Updated: Jul 17
In order to draft a Skirt you will need to have taken your Clients Measurements and filled out the Skirt Measurements sheet. Keep in mind that you will already have some of these measurements taken earlier on the Bodice Measurements sheet, you can simply transpose these measurements from the Bodice Measurements sheet (they are marked with an *).
You will then need to fill out the calculations in column 2.
Then work out the Dart information in column 3.
It is a little tricky as you can’t really use a calculator as you are dealing with inches, but use your ruler to help and don’t worry about any stray 1/16”, round them down if this helps.
The calculations need to be read very carefully – if you need to confirm how the calculations are worked out use the Sample Measurements Sheet and work through that as an example.
The following draft information is taken from the Sample so that you can see what it would look like and you could practice using these figures to start with if you would like to.
Instructions for creating a Skirt for Stretch to fit fabrics is also included at the end of this Unit.
Drafting the Skirt Working Template
Unlike for the Bodice you don’t use a Base Template for the Skirt you go straight into drafting a Skirt Working Template.
The process other than that is really the same as before, draft the Working Template, True up the draft, create a cutting copy, create a Test Garment, fit the Test Garment, and make alterations on the draft. Then if you wish you can Preserve the Skirt Working Template.
At that point you will have a fitted Skirt Working Template. From that you can make your Flexible Patterns changing the style of skirt, and length etc. and add in your other design features such as further Darts, Closures, Pockets, Pleats, Gathers, and Splits etc.
A word about ease - The calculations in column 2 on the Measurements Sheet have taken care of the wearing ease initially as you can’t put in too much otherwise the Skirt would just fall down. It will become clear when creating a Test Garment if you have allowed enough ease for your garment, remember to get the Client to sit down in the Test Garment and walk to ensure it has enough wearing ease. Therefore initially it is recommended to create the Test Garment with around 1” for Seam Allowance to give you room to accommodate any alterations in fitting.
Given this information then it is usual to only have one Skirt Working Template.
You should really create a Skirt Working Template if you are making a Skirt as it is drawn slightly differently to an extended skirt off a Bodice and the Darts on the Front Draft are further around the body, i.e. less central.
To start with you need to create a frame to work in otherwise known as a ‘Block’.
On a clean sheet of paper draw 2 rectangles adjacent to each other. The first rectangle will be the Front Draft and the second will be the Back Draft and we are drafting half a Front and half a Back as usual. (If you have a client with an asymmetrical body you will need to discuss how you will progress this as you may need to draft a full Front and Back to meet their requirements).
The rectangles will be 20” in length, which is an approximate length from Waist to Knee to give you a starting point. Later you can reduce or extend the length as desired when drafting the Flexible Pattern. This measurement is your choice for now really.
The width of the rectangles are the widest part of the body which is usually the Lower Hip measurement so use your measurements off your measurements sheets. I am using 10 2/8” for the Front and 9 ½” for the Back off the Sample Measurements Sheet.
I am using measurements off the Sample Measurements Sheets for this instruction.
Take your time drawing the Frame out ensuring that you square off all of your lines. Also use your pencil to do this, I have drawn in red pen so that you can see the Frame clearly in the photos.
Label the Front and the Back.
Next draw in the lines for the Hip Bone Line and the Lower Hip Bone using the Depth measurements from the Waist, i.e. Hip Bone Depth and Lower Hip Bone Depth and label the lines. Draw them on the Front and the Back and ensure that your lines are squared off from the Waist.
Orientate yourself by labelling the Waist Line at the top and the Base Line at the bottom.
Mark the Centre Front and Centre Back. Mark the Sides for the Front and Back Drafts.
This Skirt Working Template will include a Waist Dart on both the Front and the Back Draft just as you did on the Bodice and you can decide if you wish to use them or not when you draft you Flexible Patterns.
Working on the Front Draft
Mark on the measurements from Centre Front for the Hip Bone Line and the Lower Hip Line.
Mark along the Waist for the Inside Waist Dart Leg it will be at the measurement worked out in Column 3 for the Front Dart Distance from Centre Front.
From this Mark measure out for the Front Waist Dart Width (from Column 3) to give the Outside Waist Dart Leg. (Upon checking this measurement on the Sample Sheet I realised that I had made a mistake during drafting as the correct measurement is 7/8” not 1 5/8”. The Back Dart therefore is 7/8” also therefore the length could be reduced down to 3 ½”. For the sake of time I did not redraft and photograph, but this does go to show – check your measurements!).
Calculate the Front Waist + the Front Waist Dart Width and mark this point on the Waist Line.
Now the position of the Waist Dart in Front may change after fitting. Depending on the size of the belly you may or may not like the position of this Dart. In Fact a larger belly does not look flattering at all with Front Waist Dart so you may even determine that it needs to be removed and you would simply not use it – you would shave off this amount from the Side and then redraw the Side Line.
Add in Waist Shaping, Mark a point 3/8” below the Waist on the Centre Front Line. Then using the curve connect this point to the end of the Waist that was just marked.
Ensure that the new line is squared off at Centre Front.
Here you can see how I have corrected the shaping at Centre Front to ensure that there is no peak going across the Front of the Skirt.
Connect the Dart Legs down to the new Waist Shaping, ensure that you square them down.
Mark the Centre Dart Point and draw a line squared off from here which will be the Centre Dart Line.
Measure from the Waist Shaping down for the Dart Length that you calculated in Column 3 of the Skirt Measurements Chart. Then draw in the Dart Legs to the Waist Shaping.
In this example the Dart width is wider than 1” so I am taking a larger Dart length to spread the Dart Bulk along, so I could use 4 ½”or even a little more in this case if I feel that I need it. Fitting will help assess this later, if the Dart length is not long enough you will see a slight bubble of fabric appear at the point of the Dart. Extending the length of the Dart will deal with that, and you can see the affect of it during fitting by pinning out the Dart further in length.
Draw in the curve for the Side from Waist Line to Hip Bone Line then from Hip Bone Line to Lower Hip Line.
You can see that I have also firmed up the Side Line and crossed out excess above the Waist Shaping and Side that will be removed.
Working on the Back Draft
As with the Bodice we are going to add in Back Shaping so that you can use it as an option to help with fitting later.
Measure in from Centre Back 3/8" along the Waist Line. And Measure down 3/8” for the Waist Shaping. Draw a line squared off from the Waist at the 3/8” marked point.
Measure the distance between the Hip Bone Line and the Lower Hip line and work out approximately 1/5th of the measurement. An easy way to do this is to work out the measurement in eights then divide this by 5, you want an approximate measurement.
Mark the 1/5th measurement down from the Hip Bone Line on the Centre Back line. Then connect this point with the end of the Waist Shaping that you drew above. This line will be drawn on a diagonal.
The Back Dart is going to be placed approximately centrally on the Back Waist. I say approximately because if the division creates sixteenths I will not divide down to this level, I will stick to eighths and just make sure the Dart is central and that the Waist measures the correct length taking into account that there is Dart Bulk and Back Shaping.
Measure out half of the Waist measurement from the Back Shaping at Centre Back and mark this point. Then mark a point for the Back Waist Dart Width. Then mark out the other half of the Waist measurement.
In my example here I have a total of 6 3/8” for the Waist measurement so used 3 1/8” on one side and 3 2/8” on the other side, I think this is close enough. You can play around with the position of the Waist Darts during your fitting and get the best look aesthetically so it does not need to be an exact science.
Add in the Waist Shaping as you did for the Front Draft. Measure down 3/8” on the Back Shaping and ensure you square off this line for ½” or so and then continue the curve up to the end of the Waist Line.
Draw in the Centre Dart Line and mark down the Dart length from the Waist Shaping line.
In this example I am going to stay with 4 ½” as the Back Dart is still a large Dart.
Draw the Dart Legs squared down to the Waist Shaping and then draw in the Dart Legs to the new Dart Point. (As detailed above there is an error with the width of this drafted dart it should be 7/8" and there the length of the Dart could be reduced down to 3 1/2". But you use your own calculated measurement.)
Measure the Hip Bone Line from the Back Shaping and if the Waist Dart takes up some of the measurement ensure that you account for that and don’t include it in the Hip Bone Line measurement. Also check the Lower Hip Line measurement.
Draw in the Side outline from Waist to Hip Bone Line then from Hip Bone Line to Lower Hip Line.
I have also brought the mark out on the Hip Bone Line by 1/8” to accommodate the space taken up by the Dart on the Hip Bone Line this corrects the shape slightly.
In this example you can see that because of the large Waist Dart that the Side Shaping is difficult to draw in as a smooth line it has quite an angle to it on the Hip Bone Line and it is tempting to redraw the line to connect up the Waist to the Lower Hip Line to get a smoother line.
You really have 2 choices here you can redraw the Side Line and guess its position, like the position here drafted in pencil. which takes the Hip Bone Line out by another 3/4".
Or you could leave as it is for now and not add in this excess fabric at the Hib Bone Line that may need to be removed during fitting.
Its really your choice so you decide if you find you have this issue. Personally I do think that it is easier to pinch out excess fabric during a fitting rather than adding on extra seam allowance just in case and then opening seams up and drawing in a new seam line to give extra fabric. I know this does mean a little guess work with the Side Line position but you are adding not taking away in this instance.
I can tell you that during fitting in this instance I actually ended up reducing the Lower Hip Line measurement by around 1/4" which meant that I actually needed to only increase the Hip Bone Line by 1/2" and those two alterations smoothed out the Side Line on the draft quite nicely.
You can then cut apart the Front from the Back Draft.
Then True up the Darts for the Front and the Back Draft. I place the Dart Bulk facing out to the Side to reduce the fabric bulk on the belly as much as possible.
True up the Sides the best you can. Ideally you want the Front and the Back to have a similar shape and exact length to make it easier to sew.
Place the Back Draft over the top of the Front Draft and trace off the line to get a good shape match and ensure the lengths are the same and that the Guidelines for Hip Bone and Lower Hip match up.
If you did have an angled side on Front or Back Draft then it will be difficult to match out the shape, check the length or match the Guidelines so either leave truing until after the fitting and then you will be able to true up the Side Lines or better still smooth out the Side Line and then check it all in fitting.
Add on the Notches. Here is the Front Draft.
Here is the Back Draft.
Notches have been place on either side of the Hip Bone Line and the Lower Hip Line, on the Dart Legs and on the end of the Back Shaping. Awl points are placed on the Dart Points.
Add on the Grainlines parallel to the Centre Front as a usual option although of course you could use a cross grain or a bias grain if you prefer.
Ensure that both Front and the Back Drafts are labelled as the Skirt Working Template and also remember to add the rest of the Client Details to keep track of it.
You do not need to cut out the Front and Back Draft at this point as they are your Master Skirt Working Template Drafts. Remember during fitting you may need to make alterations to this Master copy so may need extra paper to draft on to if you need to let any area out.
Here is a photo of the Skirt Test Garment for the Working Template where the Front has been cut on the Fold down the Centre Front and the Back has had 2 pieces cut, all pieces have been wax traced and then machine thread traced as usual.
The Darts are stitched then the side seams and the Centre Back seam is stitched up to the Lower Hip Line to allow access into the skirt for the fitting, it will be pinned the rest of the way during the fitting.
Once the fitting had been completed and any alterations dealt with in the usual way then it makes sense to preserve the Skirt Working Template as it will be used as the basis for making the other skirt designs for the Flexible Patterns.
Refer to the following Units to assist with Truing, Test Garment Creation, Fitting and Alterations and Draft Preserving.
Here is the Skirt Working Template Front and the Back Draft preserved on card to use to create Flexible Patterns.
Drafting a Skirt for Stretch to Fit Fabrics
The Stretch to fit Skirt Working Template has negative ease just like the Stretch to fit Bodice Working Template has as the garment fits the body by stretching over it.
To start to create the Draft copy off your Skirt Working Template, remember that this has at least ½” of ease already included.
You will not need the Dart so you will need to cross out the dart and shave off this amount off the Side at the Waist and blend the new Side Line down at least down to the Dart Point position.
In this example I have actually blended down further that the Low Hip Line as the new Side Line blends in nicely to this position, but note that I have taken around 1/8” off the Low Hip Line and a further amount was removed further up the Side.
Stretch fabric can stretch both horizontally and vertically so you can reduce the length of the skirt if you would like to, one way to do this is to raise the Lower Hip by an amount. I have raised the Lower Hip Line here by 1” to take out some of the length, you can either cut this or fold this out. Draw a Line above the Lower Hip Line then cut along it and tape this back down at the Lower Hip Line to raise it up.
After repositioning the Lower Hip Line you may need to redraw in the Side Line.
To reduce the width you will need to bring in the Side Line by ½” to ¾” it will really depend on the stretch in the fabric that you are using.
As I have already taken out quite a lot on the side I have just taken in ½”. You will need to make an assessment and then create a Test Garment to ensure that the fit is as desired.
The Back Draft will follow the same alterations as the Front Draft with the addition or removing the Back Shaping as you will need a straight Centre Back line so that you can cut the fabric on a fold.
The Back Shaping is shaved off the Side along with the Waist Dart.
Here is the Back Draft with the same alterations as the Front, the Lower Hip Line lifted and the side reduced by ½”.
You would then true up the Side, add Grainlines and Notches.
You would then create a Test Garment and preserve the draft if you would like to.
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