse. In the evenings, I add some class with a shrug made of polyester stretch net (found on sale at

Bonus Tip: Make a Pretty Purse from a Paper Gift Bag

For the frugalistas among us, or those just in a hurry, a quick and low-cost way to make a pretty purse for a special occasion is to titivate a paper gift bag. Here, I used a plain gold-toned bag with satin cord handles. I chose neutral colours for the bag so that it will go with any outfit. I can quickly coordinate it with any outfit by changing the flower clipped to the front.

To make:

1. The handle construction is a very important pizzazz factor. If you like the bag, but the cord doesn't meet your requirements, try swapping the handles for a pair from a different bag, or make new ones from ribbon or cord that you do like.
2. Cut a square of fancy craft paper to fit the front and glue it in place. My bag measures 14cm x 16.5cm.
3. Cut a strip of stiff craft paper to make the flower bracket. My bracket strip measures 37mm x 27mm x 3mm. See photo illustration for how the sides are scored so they bend neatly. Glue just the outer tabs to the bag front. Now you have a bracket upon which to attach a hair accessory or brooch. My two-toned organza rose has an alligator clip on the back which slides neatly onto the bracket.
4. Cut a third strip of craft paper for a hanging tag. Punch a hole in one end. Pop the cord out of the bag (you may have to undo the knot), thread it through the hole you punched in the tag, and re-secure the cord in its place.

There you have it, a simple but surprisingly sturdy little tote that matches your outfit.

I hope you've found something beautiful and inspiring here today.

Now you know a fabulous trick for upcycling a secondhand skirt into a new and gorgeous dress for very little cost. You also know that a paper gift bag can make a gorgeous purse.

Look out for more Boutique Narelle posts detailing liberating modest fashion techniques.

Fiat lux!

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