Styling the Skirt Pattern

A couple of post ago we drafted a basic A-line skirt pattern. Today we are going to adapt it to make a skirt in this style:

It is a nice, simple skirt with a hip yoke, centre front box pleat, centre back zip and Italian pockets. Mine will be about knee-length and made of plaid viscose (so I will be using my Amazing Plaid Matching Pins to keep everything in place before it goes through the sewing machine). I couldn't draw nice flowers on Paint, so please imagine those stars are appliqu├ęd flowers with leaves. : )

You will need:
To begin, we will draw the design on the skirt pattern with the disappearing ink pen (purple; the red lines are the master pattern lines including the hip line). We must draw the pocket in as well because that needs a pattern even though it isn't all visually part of the design. It has to be drafted.

Drafting the Design Details

The yoke is 6cm deep from the waistline and must be a smooth curve. To make sure you have a smooth curve, fold out the dart and draw the yoke smoothly.

The pocket goes down to the hipline. Make the pocket bag (from the side seam to the dashed line) big enough for comfort. About 20cm wide by 30-35cm deep is nice a roomy.

Tracing Them

Now we must trace each of the components off onto their own bit of tissue paper. We'll start with the yoke.

Trace the large part of the yoke up to the dart. Here you can go two ways. you can either trace the whole front yoke including the dart, and then fold the dart out; or you can move the tracing paper along to the other side of the dart lining it up as though you had folded it out (see above), and then trace the rest of the dart. It's up to you, but if you are a beginner pattern maker, you may prefer the first option.

Now you add seam allowances. The yoke will be cut on the fold so you do not add any there. All around the rest of it, add 1.5cm (5/8"). Advanced seamstresses may wish to use 1cm (3/8") seam allowances, but 1.5cm is good if your fabric frays.

Write on the pattern what piece it is, the cutting instructions, and the style. I haven't given this style a number so I have just drawn the design on each pattern piece, which I think is a nice thing to do anyway because it saves your having to remember what style it is.

Now we'll do the pocket. We'll do the pocket bag first. This is the bit that is closest to you when you wear the skirt. It's also the bit you can see part of in Italian pockets (isn't that a nice name for them?). Start by tracing from the side of the dart that's closest to the CF, along the yoke line, around the dotted line, and up to the hip point (where the pocket starts).

I was wondering what to do about this, but decided to use the hip point as a pivot and swivel the tracing paper to close the dart, then draw the pocket line, effectively closing the dart.

Add seam allowances and pattern markings as you did for the the yoke. Also add a grainline, which is perpendicular to the hip-line. This is how you add a grainline using a horizontal guideline such as the hipline:-

This is how you add seam allowances to a straight line using your Shoben Fashion Curve. Line the 1.5cm line up with the pattern piece. Draw along the outer edge of the ruler. This give you a 1.5cm seam allowance.

This is how you add seam allowances to a curve. Work as for a straight edge, taking long strokes of the pen, but keep shifting the ruler along the curve. This give your pattern a sort of Mohican hairstyle:

(For concave curves, you do the same thing, but the Mohican will be on the inside of the seam allowance. The rule is to follow the smooth curve.)

Now we'll make the yoke and yoke facing pattern for the back. They are different to each other because of the way we shall set the centred zip.

Make the yoke as you did for the front yoke and add seam allowances all around, being 1.3cm (1/2") at the CB back. The back yoke facing will have no seam allowances on the back. That's right, 0cm.

Now, I forgot to curve my darts at the beginning so I had to make up for it now by making tiny pleats in the back yoke patterns and widening the darts in the skirt patterns. I left the front as it was.

Now we'll do the skirt front with pleat.

Place your front skirt master pattern on the table and a large sheet of pattern paper on top of it. Trace the skirt up to the yoke line and trace the pocket as you did for the pocket bag.

Place your Shoben fashion curve along the front, aligning the 5cm line with the CF and draw a dashed line along the edge:

Using the dashed line, repeat that. This second line will be the fold of the fabric and so will not have a seam allowance. This means that you will have a box pleat that goes in 5cm (2") on each side.

Fold the paper as it will be when sewn:

Now add seam allowances to the skirt, and, with the paper still folded, cut along the seam allowance, being careful to keep the pleat in place.

The sections of the pleat will now have shaped tops. You can notch them if you wish. I did because I have my new notchers. :)

The Back Skirt

This is pretty straight-forward. The only unusual thing is the seam allowance at the CB. 

If  you look closely you may be able to see that the seam allowance is the usual 1.5cm (5/8") for the lower part of the skirt, but where I will put the zip in it is only 1.3cm (1/2"), as on the yoke. The 1.5cm seam allowance starts where the zip tape ends.

Top mark for the zip:

  • Place the yoke pattern on the skirt pattern with the seamlines matching (as it will be sewn).
  • Place your zip where it will go with the top-stop 1/4" below the waistline seamline.
  • The 1.5cm seam allowance starts where the zip tape ends so mark this with a little line for now.
  • Also mark 3-6mm (1/8-1/4") below the bottom zip-stop. This is where your top-stitching will start so that you don't hit the zip with the needle.
  • Remove the zip and put the yoke pattern away.
  • Make the 1.3cm (1/2") seam allowance for the zip down to the mark you made for the end of the zip tape.
  • The seam allowance below that is the standard 1.5cm

After that you just add seam and hem allowances to the rest of the pattern and cut it out. If you haven't already, write on each pattern piece:
  • The pattern number or a drawing of the style
  • The pattern piece number/name (e.g. "sleeve", "top-collar" if it were a blouse)
  • Cutting instructions and grainline/foldline. E.g. "Cut 2 of self and 1 of interfacing", "Cut one on fold" etc.)
  • The date you drafted this pattern
  • Whom it is for (if you make them for people other than yourself)
And add any notches at hip points, pleats, etc. that you need to add.

The next thing to do is lay out your pattern as it will be on the fabric, measure how much fabric you will need (you may like to add 0.5m or 1/2yd if you are new to this) of self, and possibly lining fabric, and then buy your fabric. I already have a large remnant of plaid fabric out of which I hope to squeeze a skirt.

Once you have your fabric, prewash it. It is especially important to prewash and machine dry stretch fabric 2-3 times before you cut. I know because I had to throw out my second pair of jeans because they shrank so much they hurt me.

Then you can press your fabric to remove wrinkles and creases, and cut out your skirt pieces. You may like to cut the interfacing now (which is a good idea for the yoke), or you may prefer to do it just when you need it. It's up to you.

But that will do for this post. It's taken a lot longer to write about drafting a skirt pattern than it did to do it. :)

As for storing your pattern, you can either make a nice envelope with the sort of information you find on commercial pattern envelopes (but you only need to do this for one size since your pattern is not multisized). You can put a nice illustration of the design on the front and make your own logo if you want. Presently, I just pin all the pattern pieces together and store the pattern in a plastic folder with my other self-drafted patterns. It's not as nice, but it does the job and keeps them all together and protected.

Next time I may show you how to cut out plaid so that it matches, or else we'll get to making the skirt. We'll see.


P.S. If you're following along and blogging about it, please leave a link in the comments below. I don't know how to make a "badge" for sew-alongs, so we'll have to do such things manually. : )

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