Skirting the issue

Whilst in London I bought some fabric from Stone Fabrics, intending it for shift dresses, but the more I looked at one of them the more it said ‘swingy skirt’.

IMG_1369I grabbed a pattern I had drafted and already made up in a plain navy. It has a diagonal yoke, only just visible with the print, despite the top stitching. The fit of this pattern is nice, because the ‘swing’ gets to be slightly asymmetric. The flare starts at a higher point on one side than the other.

Its also a quick pattern to construct, having no darts, an invisible zip, a top stitched hem, and a waist faced back with the lining.

Should you want to make a similar pattern, its fairly simple drafting. Start with either a skirt block or a straight skirt pattern which fits you. Trace it off without the seam and hem allowances, doubled so you have both the right and left, and it will look something like this quarter scale.

IMG_1461Yours might have two darts in place of one, but not important. If its got an integral kick pleat in the back seam slice that off and put the seam to the fold. Have it the right length for your finished piece.

Then you draw a line where you want your yoke to be on the front piece. That’s a judgement call, check out with the aid of a mirror where you think it will look best.


Walk the pattern side seams against each other so as to have the back yoke starting and finishing at exactly the same points on the side seam. Make sure you can see your centre front and centre back lines as these will be your straight grain.


Cut the yoke off and draw some vertical lines on the lower skirt pieces. Good idea to put a couple of balance marks on the yoke line, to make matching them up in fabric easier. Each place you draw a line you will be adding flare, by slashing and spreading the sections. You design the amount and placing of the flare to suit your idea of the finished skirt. I kept mine pretty even, a bit like this.


When you’re happy with the lower skirt flare, stick the pieces down on another piece of paper and draw a nice curve through the top edge and hem edge. You can do this free hand or use a flexible curve.

Then you close the darts in the top pieces. Probably, right now you’re screaming ‘What about this one, its point is above the yoke line’.

IMG_1466Almost always you can get away with simple redrawing the dart to finish at the yoke line, then bringing the dart legs together to close the dart.


The small amount of ‘lost’ fabric won’t affect the fit. Once this is done, you draw the curves using the overlapped pattern as a guide. Each time you convert a series of points and straight lines to a curve, there is some loss or gain in the length, and its a good idea to ‘true’ your pattern before adding seam allowances. Walk the curves which get sewn together against one another, and correct any glitches. That’s all there is to it.

I made one of the bag patterns I’m working up to sell in leather.

IMG_1468 Here it is in both the Michael Miller cotton (claimed by daughter) and a soft nappa from GH Leathers. I’d link to them, as they are very prompt with orders, but their website is being reconstructed. I chose Ferrari red. Its not me strutting about humming ‘Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes- Benz’,  honest.IMG_1458

This took less than a third of a skin and a scrap of lining, a zip for the inner pocket and a magnetic fastening . Usual crappy hall mirror shot included to give an idea of its dimensions on a real person.

Some historical and geographical clarification. In my last 2 posts I showed some pictures of old buildings. It seems some people were confused about the location. I could have been clearer. They are in France, Europe, this country . I can understand the confusion, I’m an ex-pat, who buzzes back to London, England and blathers on about that too.  I live in the sticky out bit in the top left of France, known as Brittany, which was a separate country when he who became Henry V11 of England was locked up, or cloistered for his own safety in those  buildings. Which leads me to the second attempt at clarification. The room at Largoet where I believe he stayed was on the first floor. I think this, despite the fact that the English version of the leaflet handed out states that it was on the second floor. I think its just a naff translation of the French version of the leaflet. (Compte de Richemont = our Hen ). I have come across other versions of ‘which is Henry’s room’ so if anyone thinks I have this wrong, please let me know in comments.



About jay

I design and draft patterns
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8 Responses to Skirting the issue

  1. CherryPix says:

    What a great fabric find! makes a great skirt…and thanks for the ‘how to’ pattern info!


  2. FabricKate says:

    Lovely. Thank you for showing how you made your pattern. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about cutting or adapting patterns, and its always nice to hear about a new idea.


  3. Lovely to see your pattern drafting and I really love the red bag… will you be selling patterns as well as bags? I recently cut the hood off a leather jacket and I was hoping I could fashion a bag from this hood, given the right sort of pattern…


    • Pella says:

      I am going to sell patterns, I have a few almost ready. It seems to take forever to work up the instructions for making up, but I hope to get quicker. A bag sounds like a good use for the hood. I know several people who have successfully scoured charity shops for cast off leather garments and turned them into nice items.


  4. Gjeometry says:

    Lovely flared skirt and I really like the diagonal yoke.


  5. sewexhausted says:

    Very pretty skirt! Thanks for the visual on adapting a pattern. So nice to know you made something completely on your own from pattern to finish! That is talent! ~Laurie


  6. Shel says:

    Thanks for the drafting instructions. That swing skirt looks great.


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