Sewing Confidence & the Skirt-Jumper Conversion

Having successfully made three garments from handwoven fabric, my sewing confidence was high. I thought: “What next?”. I wanted to refashion of one of Late Lucy’s dresses to either a dress or top. Last year I made a calico test version of a dress pattern I thought would suit, but it came out badly. I’d decided to make a simple gathered peasant top instead. But even as I made the first cut I had that niggly feeling things weren’t going to work out, and I was right. Pity. The fabric is lovely, but it’s now mostly cut into small pieces. I will pack it away until some other idea comes to me or I stumble on a promising pattern.

After that, my sewing confidence was dinted. Do something simple, I told myself. I considered the to-do list.

Back in the late 80s, when fashion favoured volume and bordered on costume, I made a cloak. It was black and made out of good quality wool, and I wore it quite a bit – mostly to and from Melbourne CBD where I was studying “Promotional Design” but also when I went out at night with friends. It was wonderfully warm and didn’t have the restriction of movement for the arms that most heavy coats have so was great when carting folios around. Eventually the lining wore through and the wool started looking a bit pilled, so I made a new one to replace it. Last year I bought fabric to reline the old cloak. I thought I might shorten it to a cape. Was it time to work on it?

I put the cloak on the dress form and decided I should also remove the hood as it was way too deep and would either slip off backwards or fall down and cover my face. The hem was very uneven, I noted. It had never occurred to me as a new sewer to level it…. and I suddenly felt all sentimental and nostalgic. I realised this garment sums up so much of my youth. It and my debutante dress are the two pieces I think of when I think back to my early sewing days. How could I cut it up?

Darn it!

So the old cloak got packed away. I considered shortening the newer cloak, as I don’t really wear it these days and I was still keen on the idea of a cape, but suddenly the conversion felt too challenging. I began thinking that maybe this sewing jape was over. I’d faffed about for a few days and got nothing done. Perhaps I should finally get around to having my machine serviced. Considering that I’d adopted the machine from Mum ten years ago and hadn’t had it serviced once… yeah, it was definitely long overdue.

Off it went to the service man. With the machine out of the house, I figured my mind would turn to something other than sewing.


Projects on the refashion list and the projects on it kept nagging at me, keeping me awake at night. “I can’t do anything without a machine!” I protested. “Ah, but you still have an overlocker!” my brain replied. “One of these projects only needs an overlocker.” I gave in. After all, if I tackled it my brain would be satisfied and stop making me want to sew.

This was one of five knit wool skirts from Late Lucy’s wardrobe:

Too old fashioned for op shops, they would only end up in the recycling or trash. I began wearing the only one that fit me around the house last winter, and it was very comfy though not all that flattering. I’d had the idea of turning them into dog or lap blankets. The above grey one was the only one with pleats, which made it unsuited to a blanket conversion. While partway into putting one on the dress form to see what I could make of it, I suddenly realised it could be made into a jumper. All it would take was slashing it up from the hem to what would become the armpit. All done with the overlocker.

So I pinned and tried it on and adjusted and overlocked. It worked out pretty well, though I should have anticipated that pleating over my stomach would add bulk where I’d rather it didn’t. It will be another cosy garment to throw on at home in winter. And I could cut it down the front and make it a cardigan. Hmm.

My sewing confidence had lifted again, which meant my mind didn’t stop thinking about sewing. Instead it latched onto another Late Lucy garment refashion. This time a much scarier one. But as with the skirts, it was a piece that would probably become rags if it went to the op shop, so I nothing to lose. That one, however, will take a few posts to explain.

One thought on “Sewing Confidence & the Skirt-Jumper Conversion

  1. I love this?. It looks so stylish. If you’re not totally in love maybe try it with a wide belt (aand… pencil skirt., boots, and a sassy strut) and see what that looks like?

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