Updated: Jul 16
Furtive Pocket Wrap Skirt
This Wrap Skirt concept although overtly simplistic can have many design options that take it from the baseline. I would think a simple Wrap Skirt is in every designers sewing box and most wardrobes in the western world!
Taking the Kimono idea into this garment the baseline shape is a rectangle at least as long as desired (plus Seam Allowances and Hem) and wide enough to get around the hips plus a full front width or less to allow for the wrapping overlap, the waist would have Darts to shape it or Gathers/Pleats added for volume.
Diversions from the baseline depends on lifestyle, accessibility and personal aesthetic, design and how it fits with a capsule wardrobe to name but a few.
The skirt can be any length, any amount of volume, with any number of seams added, a Wave Line can also be added into the Base and cut and rotated to create a change of angle and length (detailed below) and of course can be made in any fabric or print with any embellishments applique or embroidery added.
To bring some life to this variable form, here are a few ideas of what appearances it can take; as a basic short wrap skirt, with a little length or shaped opening (using the Wave Line idea), more volume with Pleats/Tucks and a hidden pocket in Front, a Waistband, Ties of any size, with a shaped Base (using the Wave Line idea).
I sure if you put your mind to it you can come up with your own variations on the design.
But even with this very simple idea for a skirt you should always make a Test Garment first (this is also a great idea with this garment so that you can try lots of different variables with the contours).
Some questions to ask yourself when thinking of the design and in no particular order are;
What are you going to wear it with?
Will it fit into current wardrobe or will you need to create another piece out of the collection?
Think Volume, will it have pleats?
How far does it need to wrap?
How will it fasten?
Shape, do you want a more interesting shape to the design if yes you can use a wave line (read on….)
It has a secret pocket what would you put in it?
On what days will you wear it? Day wear beach, leisure, dressy?
What fabric will you use?
How is it going to fasten poppers idea or buttons, elastic or just ties?
Taking it another step will it be reversible, simple one side pleated the other, facings could be incorporated?
Green Layout Shapes
The layout on the fabric will make or break the design of the Zero Waste challenge so lots of thought needs to be put into this. So you need to consider your design or you need to drape and play and come up with one.
Once you have the bones of the design you can seriously get started on the layout.
My logical brain in reaction to this is that we need some sort of control that can be recorded and mapped out. Something Flexible that allows for change and scalability, that can be used for any garment but simple to generate and utilize. So I have evolved a Green Layout Method. It is a rather simple idea which allows measurements to be used in a table that offers a top level view in order to assess how each piece fits with other pieces and how they all fit with your fabric width. It is works better with simple shapes.
This has led to a tabular form of documenting measurements. The Green Measurements denote variable measurements all of the other measurements are not variable in that they are static usually because of a required body measurement that cannot be allowed to change. All Green Measurements when changed will affect the design of the garment but also the amount of fabric used and thus the size required. With that in mind then you can alter any of the Green Measurements to make your shape fit a space be it the space of a body or the space of an available piece of fabric.
If we look at the most complex of the sketches for this Wrap Skirt, with lots of volume and shaping to see the layout required you will need the following shapes and measurements.
Main Skirt – A Rectangle
LENGTH = Wearing length of the Front, Plus one Waist Seam Allowance, Plus Hem Allowance.
WIDTH = Widest Hip Circumference (you can add design ease here but you should not need so much wearing ease as the skirt will open in the front as you sit and walk), Plus a Front Width of the Waist Circumference for the overlap (or less if you prefer it more open), Plus Pleat Allowance in the Back (I like odd numbers for pleats so 3 each side at 2” each = 6”), or one big Box Pleat in back might look interesting, Plus one Pleat in the Front Short Side = 2”, Plus the Pocket Pleat in the Front Long Side which is twice the finished width required for the Pocket (measure your hand diagonally and double it say 16” on a large hand) another way to determine this is the measurement from Front Princess to Princess Lines centrally to where the Pocket will be placed so around Hip Bone level which would take the fastening out to the Side Seam so reduce this if you don’t wish to go out so far, Plus a Seam Allowance for the Front Short Side, Plus a Facing Allowance for the Front Long Side so when the wind blows you don’t see the posterior side of the fabric, say around 4”.
A note about the Pleats - the difference between the Waist and Hip Circumference is all dart space. This dart space needs to be added to any pleat space in the table and should be shared amongst the pleats, how you assign the excess between the pleats is your choice. If you don’t do this then you risk the skirt width being too long. If you just want to use dart space and no pleats then you don’t need to add any extra pleat allowance into the table below, the pleats will end up being simple darts in this case and can be sewn as darts if preferred.
Waistband – A Rectangle
LENGTH – At least the Waist Circumference plus double Seam Allowance. If you are incorporating the Tie lengths into the Waistband then extend the Waistband you may get the Waistband and Ties out of the same piece and don’t forget your Seam Allowances. Unless you are making skinny Ties in which case they will be measured and cut separately. Ties do not have to be as wide as the Waistband they can be any width strong enough to use as a Tie and stitched into seams or on top of the skirt.
WIDTH – As desired the Waistband will sit above the Natural Waist. Double the finished width and add two times the Seam Allowance to be used.
Green Layout Measurement Table
Pencil in what you know and have decided on then adjust from there. This detail can be added to your Pattern Record Card.
For this Wrap Skirt there will be two pieces listed. You may have multiple panels or pattern pieces for the skirt or extra ties so you would expand on this concept and create your own table.
Here is a sample filled in for the draping on the half sized Body Form measurements are in red.
Now you have this top level view in the Total column you can more easily assess the picture.
Starting with the largest piece compare the Length/Width of the Skirt with the Width of the fabric and you will soon see whether you need to drape with or against the Grain and also if you need to alter any of the Green Adjustable Measurements just to get it to fit.
At the same time if you are using a Waistband, assess the Length of the Waistband with the Length/Width of the skirt and you will soon see how you can fit the shape onto the fabric.
Considering the layout…..
Making the draping for the mini body form is different from draping a full sized version I know, but to give you an example the fabric width I am working with is 45” so if I wanted to position the skirt across the width of the fabric I would have 7” left over (45” – 38”).
The Length of the calculated Waistband happens to be 26” so if I allowed it to be 28” as it is a flexible measurement I could half it and make a join and this could make the Waistband and the Ties. This means I have a 3” by 14” piece of fabric left over, I can either use this for something else (preferable if I don’t need it for now) or incorporate it in the design and have wider Pleats or a Facing on the Short Front Side or a wider Waistband.
In fact after draping the sample it turned out that I preferred a longer Tie so I would use a 2” strip of this to create 14” of extra length for the Waistband/Ties and shift the remaining 1” to the Skirt piece for Short Front Side Facing or use it as a binding for a different project.
Creating this Green Measurement Layout Table gives you a full visual view of all of the different elements and what is adjustable. When you make Zero Waste garments you have to think about lots of things at once so it helps to have a process and a way to write it all down. You get a top level view of what is going on which is a really good way to access your pieces. It’s a baseline to work from when you want to change up the design.
This is a guide to draping this piece, although feel free to deviate for your own design.
I mentioned a Wave Line earlier, and this is an interesting concept that has been expanded upon by a current Zero Waste ambassador Holly McQuillan. It shifts us along complexity from simple graphic block shapes to using curves. It is simply use of a curved style line which allows you to affect the silhouette of the skirt. It can be used on any shape to create different silhouettes for any garment. For a skirt we are talking about a basic tube shape.
When flat the tube is a rectangle. If you draw a Wave Line across the rectangle this will create a cut line. The line could be anywhere across the shape, it can meander across how you want it to and the wave depth can be any size. As you look at the modelling below imagine how it would look if you changed the wave, or get a piece of paper and have a play around with modelling this out.
The idea is to cut along the Wave Line and reattach it back on the base but not in the same place, you will rotate it.
It is easier to grasp this by looking at the tube. Once the rectangle is rolled and taped down as a tube the Wave piece can be stuck back on. Here the wave has been stuck back on with the open edges on the opposing side of the tube which can create a split of sorts which can be a little tricky to close but it is possible, imagine what would happen with the side view if you taped up this split. Using the Wave Line changes the tube from flat in the base to being longer in the Back and shorter in the Front and also tips the shorter side up a little.
If the Wave piece is flipped over vertically first before being attached then the deep edges can be closed more easily in the back, I think it would be an easier sew, see how this draws the back in.
What would happen if you drew a deeper wave?
Where else could you use this in the garment? What about down the length of the skirt to change the shape of the Front opening? Where could you use this in other garments? In a sleeve?
If you are going to use a Wave Line then mark the Wave Line onto the fabric, you can cut this now or leave it and decide later if experimenting. If you are going to use it cut it off and reposition pinning and stitching it in place.
Palpably the shape of the skirt will change depending on which way you draw the wave and how deep a curve you draw.
I have left this for now to concentrate on the rest of the skirt.
Fold over the Waist Seam allowance and press or pin it down.
The pleats in the table are slightly larger in total for the Front than the Back. Your measurements will be different. Work out the mid-point of the fabric and shift across by the number different inches for front and back and pin this at the Princess Line in Back opposite to the side that will be open in the Front, keep in mind that if the Skirt opens on the left that the left side of your fabric will have the Front pleat in. Otherwise work out a starting point for the draping based on your measurements. Once patterned out you can mark key orientation points with notches for Princess Lines and Side Seams.
Smooth out the Back and pin to secure the other Princess Line at the Waist.
If you have filled out the pleat information in the table then work out the total Pleat Allowance (including the Dart Space) and drape out the Pleats, keeping the Waistline level.
The Dart space in this sample is 4 ½” (17 ½” – 13”) divided across all seven Darts (six in Back and one in the Short Front Side). It is around 5/8” for each Dart, add this onto the table allocated amount.
Choose the direction of the Pleats.
Choose the position of the Pleats
But you need to use up the assigned space for the Pleats (unless you are still experimenting with volume).
If you have not used Pleats pin out the Darts.
Smooth and pin in at the Side Seam Line and pin out the Short Front Side Pleat and fold back the Facing or Seam Allowance for the Short Front Side.
Smooth and pin out the other side into the side and pin out the Pocket Pleat in the Long Front Side. Here you can see where a stitch line would be placed to close the top part of the pocket.
The inside of the Pocket, the Pocket Bag could be sewn like this on the inside Pleat.
Here you can see the end to the Pocket Opening marked with line and a pin.
If using the Waistband is added with Seam Allowances pressed and folded in half lengthwise.
And the Back
In the photos you can only see one Tie as excess Waistband. When draping here I decided that I preferred longer Ties so would alter the table details ready for the fashion fabric. So that excess I was talking about earlier would be used in part for the second tie which would be joined in the Short Front Side along the Side Seam Line on the outside of the fabric.
Just to show you at the end the Wave Line drawn onto this skirt was a very slight wave shape so when it was removed and refitting to the bottom this elongated the back and changed the drape very subtly in front and back but it adds a border of interest to the skirt in contrast to the previous photos.
Ensure you mark up the pleats and mark identifying positions such as the Side Seams, make any changes to the Green Layout Measurements Table and confirm the number of pieces you will need on the Pattern Record Card.
Next step would be to make a Test Garment to check everything. At its simplest form you contemplate sewing the draped pieces.
False Wrap Dress
False Wrap Dress – A loving curve wrapping asymmetrical option.
I have spoken quite often during the ThreadBox about considering body shape and my lean towards diagonal lines to break up the body. A wrap dress is the pinnacle of this as the diagonal lines do break up the body visually. However as we already have a wrap skirt in this little collection then we will create a false wrap dress in that it looks like a wrap dress that opens but it’s not. Of course you would always have the option of creating the dress as a wrapped dress if you prefer, it would make a lovely bath robe in this respect in a beautiful satin or silk fabric.
To limit the dress to as few pieces as possible whilst also creating the diagonal lines in the Front and Back really points to a very obvious design, wide straps wrapping around the body in top then filling in what remains in skirt pieces. The asymmetry comes from the diagonal lines and an option during Green pattern layout in that the Back has to lay opposite to the Front which makes the piece asymmetrical, unless you are happy to have the full back created on the reverse of the fabric to line up the diagonal with the Front skirt. But this only works only if the fabric is the same on both sides which is not always possible but something to consider during cutting.
This dress is a little trickier to create than the skirt, but gives a twist on the kimono shape looked at earlier. It has more pattern pieces and the bodice pieces wrap around more space on the body diagonally covering width and length. It will generally have to get around a bust. But it can still be created from rectangles in a roundabout way (see what I did there?).
So expanding on the idea of rectangles looked at so far, to get the diagonal lines we are creating different basic shapes that interlock.
It has to be made from Trapezium shapes, i.e. 4 straight sides with a pair of opposite sides that are parallel. Interestingly two Trapeziums that are the same size with the same angles can create a rectangle of any length or width.
I will warn you that if you over think it this dress can become very complicated so try to keep it simple for now.
Green Layout Shapes
Have a look at this general shape for the dress.
In simple terms in Front we have one piece for the Skirt and two pieces for the Bodice. So let’s give them names, Skirt Piece, Long Bodice Piece and Short Bodice Piece.
If we consider we have a Front and a Back then we are talking about 6 pieces. We know that we can pair up the pieces, two Skirt/two Long Bodice/two Short Pieces. As they are Trapezium shapes we know that we can join these pairs so that we are basically talking about 3 rectangles for the whole pattern. We know that we can easily join rectangles together if we know their dimensions so the layout on the fabric will be so much easier.
Drawing the rectangles roughly onto paper with a pattern on one side and cutting the Rectangles into Trapezium shapes they will look something like this, one big one for the skirt a long one and a smaller one.
Very basically laid out like this (imagine the large one gathered smaller down the diagonal line) you get the shape of the dress albeit very rough.
This would be the Front. The Back would have been cut with opposing pieces so if you turned the front pieces downwards so that you are looking at the posterior side of the fabric and laid the back pieces down, to follow the line of the skirt you would have the posterior side facing outwards, i.e. the wrong side of the fabric on the anterior side of the garment.
But not all fabrics are printed the same on both sides so if you want the pattern on the outside then the Back pieces have to be opposing to the Front pieces.
That’s the complex bit…..Now you have that piece of information under your belt we can move on.
Before we start, this dress will either need to be made out of a stretch knit fabric or made oversized if going for a woven fabric but it must have lots of drape to it such as a silk or organza. As usual it is recommended to create a Test Garment out of fabric similar to the fashion fabric.
Green Layout Measurements
We are going to use a Green Measurements Table to collect all the relevant information we need to calculate the size of the Rectangles.
Here is a blank table for your use, you can create your own if these labels don’t meet your requirements.
The Excess Allowed columns give you a place to write down any ease you have allowed or if you wish to make the dress oversized so that you can track excess outside of the fixed measurements to make adjustments easier for fitting pieces onto your fabric.
Decide where the skirt will start from in the Side at its highest point (either Side will do, it’s your design). To get the most amount of movement in the arm go high if you want a longer sleeve go lower but your fabric better be stretchy, somewhere between the Base Armhole and the Waist and place a red pin there (it does not matter which colour I just need to identify this pin).
On the other Side decide where the Skirt will start from in the Side at the lowest level somewhere around between Hip Bone and Lower Hip (the lower you go with this the longer the Long Bodice Piece will need to be) and place a red pin there.
Pin a piece of scrap fabric onto the Lower Hip Line and trim off at the position of the Base of the Skirt. Measure from the your red pin down to the bottom of the scrap to get the length of the skirt piece for this side and repeat on the other side, you will need to shift the scrap. These are your Long and Short Side measurements for the Skirt so fill in the table.
The Width of the Skirt will be from widest point in the Hip, from Hip to Hip then a quarter of that same width again. We need some excess here to help the piece drape from Side to Side. Gathering the Skirt along this Top Line will be required to help draw in some of the excess for shaping. You could use some form of small Tucks but the Top Line needs to be as smooth as possible to allow the Longer Bodice Piece to attach nicely so large Pleats would not sew in very well during construction. This excess is variable so you could cut the piece wider if you prefer more volume, perhaps use half extra instead. Fill in the Width measurement for the Skirt in the table.
Just working on the Front, cut out your Skirt piece add a Grainline and baste along the diagonal edge.
Drape the piece in place keeping the Grainline straight and the Base level. Evenly draw up the Basting.
Longer Bodice Piece
For the Longer Bodice Piece measure the position of the current red pin at the highest side of the Skirt up to the Base Armhole and then measure the same distance on the opposite Side and place a red pin in this Side so it is the same. Measure the distance between the lower and upper red pins on this Side along the Side Seam to get the length of the Angled Side of the Longer Bodice Piece.
(This photo did not come out very clear but you can see the pin below the Base Armhole)
This pieces Short Side is at least the distance from the highest red pin up across the Bust to High Shoulder (use a white pin to denote the shoulder position). But this is not enough, you are going to have to add a little ease into this because the middle of the piece will need to reach the Shoulder End Point at a slight stretch. But this ease will create some excess in the Neckline which is not ideal so it is a compromise position here. Can you see if you did not add any ease you will get a pull and drag lines across the Bust?
So adding a little ease will resolve this, the excess ease will be eased into the seam on stitching. See how the excess will disappear.
You may need to resolve with a small bust dart somewhere or take a little extra into the seams, this will have to be determined in a fitting. If the garment is made oversized of course you will not have this issue.
The measurement for the Width will come from the white pin at High Shoulder position down the shoulder with room for the arm down to the high red pin in the Side. This is going to be a guestimate for now but a starting point is to measure from the Highest Neckline (midway between Centre Front and the Shoulder Line) on your Base Template down to the high red pin.
Transfer this measurement onto the table.
Remember this shape is a Trapezium so to get the measurement for the Short Side given that we know the other three measurements is simply a case of drawing the shape and measuring the line.
Now get a piece of paper and draw a line the length of the Long Side. Perpendicular and squared off from this at one end draw a line the length of the Width. From the end of this line draw a line parallel and around the same length as the Long Side. You have the measurement for the angled line so starting at the Long Side use your ruler to find out where this measurement pivots and meets the line you just drew and this is the Short Side, measure this and add this to the table.
Shorter Bodice Piece.
For the Shorter Bodice Piece the Width is the same as the Longer Bodice Piece. Add this to the table.
The Long Side measurement is from the High Shoulder (same as the other side where the white pin is, so work out the position for this side) down to join the Longer Bodice Piece in the Neckline at Centre Front with a slight amount of ease added (if you go off centre your trapezium won’t fit into the rectangle). Add this measurement to the table.
The angled side is from the point at centre Front where the two pieces meet down to the end of the Longer Bodice Piece in the Side allowing for a little of the ease to be taken up in this Side.
When you draw out these three sides you can then work out what the short measurement would be as it has to be parallel to the Long Side (the Neck).
You can transfer all of the measurements to the table.
To get to the full rectangle sizes you will need to double the lengths to get the pieces for the back, the width for the rectangle is the same as the Front so don’t double that measurement.
Here is the Shorter Bodice Piece for the Front.
With the Back Cut you have the two pieces making a rectangle or perhaps close to a square in this case.
You can now see how these measurements compare with your fabric width.
Use your Excess Allowance in the table to help to fit the rectangle pieces onto the fabric and work out Grainlines.
Just as an exercise I draped the dress again to see how it would look in a woven fabric and getting a good fit to the Body Form. It’s really not easy to keep this dress symmetrical to get a good fit so I allowed it to go asymmetrical all the way around.
Here was the Front.
The other Side.
Trying to keep the pieces as simple shapes and squared up a little on the table looked like this.
Quite difficult to get all of this to fit together on a piece of fabric, although simple shapes they are starting to get a little complex as far as puzzle making is concerned, and this is quite a challenge.
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