Recently, my lovely boyfriend bought me a gift – an older Baby, The Stars Shine Bright skirt from Closet Child. The print is called Angel Grosgrain, and it’s from 2007. It was not popular at all – so unpopular, in fact, that I was unable to find any information on the skirt on any English-language source!
The print is very pretty – lavender with roses, cherubs, and the gold Baby logo scattered about. It’s a very old school design, with cotton lace and a bustle back.
It was so pretty, and when I opened the package, I was thrilled. But there was a problem… it didn’t fit at all. I’m a fairly petite girl, and had never, in my five years of lolita, had a garment not fit me. However, this skirt just didn’t fit at all. At first, I couldn’t zip it up all the way, or button it. So I thought to move the button closer to the edge of the waistband, since it was a very minor, easily-reversible alteration. When I did that, I could button the skirt, but it was very unattractive, not to mention painful. I could feel my insides shifting when I buttoned the skirt. When I took the skirt off, after wearing it for less than a minute, my skin was red and had dents from the fabric. Clearly, more had to be done.
It took me several days of consideration to decide what to do with the skirt. I had several options – I could cut my losses and sell the skirt to someone else. However, I was worried that nobody would be interested, since it was so small and was from an old, unpopular series. Also, the skirt was a gift, so I really didn’t want to let it go. My other option was to alter the skirt. I am comfortable with my sewing skills, and wasn’t worried about ruining it – however, altering it means that it will be unsellable anyway. And although I’ve modified countless offbrand pieces, I’d never altered brand, so it was a big move for me. However, after several days of thought and consulting my advisers, I decided to alter the skirt.
Since the skirt came with detachable waist ties, I knew I could use them for extra fabric for the waistband. Then, I would use the leftover fabric to cover the alteration with a bow. Also, since the design featured a bustle, I decided that I would make the alteration at the back. Bustles don’t need as much gathering as other parts of the skirt, so making it “flatter” and less ruffled wouldn’t look too odd. So, with my plan of action decided, I forged forward.
The first step was to seam-rip the waistband from the skirt at the back, where I would be adding extra fabric. Once that was done, it was time to make the first cut. I snipped the existing waistband right in the middle.
After making the cut, it was time to remove some of the gathering from the waist in order to add the extra inches I would need to wear the skirt. This was accomplished with a seam-ripper as well. Once it was flat and wide enough to accommodate my waist, it was time to move on.
Then, it was time to use the waist ties. First, I cut the top, where they had a tab with a buttonhole in it for attaching to the skirt. Then, I was left with two long, thin pieces of fabric with pointed edges. I knew I wanted to preserve the pointed edges for the tail of my new bow, to keep the design as similar to the original as possible, so I used the top of one of the waist ties for the waistband.
Although I could have gotten away with adding only about an inch to the waist, I decided to add somewhere between 1 ½ to 2 inches for the sake of comfort. So, keeping seam allowance in mind, I cut a rectangle of fabric from the waistband to use for the waist. Then, I pinned it in place, folded over the fabric of the skirt, like the original waist band was. If I was not going to cover this waist band, I would have used interfacing to keep the added portion of the band stiff, and would have used a sewing machine for more even, prettier stitching, but since I was going to hide it, I was less worried about the aesthetics and more interested in precision. Because of that, the alteration is fairly ugly.
Then, it was time to make a bow out of the remaining waist tie fabric. I used the top of the other waist tie to make the loops and center of the bow, and the pointed ends as the tail. I wanted the tails to be fairly long, but that meant that the bow itself is pretty small. But, that didn’t matter to me, so long as it was big enough to cover the alteration.
With the bow finished, all that was left was to sew it on, and then I was done! I had successfully altered a too-tight skirt into a cute skirt that fits me perfectly. I wore it a few weekends ago to an antique fair, and got many compliments on it. My boyfriend, best friend and grandmother even said they couldn’t tell I altered it until I showed it to them! I consider this project a major success!
Let me know if you decide to use this method to alter a skirt you have! Although I hope all of you are more responsible than I am, and remember to check the measurements on something before buying (or in my case, before selecting for a gift)! ♥