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Upcycle a Skirt for Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is a great day to think about how to reduce, reuse, and recycle in our lives – and maybe save some money in the process, too!

I decided, in preparation for Earth Day here on Craft Critique, to head out to my local thrift store and see what I could find that could be repurposed or updated to be more useful.

The key to this kind of thrifting is to look at pieces not for what they are, but for what they could be. You’re not looking for pieces that are perfect. You’re looking for pieces that are perfect in their imperfection – meaning that they have solid bones that you can work with.

Thrift Store SkirtI lucked out finding the skirt above! For $4.49, it’s a Sag Harbor Polyester/Rayon blend that is a black and blue school girl plaid. Being dark and almost floor length, it’s definitely more suited to winter up north than life here in Florida – which is probably how it ended up at the thrift store in a town full of snowbird retirees.

The solid A line of the skirt and plaid immediately brought to mind the current fad for schoolgirl mini skirts. With a vision, I headed to the checkout!

Marking on SkirtOnce home I used a tape measure to figure out a length to use to hem the skirt up shorter. Then I added about an inch to that and started marking the point to cut off the length with my marking pencil. I measured at intervals from the waistband.

Creating Cut LineOnce I had enough measurement spots, I used my marking pencil to fill in between them to create the entire cut line. Then, it was the moment of truth – time to cut!

This skirt had lining, so after cutting the main part of the skirt shorter, I traced the new bottom of the skirt onto the lining with my marking pencil and then cut along that line as well. To ensure the lining was not visible beneath the bottom of the skirt, I turned it up 5/8″ and pressed, and then turned it up again before stitching the hem. This turned under a total of 1 1/4″.

Shortened Skirt HemThe only additional item I purchased was a $3 roll of Offray lace at Walmart, and applying the lace to the hem was easy! I just pinned it to the outside of the skirt, with the scalloped edge facing up towards the waistband. The straight edge of it I lined up just a smidge below the line of where I wanted to turn the hem. Then I stitched right along that straight edge.

After taking my pinking shears to the bottom edge, I turned my hem right at the edge of the attached lace and pinned it in place. Hand stitching right along the edge secured it. (At a later date I can use Heat n’ Bond tape to secure the edge of the hem a bit more if I decide it needs it.)

lace skirt hemThe lace hangs beautifully from the finished hem!

The finished piece is pretty, more climate appropriate, and certainly more current with trends. I can’t wait to get a chance to wear it!

Upcycled SkirtTo see how far this skirt has come, check out a side-by side comparison of the before and after:

Upcycled Skirt before afterA few simple changes can make a huge difference when you upcycle a skirt! And it is an affordable project too – the total budget was only a total of $7.50 for the skirt and the lace!

Do you thrift clothing for upcycling? What kind of things have you updated or rescued with your sewing and crafting skills?

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Nancy Nally

Owner/Editor
Nancy Nally is the owner of Nally Studios LLC., and the Publisher & Editor of ScrapbookUpdate.com and CraftCritique.com. Nancy also served as the “Modern Business” columnist for Northridge Publishing’s Creative Retailer magazine for several years, before becoming the magazine’s editor from 2013 until its closure in 2014. Her writing has also appeared in CLN Online and CHA's Craft Industry Today. In addition to writing, Nancy is also an experienced speaker and presenter, having given business seminars at many recent Craft & Hobby Association trade shows. From 2011 until 2012, she was the founding co-host of the Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, and she can also be seen on five episodes from the second and third seasons of the PBS television series Scrapbook Soup. Nancy also does freelance public relations work and consulting for private companies about the scrapbook industry’s trends and business climate.

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