Pinup Girl Clothing “Jenny” Skirt Refashion

Pinup Girl Clothing “Jenny” Skirt in Orange Branch Border Print

A couple weeks ago I splurged. I bought the Orange Branch Border “Jenny” Skirt from Pinup Girl Clothing. I’d been seeing it all over Instagram and just loved the fun, summery print, and flattering shape.

I had to have it. It was out of stock.

I signed up to be notified when the skirt was available again, and about a week later there it was. So I bought the skirt.

When it arrived I rushed to try it on, dreaming of wearing it that weekend, but….well….it didn’t look on me like how it seemed to look on everyone else.

Ultimate sadness – without a petticoat
Ultimate sadness – even with the skirt flared out, I didn’t feel very svelte.

Why didn’t the skirt look good on me?

For one, I have a very boyish figure. I’m like a rectangle. You know that fashion rule that says that a full skirt will make your waist look tiny? Not on me. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite – slim dresses and pencil skirts make me look curvaceous, but full skirts make me look broad. Even with a petticoat, I do not benefit from the big-skirt-tiny-waist formula.

The second issue is that the Jenny skirts are made from long rectangular pieces gathered to the waistband. The fabric of this one is a rather thick cotton/spandex blend which becomes incredibly bulky when gathered up.

I had the choice to either return the skirt and have no pretty citrus summer skirt at all, or refashion it. So refashion it I did.

The challenge was to keep the skirt full at the hem while slimming the silhouette through the waist. The solution was to pleat the volume into the waistband, rather than gather it. The most slimming pleating method was to use large box pleats and press them just at the top. Luckily I had a Butterick skirt pattern from the late ’50s to use as a guide for pleating, so I just marked and pleated according to that, then re-attached the waistband.

Pleating the width into the waistband, according to this vintage Butterick skirt pattern.

I took about 24 inches of width out of the skirt (according to the vintage pattern), and ended up with a much slimmer line through my hips. The alteration was easy to do and now I have a skirt I’ll actually wear. The nicest thing is that now I can choose to wear a petticoat or not, and still feel good wearing this skirt. I don’t dress vintage every day, and I’m much more likely to not wear a petticoat. I like having the option.

Refashion success! Paired with a simple green t-shirt, and chunky 1940s shoes by BAIT

So if you happen to be shaped like a rectangle, like me, here are some tips on making up (or refashioning) full skirts to flatter your figure:

Circle skirts – these take the most yardage to create, but have the fullest hem and the slimmest waist.
Gored Skirts – the wide hem circumference is made up of multiple panels cut in wedge shapes. You get the effect of a circle skirt and slim waist, but with using less yardage to cut the skirt. Gored skirts can be made of any number of panels.
Rectangular Skirts – like my “Jenny” skirt here, this cutting layout is needed for border prints. It’s also the most economical for fabric yardage, but with a gathered waist edge, this style can be bulky. Instead, pleat the waist edge using large box pleats, double box pleats, or knife pleats, which fold all that width down into a slim line.


  • Jeannine

    July 3, 2015 at 11:03 PM

    I love the look of these pin-up girl skirts as well. I am a boyish rectangle as well. This is a great idea to make a skirt give better shape. I made a plaid gathered skirt for last Christmas. Wish I had know this then!

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 4, 2015 at 12:13 AM

      I made a gingham 1950s dresss with a gathered skirt some years ago now, and I remember at the time not understanding why it made me look so thick through the middle, even with a petticoat to fluff out the skirt. It really just comes down to proportions – body types like ours don't have big bust-waist-hip ratios, so we can either try to force our bodies into curvier shapes with corsetry, or play up our existing shape with flattering clothing silhouettes.

  • Sarah V

    July 4, 2015 at 12:15 AM

    Holy cow woman, you really know your stuff! I just missed you by a few hours in Yorktown and that made me sad. I was so looking forward to meeting you. I too was in costume but I was a lowly servant!

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 4, 2015 at 3:19 AM

      I guess it's kindof a page out of the historical book – we know that most skirts pre-1865-ish were huge rectangles too, and used a variety of methods to get all that fabric in the waist. I'm a huge cartridge-pleat-hater, so I always knife pleat. Even then that can be a lot of volume. Box pleats make it even slimmer (although not historically accurate for 18th c. and prior)

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 4, 2015 at 3:20 AM

      This skirt was definitely designed to be worn with a full petticoat. It has a very large hem circumference, and I did take some of that out with my re-fashion, but I can still put a petticoat with it and get that full effect, or just wear it as-is. Yay versatility 🙂

  • Madeline

    July 4, 2015 at 1:28 AM

    Lauren, you make me so happy. I have been using your 18th century petticoat tutorial to convert bulky gathered skirts to lovely pleated skirts; I love that I can put some pockets underneath. I will try some big box pleats now. Thank you for all the amazing sewing solutions.

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 4, 2015 at 3:21 AM

      Try it out and see which you like best. For 18th c. stuff, I always go with knife pleats. Box pleats aren't historically accurate for that period, but do come into play in the 19th century. For '50s skirts like this one, a box pleat will make an even slimmer looking wait than a lot of smaller knife pleats. Both methods are correct for '50s, and look great.

  • Alisa

    July 4, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    Cute remodel, but looking at the pictures it seems like the model was wearing petticoats and you weren't. This made your skirt clearly fit wrong. I'm just wondering…did you try it on as-was with petticoats? The extra fullness is usually what creates the illusion of a small waist.

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 4, 2015 at 5:28 AM

      Yup, she is wearing a petticoat, and in my example picture I wasn't. However, I did try it with petticoats and it still didn't help with making my waist look small. It's a problem I've had with plenty of other skirts made this way, petticoat or not, so it's most definitely me and not the skirt. I can still wear a petticoat under the re-pleated version, but I can also wear it without a petticoat.

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    July 4, 2015 at 7:25 AM

    Holy Moly, the difference is incredible. The gathered version was just Frumpmeister General. The new one is Not Yo Momma's Skirt. (except your Momma is pretty cool!) Great work, and happy happy Citrusy summery fun!

  • Little Mothball

    July 4, 2015 at 8:38 PM

    Thank you for this post! I have always struggled with finding flared skirts that actually look good on my similarly rectangular torso. Now I understand what will work for me. Thanks!

  • Rowenna

    July 6, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    I much prefer pleated skirts to gathered ones. I have a more hourglassish shape with a defined waist, but loads of gathers still make me look dumpy. Really dumpy. So for, say, vintage dresses that call for gathered skirts, I've started to pleat them instead. No one wants to spend tons of time sewing something and then look dumpy. Pleats FTW.

  • FashioningNostalgia

    July 6, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    OMG! We have the EXACT same body shape Lauren! I love 50s style but I usually shy away from full skirts as they make me look huge due to my lack of waist. I also have trouble when I make clothing, as my waist measurement is usually one or two dress sizes bigger than my hip/bust measurement. It's so annoying! I'm definitely going to take on board your tips for re-fashioning to suit our type of figure. Thanks 🙂

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 6, 2015 at 7:52 PM

      Yes! I look at the pattern envelope and it's like, "nope." Lol! Hrm…which do I adjust, the waist, or the bust? lol! This is why darts are our friends 😉

  • Anonymous

    July 7, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    So nice to see someone else dealing with the problems of being a rectangle. My sewing's not up to this yet, but I am bookmarking the post for future reference. Thanks!

  • Unknown

    November 5, 2018 at 2:55 PM


    This skirt is lovely! I would like to make a full border print skirt with pleats. When you said you took out 24", was that at the waist due to the pleating or did you have to reduce the entire skirt's fabric? Make sense?

    Thank you,

Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading