Updated: Jul 13, 2018
DESIGN NAME – Cornflower Short Skirt.
DESIGNED BY - Amanda Goldsmith.
SKILL LEVEL – Very Confident Beginner - Intemediate.
SUGGESTED FABRICS – Denim, Linens, and Cottons.
The prerequisites for working through this ‘Sew Along’ are that you have made and fitted a Skirt Working Template.
The sewing level required is a Basic to Intermediate, you will need to know how your sewing machine works and be able to thread and knot a needle and have practiced Thread Tracing or Tacking that you will need to mark a Seam Allowance for a Zip.
Ideally you will have reviewed and practiced the following;
Module 6 and practiced or reviewed drafting skirts, Flare, Waistbands, and Splits
Reviewed the Auxiliary Reference Information for Sewing - Sewing Seams and also using an iron
How to draft a Hem (optional)
How to add on Seam Allowances
You may also like to use the Patch Pocket Template from the Flexible Pattern Accessories Pack
Practiced Double Top Stitching as neatly as possible! Use the centre marks on your sewing foot along the edge and offset the needle to give you the same position each time when sewing on the edge then reset the needle position and use the ¼” mark on your foot to line up the needle for the second line if you have one. I used a 3mm Stitch length decided on during testing.
This Unit explaining how to create this sample garment will clarify how to sew an Invisible Zip and Buttonhole closure.
You should allow 2-3 days to make the Skirt although obviously that is down to each person and experience, it can be made in a day but don’t push it just to get it done that’s when quick decisions are made and things get rushed, as I keep saying enjoy the process be present with your sewing and take your time. While I mention this might I also say, if you get stuck take a break or ask for help and then go back to it. Making mistakes or pushing through barriers is the learning process, unpick and try again or push through it. Getting the finished garment is the goal but the process of creating it and sewing it is the thing to treasure! If you have a friend going through this process with you to make the Skirt or anything within Threadelicious Knowledge then you are going to add in another dimension and you can help each other and you have someone to praise how clever you are and how wonderful your Skirt looks and fits on you. If you don’t have a friend with these special skills link into Threadelicious community support set a date to do this with someone and connect with our community that I hope will grow and grow!
Remember to post pictures of your final garment. As I write this I get excited to see what is going to happen so make my day!
Have a look at this overview process for creating a garment, it is very straight forward and logical and will hopefully you can now see how everything flows and pulls together from what you have learned so far.
A Word about the Design Choice for this Sew – A - Long
This is a Classic Skirt shape and would be a fabulous piece to add to a Capsule Wardrobe and you could wear tops tucked in, or layered on top, dress it up or wear it casual.
I have made this into a Short Denim Skirt although the length is entirely your personal choice, it would look lovely with any variety of options such as a blouse, layer tops, sweater or even a cut off top or bikini. It goes well in any environment so it is a fantastic flexible option to pack for a holiday.
At its basic level this Cornflower Skirt is very simple in shape with a little flare and a Waistband, it also has an invisible Zip closure that you could draft into the Front or the Back or Side. So it would look lovely in any medium weight fabric, or you could make it over and over again in different fabrics and colours to complete your Skirt requirement for your Capsule Wardrobe.
You could keep your design basic and simple and simply use it as a practice piece to look at how it is drafted, how to add on a Waistband with a Button Hole and how to install an invisible zip. You could simplify it even more by not adding the Waistband and just using a binding along the top edge to give it support and neaten the edge.
To give you a little more challenge I have raised the bar a little and added some options for your Flexible Pattern I have made it into a short Denim Skirt, added a Yoke on the Back Skirt, a Patch Pocket (1 on each Back Skirt Piece), and also Pockets on the Front of the Skirt and a Side Split. I think these options make it into a more classic young looking denim Skirt.
So after you have tested the fit with this garment consider if you want to draft up any extra pattern pieces to give you a greater choice of design versions for your Flexible Pattern that can allow you to pick and mix whenever you want to make this skirt.
You could either copy what I have made or you can change it up adding your own preferences and personality to it.
Here are a few ideas of what you could do with it;
It can be created with or without a Centre Front/Back seam because you could cut on the Fold.
The Sides in the Base could be sewn all the way down and not have a Split or you could add a split in the Front/Sides or Back. I have added a baby split to the Sides which is not quite as risqué in such a short skirt.
You could decide not to add the Waistband and using a binding instead.
You could choose different lengths.
You could add Patch Pockets or Inset Pockets in the Front or Back or a combination of both or make it without pockets.
It can be made with or without belt hooks, usually you would use 5, I made 5 then made a decision when the skirt was finished. You could make a copy of your Belt Hook pattern and add it to your Flexible Pattern Accessories Pack to centrally store it for quick access and future use.
It can be cut on the Bias or the Straight Grainlines.
There is no hem used for this sample but you could add one simply by referring to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft - Seam Allowances and Hems.
You could add some embroidery or pre-treat or distress the fabric in some way if using denim.
You could use contrasting fabrics, colour blocking or patterned fabric.
Here is my very simple drawn design that I started with to work out the main features of what I wanted to make.
Required Fabric and Notions
Your fabric and other requirements will depend on the design choices you have made including your body size, the length of the garment, if you are using a Hem or Waistband, cutting on the Bias or Straight Grainline etc.
The garment in this sample is around a size 8-10 and approximately 18 ½” in length with a 1 ½” wide Waistband but no Hem. All of the pieces were cut on the Straight Grainline. It has a both Patch and Inset Pockets.
After washing and shrinkage I used around a three quarter meter of a 50” wide bolt or a space of 50” x 25” of fabric.
I used an 8” Invisible Zip.
Interfacing is also required to place behind the Zip and for inside the Waistband and I also used a Top Stitch Thread for all decorative Top Stitching.
You will also need muslin and thread for your Test Garment. I made one Test Garments for this Skirt.
You will need all of the usual drafting and pattern making tools and materials used in previous Modules.
Drafting the Back Skirt
It does not matter really whether you start with the Front or the Back Draft, but as I am going to true up the Front pattern to the Back I have started with the Back this time.
Ensure that you give yourself enough time to work on your drafts, don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to draft and create copies and Test Garments. This Skirt although basic in shape has a few small pattern pieces if you are going to add on some of the smaller details. Tracing off and adding Seam Allowances to smaller pieces can take time.
I would recommend that before you start you have a quick read through the rest of the Unit which might help you firm up your design drafting decisions before you start. It is easier if you settle for what you are going to do before you start, changing design mid-flow can be time consuming and costly but is part of the creative process. Its really a question of balance and experience will help you decide how far you can push it. In this Unit you can see how although I designed and drafted I did change some decisions and you can see what they were and how I worked through it. Reading the Unit first will help you understand how you can choose a little as you go especially when you are making the garment for the first time.
The drafting part of the process for making the Skirt is to create the trued pattern pieces. Then to create a pattern record card and then at least one Test Garment should be made from a Cutting Copy which is fitted. Which pieces do you use in your Test Garment? The simple answer is everything you want to test. You don’t need to add in your Zip or Buttonhole but if you want to practice first then go ahead and do that. Your Test Garment is not just there to test the fit you should also use it to check your design, are you happy with where you placed your patch pockets for example?
So the Flexible Pattern is fitted and altered and trued. At this point don’t rush ahead you have invested some time here now while you are in this head space consider if you could add in another pattern piece for an alternative option. Could you add a different Front maybe a Front with a Yoke or a different Back maybe a Back without a Yoke or a Front and a Back with a different length or a different smaller pattern piece maybe a different shaped Patch Pocket or an extra little mini one that you could add to the Pocket Back on the Inset Pocket on the Front. By adding this now you are expanding your Flexible Pattern options for a future skirt. You can try your new pieces as you already have a Test Garment, unpick it create the new piece sew it on, and check it for fit and design. You can manage all of the pattern pieces and your thoughts on your Pattern Record Card. Next time you come to make the Skirt you can make it look so much different from this version.
Once you have settled for you Flexible Pattern and have fitted and altered it, it becomes your Master Flexible Pattern.
The Master Flexible Pattern is kept to one side and will be stored. To continue on a traced copy is made of all pieces which becomes the cutting copy. If you are using a pre defined Seam Allowance or hem then that is added to the copy and each piece is trued for a final time. Finally the finished garment is made out of the fashion fabric and the pattern can then be used over and over again being refined every time you use it and perhaps preserved if it is a favourite. Refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft - Preserve the Draft.
Start work by copying off your Skirt Working Template for the Front and the Back.
Here you can see the Back and Front have been traced off onto the same piece of paper as they fit comfortably on it.
Now when I started work on this draft I second guessed myself, I extended the Waistline by ¼” on the Side as I had been looking at a skirt shown to me by the Client which they liked the fit of. When measured this skirt was a little larger than my previously fitted Skirt Working Template so I added on ¼”. However after fitting a Test Garment I realised that I should not have made this alteration and I should have been confident with my previous fitting and I should have followed my own advice and simply allowed extra in the Seam Allowance just in case there had been any weight gain. Consequently after the Test Garment I ended up taking the ¼” back off the Waist as an alteration. But when checking this again before sewing the Side Seams on the Skirt I needed to let it out again. Well you win some you lose some!
Fitting a client closely is a tricky business especially on the Waist because there are so many things that can affect the body, weight gain and weight loss (which is why it is important to track this on the pattern if your client is open to doing that it can explain lots. Extra water retention or a simple meal can have an effect. The upshot is that you are never, ever, ever going to get 100% perfect fit all the time. You need to make a judgement call and agree it with the client and find the best solution to get it as close as humanly possible.
Also be firm with the overall vision of what you want to draft but on the other hand don’t be scared to test a few things out as you go, you might get a chance to get a better or more unique result. Ensure that when you have your final draft that you are clear on the progress you want to make because any changes after that can be time consuming and costly.
As you can see I raised the Base on the Skirt to make it a short skirt, this was a 3” difference and I added a 1 1/8” extension on the side of the skirt at the new Base.
The draft is labelled as the Back and if it helps at this stage you could label all of your lines and Guidelines for example, Side, Centre Back etc.
Here I drew a new curved line to join the Waist to the new Base, you should only need to draw the Base up to the Lower Hip Line or somewhere in that vicinity as you will probably not need to extend at the Waist.
As my original fabric choice was to cut on the Straight Grainline I did decide to raise up the sides a little for a more curved base so the Side Line was moved up by ¼” and the base redrawn. I had always intended to create a raw edge on the base for this skirt and was going to distress the denim to do this. However after drafting all of the pattern pieces and a closer inspection of my fabric I quite liked the way the Selvage edge already had cotton fraying outside of it and decided to try to use this as the base for the skirt, which could look good and also save wasting a very pretty selvage edge. However this would mean that the pattern would need a straight base rather than a curved base. In this case I choose to keep the pattern as is and to consider this option once the pattern was laid on the selvage edge, and this would also mean that the fabric would need to be cut on the cross grain not straight grain with the Base sitting on the selvage.
Drafting a Split
Next a Split was drafted off the Side Line. Now usually I would add a ½” Extension and build a Split off of this which would help to keep the Split closed. However this is a very small Split and I don’t mind if it is noticeable as it is more of a design feature rather than functional and I already have an Extension on the Side. So in this case I did not add an Extension. I added a ¾” fold back Facing, so it looks a little neater inside if the Split flipped up. This was simply a rectangle drawn off the side of the Side Line ¾” wide and 2 2/8” long for the length of the Split so it really is a small one. You can obviously choose your own size because when the Seam Allowance is added above then this Split will only be ¼” wider than that.
The Split Facing is folded to the posterior side and the Base Line traced to get the correct position for the bottom of the Split so that it folds neatly out of sight behind the garment. It does help to cut along the top line of the Split in order to be able to fold it back easily.
The new Base Line for the Split Facing is then drawn in.
The Split Facing is folded a final time in order to mark on the Stitching Line which will hold the Split in place, folding the Facing back helps you to check to ensure that the stitching is in the correct position to catch the Facing at the best location to hold it down.
Opened back out the Fold Line is labelled.
Dealing with the Dart
As there are lots of design details to this Skirt I decided not to sew the Dart so this is crossed out. I did decide to keep the Back shaping though as the Client has a sway back and this will help with the fit and even though there is going to be a Zip attached in the back this shaping will not affect the position or fit of the Zip. Obviously a straighter line would be better for the Zip but with practice and testing you can make these objective decisions.
As the Dart is not to be sewn this extra width has to be shaved off the Side otherwise the Waist will be too big. The Dart Width is shaved off and a new Side Line is drawn to a point where it blends in. Because of the extra ¼” I added to the Waist before, I did change this line again after the fitting.
Drafting a Yoke
As I had made a decision to add on a Yoke to the Back I drew in this Style Line. I choose to make it into a rounded V shape with 1” down from the Waist at the Side and 2” down at the Centre Back, these points were marked and joined with a curved line which when the two Back pieces are joined will have a ‘V’ appearance. By adding this Yoke I give myself another fitting opportunity but more likely more opportunity to add in extra decorative top stitching which is a usual detail for a denim skirt.
You can add a Seam into any garment in this way by simply drawing a line. These lines can create optical illusions and make a garment look like it is even better fitted or an interesting shape or carry the eye around the piece.
Notches are added along the bottom edge of the Yoke on both the Yoke and the Skirt Back in the same place to help line them back up when sewing. The Yoke and the new Skirt Back are then traced off and become the new Master Pattern. I always keep previous versions just in case I want to use them to create a different option as part of the Flexible Pattern. You must consider how many Master Patterns you will need to change though if you have any alterations so a good rule of thumb is to create a good fit before you change up any pieces.
Drafting Patch Pockets
As part of the decoration for the Back I decided to add Patch Pockets and drew on the Pocket in a position that I felt worked well with the Style Lines on the Skirt, at a slight angle. This can be tested later on the Test Garment if you want to and you could play around with this until you get a position that you like, but you should always make these alterations back to your Master draft to ensure that you have captured it so that it can be translated back to your fabric as you make your garment. In the end the on this sample the Client decided they liked a different position so it was changed at the point of sewing the garment so some decisions can be changed at the last minute.
The 5 points of the Pocket can be marked as Awl Points to transfer to the fabric later.
The rest of the labels are then added to the Back Draft, the Pattern Number, Style Name, Client Details and how many copies will be cut and from what fabric etc. As I am having a Back Seam the Back is to be cut x 2 out of Fashion Fabric.
All of this information is transferred on to the Pattern Record card continuously to keep track of what is happening.
Drafting the Front Skirt
Both the Front and the Back drafts are worked on in a similar way.
The Front Draft is shortened by the same amount as the Back (or lengthened if you choose to go the other way).
The Side Extension is added (this photo shows 1/8” it should read 1 1/8”).
As with the Back the Base was raised ¼”.
The Base was then redrawn.
The new Side Line is drawn, remember that you may not have extended the Waist so would be drawing up to the vicinity of the Lower Hip Line.
The Dart is not going to be used so the full Dart Width is shaved off the Side and the Side is redrawn. Later I adjusted the ¼” back off the side that I had initially added so this line changed again for me.
The Side Split is drafted in the same way as the Back Draft, please refer to notes above to create the same size Split as was drafted in the Back. The measurements were 2 2/8” in length and ¾” in width.
This Front Side Line is then trued to the Back. I trued from the Lower Hip Line up to the Waist and altered the Waist height slightly as you can see in this photo.
This is the Waist redrawn. Now it might seem fussy but it is worth doing to get a more perfect pattern that will sew up easily.
Then I trued from the Lower Hip Line downwards and needed to change the position of the Split. Surprisingly this was quite far out, but by checking it you get a chance to make it perfect.
Here it is redrawn, then the Split Facing will need to be folded to the posterior, the Base trued and the Sewing Line drawn in as was done on the Back Draft.
Drafting the Inset Pocket
The next thing to draft is the Inset Pocket.
Here is a photo of what the pocket will look like drafted.
There are only two lines drawn directly onto the Front Draft but with these two lines added you end up with three pattern pieces, one for the Skirt up to the hole where the hand goes in, one for the Pocket Back which is the area that your fingers slide down as you put your hand in the pocket this area goes up to the Waistband and can be seen from the anterior of the garment so it is usually made out of the same fashion fabric. The last pattern piece is the Pocket Front that sits posterior to the garment and your knuckles would be touching this part if your hand was in the pocket this piece is not visible only to the wearer when they look down and open up the pocket and so it is a nice touch to add a contrasting fabric for this piece. Usually a thinner fabric is used for the Pocket Front to reduce bulk in the seams especially when using a fabric like this denim. The Pocket Back and the Pocket Front make up the pocket bag.
The Size of the opening to the Pocket and the Pocket Bag are personal choice and it makes sense to consider the size of the hand when drafting, something you may have done with the Client when taking body measurements.
For the Pocket Back on this draft I choose to come down the Side Line by 6” a mark is made and a straight line drawn all the way across the draft from this point towards the Centre Front, the angle of the line is again your preference. I measured 5” along the Waist from the Side for the width of the Pocket Bag this point is marked and a straight line is drawn all the way down until it hits the first horizontal line made. This shape is then rounded off in the corner to create a cleaner shape for the pocket, otherwise lint can collect in the corner.
For the Pocket Opening I marked a measurement 2 ¼” down the Side Line and 3 ½ “ along the Waist from the Side and I chose to join these two points with a curve but off course you could use a slanted line or two straight lines depending on the shape you prefer.
To create the pattern pieces all three are then traced off.
Working anti clockwise the Front Skirt piece goes all the way around from the Pocket opening on the Waist across the Waist to the Centre Front, down to the Skirt Base, across the Base and back up the Side Line ensuring that all of the Split Detail is traced off and up to the Pocket Opening on the Side Line, and lastly around the Pocket opening edge back to the beginning again. All other pattern marks within this shape are also traced and noted.
Working clockwise the Pocket Back is traced off starting from the Side Line and the Base of the Pocket Bag around the curve and up to the Waist, across the Waist to the Side Line and then finally back down to the Base of the Pocket Bag.
Working clockwise the Pocket Front is traced off along the Base of the Pocket Bag around the curve and up to the Waist across the Waist to the Pocket opening and around and down the opening to the Side Line and down the Side to the Base of the Pocket Bag.
When tracing ensure that all notches are made especially on the Front Draft showing the position of the Pocket Bag on the Side Line and Waist.
Drafting the Waistband
There are some decisions to be made about a Waistband. Namely, are you going to create a Contoured Waistband usually used on a lowered Waist Skirt or a Straight Waistband which sits on top of the Skirt at the Waist. On a Skirt like this a Straight Waistband is a good option. Which side are you going to place interfacing, Back, Front or Both? Your testing can help you decide what to do here. Are you having a top seam on a Straight Waistband or are you going to cut it double the width and then fold it over? Also are you adding a button extension on one or both sides? How wide is the Seam Allowance going to be, bare in mind that you can trim it down after sewing, but also bare in mind the effect of a wider seam allowance on the thickness of the Waistband and how it is going to look after a few washes and ironing.
The choices I am making are to create the Waistband in two pieces as I want the extra detail of a Seam along the top edge with the thickness of a Seam Allowance, I am interfacing just the Back or the Facing piece and I am going to create two extensions as I am going to add a buttonhole maybe a hook fastening (I will decide this when sewing the ends of the Waistband).
The Waistband is drafted as a simple straight Waistband just as a rectangle with the length being a total of a ¾” extension at the Back for the Button Closure plus the Back Waist measurement and plus the Front Waist Measurement. For the Width I decided on 1 ½” for the Waistband. Now rather than folding over the Waistband I decided to cut two pieces and join them by sewing along the top edge. This gives me an opportunity for more decorative Top Stitching on the Waistband so that it looks even all the way around and also gives a little extra support along the top edge of the Skirt.
Here you can see that the Waistband has been drawn out with notches placed at the Side Seam and denoting the Extension. It is to be cut on the fold at the Centre Front and Seam Allowances have been added on the Top, Base and Extension. I have used a ½” Seam Allowance which I might trim down after sewing or you could use ¼”.
Drafting Belt Loops
On this Skirt I am going to use Belt Loops so this smaller pattern piece needs drafting also. This is a pattern piece that would be very useful if stored centrally in your Flexible Pattern Accessories Pack.
I am making them as one long strip then snipping each one off the strip. A pattern is drafted though to make it simple and the piece is 1” wide as the loop is ½” finished with two ¼” Seam Allowances along the length, it looks like a piece of binding really. I want each loop to be 3” long including Seam Allowance and am going to use around 3/8” at the end of each one as a Seam Allowance which will be turned under when attached to the Skirt.
The Belt Loop draft looks like this.
Here is a close up of one loop.
Creating a Test Garment
Prior to creating the Test Garment check that all pieces that you are testing have been trued, that you have added all Notches, Awl Points and Grainlines.
When creating a Test Garment for a Flexible Pattern it is entirely up to you which parts of the pattern you want to test, obviously you may wish to test main pieces or even check out the best position for a pocket but you don’t need to add in Facings or other smaller pattern pieces or closures if you don’t want to.
You can also use your Test Garment to try out different design options to see if your ideas will work so although the Testing is looking at the technical positioning of Seams and other Lines it is also a creative process especially if you are using a draping technique.
While you have your Test Garment on your Body Form have a play with it. Consider where you might add Style Lines, or position applique or embroidery, unpick the Back and add a different draft on. The more time you play with the Test Garment the more options you will come up with and the more useful your pattern is going to be to you. Every time you remake this garment get your Test Garment out and review your Pattern Record Card, check it for size work out how you are next going to make it up, can you make it up better than you did before. You might need to make another Test Garment if your first one gets mashed up.
Sometimes I will make a decision not to worry about some details when drafting because I find I get a better view of things when studying the Test Garment during a fitting it can be almost impossible to determine where a line might be positioned on a two dimensional sheet of paper but when you put it on the body it all becomes so much clearer. However I might circle areas to check directly on the Test Garment as I create it to remind me to review that area more closely during the fitting. But then you will need to make decisions and confidently and very carefully mark the draft with the adjustments to finalise it.
The Test garment is created in the same way as all other Test Garments by copying off a cutting copy from your Master Flexible Pattern.
Each pattern piece is then pinned on the required Grainline of the muslin and roughly cut the pattern with around ½” to 1” of Seam Allowance, you would then wax trace the pattern pieces including all Notches and Darts if you are using them, then machine thread trace the fabric as usual.
The Garment can then be constructed and you can start the fitting process.
The main construction order is;
Press all thread traced pieces.
Sew the Centre Front Seams together and press.
At least sew the Back Pocket Piece in place.
Sew each Yoke to the Back pieces and press (if you used them)
Leave the Centre Back Seam Open, the alternative is to draft in the zip position and sew the Centre Back Seam up to the Zip Base. The Centre Back will be pinned for the fitting.
Sew the Side Seams and press.
Attach the Waistband (optional)
Rather than showing this construction and then repeating it again with the fashion fabric I have documented this once during construction below so please review the rest of this Unit before constructing the Test Garment if you need to decide how you are going to put it together.
The only alteration I made to my Test Garment was to reduce the extra ¼” that I had initially added to the Front and the Back Side during drafting. So it was pretty straight forward.
Flexible Pattern Drafting, with Seam Allowances
Once your Test Garment has been fitted and any alterations written back to your respective Master Drafts and your pattern is trued you can then decide what to do about your Seam Allowances.
You may not wish to add on a predefined Seam Allowance especially if you are making a more couture garment and are going to thread trace your fabric with pattern markings. In this sample I decided to add on a predefined Seam Allowance and so copied off every pattern piece and added on Seam Allowances refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft - Seam Allowances and Hems for a refresher on how to do this if you need to.
For this pattern I have added 1/2” Seam Allowance on every Seam except on the Inset Pocket opening where I have used ¼” and ¾” for the Zip installation just to give a little extra support for the Zip.
To add your Seam Allowances the cleanest way is to ensure that all Master pattern pieces are all trued, then copy all of the patterns off to make your Flexible Patterns and add the Seam Allowances, then true up all of the Seam Allowances. Ensure all Grainlines are drawn, Notch everything you need to that will help you join everything back up, so all Dart Legs, Seam Allowances, join up points, etc. and Awl Points on the Dart Points. Label each Pattern to identify it, mark on any Fold Lines and how many fabric pieces should be cut and from which fabric and number each piece. All of this detail is logged onto your Pattern Record Card.
Here is a photo of the Back Skirt pattern piece with the Yoke section removed with the Pocket marked with Awl Points and all notches moved into the Seam Allowances. Notice the extra Seam Allowance for the Zip down to the ½” standard Seam Allowance for the seam below the Zip.
Here you can see the Seam Allowance for the Side Seam and then how there is a change when the Side Split Facing is drawn.
Here the Base has been left without any Seam Allowance or Hem as a fabric raw edge is going to be used.
Here is the Yoke pattern piece with notches marked and seam allowance added all the way around, the Seam Allowance at Centre Back is ¾” although it is not clear to see this on this photo.
Here you can see how it sits above the Skirt Back piece.
Here is the Patch Pocket pattern piece (try saying that after a glass or two!). I have created a fold over facing with Seam Allowance at the top to create a double turned top to the pocket, for the rest of the Seams I have used ½” Seam Allowance although you could use ¼”. I used ½” as I am considering a double line of stitching for a top stitch around the Pocket and this extra Seam Allowance will sit nicely under the two lines of stitching.
Here are all three back pieces together.
Here is a pattern piece for the Interfacing that will sit behind the Zip. Now you could trace off a shape for this or just use a rectangle and then trim it down once attached which I prefer to do. It needs to be at least as long as the Zip and as wide as the Seam Allowance plus at least ½” in the width to support the other side of the Seam Allowance.
Here is the pattern piece for the Front Skirt.
Here is the pocket front.
Here you can see where the Pocket Front is positioned although it would sit behind the Front Skirt piece.
Here is the Pocket Back piece.
And here it is sitting on top of the Front Draft , although in reality it sits at the back.
So they are all layered in this order….
Most pieces are going to be cut out of the fashon fabric but I have chosen to cut the Inset Pocket Front out of a thinner fabric to reduce bulk.
Before you start ensure you have prewashed your fabric to help eliminate any shrinkage or review your care instructions for your fabric or get advice from where you purchased it.
The fabric I am using is a non-stretch medium weight denim, and a cotton for the Pocket Front.
Here is a sample that I tested some distressing on. In the end I choose not to do this as the fabric was cut across the grain so the fraying would go across the garment and not down it. I also liked the perfect look of this skirt so choose not to use sand paper to lighten it.
Also test all of your stitches and your interfacing to make decisions about how you are going to get the desired results on your fabric choice. You should always do this even if you have already made the Skirt if you are using a different fabric.
After ironing the fabric flat and making sure that all pattern pieces are flat also (you can iron those too but be careful) the pattern is laid onto the fabric. Here is a photo of the layout I choose. As there is a Seam Allowance on the pattern you can position them close together but leave a little space just in case there is some movement.
The Waistband is cut on the fold so this piece gets positioned at the edge on the fold. I also need two of these cut so once I have cut out one and done the tailor tacks for the Notches the pattern is repositioned and another one is cut. Of course you could make a reverse copy of this pattern if you want to lay everything out and cut at the same time.
After all pieces are pinned, stand back and check it all. Check that you have all of your pattern pieces, that they are lying flat, that each pattern piece is on the correct grainline and that they all have enough space to be cut out.
Here are the pieces cut out.
Here they are trimmed down.
I do like to roughly cut out each piece then trim each piece individually rather than cut down to size whilst they are all laid out. I think this gives me a better opportunity to get as close to the pattern as possible, it’s also a little easier on my back.
Remember that I shaped the base of the skirt on the draft but choose to use the selvage, here is what I did for this skirt I simply cut up from a new base and ignored the shaping as it is not really required just for design purposes on this version because of the selvage.
At this point it is a good idea if you have not done so already to make some notes on your Pattern Record Card regarding your order of construction for your garment, especially useful if you plan to make this again in the future. By doing this you will be running through in your mind how you want the final detail to look and what is the best order to do this in, by doing this you are less likely to forget something. You can find my completed Pattern Record Card on the Downloads Page which you might want to use as a starting point.
With all pieces cut out the construction is very straight forward.
There are always areas that need extra support in a garment and it is important not to skip these steps it is the difference between creating a better quality garment to one that is uncomfortable or annoying to wear.
Adding interfacing to the Waistband will give it extra support and strength even if you are using a denim fabric. Waistbands can roll if they are not supported correctly but be too stiff if the wrong addition is added to them. Some time experimenting is going to give you the best result. Always support your Waistbands!
If in doubt whether to use an iron on interfacing look at other sew in options and use as an underlining. You could also use a ribbon such as Petersham or elastic inside a Waistband to stabilize it or create a snugger fit as elastic can be stretched a little whilst sewing. Always use something that is a similar or lighter weight to the fashion fabric that you are using.
On a Waistband an iron on interfacing can pull away from the fabric after a few washes. On this Waistband with the double line of stitching it will be secured extra so I am not too worried about this so in this case I am going to use a double layer of a lightweight interfacing to give me the result I need because just one layer did not seem to give me enough support and I made a decision to attach it to the Facing part of the Waistband, i.e. the back piece. I also interfaced the Front piece on the extension to help support the button hole when it is made.
Of course the Zip area also gets an interface strip which was pressed on and then trimmed down to the shape of the pattern piece. Interfacing can sometime shrink so it is a good idea to cut it a little larger and then trim down and perhaps use a little steam to complete the shrinkage process but check the instructions to make sure you are not affecting the glue. Also remember to place the interfacing glue side down, don’t want to teach you to suck eggs but just checking! (that’s a Yorkshire term I think!).
All Notches and Awl Points on all pattern pieces are Tailor Tacked and then the paper patterns can then be removed and stored.
This fabric is quite stable and this is a short skirt so I only decide to Stay Stitch the Waist Seam and the Side Seams to help support the pockets.
As my fabric frays I decided to overlock all pieces prior to construction and as with anything I always test my stitch on a scrap before I start. I test my overlock stitch, my sewing stitch and my decorative Double Top Stitch. In the interests of budget I decided to stick with a white thread for overlocking, I don’t mind it at all and it will be on the inside of the garment anyway.
Incidentally when I overlock I do cut the minutest piece off the edge, and I don’t worry about this because I figure with continual pattern copying and cutting that all I am doing is removing anything that I may have added on during the process.
There is a loose construction order for this Skirt but I started with the Front pieces by stitching the Centre Front Seam and then pressing the Seam Allowance to one side and Double Top Stitching with the stitching about ¼” apart and 1/8” away from the Seam Line. I back stitched at the top but not at the bottom as I have no hem I will hand sew these threads or knot them to secure them.
Here is a close up of the Top Stitching and this is duplicated on various seams on the skirt as it is constructed.
Here is the posterior side, notice the Top Stitching thread is not used in the bobbin but only on the anterior.
In order to reduce my time swapping thread over I did consider stitching a few seams first and then did a few Top Stitched seams.
The Front Pockets
The Pocket Front is pinned …..
Then stitched to the Front Skirt, remember this is a ¼” Seam Allowance here.
If you used a curved seam then you will need to clip it, press the pocket up and flip it to the posterior side and press it favouring the Front Skirt.
The Pocket Back is attached to the Pocket Front and stitched along the bottom and the inside seam. Check to make sure you are sewing the correct Pocket Back to the Correct Front! I did end up Double Top Stitching this seam (from the anterior side) so it’s a good idea to do this now if you are doing this also.
Here is what it now looks like from the anterior side once it is stitched.
Here it is with the Top Stitching on (if you have not already done this above).
The Yokes are stitched to the Back Skirt and the Seam is pressed down. Here it is pinned.
I also Double Top Stitched these Seams.
The Patch Pockets
Next the double fold is made on each Patch Pocket at the top and this is Double Top Stitched down.
The Seams on the Pockets are then folded and pressed and the Pocket is pinned into place on the Skirt Back and then stitched on with a Double Top Stitch on all four sides. Yes the position was changed although I don’t mind it either way straight or slanted each gives a different optical effect.
Here is one stitched down.
The Invisible Zip
The next step is to attach the invisible Zip at the Centre Back. Invizible Zips give you a perfect finish and I think they really are very simple to install if you take your time with it. If you have never installed one practice with your zip on a couple of pieces of scrap fabric first then unpick it and reuse the Zip.
It is easier if you thread trace the Side Line (where the Seam Allowance starts) for the Zip area from the Waist line down to the end of where the Zip is going to finish.
The Zip is then placed on top of the fabric with anterior sides facing and the centre of the Zip is positioned directly over the Thread traced Side Line it is pinned in place all the way down.
The Zip is then opened and using an Invisible Zipper Foot (you can use a normal foot but it is easier if you have an Invisible Zipper Foot so worth investing in one) roll back the Zip teeth and place it in the foot notch and place the needle close to the teeth, I only need to move my needle one notch to get close enough but if you have never done this before test this with your machine. If you don’t have an invisible Zipper Foot then just try to pry back the teeth with your finger as you sew it but be careful with your needle and go slow.
Stitch down the zip until you get to the zip pull and do a couple of reverse stitches.
Do the zip back up and place the other pattern piece under with anterior sides facing and line up the centre of the zip again along the Side Line (the thread traced line) and pin in place ensuring that your Yokes are aligned on both sides. This is the trickiest part of the installation I think.
This side of the Zip is stitched down stopping at the Zip stop and reverse stitching for a couple of stitches. Then remove the tacking stitches.
Close up the zip and check it will close, and admire your work! But it’s not quite finished yet.
On the inside lift the bottom of the Zip and check that the two rows of stitching finish as the same place. Can you see those two little orange dots? If they don’t match up and are really very different then go back in and fix this.
Stitch the seam below the zip using a
normal machine foot. It is fine to stitch a little away from the Zip stitching starting around the point of the pen in this photo which would mean you would start stitch a couple of stitches before the end of the Zip stitching and a 1/16” away from the stitching on the inside of the Stitching Line. I usually stitch down the seam from the Zip.
Stitch the bottom of the zip on each side to the Seam Allowance around ½” of stitches should be enough to keep each side it in place. Make sure that you are not stitching through the whole garment but only through the Zip and the Seam Allowances.
Give the Seam and the Zip a little press but be careful with the Zip.
The Side Seams and the Split
Before sewing up the Side Seams it is a good idea to try this on the body and pin the Seams on the outside and do a final quick fitting. Now I will let you into a secret, it was at this point that I let the skirt out again by 1/4” on each side!
When sewing the Side Seams only stitch down to the top of the Split and Back Stitch at the start and the end of the sewing to secure the Seam. Press the seam open and then fold back the Split and stitch it down to hold it in place, I also stitched at the bottom of the split as I did not using a hem to secure it at the bottom position.
For the Waistband the top seam of the two pieces is sewn together and pressed (if you made the Waistband in one piece and are going to fold over the Waistband then you will not need to do this step). Now you can trim down the Seams to reduce bulk if you would like to.
The Waistband is placed on top of the Skirt anterior sides together and raw edges lined up, and pinned into place lining up the Centre Front, the Side and the Extension Notches. Ensure that the Centre Back Seam where the Zip is has been folded neatly to the Posterior side and that the top of the Zip is lined up and not sticking out. Also check that any Seam Allowances and Darts are laying in the correct position.
If you did make any alterations in size of the Skirt when sewing the Side Seams they would only be minimal at this stage if you have been creating and fitting the Test Garments but you should consider the impact this has on the Waistband that you have cut and you might need to make some modifications for example trimming it down a little.
The Waistband is stitched on and the then pressed upwards.
The opposite side of the Waistband has its Seam Allowance pressed under to give the correct line for it to be sewn in position after the ends are created.
The Waistband is folded lengthwise with anterior sides together and the Extension is pinned ready to sew the width.
The Seam is sewn.
Then trimmed back before turning, this will give you a better cleaner corner. If you have snipped your sewing in the corner then you might want to go back and sew over this a couple of times so make sure that a hole does not appear of time. I am Double Top Stitching this Waistband so I am confident it will hold together
Once turned you can see how it is all going to fit together now.
Tuck the Seam Allowance of the Waistband Facing up and pin in place. The finishing of the Waistband is really up to your own preference. You could machine stitch it down or stitch it by hand.
In my sample with a double thread I choose to use an Invisible Hem Stitch stitching as close as I possible to the previous Stitching Line without it showing on the anterior side of the garment.
Here it is stitched and carefully pressed.
This secures the Waistband in place, I then topstitched from the anterior side all the way around the Waistband. There are lots of layers of fabric so go slowly with this one.
I also caught the Seam Allowance on the Zip at the bottom of the Yoke to secure it and make it easier to close the Zip, a couple of tacking stitches by hand will soon sort that out.
Sometimes you need to assess your piece and make it better with these few final touches, whatever works for the job in hand. This is using couture skills to get a better finish to your garment, think quality!
The Belt Loops
The Belt Loops are made by folding around ¼” down the length of the strip and then pressing the other side so that it overlaps the first Seam Allowance. To secure this I did two rows of tops stitching around 1/8” away from each side.
To secure each loop I then stitched along the width around ¼” away from the edge of each loop at its beginning and its end going over it 3 times and then snipped each piece off.
They are then stitched down in place on top of the garment in the desired location. First the top.
Then the bottom carefully lining everything up. It can be a tricky sew because you are going through lots of layers of fabric so go slowly and use a small satin stitch for extra strength (practice the stitch first on your scrap of fabric to make sure you like it!).
Lastly the Button Hole and make sure you read your machine manual to understand how to do this on your machine and have a practice on a test piece of doubled fabric first.
On my machine I need to change to my buttonhole foot, choose a Buttonhole option and pick the button hole I require. I can then set my machine to the size of button I want to make and then when I sew it creates the whole button hole. All I need to do is snip down the centre to open it up.
It can be check for size on the test piece.
However my machine cannot deal with this kind of stitching on thick fabric or so many layers so it can be easier to mark the position off the button hole on the fabric and then using either a satin stitch on the machine using a shorter stitch for the sides and then a longer stitch at each end and snip it or snip it first and hand sew it using a button hole stitch.
To find the position of the button zip up the Skirt and positon the button at the end of the buttonhole the end nearest the end of the extension on the buttonhole.
My button has a shank, i.e a bit that sticks out at the back with the hole that you can use to sew it on and you really do need one on this skirt with the layers of fabric. The Shank fits through the fabric and allows the button to sit flatter on the front of the garment. The Button is stitched on with a double thread.
If you feel you need to create extra hold on this fastening and you created an extra extension on the back you could add a Hook fastening as well. In the end my button seemed to be enough.
One final press and Ta Dah! One finished Capsule Wardrobe Skirt!
Well done for getting to the end, I hope you love what you have made. Please share your photos in the Members Gallery to inspire someone else to give it a go!
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