I recently treated myself to a dressmakers mannequin - looks cool in the house and makes itself useful! So for my first project using the mannequin, I decided on a simple skirt. I saw someone wearing a maxi skirt and thought I'd have a go at making one. People have a habit of dropping fabric and wool off at our house, so I don't know where this fabric came from , but it's quite pretty!
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Step 1: You Will Need...
- A length of pretty fabric about 2 metres by 1.5 metres would do, depending on what size skirt you're making. Cotton would be fine or a cotton/poly mix.
- a zip from between 6 and 8 inches long
- a needle & thread
- sewing machine (not essential)
- iron and ironing board
- dressmakers mannequin (not essential)
Step 2: Make a Start...
I decided not to bother using a pattern for this skirt, because I thought it would be quite simple. So using my mannequin, I pinned the long length of fabric in pleats around the waist (you can easily do this on yourself without using a mannequin). Have a look at the picture to see what I mean.
I just measured the pleats by eye, but if you want to measure, I'd say each is about 2 inches wide with about half an inch in between each one. I pinned all the way around - with all the pleats roughly the same.
Step 3: Sew Down the Pleats at the Waist.
Take the skirt off the mannequin (or yourself) and lay it down somewhere flat. You will need to measure what size to make the waist. Again, here instead of measuring with a tape, I just put the skirt around me and marked with a pin where I needed to put the zip at the back.
So you will need to sew all around the waist of the skirt - I tacked (basted) mine with a running stitch (red thread).
Then sew up the back of the skirt. So your skirt should have just 1 seam - all the way up the back. Press this seam open, to make it lie flat and also press each pleat so you can see if they're straight (see image). It should already be starting to look like a skirt.
Step 4: Put in the Zip!
I wasn't sure how I was going to fasten the skirt, but then I found this excellent pink zip in my sewing box, and decided it was perfect. Putting in a zip seems like it should be difficult, but actually it's quite easy. You are really just letting it peep out from the middle of a seam (see image).
Make sure the zip is fastened when you pin it into place. Just the plastic part should show between the folds of the seam.
As you can see, it's sometimes easier to undo the zip to sew it into place. My mum's sewing machine has got a zipper-foot, but I couldn't find it, so I just sewed it by hand with a small running stitch.
Step 5: Make and Attach Your Waistband.
In real patterns, and most garments bought in shops, interfacing is used to make the waistband more sturdy, I didn't use any in this case, instead I made my waistband thicker with two layers of fabric (see image). I cut a long length of fabric (left over) and folded it in half. Then I folded a flap under each half (see image). So that finally I had a waistband, 2 inches thick. with no raw edges. Press it at each stage to keep the folds nice and true.
Again, if I were following a pattern, this would be a very different technique, but I thought this would be simple (and it was).
Tuck the waistband over the top of your skirt - covering the red stitching from earlier. It should cover the top of the skirt about 2 inches on each side. Pin it into place and then sew. You can do this by hand, but I used my mum's machine - just a regular stitch is fine.
Leave open the sections near the zip - these will have to be done separately.
Step 6: Finish the Zip Area and Waistband.
Fold the ends of your waistband under inside and out so that they sit neatly either side of the zip (see image). And stitch carefully to secure. I think this is best done by hand.
Step 7: Hem and Press.
Finally you will need to pin up the hem and sew it. This is where the mannequin came in very handy - if you don't have one, you really have to guess a lot more - but it's not too difficult. If you pin up where you want the front to fall, you can just measure it from the bottom of your fabric to the fold and then keep the same measurement all the way around. If it's a very long skirt like this, it doesn't matter how straight the hem is anyway - it won't be obvious!
So trim off any excess fabric and hem your skirt. You can fold and then fold again to get a nice finish and then press. Here I used mum's machine to sew the hem, but it can just as easily be done by hand.
Finally press the skirt and put it on!
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