Sunday, July 10, 2011

Recycling, Revamping, Renewing

I was clearing out my closet of old things I hadn't worn in a while, and looked at my broomstick skirts (which I love) with dismay. I hadn't worn them in ages either... by that reasoning, they should go too. But the main reason I hadn't worn them is because they're just too long for me. They don't drag the ground, I'm not that short, but they aren't flattering and I end up looking like I'm standing in a hole. So I thought I'd shorten them to knee length, the length of a skirt I have that I get compliments wearing.

Taking the oldest one first, a thrift store find so that if it didn't work out would not be a great tragedy, I put it on and stood with a yardstick at my side and noted the length determining that it needed to be 14 inches shorter (eep!). Then I ironed out the crinkle so I could get a reasonably flat surface to mark my cut line, marked from the hem up, and cut. Weeeeellll... 12 inches would have been better... not only did I have a seam allowance to adjust for, but most broomstick skirts are also circles, or nearly so, and a whole lot of weight sits at the hem. When all that comes off (over 5 yards in length), the fabric (in this case cotton voile) isn't pulled down so much. It's not a huge error, the skirt is still wearable, but when you're used to cargo shorts that reach your knees, having your knees exposed takes getting used to. The plus side to all that fabric coming off is that I have lots of scrap material to use to embellish a tank I dyed for something else, that turns out is a perfect match for one of the colors in the newly-shortened skirt. I already hemmed up a length of it for a scarf to tie my hair back, and I'm making little yo yo flowers to trim the neckline of the tank.

Flushed with my success, I went to my closet and took out 4 more skirts to shorten. Happily, 2 of them were tiered, so I just had to rip seams and re-hem. (Huzzah! not... it took me much longer to rip out all those stitches than it did to mark and cut. Ah well, at least I know the edges were reasonably straight.) I then did the other 2 voile skirts, trimming and hemming. Woo! 5 "new" skirts!

Top: the 3 voile skirts and their new elastic; Bottom: the 2 tiered skirts

One of the unfortunate realities of broomstick skirts is their tendency for the elastic to die, which means either replacing it, or relying on the drawstring to keep the thing up. The problem with the drawstring is that it never gathers the fabric evenly as elastic will do. So yesterday I decided I'd replace the elastic in the 3 voile skirts, and managed to do so without too much trouble, though the safety pin came undone a couple times, and I swore quite a bit, struggling with getting the elastic threaded into their casings. I finished 2 of them, started the 3rd, and discovered I'd lost all patience, setting it to the side to finish today.

I went online looking for tips for threading elastic, and most everyone mentioned the safety pins paper clips, which I'd used to varying degrees of success. I even tried using a diaper pin (won't come undone), but it was too big by just a fraction to fit nicely into the casing and I didn't want to tear the skirt up trying to force it through. What to do, what to do... I saw one suggestion for using a bodkin (which is designed for this), but that would have meant waiting for the store to open, and I wanted to finish now. Looking at a ball point pen on my desk, I thought if I could somehow attach the elastic to it, I could thread that through easily.

What I ended up doing (after removing the writing part of the pen) was to cut a slit with my X-Acto in the fat end (this particular pen is tapered a bit) about an inch long. Actually it was 2 slits, parallel (more or less), then the narrow ends cut, making a thin rectangular hole lengthwise at the base of the pen. I also "shaved" the edges of my hole with the X-Acto, removing any rough spots that could potentially snag on any threads in the casing. Then I used a small gold safety pin, attached my elastic, and hooked the "head" of the pin in the slit I'd made. That made the pin's closure sort of sink into the barrel of the pen, (hopefully) preventing it from opening up before I wanted it to.

It's not pretty, but it worked like a charm!

What a difference! The pen was lightweight, smooth plastic, easy to grasp, and zipped right through the casing, pulling the elastic behind it, and I was finished so quickly I was kicking myself for not coming up with the idea sooner.

Pulled right through, no snagging, very slick and smooth!