Hot! The “Killing Me Softly Pleated Skirt”








Fun Facts

Fabric: Reclaimed fabric from a Salvation Army purchase ($2.50)
Pattern: Totally made it up as I went along, but had a little help from Gertie, Casey, and Megan.
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 2 Hook & Eye from my stash
Time to complete:  4.5 hours
First worn: January 2012
Wear again? Yes! Absolutely! But it needs some fixing in the waistband area–I can hardly breathe in it and most definitely cannot sit down!

Total Cost: $2.50

Greetings and salutations,

I had been looking forward to the “Make the Look” challenge. When it was first suggested as a theme, visions of lovely 1950s and early 1960s dresses so popular on ModCloth and Shabby Apple danced through my head. Large bell-shaped skirts, slim-fitting bodices, maybe something with chevrons or bows… the possibilities seemed endless!

But reality is a cruel mistress (or at least one with a very sly sense of humor). I was lucky enough to land a freelance writing gig and have spent the  last week diligently working on that project. So, with the Make This Look challenge due date quickly approaching, all the vintage-inspired projects became less and less of a possibility. One evening, as I was sewing a button back onto my beau’s PJ pants, I saw this hanging on Ethel (so named because I so very often feel like I’m stuck in an episode of I Love Lucy when sewing:

And inspiration struck! I rushed to my computer and logged on.

Ladies, if you don’t have Pinterest yet, you need it. It’s totally addictive a life saver and a great way to bookmark all those lovely things you see online. I waste hours spend a certain amount of time carefully cultivating my obscene amount very organized boards. Point is, I remember I had pinned these lovelies awhile back:

I decided that with the limited time I had, I could re-purpose an ugly old dress into something pretty.

So I picked, and I chopped (there were some  eraser sized holes about five inches in from the seam that had to go), and re-sewed, and did some math to draft a simple waist band. I don’t know went amok and awry with the math (yes, I do… I attempted it in the first place!) but the waistband ended up a little tighter than I wanted, which made the skirt sit on my natural waist. Which… I kinda like. Though my boyfriend and I did have the following moment (and this is where the skirt gets it’s name):

Boy (attempting to critically eye my backside per my request): It looks like a bustle.
Me (whipping around and craning my neck in an attempt to see my rear): WHAT?!!?
Boy: Oh no.
Me (in a deathly soft voice that says “Tread lightly, mister”): Are you saying my @$$ is big?
Boy: No! Nonono. I think I used the wrong word…?
Me: You’re killing me smalls…

Yeah. Wrong word indeed (turns out he was talking about the waistband…?). But he’s learning! Poor guy has to be both a boyfriend and honest when I say, “Be honest–and I mean it!–does this…..”

The whole process kinda felt like cheating as there was no pattern involved but I’m pretty proud of the end result so the guilt’s really short lived. So here it is, my Make This Look: The Killing Me Softly Pleated Skirt!




(We’re still working on getting good pictures, so I apologize if you can’t see the pleats. They’re there!)


Tina C.

Tina C. is a writer living in Philadelphia, PA with her beau and her two ridiculously spoiled Siamese cats (this does not a crazy cat lady make!). She's not buying any off-the-rack clothing this year, so she better get cracking and learn how to sew!


Comments are closed.

  1. Nice job! I’ve recently added a pleated skirt like this to my must-make list as well. What a great refashion!

  2. Nice upcycle. Hope you teach your boyfriend lots of fashion terminology – where’d he get bustle from? My husband just glazes over when I talk about sewing. But he patiently takes the photos. I am addicted to Pinterest too. I have about 20 boards – crazy.

  3. Trish–I have 60 boards… and I have a love of list making! The more specific the list, the happier I am. Pinterest TOTALLY feeds into this!

    I try to teach him, and he totally gets it about 50% of the time. I think I must have babbled at him about bustles when I was chattering about the 1912 Project. So it sticks in there, just doesn’t always get applied appropriately! I give him credit though, he tries really, really hard!

    Thank you both for the lovely comments.

  4. Adorable! Thanks for sharing you upclycled sewing project. It’s very inspiring.

  5. Very cute! The title of you entry made me smile – I can relate!

  6. Patterns aren’t always necessary – I like your upcycling.

  7. I love those pins! I’m going to have to find your pinboards now. The skirt is such a great upcycle of a pretty hideous dress. And yeah, totally feel you with the SigO who doesn’t understand sewing terminology, so he just throws out random words without knowing what they mean.

  8. I love the inspiration photos you posted, great job on the skirt.

  9. Nice! I love the bustle moment, have totally been there. The upcycle is fortunate– how in the world would you make pleats like that otherwise? It seems like they’re pressed into the fabric?

  10. Lee–I know, right? I think the fabric is designed to be like that vs. actually pressed. It’s that or they have magic pressing elves to work with this kinda of fabric! I’m actually really frightened to wash and press this!

    Thank you all for the lovely comments.

  11. “You’re killing me Smalls.” HA – love it! Oh, the menfolk … they are so silly. I love your skirt – it’s versatile and classic and a fabulous wardrobe addition.

  12. I saw the smaller picture and immediately thought “Oh! I like the proportions.” I think the waistband on waist suits you, I’m so glad you like it.

    Congrats on the writing gig! :)

  13. I love it when they start catching on to the lingo! This looks great, and the length is flattering (I can’t wear that length at all). Did you dye the fabric? Congrats on the skirt & the gig!

  14. Lavender, I did not dye the fabric; its black. In the picture of the dress on the dress form, there’s schmutz all over the dress (namely cat hair–we’ve got two very curious felines that like to lay all over clothes, the dirtier the better. If they weren’t so fat and could actually heft themselves into the laundry basket, they’d sleep in there all day!).

    I was a bit unsure about the length. I feel like I’m pretty short waisted and add some large bosom on top of that, and you’ve got a recipe for dowdiness! But I’m mostly pleased with how this turned out.

  15. This is awesome! You are so brave to work a dress into a skirt- I’m inspired :D