Sunday, May 23, 2010

Balloon skirt refashion + tutorial

I generally stay away from floral prints, because they can look dowdy on me.  Geometric prints are okay.  Florals, meh.

Once in a while, though, I come across some very nice floral prints that I just can't pass up, like this one:

Tell me this is not the prettiest floral print you've ever seen!  Okay, maybe it's not, but if you agree with me, thank you and I like you very much.  In any case, I like that it's more impressionist floral than literal, and the colors are deep, saturated (no pastels - yay!).

I bought this skirt about two years ago, from a consignment store (nowadays, I buy retail only if there's a gift certificate.).  It's a Perry Ellis silk number.  Haven't worn it much because the skirt hangs low, way past my knee, at the widest point of the calf, the fastest way to Dowdyville.

What to do?

I could just shorten it, but it's wouldn't improve the skirt so much, and also it would mean blindstitching the hem, which I hate doing, because I have yet to learn how to do it with the machine.

So why not turn it into a balloon skirt instead!  It adds just enough interest without being too obvious or trying too hard.

There's suprisingly a short supply of balloon skirt tutorial on the interweb (By short supply, I mean none.  Then again, it could just be my nonexistent research skills).  It took a couple of epic-fails, but I finally figured it out how to properly balloonize a skirt.  I thought might as well share this with my fellow sewers.

(Start tutorial)

1.   The best skirt for this project has a full or A-line silhouette, and drape-y or silky fabric in light to medium weight with lining.  Mine is lightweight silk, and the lining is considerable less full than the outer skirt.  This allows for automatic ballooning without any elastic.  (If your lining is as full as the skirt, then you will need to insert an elastic tape to create the balloon effect.  I might do another tutorial with the elastic in the future.). 

2.   If necessary, cut some length of the skirt, approximately 1.5 to 2 inches below the desired length (this includes seam allowance).  I cut mine roughly at the knee, because I want it to fall just right above the knee.  Cut the lining fabric 1 inch shorter than the skirt fabric.

3.   Put gathering stitch at the bottom edge of the skirt. 

4.   Unstitch one of the lining seams approximately 3 inches at the bottom.  This will create an opening for turning the skirt right-side out at the end.  (Depending on the quantity and weight of your own skirt fabric, you may want to allow more opening.)  Then, adjust the gathers at the skirt, so that the seams line up with the lining seams.

5.   Turn just the bottom edges of the skirt and lining, so that the right sides are facing (Just turn the bottom edges over, not the whole skirt! Keep the skirt / lining positioning as is, like if you're wearing it normally.  This is where I made the error at previous tries).  Then, pin away!  I start pinning at the seam where I made the lining opening.  Keep pinning alongside the bottom edge.
(Yes, I have man fingers and man nails.  Don't judge me.  And I won't say anything about anybody's foot fungus.)

6. After pinning the bottom edges, your skirt should look like this.  Well, not as pretty, maybe.  But see how the lining ends up on side and the skirt on the other, forming some kind of a tube.

7.  Stitch the skirt and the lining edge together. 

8.   Then, through the lining opening that you created at step 4, turn the skirt right side out.  Stitch the opening close (slipstitch or edgestitch.  I did the latter to avoid handstitching.  Sloppy, yes, but I 'm not expecting anybody looking up my lining without their faces being accidentally stepped on with major force).

9.   Finished!  Now wear your old-but-improved skirt and pose with a satisfactory gesture!
(Note to self:  In the future, do not tuck in sweater; blouson effect can look like muffin tops.)

10.   Better picture!

Hopefully this tutorial helps anybody looking for a quick way to freshen up their skirts or dresses.  Let me know if there's an error, so I can obligingly act embarrassed for a few moments and issue a correction.


  1. I pretty much collect floral fabric and have waaay too much of it.. i just can't pass on a nice floral. Your skirt is beautiful, thank you for the tutorial!

  2. I love your note to self, and the way you re-fashioned without making it look tacky. Great job, thanks for the tutorial.

  3. I'm a big fan of florals as well, my collection is out of control...
    Great refashion, your skirt looks so much cooler now and thanks for sharing your tutorial!

  4. The transformation is amazing. It was pretty before but now it's ready for a cocktail, or two.

  5. I STILL can't see how to do it! I am 64 and just learning how to sew this dress for my grandaughters who all love it. It has a balloon skirt attached to a shorter lining.The directions say to pin the skirt using the opened zipper as the hole to do it. but in your illustration I can't see what you are pinning other words, what two pieces of material are facing each other, the right side of the lining to the wrong side of the skirt, ot the other way around. If you could spare a minute could you tell me? I want to know what two sides of the lining and material face each other when you sew it? I hope I explained this. Thank you, Jan