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Friday, August 5, 2011

Design for Shabby Apple - Paperbag Skirt


I promise I haven't fallen off the planet! We moved to the east coast (mainland), and are still living in a hotel until next Monday, so bear with me for another few days. I'll be posting all the home renovations shortly!


Today, though, I'm posting to submit my Paperbag Skirt as a contender in the Shabby Apple Dare to Design challenge. I don't think my design is flawless, and I already started working on a new pattern with better belt loops and with pockets before leaving. Alas, it will have to be finished when my stuff arrives in the next couple weeks, and the competition ends on August 10th.

I'm sure you're all familiar with Shabby Apple Dresses. They have some fabulous designs! I've been coveting this one for awhile:

Shabby Apple Dresses - Bon Voyage
 And THIS lovely model is actually one of my best friends. :)  She was my college roomie, and I love her to bits. (Just have to brag a bit. I had to put up with being bff's with a gorgeous gal, so now I get to brag about her being a model.)

Shabby Apple Dresses - Bethesda Fountain
Now, while I drool over all those dresses, I very rarely wear actual dresses. I'm more of a skirt kind of gal. And I would venture to guess most women are, too. The fact is, you get more bang for your buck with a skirt. I get bored with wearing the same thing to church or other events, and having a skirt gives me the luxury of switching out the top and reinventing the outfit with $10-$30 rather than going out and spending another $50-$80 on a new dress. And people are less likely to notice a skirt being worn twice (with a different shirt) than if you wear the same dress twice. Know what I mean? It's also easier to get a better fit with skirt/shirt rather than a dress (unless you're using a stretchy/form-fitting fabric). I'm a small-chested mama, so unless I shop in the Jr's section (which are never LONG enough), well-fitting dresses are pretty hard for me to come by. I'm sure the same is true for women with broad shoulders or other "non-standard" body types. Are you with me?

As I mentioned above, I think the skirt would be super awesome with some pockets and better belt loops. I like the rayon fabric, but I told you in the original post that it was a little "limp", so I had to reinforce it with some fusible interfacing. It would do well with a light-weight twill fabric if solid colors are going to be done. I really love this gray hue of the skirt I have, and I've actually used a bunch of different fabrics for the belt, and it changes the personality of the outfit entirely! Might also be a good marketing opportunity...offering three different belts, so it's like getting three skirts for the price of one. ;)

I've chosen two other fabrics for the samples I started. One is a golden/yellow Asian-looking silk brocade with very soft small blue flowers. The other one is a similar type of fabric but is red with small yellow bamboo in it. They're like the fabrics typically used in the Chinese qipao (chi'pao) or Mandarin gowns. My two fabrics are similar to these two:

A yellow fabric or a light blue would be especially nice for a spring line, and Shabby Apple has some unique looks and some fun, bold prints. I think these brocades with the fun skirt design and sash would be the perfect blend of classy meets sassy. Or East meets West. ;)

Here's the story of how I designed my own paper bag skirt:

I've been adoring paper bag skirts for quite some time, but it seems like they're always too short for me. I know I'm not matronly yet or anything, but I'm a modest gal, and I have three kids, so the short skirt thing isn't really happening. Then I saw this lovely one by Nina Ricci for Nieman Marcus.

(Neiman Marcus)

 And just less than $1200! Ha!

But the length was right, style was adorable, and I had an old skirt in mind to work with. I had purchased it during my first pregnancy at the DI in Utah (like Goodwill) as kind of a maternity skirt since it was a couple sizes too big for me, and it was winter, so the length was appropriate. I'm sure I paid no more than $4 for it, and it was Banana Republic, so the fabric and quality were great.

I wanted to try a shirt, too, so I snagged one at Ross for $6 with hideous arms but some workable details on the front (as a flat-chested girl, fluffy fronts are my friends). I had all three kids with me, and it was the last store after 3 hours of shopping, so I didn't bother trying it on and just grabbed a small.

(( WARNING:  Dead sexy picture ahead  ))

Funny side story. Two of my sisters-in-law were staying with us when I started this project. I bought the shirt on Saturday while they were at the beach, and on Sunday I tried it on and was going to pretend I was going to wear it to church. I walked out of my bedroom and asked my one sil to take a picture of me, and she busted up laughing!  I'm glad she at least knows me really well after 10 years and has faith that I'd never go out in public like this! Thanks again, Erin, for helping me take hopefully the saddest picture of me to ever be on the internet.

Okay, back to the shirt. I'm really closer to an XS, but they only had smalls. AND it turns out their small is really closer to a medium. So this shirt was just a disaster for me. I put it off for two weeks and then finally tackled it yesterday!

We'll start with the skirt, and I may have to save the shirt for a separate post as this one is already getting a bit lengthy.

Originally, I thought I could just hike the skirt up and tie a cute sash around it and be done. but then the bottom was still too poofy, and the paper bag skirt were all slightly tapered. And even though it was two sizes too big, it still wasn't enough fabric at the top to make it really ruffley. Hmmmm. Aha! I'll just wear the skirt upside down! Yes, I'm slightly insane. Yes, every once in awhile it works to my advantage.

I had to unpick and remove the zipper and then sewed it back up just right along that same seam, but that was easy enough to figure out by just following their original lines.

So now I had the floofy top and tapered bottom, but my fabric was a bit floppy. I wanted it to stand up nicely at the top, and instead it was just kind of hanging over my make-shift belt. So I added some iron-on fusible interfacing just to the top few inches to stiffen it up. This was already part of my fabric stash. I have no idea where I got it or how much it typically costs. Bad blogger, I know. Honestly, you're lucky I even know what it's called! ;)

Hello there, ugly ironing board.
 Since the skirt was originally too big and was hanging down on my hips, when I hiked it up to my waist, I really didn't have that much to cut off. This was slightly disappointing as I had planned to use some of the excess to make the belt loops. I had to get creative and only used the very small 1" strip that I cut off. This is where my phone died, and I didn't take anymore pictures for the day because I was too lazy to go find the power cord. This is what happens when I'm creating something for the first time. Don't worry! There will be more of these!! And I'll do an awesome tutorial and perhaps a pattern. If you're really nice. I do this for free, you know...

But I slapped on a few belt loops, cut out a piece of fabric for the sash (or maybe 4 or 5 of them for different colors when I feel like it). And I also changed the bottom hemline to go up slightly in the front center as with the Nina Ricci skirt.

Not bad for a $10 outfit and my first revamp!


Thanks to Shabby Apple Dresses for hosting this great contest. Even if my design isn't chosen, I hope they'll take me up on my suggestion for more skirts and something using those great fabrics.


  1. You are soooo clever! I love that revamp! What a stylish outfit! Love it! X

  2. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Go here to see my post, where you are listed! Love your blog and have been following (stalking) you for a while!! I was stationed in Hawaii and worked at Tripler as a nurse so could really relate to where you were at. I was also a "military dependent" so get that side of things too!


I LOVE your comments! They're the reason I blog. If you've used one of my tutorials or found them helpful, I'd also love to see pics! You can post them on my FB page or send an email: attemptingaloha @ gmail . com