Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Eighties Are Back In A Good Way

Remember these? They seemed like such a great idea twenty-five years ago, didn't they? I remember dying to have a Jessica McClintock dress just like this when I was a tween. I found this hot little number in my mom's costume stash (she's a dance teacher) the other day and got a big kick out of it. It belonged to one of my super-stylish aunties back in the day, so I tried it see if I am as skinny as they were. I mean, just for kicks (sheepish grin).

It was more horrendous on my body than I anticipated it would be. How was this bag of a dress ever stylish? As I ripped it off myself as quickly as I could, I noticed the cool pleated lace and thought "I MUST make this into a cute, pseudo-vintage skirt!". I say "pseudo" because I refuse to believe that I'm old enough to have belongings from my childhood be classified as vintage, but who am I kidding? I'm AM getting old. I bundled it up and thought about my refashioning procedures as I drove home. Project!

First, I removed the skirt from the bodice with a seam ripper. That was easy. Then, I tried it on and determined that I needed to remove four pleats to make it fit me well. I also needed to remove three inches from the top to make it the right length for me.

I cut the top three inches off first, and then made a huge mistake. I cut the pleats from the back of the skirt. This means I had to completely remove the lining to realign the slit from the side to the back so it would line up with the zipper. Boo. I should have just put in a side zipper and called it good, but no. I like to make things difficult! I'm cool like that.

I cut all the way up the inside fold of one pleat.

Then I counted over four pleats and cut all the way up on the inside fold so that when sewn together, my two cuts would make a complete pleat. That sounds funny.

When I serged the seam, I left about eight inches open for the zipper. Next, I picked out eight inches of the lining seam, lined up the edges with the lace layer, and basted them together. This kept the pleats nice and crisp.

I used the satin from the original dress' waist detail to make my waistband (another reason the side zipper would've been way easier. Grr). I folded it in half and ironed it down.

I didn't line up the edges perfectly because I wanted to be sure to catch the back when I top stitched (just like bias tape). Then I trimmed off a few inches so that it would fit my waist better.

Somehow, I put in an ivory invisible zipper. Zippers and I don't get along, so I always wing it--especially when there is lining involved. It turned out alright, so I added my waistband.

I just sandwiched the skirt layers between the satin, making sure the longer half of the satin was on the back.

Then I top stitched around the whole thing. Here's a handy tip: I didn't sew from end to end. I left a few inches at each end to enclose the top of the zipper.

I turned the ends of the waistband inside out, sewed it shut, and turned it back to the right side. Then, I stuffed the top ends of my zipper inside and finished top stitching the band to the skirt.

Last, I added a hook and bar to the waistband to close everything up nicely and voila! A totally rad, but classically appealing skirt.

I think I'll put it on with some scrunchy socks and patent pumps and jam around my house to my favorite Tiffany song. It could've been so beautiful...


  1. Ahhhhh.... you're taking me back! I love the makeover! Great job!

  2. One more reason to loves the 80's redone! Great job! Come see how to organize your buttons and scrapbook supplies.

  3. I can see cyndi lauper wearing that dress strutting her stuff! Great makeover!

  4. Ha! I totally had a dress like this, except it was pink! And my mom even kept it all these years. I just got rid of it a few months ago. If only I knew you could do this to it I would have sent it your way instead. ;)

  5. This is awesome! That lace is so beautiful! I am glad that you thought to up-cycle it because I would hate to see that material wasted. The skirt is gorgeous- I would totally rock it! :) Thank you so much for linking up to Strut Your Stuff Saturday! We are so grateful for your support and we hope that you will be back tomorrow to share more great ideas!
    Camille @

  6. I love it! Such a great skirt! And it's hard to find nice looking lace in most sewing stores. Your Mom's costume stash was definitely the best place to look! Awesome upcycle! I'd totally wear it!