DIY · purposeful · Style · Thrifts

Prom Dress Skirt


OK, super excited about today’s project. It’s been on my project list a long time.

black tshirt and pleated skirt

I found this image years ago, and I just loved the proportions of the outfit – a full, elegant skirt with a simple sweater. (I have no idea where it’s from – I would give credit if I did. It’s been YEARS!)

I wanted to find a navy skirt to wear with a navy sweater. I realized the best “fancy” skirt would be from an old satin prom dress. So I added “navy prom dress” to my wish list.

Do you know how hard it is to find a navy prom dress? I looked for over a year. Then, within the same month last year, I found two of them. When placed side by side, one was more of a royal blue in comparison. (Anyone want to try this project with royal blue prom dress? I can hook you up.)


This one is a strapless number with a longer hemline than I would typically wear. That means I feel less guilty about ripping apart a perfectly good dress to refashion it.


You can see that this $4.29 price tag is stapled onto the dress. That means that I got it at the thrift store that has lots of 50% off days. So this dress actually cost me $2.15. I’m totally okay with chopping up a $2.15 dress.

What I love about this dress is that it comes with its own built in tulle petticoat below. This gives the dress a much fuller skirt, which is how I want my skirt to look when its transformation is complete.

image via rusty zipper vintage clothing

Side story: When I was little, a few friends and I spent many long days of summer making up little skits and acting them out on video. My friend’s sweet mom would use her VHS recorder to save these brilliant pieces of art, which we simply called “Enchanted”. It was a mishmash of fairy tales, commercials, 5th grade chapter books, and anything else that inspired us at the time. My costume for the entire (8 part?) series consisted of various t-shirts worn with a square dance crinoline. The only explanation I have for such fashion choices is that it was the 80s and Madonna was a fashion icon. What am I saying – I would totally rock a crinoline again, given the opportunity. I love a dramatic skirt.


Anyway, the skirt transformation. I started by using chalk to make a line just below the end of zipper all the way around the dress.


I then ran a quick stitch along the chalk line to keep the skirt and the petticoat attached and aligned.

To keep it simple, I decided to use my elastic waistband technique. (For a full explanation of this technique, click here.) It works really well with a full skirt, and it doesn’t require any special sewing skills beside making a straight stitch.


After I created the elastic waistband, I measured up from the hem of the dress to determine where the elastic should be attached. For this particular skirt, I used a measurement of 23″. The dress had several panels of fabric, so I measured up the panels’ seam lines to keep it consistent.


After the measurements were marked, I marked up the elastic waistband (using middle front, middle back, and sides) and pinned it to the dress. (You can see this leaves excess fabric at the top. I’ll deal with that later.)

Then, following my elastic waistband technique of pulling and sewing and pulling and sewing, I attached the elastic to the skirt.


After that line of stitching was complete, I turned the garment inside out and cut the excess fabric close to the waistband (about half an inch). I then put the garment back in the sewing machine and ran another line of stitching above the first stitch, just to keep the fabric down and make the seam more secure.


That’s it! I completely love this skirt! Working with the satin was a little tricky, especially trying to iron out all the wrinkles, but I think the results are just lovely. I’m already planning where to wear it. (These plans might involve me winning some of raffle prizes at Bunco this Friday.)


This should be an outtake, but, of course it has a story. We have new neighbors behind us who have two dogs. I haven’t actually met these dogs, but they bark and howl quite a bit. I usually notice it most during the kids’ nap time, praying they don’t wake them up. So today, I’m outside taking photos of the skirt when one of the dogs lets out a crazy loud howl. It totally startled me. Then I hear a little boy shout, “SHUT UP!!!!” as loudly as the dog howled. I lost it because, a) what an enormous sound from a small little boy, and b) I have found myself saying these same words in my head several times during nap the last few weeks. And now I don’t feel so bad for wishing those dogs would indeed shut their traps.


Now, what to do with the chopped off bodice of the dress? A satin bustier? Just kidding, it’s in the garbage. I’m just not THAT Madonna.



This post is part of a 31 Day series about improving my days by being more PURPOSEFUL.

You can read more about it here. You can find all the posts in this series here.


14 thoughts on “Prom Dress Skirt

  1. Exactly what I was looking for! I need clothes for church on a super tight budget. Thanks for the inspiration:)

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