Upcycled Victorian, Granny/CottageWear Skirt from Thrifted Indian Festive Dress


Blog Contents:

Leggings and Pajamas:

Interchangeable Wear

Building a Shed

My First Shed

My 2nd Shed

Bring Us Back Eva

Throwdown Upcycle Challenge

The Before

The Process

The Final Look


Leggings and Pajamas: Interchangeable Wear

I have been on hiatus for almost 3 months from sewing, Upcycling & Refashioning, and style. Living in leggings and sweatshirts, and thickly layered pajamas, which confuses my husband because he thinks my leisure wear and sleepwear are pretty much interchangeable.

Ever since my oldest daughter moved away to college at the end of September, I had been working on outstanding projects around the house. And the projects necessitated comfortable clothing.

One thing that happens when wearing 'comfy clothes' for days, weeks and months on end, is that I grow soft, very soft.

Anything that doesn't keep my tootsies feeling like they are enveloped with warm marshmallows causes heightened nerve end flaring. Any non-stretchable waistband feels like a Victorian corset. A bra feels like barbed wire to the flesh.

Building a Shed

The first project that needed immediate attention when returning from delivering our daughter to her first dorm at the college in Southern California, was building a outdoor storage shed.

I had built one shed on my very, very own a year ago. 'Very, very on my own' means I drew the construction plans, did the measurements-yes! Algebra finally had some application for me-and building it all by myself. That shed was only 4x8 feet.

Why did I build it myself? Mostly because people (my parents and husband) said there would be no way I could do it--a thought which I really ruminated on, wondering why I couldn't do it. I like puzzles, I like out door work, I like physcial work--why not give it a try!

My First Shed

I wanted a Lean-To Shed minus the thing it leaned to! lol!

Since I am a nature conservationist, I look for ways to reclaim water in my garden, and the Lean-To style was a simple way to collect water.

the base

the sides

bracing the front

adding the roof

installing the back and side walls

installing the ship-lap front walls

installing the door trim

finished side

finished front

finished inside

And people said I could not do it!

Proved them all wrong.

Was is a difficult project? Yes! But doable. And I learned a ton. Completely work the bruises, splinters, and cracked fingers.

So if I could build this small shed, I had my sights on a larger one next.

My 2nd Shed

Why would I need a 2nd shed??

The first one above is a shed dedicated only to my gardening needs--all 32 sq. ft. plus vertical space.

I am a crazy garden lady. LOVE LOVE LOVE gardening. Stems (no pun intended) from my dedication to a plant-forward diet.

And would you believe, my 1st garden shed is full.

After the wonderful high school math experience with the first shed, I opted to buy a kit for my 2nd shed.

Oh, but why do I need a 2nd shed? This one is for my building tools, my nails, paint cans, pool toys, outdoor seating cushions and other outdoor and building related items.

But why do I need a 2nd shed after the 1st shed? Don't I have a garage?

Um, yeah. That's where my local costume rental business resides.

me and my costume warehouse/garage

Finally my storage needs would be complete with a 10x16 foot shed. It took me a month to build.

100% pure physical work and a ton of podcast listening--learned lots about wrongfully accused incarcerated individuals.

the beginning of my outdoor storage shed

and me installing the roof

I'll spare you the 'proud mama' pictures of the new shed because I momentarily forgot I am writing this blog about a skirt upcycle not an "Eva-the-Builder' episode...although you know i considered writing that kind of blog too!

I can share those pictures in the next blog. Also, I have to show you the reclaimed brick patio I built and the outdoor, covered Potting Bench I painstakingly created.

Bring Us Back Eva

Uh, how does this all tie into this blog about a thrifted Indian Festive Dress that is a child's size large??

This blog is about my return to Upcycling.

I must admit that living in those comfy clothes had me cemented in a habit of not caring really how I dressed or looked. You can see from the pictures how dirty and dusty all that work can be. It was tricky removing leisure-wear that became inextricably meshed with my skin.

So to help with the transition from blah into my former dream world, I decided to take the first Upcycle easy. Removing a skirt from a dress.

Throwdown Upcycle Challenge

My dear friend Leslie, who is a dedicated thrifter like myself, decided to buy me an inexpensive dress from the thrift store our friendship grew in--yeah, really. We just kept running into each other on the sales day and that's how our friendship developed.

Asking around, my Indian Friend Asha informed me that this dress is definitely Indian. An older girl's dress.

the $4.00 'Before' compliments of dear thrifting friend Leslie

I received this dress this last summer and I admit, I was stumped. Mainly because my mind and body were living in 98F days and the royally, navy blue jewel tones kept time warping my mind back to winter Victorian days.

I could not think of a summer look. And in the meantime I created brightly colored looks like this Neon one:

So I literally shelved Leslie's gift knowing I would get back to it. And back to it I did. All I needed to inspire me were yellow, amber colored leave, frosty mornings, wooly socks stuffed into fluffy slippers, and beginning my hibernation on the couch under a hill of mismatched blankets collected from all times of our lives and watching the Queen's Gambit.

Hmmm, what to make? Winter inspired me to Upcycle the Indian Dress into a Victorian, SteamPunk, Modern Day Vintage, Back Woods, CottageWear. Kinda like making a healthy smoothie, just toss in all that you want! Or here's another analogy--going to the buffet and taking a piece of each of those elements....that's what my salad would look like.

Detaching the skirt from the dress was the easy part--and this will be my shortest instructional ever. Figuring out the best way to style the skirt to achieve my buffet vision was the real challenge.


Now That I've Talked Your Ear off, I Think It's Time To


1st Step--Remove All Embellishments

  • 1.1 Pull off the sequined & beaded applique I can't believe it was glue-gunned on! Very unusual for textiles from India.

  • 1.2 Cut off metallic balls earrings later??!

  • 1.3. Save buttons and zipper

Indian/Pakistani Textiles are some of my favorite textiles to work with! In our thrift stores locally, they are incredibly cheap--from $0.99 to $14! And when you consider the different elements you can reap from the garment, you are getting other usual elements for cheaper than wholesale prices. Yes, the embellishments tend to be flashier with metallic threads and intricate bead and sequin work, but wow, if you make costumes, these textiles are a gold mine.

2nd Step--Remove Skirt from Bodice

  • 2.1 Use seam ripper to pick at the skirt seam. This skirt was easy to remove from the bodice. Once I got the little hole going, I tugged apart the edges and it came apart in seconds.

  • 2.2 Get idea how long to make skirt.

3rd Step--Size the Waist

  • 3.1 Size the waist. I was able to get the skirt over my rump which was great, so no zipper would be necessary! just elastic : )

  • 3.2 Determine elastic waistband length. I had about 5 inches extra. I could add the elastic so the ruching ended up in the back and keep the front waistband flat.

4th Step--Serge Raw Waistband Edge

  • 4.1 Install navy blue thread into serger.

  • 4.2 Serge along the waistline edge.

5th Step--Find Woven, Non-Roll Elastic

  • 5.1 Look into your big basket of crazy amounts of elastic.

  • 5.2 Find some woven, non-roll elastic. This kind of elastic is kind of like stays that are use in a corset. There's just tons of stays. This prevents the elastic from folding over on itself.

6th Step--Sew In Elastic

  • 6.1 Place elastic along edge of skirt waist.

  • 6.2 Fold skirt waist edge over elastic for sizing.

  • 6.3 Use clips to hold elastic tunnel down.

  • 6.4 Sew along edge of tube making there's plenty of gap for elastic to install easily.

  • 6.5 Insert elastic and sew the two edges together.


My Upcycle & Refashion Project is Finished!


Ready To See How I Styled It?

Ready To Go To My Make-Believe World?


So Happy With How My Buffet Outfit Turned Out!

(buffet outfits='s Victorian, Steam-Punk,

Vintage, Cottage/Granny Wear)

...Until My Next Upcycle!


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