Skirt Upcycle Tutorial: Maxi Skirt Into Retro 50s Style Rock 'N' Roll Skirt

Monday, 10 February 2014

It’s been a while since I shared any of my up-cycles so it’s about time I fixed that with my latest project. The opportunity presented itself when I was recently offered a black and white floral skirt. I liked the striking print, but it was about 4 sizes too big for me, and not my style at all. Luckily, I saw the potential for this to be turned into something I would actually wear, and as I’m in love with all things 50s, it seemed only fitting to transform it into a Rock N’ Roll skirt!

So here goes, you will need the following:

-1 over-sized maxi skirt
-A strip of 2 inch flat elastic (long enough to fit your waist, plus an inch seam allowance)
-Pins, scissors, tape measure and matching coloured thread
-Sewing machine

Decide how long you want your skirt; I wanted mine to be  roughly 20 inches in total including the elastic waist band (which adds about 1.5 inches in length) so I marked the skirt with pins 19 inches from the bottom hem.

Alternatively, you could mark the point where you want to chop the skirt with tailor's chalk but I didn't think that would work very well on this floaty material.

My skirt was lined, so I needed to attach the lining onto the skirt at the 19 inch line, so I chopped off the top for easy access about 3 inches above the 19 inch line and did a straight stitch all the way around.

I then neatly trimmed the skirt, about 1cm above the 19 inch line. The 1cm of excess then needed to be pinned down onto the right side of the skirt ready to be sewn down. 

I used a  fairly large zig zag stitch to sew the seam down, and went slightly over the raw edge. This raw edge will later be concealed by the elastic waist band.

To make the waist band, you need to cut your elastic to the length of your waist measurement, plus half an inch for seam allowance. Fold the elastic in half, and sew the short sides together with a very small straight stich. You should have 2 small flaps of seam allowance now, just like in the photo.

Separate them and finger press these down opposite from each other, and sew over the raw edge with a zig-zag stitch. This will create the illusion of a smooth waistband with no join.

You should now have a waist band that is considerably smaller in width than the top of your skirt.

Position the waistband at the top of the skirt so that it just about covers the zig-zag stitching you did earlier to tack down that raw seam. You will need to stretch the waistband out as you sew to give it the gather that it needs, so you should tack the skirt onto the waist band with pins at 4 points at least, to act as ‘markers’ so you know how much to pull the elastic whilst sewing. I tacked it on at the front, back and sides (those seemed like the most logical points!). There should be ‘sag’ to the skirt between each pin point, and the amount of sag should give you an indication of how much you need to stretch the elastic whilst sewing.

Use a long length zig-zag stitch to attach the elastic to the skirt, and voila! 

The original skirt came with a sash belt, which I thought would look cute as a scarf, and in this photo the skirt is worn over a petticoat to give it some flair, but you can wear it without for a slightly more casual look.


  1. I found you via the 500 upcycle projects. I love this. Clear instructions too, thanks

    1. Thank you, if you make one I'd love to know how it turns out :)

  2. Great skirt! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  3. Hi Lola! I have a brazillian blog about rockabilly and 50's years fashion. I loved so much this post, that I share in my blog. It´s a fantastic idea. I'll point to my readers who access my blog to came here! Congratulations! (Sorry about my english) Thanks!

    1. Hello, that's great, thank you so much for sharing :)

  4. The skirt looks awesome! I tried to upcycle a skirt with two inch elastic waistband, but it didn't turn out great. I ended up sewing the skirt to the middle of the elastic and it is not comfortable to wear! It looks like you sewed right along the bottom edge of the elastic; I will get out my seam ripper and try again!





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Hello and welcome to my blog! I'm a seamstress with a passion for refashioning clothing, and I've decided to document my creations and share my upcycling tutorials. My aim is to inspire people to re-use and re-love the clothes that they already own.

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