Sunday, September 16, 2007

The most flattering skirt pattern


This cut of skirt has been the most flattering for me over a range of 6 or 7 sizes, from this knee-length to floor length, and in fabrics from this light batik to heavy denim or velveteen. And I discovered it by accident while making this skirt, because I wanted to use the border print at the hem. As you can see, that didn't work perfectly, but the cut of the skirt turned out really well. (It is a weird number of gores, like 5 or 7, because of how much fabric I had. And it is cut across the fabric, because of the border print, which ran down both selvedges.)

Basically this cut is:

Twice your waist measurement, plus seam allowances for each gore, gathered, pleated, or elastic-gathered down to waist size.

Four times your waist, plus seam allowances for each gore, at the hem. That is, each gore is twice the width at the hem that it is cut at the waist, then the waist is gathered to 1/4 the hem width.

This cut of skirt, with at least this much flare, is flattering and fun to wear. Especially in the longer lengths, it flows around my ankles as I walk. For a good long skirt, I figure at least 120 inches hem circumference. You will find this type of skirt moves very differently from a straight-cut, gathered-at-the-waist dirndl skirt, which is unflattering on almost anyone. The gathers or pleats or elastic at the waist makes this more forgiving to wear than a simpler fitted at the waist, flared skirt.

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30 Comments:

At 12/20/2007 6:50 AM, Blogger patsijean said...

Your skirt looks very nice and I am interested in sending this link to my daughter-in-law, but I have a question about the measurements for each gore. Are you sure the waist measurement of EACH gore is twice my waist measurement? Or is the gore size my waist measurement divided by 5 (for 5 gores) and then times 2 for each gore?

 
At 12/20/2007 7:24 AM, Blogger Katxena said...

Thanks for this. I have a store-bought six-gored skirt that I've been examining closely because it fits so well -- just like you describe, but more fitted at the waist. I'm not confident drafting a pattern from it, but I'm looking for a similar one, and I might just look for a gathered waist now.

 
At 12/20/2007 8:14 AM, Anonymous Erin said...

patsijean: You misunderstood.

(2*waist mesurement)+seam allowances for each gore

Gather, pleat or gore down to waist size.

Thank you Mina! I've been looking for a simple pattern, as I'm a new sewer. I'm trying to make a post-baby skirt, so I don't exactly fit the sizes on the back of the envelope. :)

 
At 12/20/2007 4:06 PM, Blogger MinaW said...

Sorry Patsijean, about the unclear directions, and thanks Erin for the clarification. The total waist is twice your waist measurement. Then divide it by the number of gores you will use, and add the seam allowances, to get the waist measure for each gore. Then double that measurement for the hem measurement for each gore.

For instance, if waist = 30 inches (with ease). Double for cut waist measurement = 60". Divide by 6 for six gores = 10 inches/gore. Add seam allowances (2*5/8 = 10/8 = 1 1/4 inch. So cut measure of gore = 11 1/4 inch at waist. Double for hem = 22 1/2 for each gore. Total hem circumference 6 * 22 1/2 = 135 inches. For an ankle-length skirt, this is plenty of sweep to move well while dancing or running.

When I draft it, I curve the waist down by 1/2inch to 5/8 inch in the center of the gore. Then I pin a string with a pencil tied into it at the skirt length (including a narrow hem), to various places along the waist seamline and make marks, swinging the string further from the point where the waist seam meets the side seam, out to the doubled width. Then connect the dots. It's important that the cut lines be perpendicular to the side seam lines at the edges.

Mina

 
At 3/16/2008 3:28 AM, Anonymous Cherie said...

Why make it from 6 gores instead of just cutting out a piece for the back and a piece for the front? Sorry if the answer to this question is very obvious, I'm a beginner and pretty much clueless :/

 
At 3/21/2008 2:18 PM, Blogger MinaW said...

Cherie

The simple answer is that it is much easier to draft the pattern in gores. If you have a pattern for a full-circle skirt, or a half-circle skirt, you could expand the waistline, maybe, to allow for gathers. But really the point of that cut is to not have gathers at the waist, and making the waistline larger won't be easy.

To draft a waistline curve for half of a skirt is much harder than the simple 5/8 depth curve I use for one gore. And the hem would be curved much more too.

Also, I am usually making long skirts, which with this type of pattern I can cut crossways from 45in width fabric. It can be hard to do that with the room the waistline curve takes in a more flared cut.

In the finished garment, a gored cut means each gore is nearer to the straight-of-grain, and the hem will stretch less.

But basically this is a different look. If I have a large pattern fabric which I don't want to cut up, I will use a full-circle pattern if I can. (Cut as 2 half-circles.)

I choose this cut to save fabric and get a flared skirt with a gathered waist, which is a less fitted style, but still flattering and fun to wear.

Oh, I guess I didn't make it clear that I'm saving fabric by cutting the first gore with the hem at one selvedge, and the next upside-down, with the hem at the other selvedge. So there is no waste at all between gores, since one cut is the edge of both. This is an unconventional way to cut out a skirt, but it works fine with the even-weave batiks and hand-dyes I'm usually using, and with textured homespun-type fabrics. Not for one-way patterns or napped fabrics.

MinaW

 
At 3/31/2008 3:38 PM, Anonymous pegleg peggy said...

Boy, this looks like just what I need! I'm making a full skirt as part of a saloon girl costume - the first clothing I've sewed in over 20 years. Your instructions are great (thanks for clearing up the waist measurement thing) and your skirt looks wonderfully comfy! I can't wait to get started - keep your fingers crossed for me, and I'll be back to let you know how it all went. :-)

 
At 10/11/2008 2:44 PM, Blogger iceni said...

Hi I am even dummer than a beginner. I love you gored skirt. I can sew a straight seam,and make simple quilts etc, but this skirt has me beat. How do you know where towiden from the waist for the gores? I'm not sure abouthe peice of string. Sorry for being so dense

 
At 4/24/2009 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read through the pattern and was wondering what kind of waistband you used -- elastic or fitted? If its fitted, do you have any advice for changing it to elastic?

 
At 4/24/2009 6:44 PM, Blogger MinaW said...

Hi

The original skirt pictured here had a plain fitted waist, with the skirt gathered onto it. In the intervening years, I made skirts with the front pleated onto a plain waistband, and the back elastic.

Nowadays I would usually make the waistband elastic, which is much more forgiving. To do that, you could make the waistband just wide enough, with just enough elastic, to go over your arms and shoulders, and still gather the skirt onto it a little.

Or, the easiest way, just make the waistband the same (twice the waist plus seam allowances) circumference as the top of the skirt after all the seams but one have been sewn up. And wide enough to fold over, hold your elastic, and have 2 seam allowances.

Or cut it a little too long for the top of the skirt with one seam open, sew it on, and cut off the bit that doesn't fit. Then sew the final seam, leaving a little open on the inside part of the waistband. Fold over the inside of the waistband, and sew it down, then add the elastic through that little opening, using a large safety pin.

Leave the elastic sticking out the opening, and pin it to the other end, and try on the skirt. Elastic always seems to stretch out while it's being put in, so you will have to re-pin it shorter and try on again until it feels right. Then cut it with a 2 inch overlap and sew several zigzag seams across it. Then pull on the waistband and it will go into the opening.

 
At 4/24/2009 6:52 PM, Blogger MinaW said...

Really, unless you are good at drafting patterns, (or willing to do it by trial-&-error, cutting off the bits that don't fit) you probably want to use these proportions to evaluate commercial patterns. And use the waistband instructions they provide. If the width of the pattern gores is twice at the hem what it is at the waist, you can just add gores until you get to the width you want.

 
At 11/11/2009 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 12/17/2009 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I want to make this as a "mini-skirt" (just above knee length) do I still make the gore twice the width at the hem as it is at the waist?

 
At 12/17/2009 2:12 PM, Blogger MinaW said...

This was a below-the-knee-length, and I also do that doubling (at least) for ankle-length skirts.

On an above-the-knee skirt, twice the width is going to be wider, alright. Your choice, it's if you want that more flared look or not. You could draw the doubled width out to this length on your paper, then cross it with your hemline at the length you like, to get this same flare.

One thing I'd wonder about, remembering the mini-skirts of long ago, is whether the wind would blow the skirt up if it is that wide. No harm for a roller-skating or tennis skirt, which are meant to do that.

But I think that's one reason the old minis were straight-cut, besides fashion. (Also they were shorter, so you could still walk in a straight skirt.)

So maybe the answer for an above-the-knee skirt is that it should be flared enough for your stride length, or running for a bus, or climbing a tree - whatever you might do in it. But that, if that means blowing up might be a problem, maybe hem weights might help. I don't know, I haven't used them.

 
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