Skirt pattern – DIY

So, I’m in London, I travelled on Saturday, the slooooow way, ferry, coach and number 11 bus.

Yesterday, I drafted a skirt pattern for my hostess, who is currently employed where the dress code is boring, in that ‘do I really want to spend any more of my hard earned salary on another black/grey/navy blur’ way.

Its going to be 8 gore (gore = panels in sewing speak) straight to somewhere near the hem, and kick out into a bit of a flare.

Here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Measure round hips at the widest point, and make a note of how far down, vertically, from the waist it is. My example in inches is 40 and 8. You can use cms instead of course, just don’t mix them.

Step 2. Add 2 inches to the hip measurement. In cms you’d add 5cms.

Step 3. Measure waist, add one inch to this measurement, or 2.5 cms. In my example it came out as 32 inches

Step 4. Measure the length from the waist to where you want the hem to hit. This is easiest to do on a skirt that’s already the right length. Mine came out at 23 inches.

Step 5. Draw a line the length you just measured, waist to hem. Write ‘fold’ on it. Mark a point on it the length of waist to hip, and draw a line at right angles to it. Its the hip line! Draw lines at right angles at the waist and hem, yes, waistline and hemline.

Step 6. Measure up from the hem edge to a point where you want your skirt to start flaring out. I picked 9 inches, which would be around 23 cms – fudge factor creeping in here. Draw a line at right angles here, call it flare line.

Step 7. Divide the waist plus one inch measurement by 16, mark that point along the top line. Isn’t it great how small waist divided by 16 looks? Then divide hip plus 2 inches by 16 and mark that point along the hip line. Draw a straight line between those two points.

Now comes the educated guess part. People are curved, straight lines don’t hack it.  People are also different. The usual thing is to curve a line about a quarter of an inch, 0.7cms out from the straight line you just drew between the waist measurement and the hip measurement. You can save yourself some fitting time though, if you take a look at where the bulges you want to accommodate are. The curve can shoot out from the waist a bit more sharply to make space for love handles and tummy rolls. Some people will have a high hip measurement , about 4 inches/10cms down from the waist, equal to the hip measurement taken round good old gluteus maximus. Its not unusual.

Step 8. Mark a point along the flare line equal to the measurement you made for 1/16th of hip plus 2 inches of ease. Join the hip point to this with a straight line.

A couple of things to note here. First, if you’ve got a thigh measurement greater than the hip measurement, this skirt is going to work better if you take the wider measurement plus 2 inches divided by 16 as the length of your flare line. Each gore will flare out a teeny bit, you’ll have thigh room, and the effect will still be a straight skirt. Second, if you want to go for the sexy secretary look, you can reduce the length of the flare line a bit and make the skirt hug in a bit. Keep the changes small though – everything you do is multiplied by 16.

Step 9. The flare. How much bigger to make the hem than the hip width? You can add as much or as little as you want here. Big thing to consider is – fabric. A lightweight silky crepe is going to fall prettily in ripply folds. That serviceable poly twill is going to stick out rigidly.

Don’t break into a sweat over it. If you’ve overdone the flare, lopping it off after fitting is easy. I’ve got each panel measuring just under 5 inches at the hem on the pattern, the fabric is in the boring twill to bung in the washing machine camp. I’ll let you know how it works out. Draw a line to the point you’ve chosen for hem width. Make the angle where the straight side of the panel kicks out into the flare into a gentle curve. You’ve almost done. This has taken about 3 times as long to type out as it did to draft. Add seam allowance on the side seam of the panel, waist seam, and hem. Don’t make hemming hard for yourself, keep to a small one and top stitch it, it does look ok on this style.

Cut a strip for the waistband the skirt waist measurement plus another 2 inches for overlap, and twice the width you want it to finish, plus seam allowances all round.

This is all I’m doing before making up. You will notice that a typical skirt pattern waist curves up slightly at the side seam, and similarly curves up slightly at the hem. If you want to be OCD about it, you can trace your finished panel, and on your tracing take the side seam up 3/8ths of an inch at waist and hem, and cut 4 of these and 4 of the plain ones. Or you can be lazy and just use the one pattern but snip the shape differently when cutting out 4 of these.

This pattern is great for using up those weird shaped scraps of fabric where you had to cut the front and back legs of trousers one under the other instead of side by side for example. You can get one gore out of the most odd looking pieces.

Sorry, pictureless. I have the camera, but this computer doesn’t have the software.






About jay

I design and draft patterns
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