Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Fun with Bias - the Alexander Wang Skirt Makeover

I've mentioned before that I work in a hoity-toity department store full of designer goods. I'm a really bad advert for the stuff I sell because most days my outfits are at least 50% home made, but now and then I find something I deem worth spending my hard earned pennies on.

During the sale last Christmas, I found this skirt from T by Alexander Wang:

Morticia Adams?

It's a rayon velvet, floor length skirt. It's usual price was about £200, but I think because of the length, they proved to be pretty unpopular so they were being sold for £10. I snapped one up! I was never going to wear a skirt this length - a bit Goth for me - but at the very least I thought the fabric alone was worth the price.

So I took it home, put it in a pile of 'future projects', and forgot about it for 5 months.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I had the urge to make something quick. I decided to shorten the skirt, but also to add an insert to the center back seam to give it a swingy feel when you walk. Sounds easy!

But the bias construction did everything it could to slow me down. For anyone not aware, bias is the diagonal of the fabric. It gives a natural stretch to the fabric, making it great for draping and flowing around curves. But it also means the fabric moves and slips when working with it, so you have to be especially careful when handling it.

The first thing I tackled was the length. With a skirt cut on the straight of grain, I would just estimate how much I want to take off, measure that from the hem up, then slice off. But with a bias construction, the fabric conspires against you, moving and stretching and slipping all over the place, making measuring a pointless exercise. I looked at books, I consulted the web, I even had some advice from the lovely Clare at Sew Dixie Lou, but in the end I came up with my own method involving a doorframe, a clip hanger, and some sticky tape:

I clipped the skirt firmly in place, hung it from a doorframe, then measured from the top down on either side of the door frame. This is where I placed my sticky tape, running across the skirt where I wanted to shorten it. Take a step back, make sure it looks level, then cut!

And it worked a treat! You'll have to take my word for it, because I forgot to take a photo. But it left me with this piece:

This was the piece which was to be used for my back seam insert. I decided to gather it up at the top and finish it with a strip of velvet at the top:

Then I unpicked the back seam, and sewed the gathered piece in place:

Inside view of the finished skirt

The hem was finished with a long strip of chiffon which I picked off the original hem and turned to the inside.

Here it is in action, swinging away on a rooftop in Kings Cross:

And here's the advantage of a bias cut - when at rest, the skirt is slim and slinky:

But then, when the urge takes you, huge lunges can be achieved with no effort at all:

And that's bias! See you soon!


  1. gorgeous! what a bargain (and such a great refashion!)

  2. Oh I love what you've done with the skirt! It looks great x

  3. Your skirt is fab, what a great idea! And, also, what a bargain, it would have been rude not to buy it!

  4. Love it! And I love the proof that you can do lunges in it :) And I'm definitely nicking your sticky tape idea, I always have a nightmare getting my hems straight.

  5. That is so cool Mrs Needles! I love your cool tip with the sticky tape - very clever. Can't wait until we're out for drinks and we bump into Alexander Wang and he says "hey. that's my skirt...why didn't I think of doing that?!" And we just smile and waltz away.

  6. How clever you are! I much prefer what you have done with it and just love your last pose! :-)

  7. This is SO. CLEVER. I absolutely love your sticky tape idea and will definitely be ripping it off (pun intended) sometime soon.

    Your skirt looks fantastic! Yay for refashioning!!

  8. A great make over, it looks fantastic on you.

  9. Ok however I comment on this it won't beat Clare's comment so I'll just second it, Mr Wang will certainly be well jel! The skirt looks fab on you X

  10. The sticky tape is genius! And a great refashion :)


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