Friday, June 7, 2013

DIY convertible hem skirt: Moroccan print meets elephant trim

lime elephant skirt DIY 2
H&M shell from last year, DIY skirt (seen here without the trim), eBay sandals (similar at Nordstrom)

Not wanting to tire you guys of travel stuff too quickly, today's post features a skirt that I've been loving in the warmer weather. This was my first attempt in years to make an "everyday" garment from scratch, and it was riddled with mistakes. For the pattern, I started by tracing my beloved map skirt with back slit custom made by SewPetiteGal (completely forgot that she did a tutorial on that skirt here!). I then played with the length and shape through rounds of trial & error, and had some struggles remembering how to insert an invisible zipper. Sewing will be a slow, continuous learning process for me - I took a beginner's class as a young teen, and highly recommend a local sewing course for anyone interested in getting started. Since many of you have asked for a machine recommendation, I use the old version of this Brother 10-stitch which has lasted me over a decade.

When I first debuted this skirt, all my in-person critics / friends loved the elephant trim, whereas online feedback was overwhelmingly against it. That was a bummer, but I was partial to the trim myself and had no doubts about keeping it. One of the best parts about sewing is that you can make whimsical pieces to suit your fancy.
convertible skirt
I mentioned half-seriously on FB and Instagram that I wish the trim could be convertible, not expecting to receive useful suggestions from several ladies (thank you!). One idea in particular thanks to Michelle Y. ("add Velcro to the top of the trim and Velcro to the wrong side of the hem to make it convertible") got me thinking....
Although a fully detachable velcro'd trim would add too much bulk to the circumference of this skirt hem, I decided to experiment using velcro to secure the trim when folded up. 
lime elephant skirt DIY
I had a roll of stick-on velcro lying around, and started by cutting enough small pieces to go around the circumference of the skirt hem, spaced at 3-4 inches apart. Working with the skirt turned inside-out, I stuck half a piece of vecro at the bottom of the trim, folded it up so that no more trim would be visible from the outside, then positioned the second half of the velcro into place. After all the velcro pieces were set, I tried on the skirt to make sure there was no tugging at any one of the velcro pieces, and adjusted as necessary. Lastly, I added tiny stitches in the same color as the fabric to firmly secure the corners of each velcro piece. I love the results, especially since the added versatility -as minor as it is- makes the hours of labor more worth it.
lime elephant skirt DIY 4 A few lessons learned: Don't make the velcro pieces too small or else they will form acute pressure points and tug at the fabric. As seen in the pic above, I tried to place the velcro on parts of the pattern where any stitching would be more easily concealed. Also, for a fold-up hem to work cleanly, the bottom few inches of the skirt must all be the same diameter (so not ideal for skirts that taper in noticeably at the hem).

For this skirt, I used about $10 total of materials from Fabric.com (having trouble linking to them, but item #s are DW-050 and 237487). The cottons are thin and wrinkled easier than I would've liked, but not so bad overall. I did not try to line this skirt (saved that piece of learning for next time), and have just been wearing it with my trusty slip from Target. The slip also prevents the scratchy side of velcro from touching my skin.
lime elephant skirt DIY 3 Even though a truncated leg line does short legs no favors, I can't help but gravitate towards ankle strap shoes or ankle booties. I got these Anne Michelle sandals a while back from this eBay seller, after eying the popular Steve Madden Realove heels. The Anne Michelle version seems to be very similar for less, but I do want to note that returns are subject to a 15% restocking fee and shipping costs, unlike with Nordies. The smallest size is 5.5, which in my opinion feels like a 5.5-6. There is a little extra space under the front toe strap, and the back heel cup is roomy on me. I plan on adding a strip of padding on the underside of the front toe strap, which will hopefully keep my foot more firmly in place and make the heel cup fit better. 

For reference, my pair measures 9" insole length, 4" heel, 3.25" across the ball of foot, and 4.6" across the front toe strap (which should fit fairly snugly across your toes). 

36 comments:

  1. This is really cute, Jean! I'm an enormous fan of anything animal-print, and I think that these adorable elephants adds a wonderful touch of whimsy, with a remarkable contrast and complement to the bold yellow, almost '60s mod-ish print. And the velcro! What a great idea!

    After some recent alternation bills, I'm starting to think I need to look for some beginning sewing classes. :) Wonderful job and I can't wait to see more of your creations in the future!

    xo,
    Sabrina
    http://www.rougespark.com

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  2. This is ingenious! You are so incredibly craftsy! I love all your projects, and they seem really do-able. Maybe I can borrow my mom's sewing machine which is still working (even though it's over 30 years old). And I personally love the elephant trim too!

    <3 sarah

    Life By Appointment 

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  3. The elephants are adorable, and without them the skirt is so classy. Genius solution!

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  4. amazing skirt!

    http://chocolatefashioncoffee.blogspot.ro/

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  5. I was wondering, in what situation would you recommend wearing a slip? This skirt doesn't seem like it's too sheer from the pictures. Are there other purposes of the slip that I'm missing here?

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    1. I believe it doesn't look sheer BECAUSE she is wearing the slip :)

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  6. i love the elephant trim; i'm glad you kept it! :]

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  7. The dress looks more attractive with the elephant trim.. I like this bright yellow..

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  8. Jean! That hem is such a cute pairing with the yellow print. Genius!

    xo Laura

    www.losofancy.blogspot.com

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  9. awesome, thanks for the mention! so glad velcro worked out!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this simple tutorial! Are the Anne Michelle sandals comfortable?

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  11. Jean, love the skirt! You did a great job on adding the extra piece.

    Corporate Catwalk
    Facebook Page

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  12. What an interesting DIY! I've never thought about adding a contrast hem before. I honestly really like the skirt both ways--though I'm not sure about the length of the hem line with the elephant trim. Still, it looks great on you and the ankle straps don't cut off your legs in the nude color. If they were a dark color they might, but in nude the effect is really nice.

    I may just have to try this!

    Style by Joules

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  13. Aw, I love that H&M shell blouse... I wish they still carry it. Such an elegant piece.

    Hmm... and I am against the trim piece too because it just simply looks odd. Without it looks so much more classic. Love the Velcro idea though!

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  14. Love the skirt without the trim! To each her own I guess :p

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  15. Hi Jean, can you suggest some more nude sandal options that maybe aren't as high (I'm thinking 3" and below is ideal) and for smaller foot sizes? I really love the look of nude sandals.

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  16. Glad you kept the trim b/c YOU LOVE IT. It is super fun! I love both lengths, which is surprising! Great use of velcro to make it convertible. You can hardly tell there's bulk or velcro.

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  17. this is great!! love the trim :) did you also make shorts out of the pattern? also where did you get that GORGEOUS wrap bracelet?!

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  18. You are so clever! They're two totally different skirts. I love the trim; it's perfect for the summer. I assumed it was an Anthropologie skirt and was amazed (but not surprised) that it was actually DIY! Is there a tutorial for it?

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  19. I think the elephant print is adorable! As my mother-in-law would say...make sure the trunk is up for good luck! The bracelet pairs nicely with the trim.

    Looking forward to more travel photos. Assuming they will make me lust for all sorts of food.

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  20. This is brilliant! Such a great way to make my skirts more work-appropriate while still retaining their party length when desired.

    And this pattern mix looks fantastic together! I love the elephants :)

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  21. Hi Jean! I was wondering if you had any problems with the back heel cups on your enzo's digging into the back of your actual heel? I have the same pair and I'm experiencing these stiff heel cups myself :( Any advice?

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  22. Brilliant! I have never considered to using velcro in this way... Greetings for Chile!

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  23. I always love reading through your tutorials; they're always so interesting! The velcro idea was clever and allows you to still maintain the authenticity of your skirt. But for those times when you want a fun and unique outfit, then the elephant trim is perfect!

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  24. I think the elephant trim is adorable, and the velcro idea is ingenius! Great tutorial!

    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  25. I love elephants and the trim is delightful! Can you post about your London travels and packing soon please. I'm actually leaving for London Sunday night and would love your input! Thank you :D

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  26. I feel the exact same way about these lovely ankle strap styled sandals. I love them so dearly even though it cuts off my leg line.

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  27. Awesome! Love the skirt and the whole look! gave me an idea for a shirt issue I'm having...

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  28. I think the skirt is classy and pretty without the hem, but with the hem, it is fun, interesting, and unique. Love it!

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  29. Now-you-see-it-now-you-don't skirt by Jean. Neat! I had an ankle strap sandals that I loved until I learned that it shortened my already short legs and emphasized my too-skinny-ankles. I find, though, that if the strap is lower along the ankle and is nude, I can still get away with it.

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  30. i LOVE LOVE the elephant trim!! it adds such a whimsical touch to this outfit!!

    xo,
    Sandy
    Sandy a la Mode

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  31. Hi
    I love your blog. you are definitely the fashion icon of petite women. I am Chinese and also a little bit under 5 with 102 LB. Looking for perfect fitting clothes in the US is annoying because I couldn't enjoy shopping like others who pump into a random store and pick up their lovely style and size. Me, you and all other petite women put a lot of affords to be looking good. I shop same stores as you do that those stores have petite size option. For a special occasion, I will go back to Hong Kong once a while to visit my family and shop. Since most of woman are Chinese, their sizes perfectly fit to my size. I shopped a lot of working clothes from a brand "G2000" that has affordable price and quality. You may check it out if you go to Hong Kong by any chance.

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  32. this is so cute! wish i had a sewing machine to do some DIY projects. :)

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  33. Very cute! So happy to have found your blog, its lovely.

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