Simplicity 3636 – plaid skirt to plaid over blouse

I have now decided that overblouses are the best ever……… now that winter is coming, and jumpers are beckoning, an overblouse is a lot smarter (than some of my jumpers anyway) and I just love the pockets.  The style of this overblouse is not unlike a ‘kinsale smock’ (or fishermans smock), and its perfect ‘transitional’ wear, when its too warm for a jacket, but too cool to not wear one.  I had hoped to use up a red plaid from stash but there wasn’t enough (but I have a plan for that) so I decided to use the plaid from a pleated wool skirt I got a long long time ago, adored the colours but couldn’t think of what to do with it. 

Plaid is a tricky one.  Its not the hardest to match off once you decide where the match points should be, but when its off – its really off  (the last worst match plaid I saw was ‘Wolf of Wall st’, Leonardo diCaprio’s Prince of Wales suit).  When learning factory cutting, we had to do plaids, and cut them in layers of 20 plus careful laying and planning is key and then it should all work out fine.  I cut this top on the fold, but I can understand some people prefer to cut plaid on one layer only, the reason I don’t is that I am more afraid of cutting 2 left fronts or something by forgetting to turn pattern pieces over.

simplicity 3636 plaid skirt upcycle refashion to plaid blouse



I decided to put the main dark stripe as centre, as this gave the most fabric and I suppose ‘technically correct for plaid’ , however the side seams would be three square sides but it looked fine at that so I cut in. 

So when I was cutting this, I matched my centre front and centre back lines at the same plaid point for the vertical and then worked up from hem lines, checking then, the underarm match lines and the lines at the shoulder each side of the neck.  As this was a simple cut, this was straight forward enough but I had to pin it plenty for sewing to make sure the squares didn’t stray.   

So after all of this, I must have been a bit slap dash with darts and then one of my darts was slightly off, and fixing a slightly off dart is a lot more difficult than fixing the one that is miles off!  (and ironically you could spot the slightly off dart a mile off). 

simplicity 3636 plaid skirt upcycle refashion to plaid blouse


The buttons were from the button tin, originally from black coat …. .  I was going to include a collar, but the collar for this was designed to sit flat, and it looked a bit off, if there was sufficient fabric I may have tried one that stood up a bit, in the end, I used the collar as the facing.

skirt upcycle to long sleeve tee




I made a long-sleeve-tee to wear underneath – its a funnel neck.  I did a basic pattern draft for it, and used a viscose jersey skirt -the weight and drape of this fabric was divine.  Its was very quick, draft, sew, wear and I will be making more of these. 


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and now for something completely different – replacing an irish dancing dress skirt

There are few things I know about Irish dancing dresses,  

1 -they are an acquired taste, 
2 -solo dresses are very very expensive even second-hand, and 
3 – I now also know that it is worth getting the dance instructors opinion before you commit to buying a dress.  

replacing the skirt of an irish dancing dress

The dress was bought second hand and it pretty much fitted my niece Donna,  so the deal was done, and then shown to her dance teacher.  The dance teacher wasn’t crazy about the dress (understatement) and said the skirt  definitely ‘had to go’, 


My sister Eithne, suggested to the dance teacher could she just get her sister (me) to do it and the teacher (horrified) said that doing dance dresses is not like regular dressmaking and they should look for the a person who did dance dresses………………… which was fine, except it was difficult (impossible) to find someone to alter a dress they didn’t make, and I said I would give it a go if they were stuck, stuck they were, so I got to do the dress, and then I got a bit (lot) nervous!

My sister had gotten the loan of another dress for me to inspect how they were made, and there was a big difference, as this dress was made by someone with future alterations in mind, whereas Donna’s dress wasn’t (Donna’s dress is a manufactured one which is done in pieces and then skirts matched to varying styled bodices, and then decorated, which is effective for the manufacturer but not for the alteration, as among other things, the crystal decoration at the end of the bodice and the embroidery meant that the skirt would also be hand sewn back on).  We were also changing the style of the skirt, which with hindsight was foolhardy at best.


I cut the skirt, and underskirt, the underskirt took 7 metres of net which then had to have 7 metres of bias binding cut from the skirt fabric, pressed, and sew on.  The underskirt was probably the most actual work, whereas the overskirt was the fiddliest, and the scariest!  The original idea was to go with gathers, but they would not behave correctly so I  made them into soft pleats.  If I knew this ahead, I would most definitely have done it differently I would have done the soft pleats and machine sewn them down to just before the bodice join.  Its hard to know really as I fitted the skirt in the way the manufacturer originally had it (it was an actual skirt at a few inches up from bodice seams at sides and one inch up from bodice seam at front – , but as I changed the amount of fabric in the skirt so it was harder to ‘control’.  The fabric is a dance fabric, its not satin and won’t take a crease, and happily springs back into shape whether you want it to or not, but has an iridescent shine with orange running through, and is very light, so it was vilene backed.  The pink in the group photos is the correct shade.  

replacing the skirt of an irish dancing dress



In the end, it ultimately has worked out fine, and it was a steep learning curve for me, and it seems to have gotten the dance teachers approval – so alls well that ends well (except I have volunteered to make a new solo dance dress for next year……………. oops!) 


McCalls 7530 – Pauline Trigere Jacket, coat to jacket

McCalls 7530 - Pauline Trigere Jacket, upcycle coat to jacket


About 6 months ago, I  was in a charity shop and spotted a coat for 2euro. now this particular coat was – a dated cut(huge shoulders), dated colour (green), and dated buttons (they were everywhere), but it was also wool cashmere and that started me on thinking about the challenge of refashioning these coats – the quality of the fabric was brilliant, and wool is a nice obliging fabric to sew – (having said that, if I was asked 10 years ago to recut a coat or suit, I would have run a mile) Now,  when I say these coats, I do mean plural, it became a slight digression (obsession)  for a few weeks and I ended up with 6 coats, 1 black, 2 navy, 1 bottle green, 1 fawn, 1 camel.  At this point I was also thinking I should start sewing or draw a halt, so I took one coat apart, got a bit overwhelmed, and thought I would work up some smaller projects, and then revisit the idea, which as it happens is how this blog evolved – these coats. 

And then I spotted this Pauline Trigere pattern on etsy,how could I not?

McCalls 7530 - Pauline Trigere Jacket, upcycle coat to jacket

When I  took apart the black coat, there was a lot less fabric that i thought.  the extreme shoulder shaping was helped in part by inconvenient (to me) darts.  I got the jacket cut from it though, and only was compromised by back facing which was cut across, but then wool is so obliging!  

Sewing it was relatively straight forward.  the original coat  was interfaced in most parts and I managed to keep the interfaced pieces to the back and front, but part of the back sleeve had some at the seam, so I added some to the other sleeve to balance it – I should have interfaced whole piece, it makes little difference but if i was doing it again, this I would do (and now that I have typed it, I am wondering why I didn’t) .  The nice curve detail in the sleeves worked out beautifully, they were set in and sit at the shoulder and the neckline is wide, it feels a bit like a wearing a cape, and not unlike the matching dress, the cut of dress and jacket seem to ensure correct posture when you wear them.   I was able to flat construct the lining sleeves, as the sleeve head would be hand stitched to the facings.  

I probably got a bit too confident and also wanted to have it finished that evening so I went straight in to the buttonhole – the only buttonhole – and even while I was doing it, something felt amiss……. I tried it on after, and there it was, the buttonhole was on the left, and then for some really really odd reason, I thought I could fix that later, and I would put the button hole in the other side – which I did, crooked and out too far – so I left it for a few days……


McCalls 7530 - Pauline Trigere Jacket, upcycle coat to jacket

I decided that poppers were the best alternative, and made a bow to cover one buttonhole and put a strip over the inside one.  All in all, it looks fine, and I would love to say this is the one and only time I have gotten left, right, wrong side, right side mixed up but I will get to do it all again when I get to make the coat version!

McCalls 7530 – Pauline Trigere Dress skirt to dress

This is the most expensive pattern I have ever bought! ….. and I am beginning to be a fan of Pauline Trigere.  I also love coats so thought at least this was a 3 for 1 pattern.  I also thought I would do the dress first as it was probably easier than jacket/coat.(not so famous last words)

The bodice takes up a little bit more fabric than you would think (or I would think), so getting the right fabric, with right amount from a secondhand piece of clothing was the next hurdle (as in the pile of stuff on the chair beside mannequin).  I did have an orange wrap skirt 100% viscose which I did first and then a blue silk wrap skirt as the next one.

I made the pattern to the envelope size, even though I am size or two larger on hips (classic pear).  The skirt fits me – but just about.  I thought if I made it to the envelope size it would give a truer indication of design, and then either i could finish for someone else to wear or use the fabric for something else.  

The orange dress has the perfect weight for the dress, and ultimately the only issue I had were the facings – I used interfacing on autopilot where I shouldn’t have, and they did not fit as well (I cheated and used a seam on centre back and front).  Straps are still pinned on as the facings will be redone.

Pauline Trigere Dress, McCalls 7530, remake a skirt to dress



The dress is flat-lined which is something I have never done before (strangely enough), and it gave good weight and form  to the bodice, which is a simple but a very effective cut.  The fit of the bodice is great especially when you consider there are only 2 darts used.  There is a short underskirt underneath, and a waist stay.   The skirt has a small amount of gathers so I thought up-sizing would be little issue and if anything should be easier as there would be more fabric to gather in larger size.

mccalls 7530 pauline trigere refashion skirt to dress


The blue dress is a light silk (so I starched it plenty before I started!).  The interfacing went on easily by stretching the bodice, and I decided I would also add the pockets for this dress (so handy).   I am still undecided about the blue dress as the silk is so light I now think I could have used a heavier lining fabric, whereas the weight of the orange dress is perfect.  I am unsure also about the extra gathers and wonder if soft pleats could work better…………………..  so I didn’t hem this one yet either!