Ballet skirt: a non-tutorial

Dude, Gentle Reader, check out my new ballet skirt:

Here’s the story with this skirt:
It came into my life in about 1997, in the form of one of those kinda shapeless, short-sleeved, shoulder-padded matronly early-90’s dresses, hanging there on the rack in the thrift shop. I totally fell in love with the fabric. It’s just a poly crepe but the weight and the nubbliness of the texture and the way the print is laid on, I just totally heart it. So I bought the awful dress and took it apart and used the awesome fabric to make this:

Here’s lé back view:

Ok so you already know the ending, this dress eventually (like, yesterday) gets taken apart and recut into my new ballet skirt, but before you go all feeling sorry for this little dress let me assure you, this dress and I had some good times together in the late 90’s. Some Good Times. This dress was a hot little number.
But see, the thing is, I totally threw this thing together during exam week or something, I used to have a really bad habit of starting time-consuming non-school-related projects during exam week, and, you know, summer was coming so this dress was hot hot hot but not well made. Raw seams. Folded seams (wtf?!). Seams everywhere seriously this thing was pieced all to hell. Uneven gathering. Didn’t even bother lining the front of the skirt, damn thing just had a hanging panel sort of a lining thing in the back.
So once I started working professionally I had to stop wearing this dress because when you are a pattern maker people ask you all the time if you made what you are wearing and if the answer is “yes”, it better look good ’cause, like, that’s your résumé right there.
But yeah. We had some good old times, me and this dress.
And then it hung in a closet. And then it went in a bag. And then it got put on a shelf.
And you know clothes that aren’t worn aren’t really clothes anymore. They’re more like art or whatever.
And then one day my baby took a nap, and I took it down and took it all apart and figured out which pieces were useable and started pinning:

And then my baby took another nap and I got all the pieces together and trimmed the hem relatively even and hemmed it and made the waist band and ties out of a scrap of plain black crepe chiffon because there just wasn’t enough self fabric and nothing in my ribbon box looked quite right and the original ties at the back of the dress were too jankity.
Note: I’m not writing this up as a tutorial because I don’t recommend doing this. Only a crazy person would become so obsessed with a fabric that they recut and fifteen years later, re-recut.
Here’s the back view!

Check it out, I didn’t even iron that mess. But the construction is impeccable!!!!!
And here’s a detail, you can see that yummy yummy print, and the front overlap which I cut with a corner instead of your more typical gentle curve.

Wore this to class about an hour after finishing it, and it felt so good. Slim, pretty, surprisingly free-er than my usual shorty shorts.
I see good times ahead for this skirt and me.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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29 Responses to Ballet skirt: a non-tutorial

  1. Rori roars says:

    Should you ever decide to go into the ballet skirt-making business, please advise. I love this and my sewing skills are nil.

  2. Paulina says:

    Believe it or not, when I went to school, we still had sewing lessons. My school was somewhat modern, so the boys learned to sew, too. I think I was the worst student ever. Now, I am sorry I did not pay more attention.

  3. That is a really beautiful skirt! I do know one other person who would be crazy enough to cut and then re-cut something 15 years later, my mom! She is a total fabric-a-holic and sewing genius. She has a whole room in her house just devoted to fabric. Looking at your beautiful skirt makes me wish I had paid much more attention when she tried to show me how to sew. I am lucky I can even put a hem in my son’s karate uniforms without utilizing a stapler or duct tape. LOL

  4. RainStorm says:

    Very pretty. Haven’t tried wearing a dance skirt yet.

  5. This is lovely, and I wish I had that kind of skill. I’m limited to tshirt quilt making at the moment…with all straight stitching. LOL! None of that free motion stuff for me!

  6. antoinetta13 says:

    I adore the colour & print! I want,,,,,,,!

  7. Zebra says:

    That is a Very Beautiful Skirt. And may also be Magic, given its history *nods* Hopefully it’ll be a comfort + confidence boost: it is made by you from a much-loved garment, there is History & Love & Work in it. In that skirt you can conquer the world. Or something like that, anyway…

  8. Diane says:

    That is really lovely! You have given me a bit of courage to consider trying something similar. I also have dresses and such around from way-back-when which I do not wear anymore. If you do decide to do a sort of “tutorial” – or a few pointers (esp. for people like me who do not really know how to sew, but do it all the time) I would love it. :)
    Oh, and I can totally understand why you wanted to use that material at-all-costs!

  9. RO says:

    Wowww looks great!!

  10. odile53 says:

    You’re going to die when you learn this, but the print on that fabric is identical to a halter swimsuit I own. The rose motif runs from one shoulder to the opposite hip. So, if you’re ever looking to unload it, send it this way!

    I’m recovering from a spinal fusion and won’t be cleared to return to class till December (my neurosurgeon freaked when my joints were so flexible that they ended up having to tape me to the operating table, and routinely asks me if I still stretch like a “crazy person,” as he puts it.) However, I’ve worn some sort of chiffon skirt to class for eons, and wouldn’t feel appropriate without one (my studio tends to be a little formal, and women are expected to wear theatrical pink tights.) There is nothing like the experience of knocking out a few fouettes and having a skirt fly into the air, enhancing the look. You gave me the idea of picking up some fabric and making a couple of new skirts to celebrate my return to class when the doc gives me the “all-clear!”

    Would you recommend using a serger as opposed to a sewing machine to handle chiffon?

    • No way!!!!!!!!!
      You have a bathing suit in this print?! That is hilarious! If you wore your bathing suit to my ballet class we would totally be twins!!!!
      Oh man. That is crazy.
      And dude, returning to class after spinal fusion definitely deserves some celebratory skirts. Probably champagne too. Cheers to you!
      About the construction, I’d use a regular machine to put it together and a serger to finish seams if you have any, or to do the hem, but I think sewing on a regular machine is easier to handle, you’ve got more control and it doesn’t cut your fabric for you.

  11. Pingback: Well ok, here’s a ballet skirt tutorial | Adult Beginner

  12. Oh My God! Screw diy – I’ll pay you to make me one! Let me know if you’re ever up for it!

  13. Tara Nyanga says:

    I was with you when you bought that dress!!!! I remember thinking you were nuts….but you LOVED the fabric, so I kept my mouth shut. And, then you made an awesome dress from it! You are so talented….I think we need to do work together again…even from a distance. would be so fun! i miss you!!!!!

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