Sewing Tutorials Slow Fashion Season

Slow Fashion Season – Altering a Skirt

Sewing Pockets in a Skirt and Adjusting the Size of the Skirt.

Hello thrifting lovers!
We all know one economical way to stop buying fast fashion clothing is by purchasing second hand clothing instead. But what happens when you find something you love only to find it isn’t the right size for you?

I will be posting a few tutorials on how to adjust clothing I’ve found when thrifting.

First up is a skirt that was way to big for me. The elastic in it had actually rotted and I wanted to add pockets into it because pockets are needed in everything, right!?

So let’s begin!

The items you will need for this project are:

  • Second hand skirt
  • Pocket pattern (you can easily make one of your own by tracing an oval around your hand with at least 1inch / 2.5cm space (seam allowance) outside of your hand. It will also need a straight line at the point where you attach it to your skirt).
  • Fabric for the pocket.
  • Scissors (for fabric)
  • Easy-pick
  • Elastic (I prefer the non-roll type as it holds its shape when wearing the garment)
  • Sewing machine OR a Hand-sewing needle (if you are doing these adjustments by hand)
  • Thread
  • Safety pin
  • Pins
  • Iron

This is what my skirt looks like before. It’s too big because the elastic has rotted and has no elasticity any more.

Step One: Removing the Elastic

Remove the rotted elastic from the skirt. To do this you need to unpick the thread around the waist of the dress approximately 1-2 inches. Just enough to grab the elastic and pull it out enough the cut it for removal.

I ended up having to unpick a bit more than needed due the the stitching of the waist band going into the elastic band itself.

Unpick the stitches about 1-2 inches and pull the elastic out so you can cut it.
Cut the elastic and gently pull out of the waist band.

Step Two: Opening Seam for Pockets

Cut your pockets out of the fabric you have chosen. You will need 4 pocket shapes cut out. Two for each pocket. Cut them in pairs by folding the fabric in two with wrong sides facing. Place the pattern on the fabric and cut around it. Do this twice so you get four pieces.

Cutting the pocket.
Two sets of pocket pieces ready to go.

Next you need to locate the sides of the skirt and make sure the pocket will fit in that space.
By chance, mine fits perfectly between the waist band and the second panel of the skirt.

Begin to unpick the stitches along the sides of the skirt carefully, leaving the waist band intact and only unpicking to 1/4 inch / 0.5cm either side of the pocket length.

Your pocket opening will now look like this.

Iron the seams flat.

Step Three: Sewing Pocket in Place

It is now time to start sewing the pocket pieces in place.
Begin by placing one pocket piece (right sides of skirt and pocket piece facing each other) and pin the pocket piece into place making sure you leave the 1/4 inch / 0.5cm gap either end of the pocket piece piece.

Sew the pocket piece in place using a 1/4 inch / 0.5cm seam allowance and beginning and ending with 1/4 inch / 0.5cm space at either end of the pocket piece.

Do the same to the other side of the pocket opening by pinning and then sewing another pocket piece into place.

Then push the two pieces through to the inside of the skirt.

Turn the skirt inside out and iron the pocket pieces and the seams flat making sure they line up and that the previous seams of the dress also line up. Pin in place.

When sewing the pocket in place, we will use a 1/2 inch / 1cm seam allowance. Your seam allowance may be different to mine (just follow the seam allowance measurement used by the people who made the skirt.
We start at the top (under the waist band) and sew down about 3/4 inch / 2cm until we almost hit the first pin in the photo above. (I always do a back-stitch at the beginning of sewing to insure my work doesn’t undo).
We then turn the work to sew around the outside of the pocket (where my fingers are in the image above) sewing with the 1/2 inch / 1cm seam allowance.

The photo below shows the sewing of the two pocket pieces together.

Once we have gone around the circular shape of the pocket we sew down into the previous seam of the skirt and work into the part we have not unpicked for an inch, making sure we work a back-stitch so our sewing does not undo.

Turn the skirt the right way and give your pocket an iron. You have now created one pocket!

Now repeat the steps above on the other side.

Step Four: New Elastic

Once you have both your pockets in place, it is time to put new elastic into your skirt.

Measure the elastic around your waist and make sure you get the firmness you’d like in the waist band.

Thread your safety pin threw one end of the elastic and push it through the waist band cavity. Push it all the way around until you come out the other side of the gap.

At this point I like pin the two elastic ends to the back of the skirt and to try the skirt on a few times and adjust according to how tight I want the waist band.

Once you have the size you want, sew the two ends of the elastic together, overlapping about 1 inch / 2.5cm and then cut the remaining elastic.

Push the elastic into the waist band and sew the opening closed.

You’ve finished! You now have a skirt with pockets that fits perfectly to your body!

Thank you for using my tutorial!

Have fun adjusting your thrifted clothing to suit your own body!

Amy x

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