I’ve had this ice blue Burberry wool suit for ages. I pounced on it, magpie-like, in Streatham Oxfam and managed to get it for £17.99. I was so excited about this suit when I bought it that I didn’t really think too hard about what I was going to do with it, just that £17.99 seemed like a bargain, even though it didn’t fit AT ALL. The skirt’s too big. The jacket, well, the jacket is just wrong. Too big, huge shoulders, grubby hem, sleeves far too short. Those buttons though. The buttons are incredible – and there are three on each cuff!
Happily I have been able to give the skirt the attention it deserves, while the jacket is still waiting for some TLC. So that will have to come in Part 2 at a later date. The main reason for neglecting the jacket is that I didn’t notice (in the dimly-lit shop) that it has a rather large coffee (I assume) stain on the centre front. I have turned the contrast up on the photo below so you can see it – if you look really carefully at the photo above you can just about see it. So anyway, that’s on ice for a while while I decide what to do with it. Back to the skirt.
Let’s take a closer look at the skirt first. The label reveals it’s 95% wool, 5% polyamide and the lining is viscose.
There’s a Burberrys label on the lining at centre front! I have never seen this in a high street garment.
There’s also a label on the inside of the shell, presumably giving some information about who it was originally made for. It reads: Burberrys London – Name 16 M C97D – Order E 257070/06. If you can shed any light on what this means I’d love to know.
Note the large seam allowances.
Other features of the skirt include…
A fully lined vent!
Lining attached to zip tape by machine!
Waistband side seam and skirt side seam don’t match!!!!
Hem sewn by machine!
Anyway… I digress. The skirt was too big at the waist and too short for comfort. I tried it on and pinned out the excess, making a note of the amount to take off each side.
My plan was to take apart the waistband at the side seams, then take out the excess from the skirt side seams and the waistband side seam. I assume the waistband has side seams for this exact purpose – so it could be altered to fit the owner if they changed size – there are huge seam allowances all the way through the skirt which you’ll see below.
For those interested, here are some notes on the waistband construction.
Twill tape was stitched to the skirt seam allowance at the waist, presumably to prevent stretching.
Then, the outer waistband was stitched to the skirt, right sides together. Caught in the seam joining the waistband to the skirt is a strip of bias-cut canvas, a similar material to what I’ve seen in the front of men’s suit jackets.
Then, the lining was attached to the seam allowance of the inner waistband.
Then the waistband was folded over (putting the lining inside the skirt) and stitched to the seam allowance of the strip of canvas which is hanging out of the outer waistband seam, about 5mm lower than the outer seam. It’s not stitched in the ditch. The point of the canvas, as far as I can tell, is to strengthen the join between the lining and the waist seam, since that will come under strain (eg when sitting). It does have a small amount of vertical give (as it’s cut on the bias) so that would help too, I suppose. If you know better, please comment below.
Incidentally, the waistband contained fusible interfacing that looked very similar to my favourite type, rather a thick general purpose with a loose weave. Rather heartening!
In order to make my alterations, I had to open the side seams on the waistband and the skirt, cutting the twill tape and the canvas.
The seam allowances were 3cm and I took just over 3cm off (pencil line is new seam position).
I had to trim away some of the seam allowance – leaving 6cm+ on each side seemed excessive. Here’s the guts of it, partly reassembled. You can see that I just overlapped the canvas, rather than cut it away.
Oh yeah and my side seam matches, unlike Burberrys’. Just sayin’
I didn’t bother taking the lining in, just made a small tuck at the side and sewed it back down.
I unpicked the machine stitches holding the hem up. The skirt was hemmed 4.5cm from the bottom, so by folding back only the tiniest amount, I was able to gain about 3.75cm in length overall. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it made a huge difference.
I hand-basted my new hem in place and attacked it with a lot of steam.
The final step at that point was to catch stitch the hem up and remove the basting stitches.
All well and good, but I still felt like it was missing something. It’s been hanging in my wardrobe since last summer just waiting for that little something extra. It wasn’t until I saw Fiona’s incredible ice blue wool crepe dress with chiffon at the hem that I had a brain wave. I had been looking for a dress to add an organza section to for a while, in the style of this, this or these, but why wouldn’t this work with a skirt? This one was a perfect candidate. I even had some ice blue poly organza in stash that I’d been keeping for attempting something like this but never got round to. Fiona’s combo of crepe and chiffon made me do a facepalm – of course – boucle and organza would be a great combination. Such a shame that mine is almost the same colour – I guess we’ll have to avoid wearing them to the same events. I’ll have to call mine a ‘tribute’…
Anyway, cutting a strip of organza in the right length and width was fairly straightforward. There’s no hem, it’s just folded in half so both seam allowances are joined to the skirt. The seam allowance on the ends is on the inside (like a waistband).
My original plan was to attach the organza to the lining, that way it would move differently to the skirt shell.
To cut a long story short, it didn’t work. Turns out the vent wasn’t hanging straight (by rather a lot) and it just looked terrible from the back. So I undid it and just sewed it to the hem of the skirt quickly instead. What I *should* have done was unpick my nice neat catch stitching and joined the two together with a seam. What I actually did was some rather rudimentary topstitching. Thankfully the texture of the boucle hides most of it. At least it will be easy to get rid of if I change my mind.
I added a few invisible hand stitches around the top third of the vent to encourage it to hang straight. Unfortunately I didn’t get a ‘before’ picture but the gap at the bottom was about 2cm!
Here it is on. I’m really happy to *finally* be able to wear this after such a long time, albeit without the jacket, which will have to wait for another day.
I’m wearing it with the white shirt I remade, which you can read about here.