Introduction: DIY TAILORED STRAIGHT SKIRT
In this instructables you will learn how to tailor your own custom made skirt.
It can be worn for work purposes but also for going out or for a casual look, depending on how you design it and on which fabric you choose.
For the purpose of this instructables, I will be using calicot (sample fabric) and I recommend you make a first sample before using your favourite fabric!
We will walk through the following steps:
Pattern making, grading and fitting
Haute Couture sewing and finishing
Do not skip any step, it is very important if you wish to have a polished, high quality piece.
This is not a quick project, plan enough time (days).
Construction/ Pattern Making :
- Rulers, incl. straight ruler, triangle, rounded ruler
- Paper, (normal light weight paper, silk paper or even baking paper)
- Paper scissors
- Pens of different colours (red, green, black, blue, i.e)
- Calicot or any other cotton/linen waste fabric (for samples)
- Viscose, or satin ( for lining)
- Iron (very important)
- Sewing machine
- Needle & Thread
- Paper scissors or cutting roller
- optional: cutting mat
- embroidery needles
- embroidery thread or thin yarn
- pearls, sequins..etc..
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Step 1: SKIRT FOUNDATION CONSTRUCTION
The construction will serve as a foundation for every skirt or dress you will make in the future.
If your skirt doesn't sit right this means your pattern needs revision. In order to revise your pattern you will have to correct and modify your construction.
If your skirt is too small or too big, you will have to grade your construction.
Store your construction somewhere safe, do not cut into it, etc. it will spare you a lot of time and trouble in the future.
Before we start, we will need the following measurements: Waist (°1), Full Hip (°2)
For this instructables I am using a standard french size 36: Waist = 64cm , Fulll Hip = 90cm
Grading: +/- 4cm, example:
for a size 38:
Waist = 68cm (64+4), Small Hip = 85cm (81+4), Full Hip = 94cm (90+4)
for a size 40:
Waist = 72cm (64+4+4), Small Hip = 89cm (81+4+4), Full Hip = 98cm (90+4+4)
Alternatively, you can use your own measurements or measurements from friends, family members etc...
II) Construction outline
Picture: diagram (1)
- Draw a horizontal line AB.
AB= 1/2 hip measurement + 1,5cm
AB= 90/2 + 1,5
AB = 45 + 1,5
AB = 46,5cm
this is the rough hem of the skirt
- Draw two perpendicular lines from point A and B. Such as AC=BD= 60cm
- Join C and D. this is the rough waistline
- Draw a parallel line 22cm below CD. Name the point EE'. this is the rough full hip line
- Draw a parallel line 9cm below CD. Name the points FF'. this is the rough small hip line.
- Place point G, such as: BG = 1/2 AB + 1cm = 46,5/2 + 1 = 24,25cm. this is the skirt front
AG = 1/2 AB - 1cm = 46,5/2 - 1 = 22,25cm. this is the skirt back.
-From G, draw GG'. GG' is parallel to the center front and the center back.
III) Side seam curves and dart positions
Picture: diagram (2)
We will start by calculating the excess cm on the waistline:
(Size 36:) 1/2 waist + 1cm = 32 + 1 = 33cm - CD = 46,5cm. 46,5 - 33 = 13,5cm.
We have an excess of 13,5cm which we will distribute into the darts and side seams.
total basic dart value (no matter the size!) = 8cm. 13,5-8 = 5,5cm
Now we can distribute the remaining 5,5cm onto the side seams: 5,5/2 = 2,75cm.
-Place point H and point I on either sides of G' at 2,75cm.
-Draw two identical curved lines a few mm above waistline to H' and I'. This is our side seam
Now we can trace the darts:
Front dart 1: value 2cm, length 9cm.
Place the middle of dart at 9.5cm from the center front and parallel to the center front.
Distribute the value equally on either side of the dart
Front dart 2: value 2cm, length 9cm.
Place the middle of the dart at the middle of I' and the middle of dart 1.
Distribute the value equally on either side of the dart.
Center back dart: value 1cm, length 22cm.
Place the dart 1cm from the center back line. Extend into a straight line down to point E.
Back dart: value 3cm, length 12-15cm
Place the middle of the back dart half-way between the center back dart and the curved side seam H'.
Distribute the value equally on either side of the back dart.
Final waist outline:
Close the darts (fold paper). Trace the new waist line.
Congrats! You have completed the construction of a straight skirt.
Pro-Tip: For optimal aesthetic, shift back dart at 0.5cm towards the side seam. Shift front darts at 1cm toward the side seam. Retrace new waist outline. picture: pro-tip
Step 2: Pattern Making
I) Skirt Foundation Pattern
- Grab a new piece of paper and transfer the pattern. Don't forget to transfer important lines such as the waist line, the small hip and the full hip. You can shorten or lengthen the hem as you like. My design has a shortened hem by 15cm.
- Add seam allowance (SA) as following: 1cm all over, 2cm for the hem.
- Mark the Straight of Grain (SG, or FDL on my picture).
- Mark the clippings in
- Name your pattern: ie. "Skirt foundation 1. Front (Back) Size 36. cut: x2 outer fabric. Collection Instructables 2020"
- Pin side seams of Front & Back. Close the darts. Place pattern onto new paper.
-Trace the outlines by hand. Then use a rounded ruler to retrace the line.
- Decide on how wide you want your belt (mine is 4cm wide).
- Add 1cm seam allowance all over.
- Trace Center Back (CB), Center Front (CF) and side seam lines.
- Mark the clippings.
- Name the pattern. ex: "Skirt Foundation Belt 1. CF fold. cut x2 outer fabric. Collection Instructables 2020"
pro-tip: you can also add 4cm to the CB, if you wish the belt to overlap and use extra buttons as closure.
My design uses eyelets and ribbons, thus no extra 4cm needed.
- Pin side seams of Front and Back at the hem.
- Trace the outlines. Decide on how wide you want your hem to be, mine is 4cm.
- Add 1cm SA all over except for bottom of the hem: 2cm and CF: fold.
-Mark clippings, name pattern.
Step 3: Step 3: Cutting, Pinning and Sewing Preparation
I) Simple cutting and pinning instructions:
- Iron fabric.
- Try to save as much fabric as possible when placing the patterns.
- Read carefully cutting instructions written on your pattern:
i.e if there is written: "cut x2 outer fabric" you will need two mirrored pieces of said pattern. If instructions reads: "CF fold", place the Center Front of the pattern at the edge of the folded fabric!
- Pin patterns onto fabric, do not use too many. Start by pinning the ends of the pattern.
- You can use fabric scissors, but a roller works more precisely!
-If you don't own a cutting mat, use a piece of cardboard in order not to cut into your furniture/table/floor!
VERY IMPORTANT: clip with fabric scissors into your marked clippings by approx 0.5cm! This will serve as sewing guidance later on!
These are the most important clippings to make: every dart middle and sides, seam allowance, waist, hip, side seam and other construction lines!
II) Sewing preparation:
Before removing the pattern from the fabric, you will need to mark with a bright coloured thread, where your dart ends, this technique is a typical haute couture method:
- Grab a needle and a long thread
- Pierce through the pattern and all the fabric layers.
- Slowly remove pattern and make knots so the thread doesn't slip out of the fabric!
Step 4: Sewing: Closing Darts, Inserting Zipper, Closing Main Seams.
Pro-Tip: Before sewing, always test the material. Make sure everything is threaded correctly, that you have matching thread colours, check the tension and the stitch length. The settings will vary depending on the machine, needle and thread quality, fabric..etc.. The rule of thumb for stitch length is 2.5
I) Closing darts
- Close the darts with pins. Sew along the lines as shown on the pictures. Make sure your pieces are mirrored as shown on picture!
pro-tip: sew a straight line a make a slight curve at the end of the dart!
- Remove the marker thread
- For Skirt front: fold and iron darts towards the side seam, for skirt back: fold and iron darts towards the CB.
II) Center Back Zipper
- Turn your skirt as such as the left side (the wrong side) is facing you and the right side is facing the table.
- Pin one side of the zipper onto the CB as shown on pictures. Sew at 0.5cm
- Repeat for the second side of the zipper.
- Stitch the CB of the skirt together and sew at 1cm.
- Split the SA, spray a bit of water and iron flat.
- Turn the Skirt foundation back to the right side
- Step over (with a smaller stitch size, i.e 1.8) the zipper on both sides, as close as possible to the teeth.
- Optional: Step onto the hem of the skirt.
III) Closing main seams
- Grab your Skirt Foundation Front pieces.
- Pin the CF together, and sew at 1cm.
- Split the SA, spray with a bit of water and iron flat.
- Place the Skirt Foundation Front on the Skirt Foundation Back, right side on right side (left side, or wrong side facing you).
- Pin and sew the side seams at 1cm.
- Split the SA, spray with water and iron flat.
Step 5: Milestone1 - First Fitting
Congrats! You made it to the first Milestone!
Make sure the Center Front, Center Back and Side Seams sit exactly in place.
If not, you might have to open the darts and redistribute the value.
If something is completely off, you will have to revise your construction. Make sure your calculations and tracings are right.
At this point you can also revise the length of your skirt if it is too long, you can cut off a few cm. But keep in mind we have 2cm SA at the hem!
Step 6: Sewing: Belt and Hem
I) Hem preparation
-Sew of the Hem at 1cm in
-Split SA, spray with water and iron flat.
-Grab your skirt, slip your hem onto the bottom of the skirt, right side on right side.
(Watch your CF, CB and Side Seam markers.)
-Sew once at 1cm and a 2nd time at 2cm.
-Iron the seam flat
-Step over the seam as close as possible with a smaller stitch size.
-Fold the hem towards the inside and iron flat once again.
- Lay both pieces on top of each other. Sew at 1cm from the outer side, leave the inner side open.
- Cut off a bit of the corners.
- Make small clippings into the SA.
- Turn over, make sure the corners are edgy.
- Grab your skirt and sew the belt onto the skirt. Watch your CF and Side Seam markers carefully.
- You want one wing of the belt open
- You want to insert what is left of the zipper and conceal it into the belt at the CB.
Step 7: Optional: Patch Pockets and Embellishments
Add embroidery and appliques to your design to make it more interesting.
On the video above, you can learn a simple fabric manipulation technique with ribbons!
II) Patch Pockets
This is a quick way to add pockets to any design. Ideally you would sew them onto your clothing before closing all seams. Nevertheless, it should still work at this point!
- Trace a pocket pattern, the shape and size doesn't matter, it is up to you! A good rule of thumb is to make it wide enough for a hand to fit.
- If you want a symmetrical pocket, draw only one side.
- Add the seam allowance (1-2cm)
- Mark the pattern and name it.
-Place and sew at 0.5cm the pockets onto the skirt at your preferred position.
Step 8: Finishing: Inserting a Lining
This is the most important step if you wish to have a high quality finished piece.
You can either construct it, or use your Skirt Foundation Front and Back patterns, for the sake of the length of this instructables, we will be using the latter. If you wish to learn how to properly construct a lining, send me a message.
I) Cutting and Sewing
- Iron your lining
- Fold it
- Close the darts of your Skirt Foundation Front and Back, and cut out once into fabric.
- Sew both pieces right on right
- Cut a strip of interfacing the length of your zipper
- Iron it into the middle of the back of the skirt (left side!!)
- Cut into the fabric in a straight line, ending in a V shape (approx 0.5 cm on each side)
II) Inserting the lining into your sample design
- Pull the lining onto the skirt, left side on left side.
- Fold and pin at the lining onto the zipper at 1cm
- Fold and pin the Belt over the lining at 1cm
- Fold and pin the Hem over the lining at 1cm.
- Sew everything by hand, using a blind stitch.
pro-tip: the lining should be loose and not pull on the outer fabric.
Step 9: Congrats!! We Made It!!
This was my first Instructable! Thank you very much for reading!
Please leave a comment to let me know if there's something you need clarified or what you wish to learn next time!
Runner Up in the