How To - Turn a Skirt into a Top

May 18, 2017

So I have had this GAP Kids skirt for a good 6 years, and hardly wore it cause skater skirts do not suit me. It was on the donate pile, but then I suddenly realised that its thick elastic waist meant it would make such a good bardot, off the shoulder top! In an afternoon it went from a disused skirt, to an on trend top, and this is how I did it in three easy steps:

1) Pin, then pin again...

Making a top on my own meant a heck of a lot of trial and error, so if you can, get someone to pin the front and back together where the top and the bottom of the sleeves will be while you wear the skirt as if it was the completed top (i.e. the elastic waistband is placed across your shoulders).

X marks the pinning spots 

2) Chalk, Cut and Sew

Use chalk to draw a line between the two pins, cut along the line to make the sleeves and sides of the top before pinning then sewing together the matching back and front open edge of the sleeves and top (pin inside out, which I didn't do as you can see below, so had to quickly edit before sewing). Cut to lower down the top of the skirt then pin and try on, and cut higher if you can. I say this cause I went quite close to the beginning of the elastic and it digs into my arms really bad and has already ripped slightly so needs fixing 😢 (though this might just be a design flaw as the sleeve is all pulled in around a central point where I got to the top of the arm hole then sewed down the side of the top creating a 'V' shaped line of stitching. Normally a top has a rounded top of the sleeve so there isn't so much pressure around this point under the arm).  This basically is the top done and took max 2 hours (I said it was easy!)
Chalk a line between the two pins so you know where to cut (cut the front and back together so they're in line)
Pin the matching back and front sleeve and side seams of the cut pieces (note how I pinned it with the top the right way round cause I'm a numpty). Then sewed up one sleeve and down the side of the top. I did this in a V-shape but, as I said above, this puts a lot of pressure on the point of the V and it has torn slightly. Potentially by going across horizontally slightly before going down, or finishing the arm lower and making the top of the arm wider - so it's less tight and more flowy so less pressure is on it - might be how to avoid this if you make something similar yourself - please put suggestions in the comments section.

2) Optional Sleeve Details

If you want to pull in the sleeves with elastic instead of leaving it in a bell sleeve style (or as a rounded sleeve if you cut it so it doesn't widen at the end), fold over the hem to just over the width of whatever elastic you own, and hand sew long the edge with teeny stitches so you can't see them on the outer-side (or use a machine if you don't mind it being visible) with a gap at the end so you can put the elastic in. Then attach a safety pin on the end of a piece of elastic and thread it through the tube you have made. Sew the ends of the elastic together, then sew up the gap you left earlier. 


Skirt is a couple of years old from New Look (Similar)

And if you don't have something similar to make one yourself (and of course you could make one from scratch by first making a basic elasticated waist skater skirt), there are loads of options on the high street such as this.

If you hadn't guessed by now, I love a good sewing DIY, so keep your eye's peeled for more in the future. I'm moving into my student house this summer, and have a couple of ideas up my sleeve, so watch this space!

June xx

You Might Also Like