Hot! The “Bowled Over” Circle Skirt

The Facts 
Fabric: Skirt: black polyester/rayon mix (?) from Goodwill charity shop $3.99, Shirt: men’s dress shirt also from Goodwill $5.99
Pattern: Based on Vintage Vogue 2902
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 7″ zip re-used from old skirt, buttons collected over years plus 5 value packs of white buttons in sale at Walmart $7.50
Time to complete: Skirt making: 3 hours, Shirt refashioning: 3 hours, Buttons glueing & sewing: 3 days
First worn: 22nd April 2012
Wear again? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Total Cost: $17.48 (£10.87)

The challenge: “Everything Circle Skirts: This week, we’re going round and round in our circle skirt creations”.

883 buttons later…..

The sensible thing to do this week would have been to go and buy some gorgeous fabric and knock up a simple circle skirt in a couple of hours…..leaving me time to do some prep on the upcoming Sew Weekly challenges and do some much needed gardening.

But you know me by now. I don’t do ‘sensible’.

As Gordon Gecko said in Wall Street: “Sensible sewing’s for wimps”.

At least, that’s what I think he said…..I might be wrong on that one.

At first I thought I’d use this black fabric off-cut from my local Goodwill to make a plain skirt which I’d then paint a white silhouetted London skyline and Big Ben on it inspired by Frankie Morello’s Souvenir of Italy Spring/Summer 2012 collection. But then during some random/tangential internet surfing I stumbled across Paloma Faith’s New York video and found my inspiration for the week:

How gorgeous is that dress?!

I wanted it, or a reasonable attempt at it that could be made in under a week.

However, my budget money-wise and time-wise meant I had to make some shortcuts.

I had a fair number of small white buttons in my stash from years of a) saving that extra button or two they give you when you buys shirts/clothes, b) cutting buttons off clothes that go to the recycling ie. aren’t even suitable for thrifting……but I knew that wouldn’t be enough. Paloma’s appear to be pearlised buttons too from the sparkle they give off in the video…..I couldn’t afford to buy a large amount in pearly buttons (even though I’ve always wanted to be a Pearly Queen, and today being St. George’s Day is making me slightly homesick, most of my family are Cockneys……*wanders off to sing Knees Up Mother Brown*).

What was I saying? Oh yes. So I popped along to see what I could get mega-cheap from Jo-Ann’s or Walmart and luckily Walmart were selling their cheapo bargain packs of white buttons half price. Get in there! Result! So I bought 5 packs.

The obligatory twirling in a circle skirt pic :)

I made the black skirt using the Vintage Vogue 2902 pattern as a guide but wanted more swing than usual so cut front and back pieces out on the bias (with much head scratching and pattern repositioning to make them fit into my limited off-cut). I added a self-drafted waistband, a zip and hook and eye (if you want a laugh, check out how I managed to sew the hook and eye on Saturday on my Absobloominglutely).

Then I started putting the bowling pins and balls on the skirt. I found a suitable clip art that had the shapes I wanted, blew up their size a little to what I wanted, cut them out and used them as templates….using dressmaker’s chalk to trace shapes around them. I then used Gemtack glue to put a dot of glue on each button to hold them in place before sewing them on (far easier then holding them in place to sew on). The red buttons were all in my stash. I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to acquire so many red buttons.

I wanted something a little out of the different to wear with my skirt….and inspired by Frankie Morello’s Spring/Summer 2012 again I decided to refashion a men’s tuxedo shirt. So I popped back to my Goodwill charity store and chose a men’s oversized dress shirt (from about 6 available). Took the sides and arms in, chopped the arms off short, rehemmed everything and made buttoned loopy things to hold the remainder of the sleeves up (what do you call those things?) Oh, and I nicked Mr Devyne’s bow tie for the photos…..though I’m in the mood to make an extra long red silk one to go with this ensemble in the future.

Do you like my disco bowling ball? There was much discussion yesterday (ok argument) from my family about it not looking like a bowling ball. I say that any Rat Packing Bowling Broad shouldn’t be without a mirrored disco bowling ball. So there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. I just have to stay that I actually gasped when I saw this in drafts. Amazing!

    • Coming from the woman who made the slow and steady dress (one of my inspirations to do the whole Sew Weekly voyage of discovery in the first place) and all that beading on the Titanic dress, this really means a lot to me :) Thank you!

  2. Oh wow! That must have been lots and lots and lots of work.

  3. This is amazaballs!

  4. This gave me a true W T H moment, in a good way : ) I thought at first those pins were outlined with rick rack but was blown away when I saw they were done with BUTTONS!! You go, you pearlie girl! Amazing job, and now I have some inspiration to use with my thousands upon thousands of pearl and white buttons (had I known you needed any I could have put some in an envelope for you…) Keep up the great work!!!

    • I’m quite glad it finally gave me justification for saving all the spare/extra buttons I find….I can now tell myself I’m a creative recycler not just a hoarder :) Thank you!

  5. Heah! Tempest, way to knock it out of the park. Now I want the dress to and I love the disco ball. I watch the video as well, thanks for the link.

    • I love Paloma Faith, she has the guts to totally be herself and I love her wacky style. And such an amazing voice singing and talking (if you’ve ever heard her talk in interviews you have to see it to believe it, she really is unique).

  6. Oh, I just love you like whoa. This skirt is positively FABULOUS and it is taking all of my willpower not to fly out there and steal it from you. I just adore your sense of style and the fun you put into all of your projects. Your spirit and sense of adventure are positively intoxicating!

    • Ha! Like to see you try and steal it – sonic screwdriver vs. sonic screwdriver! I suspect it would probably end up with uncontrollable giggles though. Thank you!

  7. Holy moly! You win the embellishments prize hands down! Super fabulous job!

    • Thank you so much. I think it’s the burlesquer in me – the beauty for me is often in the detail, less isn’t more – more is more, and too much is often even better.

  8. Having thoroughly enjoyed your posting, I went to the pic of your hook and eye! Hilarious and identifiable, something I’ve done. BTW, your Vegas dress and your bowling outfit are themselves to a theme. Also BTW if you’re in the area, check out the garage sales in Sun City. I hear they’re great. Finally, the sermon at Mass on Monday, here in MidAmerica, was on St George.

    • Glad I’m not the only one Sue :) Thanks for the tip and it’s nice to hear St. George (though not actually English at all, just our patron saint) is being talked/preached about.

  9. i love how much you put into that button design–and it seriously paid off! what a wonderful midday treat to read about this project!

  10. This is FANTASTIC! I love it!!! And, wow, so many buttons – great work! Just delightful :-)

    • I think counting them up at the end (883) was almost more difficult than sewing them on….and then I felt a bit upset I hadn’t gone over the 1000 mark. It was probably good I didn’t count them as I went along or I might not have stopped when it looked good. Thank you!

  11. I’m dying. DYING. This is soooo great. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!

  12. Wow! You did a fabulous job! You sure think up details that I would have never thought of. I’m envious you can do that. Throw caution to the wind! Teach me how.

    • Hey girl, don’t sell yourself short – anyone who could take that maxi dress and decide it could be the sun suit ensemble you made, and then that fab key dress with the bow…you do details that I can return the envy on ;)

  13. That is FABULOUS!!! Love it!!! (I’m in awe at your patience with sewing on all those buttons. All I can say is – wowsers!)

  14. This is my favorite project you’ve done so far…and that is some high praise! It’s so cool! (And your family is wrong about the disco ball. It’s perfect!)

  15. hook and eye goof made me recall when I sewed in one sleeve in the right place adn then promptly sewed the second sleeve into the neck… yeah, it was a shirt made for some sort of monster…. lots of swearing and unpicking and chagrin…..

    • That makes me feel so good Barbara, so glad I’m not the only one. I’ll let you know when I sew my first sleeve into neckhole….because it’s sure to happen sometime.

  16. I loved this! Not only do I love how much fun you have with fashion I also love reading your posts. Great job! So creative!

    • Thank you so much Gina….you’re one of my idols on here, your creative twists and making the ordinary extraordinary inspire me week in, week out.

  17. Tempest it’s amazing! It looks so good! You have outdone yourself! I am so happy you have referenced your family history – I have always been fascinated by the Pearly Kings and Queens. You are so full of surprises. I would wear this in a heartbeat. Congratulations!

    • It’s a bit of “you don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone” – whilst I lived in the UK I don’t think I really appreciated the rich heritage we have there and my upbringing. Now I’m one of those annoying ex-pats who although loves her new adopted country (and Phoenix, Arizona) still listens and watches British radio and tv and has way too many British flags around the house. I can’t wait for the Olympics in Summer to see more London everywhere. Thanks for the lovely comments Trish!

  18. Holy Crap! Jaw dropping fantastic skirt.

  19. I have to agree with all the fellow sewers, you’ve done an enviable job this time. We’re all loving it. That was such a clever idea to use buttons! Great upcycling of an old shirt turned cute as can be blouse too. You need to start a blog of tutorials, if you haven’t already. I’m on my way to see your hook and eye thingy right now!

    • Thank you! I have to admit I’ve never done tutorials on my blog because I just take things I see others do and Tempestify them….but perhaps I should. Haha its hard enough getting any blog posts done at the moment with the Sew Weekly bandwagon rolling on and on. I keep worrying that any week now I’m going to run out of ideas, though luckily/unfortunately that cunning Mena Trott put up that contributor’s leaderboard on the homepage to keep spurring us on one more creation ;)

  20. Tempest!!! You minx! You went and outdid yourself again. Love the skirt, and your inspiration and your write-up. Great photos, too! All round awesome job. :)

    • Thank you so much. Actually I didn’t give credit and I should have done to my lovely husband who when I tell him to climb up the top of a tall ladder to take photos, does without even questioning me. He’s a wonder!

  21. Oh Tempest this is absolutely amazeballs you have seriously blown my mind, well done. You. look . amazing.

    • Ooh ta Kazz! I honestly have to say the same back at you. I adore your styling and aspire to getting some photos out and about as good as yours by the end of the year….plus you have such great taste in music :)

  22. what fun! and i will definitely be trying your “baste the button on with glue” trick!

    • I doubt I’d have finished in the week without glue ‘basteing’ in place first, the weight of a circle is difficult enough to keep in one place.

  23. Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize those were buttons till I read the post and saw more photos! It’s incredible and totally adorable!

  24. You have the best ideas!!!! You must have a fabulous wardrobe! I aspire to sew like you :)

    • I’m working on having a fabulous wardrobe ;) and desperately hoping the ideas won’t run out on me yet. The Sew Weekly journey is a very interesting one helping me to discover a bit more about my own personal style.

  25. I think I am in love with you Tempest! I love that Paloma Faith dress and your bowling skirt is too perfect! Now I want one just so I can wear it bowling and be the Queen of the Lane!

  26. This is a piece of art!!!! Wear it with much love and great fun! Wait. I think you already are!

    • Oh you are too kind Colleen :) Thank you. Fashion is meant to be fun! (Well at least in my world….but I’m striving to convert the world to fundom)

  27. So, so cute!!!! You bowled me over!!!!

  28. LOVE THIS!!! It makes me want to get to a Lebowski Festival soon so I can replicate your skirt for the costume party :)

  29. Amazing! I had to read it twice just to be sure I understood that those were really all buttons. Great job on the skirt! It looks fantastic!