When I started to sew I wanted to be able to make my own designs. As I found out later, that means being able to draft sewing patterns. Skirts are easy to draft so this is good place for a beginner to start.
This will be a series of tutorials that will show you how to:-
- Draft your skirt pattern
- Cut your fabric
- Sew the skirt
- Sew a professional back centred-zip
- Line the skirt
- A long, straight ruler or yard/metre stick
- A square (a piece of card will do). Funnily enough, “set squares” are actually triangular rulers.
- A French Curve or Hip Curve
(Note: the above three items can be replace with a Shoben Fashion Curve or a Dressmaker’s French Curve)
- A calculator
- Large sheets of paper (you can use newspaper or greaseproof paper)
- Pens and pencils
1/2 = 0.5
1/4 = 0.25
1/8 = 0.125
1/16 = 0.0625
1/3 = 0.33333…
1/6 = 0.16666…7
- Waist plus ease
- Hips plus ease
- Waist to hip length
- Skirt length
- Dart = ((Hips+ease)-(Waist+ease))/14
- At the top of sheet of paper, about 10cm (4″) down and 2cm (3/4″) in, mark A. Square down the skirt length and mark D.
- Square across your “Front Hips” measurement (the eighth column) and mark B.
- Square down the skirt length and mark C. Square back to D.
- Measure down from B your waist-hip side-back measurement and mark E. Square across to the A-D line and mark F.
- Up from F, measure your front waist-hip measurement and mark I.
- From A measure across on the A-B line 1/4 (waist + ease) + 1 dart width. For me, this is 15.25cm + 2cm = 17.25cm. Mark this point G.
- Square up 1.2cm (1/2″) from G and mark H. Connect I and H straight. Divide this line in three. Square down from the third-mark nearest H by about 1/2 of your waist-hip side/back measurement (here, 10cm).
- On this line, make a dart. For me I measure out 1cm each side of the line giving a 2cm dart. Draw the dart. In the illustration I have curved this dart. It’s best NOT to do this because you need the fabric to allow room for your tummy.
- UPDATE: I’m not sure if I’ve included this step (I can’t find it). Connect H to E, curving out 0.5cm at the mid-point to give tummy-room. Even if you don’t have much of a tummy, this room is good for the high hip area (the pelvis). If you don’t curve out, your skirt will ride up.
- Now we will give the skirt a bit of flair. This gives an A-line, and saves your putting a vent in the back. From C on the D-C line, measure out 1/4 D-C. Mark X (I haven’t). Measure E-C and make a line from E to X the length of E-C Mark X2. Connect X2 to C with a smooth curve, making X2 a right angle so that it will be a smooth line with the side seam on the back skirt.
- Add seam allowances down the side seam. 1.5cm is usual, 1cm may be preferred if you are sure of the fit, or you can use 2-2.5cm seam allowances for your toile.
- Add 3-5cm for a hem allowance along the bottom of the skirt. When you sew, you will have to ease the bottom edge in a bit because it is bigger than the inside of the skirt.
- Cut a generous seam allowance along the waistline edge because we are going to blend the line and make sure that it is a smooth curve.
- Cut out your pattern. Fold the dart. Draw the waistline as a smooth curve. Now unfold the dart and add 1-1.5cm seam allowance along the waistline seam. Draw a notch at point E on the side seam for the zip and for matching when sewing.
- Start at the right-hand edge of the paper this time, 10cm down and 3cm in. Mark A.
- Draw across, the length of your “Back Hips” measurement and mark B.
- Square down from A your side/back waist-hips measurement and mark C.
- Square across from C, the length of AB. Mark D. Square up to B.
- Down from B mark your side/back waist-hips measurement and mark E. Square across to the AC line and mark F.
- On line AB measure from A your Quarter-waist + 2 darts measurement. Mark G.
- Square up 1.2cm from G and mark H. Connect A-H straight.
- Divide AH into three. Each of the marks along the line will be a dart so square down from each of them.
- The one nearest the CB will be 3/4 your side/back waist-hips measurement.
- The other one will be 2cm shorter and L.
- Make each dart your dart width as you did for your front dart, and draw the dart shapes. I like mine to curve out from their centre-lines so that they fit the shape of the back better.
- Connect H to E, curving out 0.5cm at the mid-point of the line. This adds ease for the tummy area. If you don’t add this your skirt will ride up.
- A-line the hem as for the front.
- Add seam and hem allowances, and notches at the line E-F for matching and for zip placement. Leave a extra paper at the waistline because you have to fold out the paper darts and smooth out the waistline curve. Otherwise you may have a pointy waistline. (Same as for front.) Then add seam allowances, and mark the darts clearly as in the illustration or as you best see fit.
You may like to have a waistband for fitting. Just cut a rectangle of fabric to your waist measurement + 2.5cm (for overlap), and 5cm deep (it will be folded over). Then add seam allowances all the way around. It is a good idea to interface this even on your toile to eliminate non-fitting-related folds and wrinkles.
- Sew the darts.
- Sew the CB seam from the bottom and stop at the notch.
- Using a longer stitch (3-5mm), baste the rest of the way up (this is much easier by machine).
- Insert zip be centred or lapped method.
- Sew side seams.
- Make waist-band and attach to waist-line. Add a buttonhole to one end and a button to the underlap.
Once you have made and fitted your toile and transferred any changes to your pattern, you can adapt it to almost any style you can imagine. But I’ll end this post because it’s getting a bit long and will take ages to load.
P.S. If you make your skirt to these instructions and blog about it, please send me a link or put one below because I’d love to see it! : )