Remix: Dress to Skirt

 Cardigan: Glassons

Blouse: Victoria’s Secret

Skirt: Gorman (remixed)

Shoes: Chie Mihara

Brooch: CatRabbit

I don’t normally frequent stores that don’t want to know me. It’s easier that way; otherwise I find myself mooning over their shop windows cursing my boobs, my hips, my full thighs and thicker waist. And that’s not healthy. I try to remember my mantra: It’s not that I don’t fit the clothes, the clothes don’t fit me. And these days, with the internet and Etsy and plus-size fashion blogs, it’s not like I have to walk around naked. There’s plenty of good clothes out there for me. It’s just not clothes from Witchery/Cue/Jigsaw. Or Gorman.

Sigh. Gorman.

Of all the labels in Australia that I wish would extend their sizes, Gorman is the one that I would most like to get my hands on. I don’t love everything that they do, but every so often something just hits the mark for me so well that it hurts to know it won’t fit.

When I first moved to Melbourne Gorman had a range of items made out of a fabric that looked like it had come out of the pages of an Eric Carle Book. I wasn’t familiar with the store (they didn’t have any shopfronts in Canberra) and I didn’t know what their size range was. When I found out they stopped at a size 14 I was incredibly disappointed.

These days I don’t pass by the stores very often. They don’t cater to me, so I’ve developed kind of a blind spot. But every so often something penetrates. Like this dress:

The textured raw silk fabric, the coppery orange and deep blue colour blocking, the fifties silhouette and bunting detailing. Perfection.

When I saw it for $80 (down from $329!) at the Gorman clearance centre I couldn’t resist going in to try it on. It had a full skirt… maybe it would fit.

Not a chance.

To start with, they didn’t have a size 14 and the 12 didn’t even come CLOSE to zipping up.

But I, er, bought it anyway.

It was cheap, OK.

Here’s what I did:

Step 1. After turning the dress inside out I carefully unpicked the skirt from the bodice and loosened the gathers. Then – with some trepidation since every dress-to-skirt tutorial I read said not to – I cut the zipper about an inch above the new waistband. If you’re doing this remix make sure you don’t cut the zipper with it still done up. You need to have the zipper foot at the bottom of the zip!

Step 2. The bodice was fully lined, so I unpicked the lining, and cut the pieces of the bodice up to make enough single layer fabric to assemble a waistband.

Step 3. I pinned the individual pieces of bodice together, then sewed them together until I had one long strip.

Step 4. I ironed on some interfacing, then trimmed the edges. Instant waistband!

Step 5. I regathered the waistband of the skirt (no pics of this step! Sorry! Check out the instructions here) then right-sides together I sewed the waistband to the skirt. Then I folded the waistband in half (with the skirt fabric sandwiched between the two sides) and gave it a press.

Step 6. A second seam around the waistband to secure the second side. I tucked the extra inch of the zipper into the waistband, and left an extra inch of waistband on one side for the hook & eye fastening.

Step 7. I hand sewed a hook and eye fastening on the end of the waistband.

Step 8. And here’s the finished result!

Amazeballs! I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with a remix project. And now I finally have a piece of Gorman clothing all for myself.

47 thoughts on “Remix: Dress to Skirt

    1. I was SO nervous, cutting into it, but I figured I wasn’t ever going to be able to WEAR it in the state it was in, so I swallowed the nerves and went the hack! So happy though, it worked a treat!

  1. Great job! I thought it looked very gorman-y. I think I read somewhere that they said they would look to increase their sizes if there was enough demand…maybe this will hit their radar and show that bigger sizes would sell! It is just so silly- you are a gorgeous girl who wears gorgeous clothes and has great style- if clothes dont fit you they are doing something wrong!!!

    1. Thanks Katrina,
      It’s definitely more versatile as a skirt – I can wear it with sweaters and cardigans in winter, and a little blouse in summer!

  2. I think you should send this to Gorman to show them exactly how much we’d like to wear this stuff. Every so often I mail a retailer asking for bigger sizes, and sometimes it’s actually in the pipelines…got to try, right?

    I wonder if certain shops don’t stock larger sizes because they genuinely don’t think there is a demand, or if they do it on purpose to make it exclusive?

    1. I might try that when things quieten down in my personal life. I linked to them… hopefully they follow the link back! A few stores in Australia have expanded their size range lately, and it would be great to see Gorman follow suit.

  3. Gorgeous skirt! What a great idea for all those dresses that are a tad too small in the bodice. I am out of wack in my bust and waist measurements so I sometimes find things perfect in the waist that are a bit small on the bust. This tutorial will come in very handy. Thanks for sharing!

    1. My pleasure! I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was, once I got over the anxiousness of hacking into a brand-new $329 silk dress (even if I did only pay $80 for it!)

  4. On one hand I love these “fathacks” (as the Tumblr community calls them) like this one and the one where Georgina of Cupcake’s Clothes bought two skirts and sewed them together. They’re resourceful and anarchistic – if you don’t cater to us, we will take your precious designs and change them to work for us. On the other hand it makes me sad that this is what we have to do; sew skirts out of dresses and buy two skirts when everyone else gets to buy just one. And by “we” I mean the people with actual sewing skills, myself not included.

    1. LOL, yeah, me too! Ah well. I keep telling myself it’s THEIR loss – the consumer’s the one with the power in this equation. If they don’t want my money because my butt’s too big 😛

  5. I like it better as a skirt – it looks like a sunflower!
    Boo for sizes stopping too low, they’re only denying themselves customers! My guess is that if they went larger they’d have to actually cut things properly rather than relying on them looking alright on stick people :/
    I’m a UK 14/16 (guessing you’ll know about UK sizing since you buy from Dorothy Perkins) so by no means unusual sized, but I often find that there are clothes that simply do not exist in a size that fits me. It’s ridiculous, I’m probably about the UK average, and I can only imagine the emotional damage it does to women who are getting the message “you’re too big for fashion”. H&M are some of the worst offenders, their sizing is already completely unreliable!
    Sorry, end of rant. Yay skirt!

  6. This is seriously amazing. I am not a sewer, so I don’t think the idea of turning a dress into a skirt would ever even enter my head, despite being about to rope my dress maker mother into doing it for me, so THANK YOU for the inspiration!

    I hope Gorman do move into making larger sizes, so many of their designs could easily be “up-sized”. I find their sizing pretty generous and as a 16, can often fit into their size 14, but only really fuller skirt items (hips!) and never pants…

  7. I am a TERRIBLE sewer, so I’m very impressed with this!

    Don’t write off Gorman entirely. Phebe at Lightning Heart, Fashion Hayley, Sonya/gannetguts and I have all found (and purchased) stuff that fit us off the rack.

  8. Wow!! Well done on a such a brilliant remix!

    hahah glad I’m not the only one who does things like that…. But you actually get it done! This looks amazing!! Love the colours and you’ve styled it so well! (as always)

    I’ve managed to squeeze into a couple of pieces (floaty tops etc) but their dresses are just too tiny-waisted, so I feel your pain!

    Psssst…. they have HEAPS of stock at the outlet on Brunswick Street’s Clear-it store. Marked down even more from the Bridge Rd outlet. Worth a look!

    Thanks for the great post 🙂

  9. You did an amazing job! I too think it looks much better as a skirt. I am a big fan of clothes from the 50s….. so much so that I have been wanting to make my own. I will be attempting to convert a dress into a skirt ( I too couldn’t resist and bought a dress that doesn’t zip). Hopefully I will have at least half as much success as you did. I am so impressed! Thanks for the instructions.

  10. Gorgeous! I like it better as a skirt and I’m going to try this on a few dresses I’d rather have as separates. Unfortunately I can’t sew so will have to get my tailor to do it. You have a great blog, very happy to have found it 🙂

  11. Hi, I just found your blog and I share your pain about gorman! As a 14-16, I am tormented by the fact that I never fit anything, unless it is not waisted. Even a 14, which I fit in most other brands doesn’t fit in gorman, as waists and sleeves / armholes are usually too small. A recent attempt to try on a couple of things I had been coveting was an exercise in ritual humiliation. We should all lobby gorman! If you check the items they have for sale online, all the size 14s are sold out. The people are trying to tell you something, Karen!

  12. I stumbled on your blog when I wanted to know how to turn a dress into a skirt. With an overly generous bust, I always find that the tops of dresses never accommodate me properly. Love your instructions – especially about the zip! I didn’t want to revert the lovely lines of the skirt by turning it into an elastic waist. I want to sew more of my own clothes (shirt waist dresses!!!!!!) but still learning how to do a full bust adjustment. Can’t wait to sit down and see what else you’ve done.
    Di x

  13. This gives me hope! I want to chop up a wedding dress I found on clearance and turn it into a skirt…I know…how dare I?! BUT, I’m fairly flat in the bust area (so that part of a dress NEVER fits) and I don’t want a traditional white dress that I can’t breathe in. I just want the pretty skirt part. Hopefully my alterations lady will be able to handle the crazy task, but if not, I think I can swing it! I just needed to see a couple of step-by-steps to get the idea down. Thank you so much!

    1. My pleasure! Good luck, I hope it goes well (and I’m sure whichever bride wore the dress originally would be delighted to hear that it’s having a second life. Go you!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.