40 year old skirt to jacket

About 8 years ago, my grandmother gave me a lovely, hand embroidered skirt. She told me that it was a gift from her friend in New Delhi, Swaran, and the skirt was at least 40 years old. As beautiful as it was, I never actually wore it.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 01

The style was simply a straight waistband with a gathered rectangle for the skirt, and a side closure. The fabric was a basic navy cotton, but the stand out feature (obviously) is all that beautiful, hand embroidery.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 02

I feel like the embroidery itself has been done in silk; it is very soft but the fibres aren’t spun together, so the fly-aways do tend to make it look a bit hairy. Just for added sparkle, there are little circular mirrors scattered among the embroidery!

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 05

I couldn’t have this glorious piece of work hiding in my stash anymore, so I decided to up-cycle it. Before I ripped any seams, I went over the embroidery and tidied up all the hairy bits by threading them to the back. Some bits that were too short to work with got a very careful trim. Then I unpicked the hem, waistband, and the single side seam.

I decided on a very simple, Channel-style jacket. I couldn’t have darts eating into the beautiful embroidery. I already had the perfect pattern in my library; New Look 6496.

At the start of the year I learnt a very hard lesson about not making a toile (the Tully pants that I made from some gorgeous Pitt Trading linen were way too small!). I didn’t want to repeat that disaster, so I happily made a quick toile to test the fit. The only alteration I made was to split the single-pieced sleeve into a two-piece sleeve.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 06

Once happy with the fit, I carefully placed the front panels, paying close attention to where those little mirrors lay. To help the silk threads stay in place (and to add a bit of structure) I used iron-on interfacing on the back side of all the pieces.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 04

Even with the stabilisation, the cotton fabric seemed quite thin, so I hunted through my stash for something to use as a warm inter-lining. I found some merino wool that I bought from The Fabric Store a few years ago. I had previously attempted to make a mens t-shirt from it, and failed miserably. I’m so glad I kept this failure, because there was just enough to cut up and use inside this jacket.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 07

I simply hand basted the merino wool to the cotton, to act as one piece. I also tacked it together in a few central places in case the merino wanted to sag inside the jacket.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 08

In the spirit of using as much of the original fabric as possible, I had to do a bit off-cut piecing together. You can see on the right hand side facing where I had to sew two bits together. I’m really not fussed by it, and I honestly think a few quirky seams adds to the character of the jacket.

With the jacket shell sewn together, all I had left to do was draft a lining (because it’s not included in the pattern). I followed this amazing tutorial by Jen from Grainline Studios. If you ever need to draft a lining, follow this tutorial! It’s so simply explained! However, I worked off the one piece sleeve for the lining, I didn’t have the brain power to figure out how to do a two piece sleeve lining.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 13

Pattern drafted, I fully expected to have to purchase some lining to finish this jacket. I’m so glad I looked through my scraps first, because I found just enough left over from a dress I made about 4 years ago. Again, I had to piece together a section for one sleeve, but I managed to cut the rest whole.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 14

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 12

Instead of bagging out the lining, I sewed it straight to the facing. I was unsure about the correct finished measurements and felt that this gave me more control. I took my time and used hand sewing techniques (blind stitch) to finish the bottom hem and sleeve hems.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 10

Finally, she was finished! I’m thrilled with the end result, I feel like I’ve given this textile a brand new life, with many years of wear to come.

I’ll leave you with some pictures we took down Katoomba’s Street Art Walk.

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 15

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 16

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 19

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 20

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 18

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 21

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 23

MMM_Skirt to Jacket 24


  • Pattern brand/name/number: New Look 6496
  • Style, size: View “A”, size 14
  • Fabric:
    • Outer shell – Navy cotton skirt with silk hand embroidery
    • Inter-lining – Merino wool from The Fabric Store
    • Lining – High quality poly lining left over from a previous project
  • Notions: Black iron-on interfacing from Spotlight
  • Modifications/alterations:
    • Changed the one piece sleeve to a two piece sleeve for the shell
    • Drafted a lining pattern (with a single piece sleeve)

Mitty x

5 thoughts on “40 year old skirt to jacket

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