Last summer I helped Saskia, my boyfriend’s 10 year old daughter make a dress. This year, remembering the Batman fabric the local quilting shop stocks, she and her sister Freya (14) asked for skirts. To join the party, and as Spring appears to have finally arrived, I decided to make myself a skirt as well.
We started by deciding on the design of the skirt and spent a bit of time searching through magazines, the contents of our wardrobes, discussing the difference between knit and woven fabrics and deciding what we would use our skirts for. In the end Saskia chose a short full skirt, Freya also chose a short skirt but opted for a much straighter design and I wanted a pencil skirt.
To make Saskia’s skirt we made a loop of 5cm wide black elastic (from McCulloch and Wallis) to go around her waist which was 62cm. We then cut two rectangles of fabric 65 cm wide (62 cm plus 2×1.5cm seam allowance) and a bit longer than we wanted the skirt to be. These were sewn into a tube and then we did a bit of fitting by putting the elastic around Saskia’s waist and pushing the fabric up under it.
This showed that the skirt was going to be too full so we cut 8cm off each of the rectangles (final size 57cm each) and resewed them. We then marked 8 evenly spaced points on both the waistband and tube and pinned the two together. We sewed the two together by stretching the elastic to the same length as the waistband and stitching with a straight stitch. To strengthen the seam we did the same again but using a zig zag stitch. The skirt was then hemmed and announced as being perfect.
This was the easiest skirt to sew and great for a beginner as it came together so quickly. The black elastic looks much more stylish than the usual elastic with casing around it and I understand feels very comfortable.
Freya, at 14, has a lovely, tall, willowy figure and is much more fashion conscious than her sister, for her skirt I chose a Burda pattern (8155). This is a very simple pattern which produces and lovely well fitted skirt, ideal for customising as you want. Unfortunately I didn’t have any invisible zips to hand so I had to use a standard zip. I the past these have bought me out in a cold sweat but this time I tried putting two strips of interfacing down either side of the slot and these really helped me get it in first time with none of the gaping I have got in the past. I know how much you all like photographs but unfortunately I don’t have one of Freya wearing her skirt. It’s also in need of a final fit and hemming, I know it will be declared not short enough but as she has such long legs I don’t want to cut it any shorter until I am sure.
My skirt is the most complex of the three and has a lining, a petersham waistband and an exposed zip. I used my block to make the pattern so I had no problems with fit. I love the finished garment, my only quibble being that the quilting cotton (I should have known better) is very prone to creasing.
There were instructions in a recent issue of Threads on how to install exposed zips but they sewed the zip on the outside of the garment and I wanted it sewn on the inside with the sides of the zip to be covered by my fashion fabric. The method I used is similar to that described in the Threads article as follows:
- I placed a 3cm strip of interfacing and little longer than the zip down each side of place I wanted to insert the zip. Having interfaced the zip opening on Freya’s skirt I don’t think I will every try a zip without doing this first.
- I then sewed a line of stay stitches down each side 2.3 cm from the edge of the fabric and horizontally across at the bottom. The zip was 2.5cm wide and I had a 1.5cm seam allowance so this meant about 4mm of the zip tape on either side would be covered (2.5/2+1.5-2.3=0.45)
- The seam was finished starting 1 cm above the horizontal lines of stay stitching I had just sewn.
- I cut diagonal lines down into the corners of the stay stitching and folded the fabric back along the stitches giving me a casing into which I tacked the zip.
- Lastly I top stitched the zip in place, unfortunately at that point my machine and I had a difference of opinion and as a result my top stitching isn’t as neat as it could be!
The lining was then made up, excepting the back seam which I sewed to the two zipper tapes. At this stage I was in a bit of a rush, if I were to do it again I would hand sew the lining as it hasn’t given me the neatest finish.
The lower part of the seam was then finished and the top of the skirt and the lining were basted together.
The waistband was made using a technique I picked up from reading the instructions for a skirt in the last edition of Burda magazine. I started by heming one end of the petersham ribbon and then basted it from one zipper opening all along the inside edge of the skirt until I reached the far end. At that end I left about 4cm (for the overlap) and folded it back on itself, this time sandwiching the skirt and lining between the two pieces of ribbon and sewing it along the front of the skirt. I then folded a hem to match the first and top stitched up the side and across the top. This is a very simple way to make a contrasting waistband, it’s also very comfortable.
Overall I’m very pleased with all three skirts, they were fun to design and quick to make. They were also cheap; I managed to get them out of 3m of fabric and some bits of haberdashery I had lying around in my sewing box.