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An innovative idea

starzoe | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

Let me run this past you. I love innovation, changing found items to wearable items, so here is the latest. On Saturday I found a claret-coloured (just a beautiful, vibrant colour) ultrasuede suit at the thrift store. Not near my size, of course. $12.00. The jacket is beautiful and really in too many pieces to be discarded or cut up – but will keep it for now for more inspiration to strike. But the skirt! It doesn’t fit me, I can get it on but not pull the zipper up. It comes just below my knees.

Standing in front of the mirror, it came to me – try it on upside down, the hem may fit over my waist and hips. It is slightly A-line with some small gathers at the waistline. There does seem to be a possiblity that the idea would work, so this afternoon I am taking out the hem, the waistband and the zipper.

I actually bought the ultrasuede for trim, something I like to use on coats and jackets and for embellishment so if the skirt idea doesn’t pan out, I will still have quite a bit of ultrasuede for the stash.

My knitting group is meeting here this afternoon (for carrot cake)and I know for sure they will think I have gone senile – none of them sew – but they have known me a long time, this won’t come as much of a surprise!

Edited 11/24/2008 3:14 pm ET by starzoe


  1. SAAM | | #1

    This sounds like an interesting experiment. Is there enough length in the skirt in case you have to lose some inches at the narrower end? Let us know how it turns out.Sherry

  2. Gloriasews | | #2

    That's a very interesting idea!  I would have never thought of that - so pat yourself on the back.  If the hem is too narrow when you've finished the waist, you could insert godets.  Could the jacket be cut down into a vest?  That would allow for larger armholes & more comfortable movement if the jacket is too small - & you wouldn't need to button it, but you could make a connecting tab effect if you wanted to keep the vest front closer to your body.  You could also insert patches or strips in the vest for more room.  Let us know how it turns out.


    Edited 11/24/2008 6:23 pm by Gloriasews

  3. miatamomma | | #3

    I think it would work.  I recently found a Christmas red Pendleton wool suit at Goodwill.  Perfect condition for $8.50, reduced to $4.25 at check-out.  Jacket fits perfect but skirt will not fasten and it is too long.  So I took off the waistband and pulled the skirt up to get length I wanted.  I then simply moved the side seam pockets down lower, cut off the extra length this is now at the waist and put the waistband back on.  By pulling up the skirt I was able to get that needed inch or so to fit my waist.  The skirt had small gathers at waist so this was where the extra came from. 

    1. starzoe | | #4

      Great idea - don't you just love doing this stuff? I finished taking off the belt, undoing the hem and the back faux pleat. The seams all have 1" allowances and I could probably make it fit the right way up, but it would work very well upside down, it's long enough and loose enough to comfortably walk in.However, I don't need another skirt this season so for the time being at least it will go into the stash and one of these days (probably at three o'clock in the morning), the perfect idea will come to me.

  4. user-1123855664 | | #5

    It sounds like you've found an excellent solution to your dilemma. I hope that it turns out well and that you enjoy it immensely.

    I solved a similar challenge as follows: I found a gorgeous silk suit in burgundy on sale at an outlet store. The jacket and the matching sequined top fit me perfectly but the skirt was several sizes too small. I bought the suit anyway. I planned to donate the skirt to charity and wear the jacket and top with a black skirt. At some point I realized that I could buy some shiny fabric in a similar tone and add the equivalent of tuxedo trim down the sides of the skirt. I took apart the side seams and added about 2" of fabric on each side. The skirt fits beautifully and looks like the insets are a design detail rather than a work around for an ill fitting garment. I have worn this suit many times to formal events and I always receive lots of compliments.

    I never mention that the tuxedo type trim was not original to the design. Not sure if you could do anything similar with you find. But it is definitely an idea to keep in mind for future projects.

    1. User avater
      rodezzy2 | | #6

      Wow, you guys are so talented with your sewing and altering expertise.  I'm totally impressed and amazed.  All the ideas discussed here are genius.  Thanks for sharing.

      1. starzoe | | #7

        I can see from your postings that you are not such a beginner at this innovative stuff yourself!! You will know from experience that if you see an opportunity, an idea, an innovation, you just have to jump high enough to grab it and make it your own.I am not a person with a lot of patience. I want everything done yesterday. I thought I would gain patience with age but the truth is I will never have it. Besides, it is a good idea to run with inspiration, not sit on it.

        1. User avater
          rodezzy2 | | #8

          No, not a beginner, but always thankful to learn something new from others. 

          People on my non-crafter side say I have the patience of Job.  People on my crafting side say I fly through stuff like a whirlwind. 

          I guess, it's who you are around and what you are doing that constitutes whether you need patience or not.  I bet no one complains when you "get things done."  he he he. 

          When I'm not doing something constructive, creative, or just rumbling around in here, I get bored.  I've pretty much been very happy being with me, since I'm an only child, I have always found happiness rambling around my own environment, doing what I do.  I always tell people, "I always have something to do, now rather or not I do it, is another thing.  But I never lack for something to do."  That sounds like you and most of the people here at gatherings.  You are always thinking and doing something creative, constuctive, innovative, and comforting for yourself and others.  Wonderful group of people.  I love it!

          1. katina | | #9

            Thanks for all the kind words, Rodezzy - we love having you here to brighten us up.


          2. KharminJ | | #10

            Melinda ~ I love the tuxedo trim idea! I can see that ~ beautiful!Wondering out-loud - how that would look on a tweedy navy wool suit-skirt? Hmmm, the arms are a tad snug, too, though ...


          3. user-1123855664 | | #12

            Regarding trying to use the tuxedo trim idea on a tweedy navy wool suit-skirt:

            I have seen very expensive designer wear that used a similar design on tweedy wool. But instead of using shiny fabric, they used leather or faux leather. You'd need to play around to see if you think that it would be a hit or a miss. If the skirt works, then you could add the leather to covered buttons or to trim on the pockets of the jacket or ??? Let your imagination run wild.

            But the tight sleeves, they might be a problem. I once bought a RTW jacket that had a contrasting stripe down the length of the sleeve and it was very cute. But I think that would be fairly difficult to retrofit and it's a style that would be more difficult to wear and pull off.

            Good luck Kharmin.


          4. KharminJ | | #13

            Thanks for the suede suggestion! And the covered buttons - the suit was my Mom's, so the 50+YO plain-ole-plastic buttons don't thrill me anyway. I have a brand new remnant of home dec (gotta love the "under 3 yards" rule!) faux suede in a lovely navy - will play with that ... My first thought about the sleeves is to continue the "stripe" up the side seams of the jacket, then out the underarm seam - only opening up the sleeve, not the body. I only need about a half-inch more ... hmmmm Bright Autumn Blessings ~ Kharmin

            Edited 11/26/2008 2:23 pm ET by KharminJ

          5. user-1123855664 | | #14

            That sounds like it will be beautiful!


  5. KharminJ | | #11

    I just finished my first sweater rescue - a size S funnel-necked pullover, but the arms were Long Enough for me! Couldn't resist at the resale shop. I split it up the front, added about a 1-1/4" binding with a fleece selvage padding to each side, and now have a comfy warm cardigan jacket! It took longer to decide what to do and get up the nerve to cut that lovely wool knit than to actually sew it.

    It's good to have successes like this to remember, next time a project "feels" too intimidating to start!


    1. User avater
      rodezzy2 | | #15

      Wow, wonderful.

      1. KharminJ | | #16

        Thanks! I wore it out to the pub tonight; may wear it to the MIL's tomorrow for dinner ... nice and cozy! I have before and after pics (in the camera) ~ my next "intimidating thing" is to learn how to download 'em, sort 'em, optimize for web, and then post 'em! I still have a year's worth of photos on the memory card! Gaaack!

        Safe Travels and Good Times to everyone! Kharmin

        1. User avater
          rodezzy2 | | #17

          Great...have fun.

  6. Lilith1951 | | #18

    I love everyone's ideas on this.  Starzoe, if there's any chance that you are going to wear the jacket in any form in the future, you might not want to turn that skirt upside down for the simple reason that the "nap" will look different than the nap on the jacket.  If you're certain you won't be using the jacket, then I'd do whatever works on the skirt.

    I've bought some absolutely gorgeous things at the thrift stores in the last year, mostly for the fabrics.  Where else can you get such a variety of wonderful fabrics at such prices?  And the buttons and trims!  Oh my.  The last thing I bought had gorgeous large covered buttons of shrimp pink damask (they matched the gorgeous duster length jacket they were on.)  I paid $3.00 on 1/2 price day and I have probably $10 worth of buttons and $10-15 worth of useable pink damask fabric.  I make small items (handbags, gift bags, pillows and such) with the lovely fabrics and I never know what's coming around the bend when I shop like that. It is so inspirational.  Plus, of course, I'm recycling and that gives me tremendous satisfaction, too.


    1. starzoe | | #19

      No, I am never going to wear that jacket, it is about a size 10. It is too pretty to discard or cut up, so in my mind I have at least two recipients. Problem is, I really don't know if these people would appreciate something from a thrift store! I also believe if you keep something, sooner or later the perfect use turns up (too often this happens when you have just sent it to the thrift store or cut it up for another use!).On my last trip I saw a Simon Chang black dress, size 8 with a dozen or more beautiful black buttons down the front and heavy lace embellishments all down the body. Gorgeous. But I passed it up. I already have pounds and pounds of buttons, some of them too good to use!

  7. sewslow67 | | #20

    Hi Starzoe:  I love your idea about turning the skirt upside down.  To add to that, I was thinking that you could add triangular pieces of another shade of claret Ultrasuede (sort of like gussets) from the waist down. 

    Cut the skirt pieces that you have already, and put the new pieces in between them.  You could use lapped seams, so they would like flat, and the top stitching would add another dimension, and the two coordinating colors, plus the top stitching would also be slimming.

    Since you knit (I wish I had that kind of talent), you could knit a jacket and trim it all around with the Ultrasuede jacket fabric ...even using its collar (and sleeve edges for cuffs), and possibly the bottom edges for trimming your knit jacket as well.  I would even use scraps for covering the buttons.

    Anyway, I hope that this might be helpful, if nothing else, will continue to keep your own creative juices running.  And thanks so much for getting all of our creative juices going in the first place.  What an interesting thread you have started here.  Thanks!

    Edited 12/2/2008 2:48 pm by sewslow67

    Edited 12/2/2008 2:49 pm by sewslow67

    Edited 12/2/2008 2:49 pm by sewslow67

    1. starzoe | | #21

      The skirt would fit beautifully upside down, even as to length. I think it was Sandra Betzina who advised cutting a pencil skirt so that the hem was narrower than the hip measurement for a more elegant and slimming look. It's put aside for now, don't need another skirt at the moment; I'll just let the idea percolate and see what comes up.Your idea of using the jacket to trim a knitted top was a brilliant one - I'll put that into my ideas file!

      1. sewslow67 | | #22

        Thanks, Starzoe.  I loved your ideas as well.  And I think you are right; it was Sandra B. who suggested "penciling" the skirt so it would be more flattering.  I've done that too, ever since I read her notes about it some years ago, and it sure helps the "waist-hip-hem" ratio to look a lot better. 

        I was given an old Ultrasuede shirt-waist dress by the husband of a friend who died, but the elbows were worn out.  I tried to figure out how I could use it for myself, but couldn't seem to get it to work, so I cut is all apart and made a jumper for one of my granddaughters. 

        I'm going to use the fabric that is left for patchwork handbags, combining it with other suede scraps, and possible some other textures that would work.  I'll be using the book: "Crazy Quilting with Attitude" by Barbara Randle as my guide on this project.  I love her ideas.

  8. gailete | | #23

    Just a thought as I have never sewed ultrasuede, but if you put the skirt upside down won't the nap be running different than the jacket and will that be a problem?

    1. starzoe | | #24

      I cannot fit into the jacket, so no problem there. There isn't that much of a nap but if I sewed a whole outfit from new ultrasuede I would be careful to follow the nap.

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