Upcycling Myself an Insulated Skirt

DSC_0116While I’ve heard of insulated skirts, I have never actually seen one in person.  It doesn’t SOUND like a practical piece of gear, but I’ve come to believe that warm hind quarters and haunches are of the utmost importance.  Being a girl born of the wild and wooly north, I’ve had my fair share of frigid forays into the unwelcoming winter, always resulting in the familiar sting of frozen thighs.  The remedy?  A cozy insulted skirt.  Yes, long johns would work as well, but they are a pain to get under my jeans and a complete wardrobe change must be had when my destination has been reached.  An insulated skirt would be a perfect quick change for all sorts of activities…think skating, cross-country skiing, commutes to work.  Let your imagination take your warm buns where it will.

After convincing myself that I MUST procure this indefectable wonder of warmth, one small detail remained.  Where to get my hands on a reasonably priced insulated skirt.  I could order one off of the internet, but which to choose? How to compare? How to fit it? And how to afford it?  I decided that I would make one.  I could knit one up or maybe sew one from fleece.  Both good ideas, but I wanted water and wind resistance too.  I wasn’t prepared to devote too much time and effort, so I decided to upcycle an old piece…repurpose a neglected vest.  I could have used a jacket or some old snowpants, but this vest suited me perfectly and it matches my jeans to boot.

Here is how I did it and how you can do it too!

1) After you pick your piece, decide how long you’d like it.  I had to remove some pockets because they fell smack dab in the middle of my project.  Be brave and cut.  DSC_0099

2) Measure your waist as well as where the waist will be on your skirt.  Find the difference between the two.  This will be how much you will need to “tuck” into your waist darts.  My skirt was 42″ and I wanted a finished waist of 32″ (make it roomy to fit layers under it).  I had to reduce by 10″.DSC_0102

3) I made four new tucks as well as tucking the existing side seams.  Each tuck reduced the waist by 2″ and each side seam by 1″.  I pinned the material so the layers of insulation wouldn’t shift and then I sewed, doubling back the stitching at both the beginning and the ends.  Tucks must be made to both the lining AND the face fabric.  I made all of the reductions from the side seams and back of the waist, leaving the front of the waist flat.  This makes for a more flattering front AND provides shaping for your backside.DSC_0103

4) After trying on for fit, I ran a line of stitching all along the top to hold all of the layers of fabric together.

5) With the remaining fabric from the vest, I cut strips (I had to use three) to make bias binding.  DSC_0106

6) Sew the bias tape onto the waist to hide all of the rough edges.  Make sure to wrap the tape over the top of the zipper so the zipper slider can’t fall off.DSC_0108

7) Enjoy your new skirt!DSC_0112

Time invested: 2 hours

Money invested: $0

Warmth achieved: pure toasty-ness





16 responses to this post.

  1. Ian just started wearing insulated shorts over his wool pants on our winter adventures… It’s amazing what a little bit of bum insulation can do!


  2. Posted by MorticiA on January 20, 2014 at 11:01 PM



  3. Posted by Merrily Lowry on January 21, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Simply common sense mixed with ingenuity creates practicality ! An Alaskan virtue that can be carried with you wherever you go.


  4. Posted by erin on January 21, 2014 at 12:52 PM



  5. Posted by sean on January 24, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Great stuff!


  6. I have a long, down, Skoop Skirt. It is amazing!!! Love it. I’ve been looking at getting a shorter one but after seeing your idea, I think I may try making one. :o) Great Job! it looks great!!!


  7. […] out this DIY upcycled insulated skirt made from a vest. It’s awesome and genius. I have to admit I don’t have the patience or skills to pull off […]


  8. […] a lot – at least not that I could find on either up cycling or making one from scratch- but this post from backcountrywiththekids was all I needed to convince myself that this project was do-able. I threw the vest into the washer […]


  9. Posted by Love the upcycle on December 3, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    I love your insulated skirt! It`s definitely and upgrade from what i call my `but warmer`. Mine is a simple knee lenth skirt mane from a think recycled fleece. I wear it all the time..Indoors, outdoors, on top of pants, legging or long johns…Version 2.0 coming as soon as i find a vest or jacket at the thrift store…down sound nice too! Thanks!


  10. Thank you so much for posting this. it really helped me in making my own upcycled down skirt for running:). I hadn’t thought of doing the darts and biased tape.


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