Friday, May 3, 2013

Sewing a straight skirt: a first!

how to sew a straight skirt with no pattern
I've made a few skirts before. Some refashioned, others freshly drafted from my brain. Mostly they have been simple cuts with easy elastic or stretchy knit waistbands.

Taking on a straight skirt sewing project was a new adventure for me. I keep telling myself to try sewing from a pattern, but my stubborn creative side says, "I don't need that!"

On one hand, sewing without a pattern is  frustratingly brutal and I feel like pulling my hair out when I don't understand how to put something together and remind myself, "Someone's already done this!". On the other hand, I end up stretching my sewing skills and brain to greater heights and I feel a big sense of accomplishment when I'm done.

Sewing a Straight Skirt

Making your own pattern

There really is no method to my madness, but if you're like me and like to torture yourself sew without a pattern, I'll give you a few of the play-by-plays.

I laid out an existing skirt I like the fit of, folded it in half and traced around it on a piece of pattern paper (I use craft paper). Since this is a straight skirt, I traced the shape of a rectangle about an inch from the outside of the skirt. Then I traced with a dotted line, the actual shape of the skirt.

use an existing skirt to make a straight skirt pattern

make your own straight skirt pattern using craft paper

That was pretty much my pattern. A big rectangle.

I also used a tape-measure and croquis to measure myself. Just because. In case it would help down the road.

I cut out one panel for the front and two panels for the back.
I trimmed as I put the pieces together and ended up cutting a panel slightly too small. Drat!
So I had to end up cutting 4 panels for the back instead of 2. Luckily I had enough fabric. Breathe.

sew your own straight skirt with panels

At the point I had sewn all the panels together and put the zipper on, it started to look like a real skirt.  But it was still just a big old rectangle. If I were only Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Time to begin the process of fitting the skirt.
Enter: Darts
Aaaah! I'm not gonna lie, that scared me.

sew an easy straight skirt

Fitting a Straight Skirt

This was the trickiest part for me.
How to get a rectangle to fit around my waist, fit comfortably, flatter my figure, and maintain balance between the front and back of the skirt, would be a challenge.

Adding Darts

I thought there were only two ways to put darts in. The right way or the wrong way. Turns out there are many different options when fitting a straight skirt. Some don't put them in at all! Gasp!

I stumbled upon this article when searching options for fitting my straight skirt. It cracked me up and made me want to slap the writer at the same time. I highlighted my favorite part. Oh please! You did NOT just tell us to exercise! If I had a pot belly (which, p.s., is such a rude way to say it) I'd be totally offended. ha!

Hide tummy in a straight skirt

Anywho, moving on.
If you have a flat stomach, congratulations.
If you have even a bit of a tummy, straight skirts will show it unless you create your fit to disguise it.

I ended up putting 2 darts in the front, but just slightly away from center, darted the side seams twice to create more of a curve around my hips, and added two darts in the back.

It took several fittings, sewing and pinnings, but I eventually got it to fit me close to perfectly, if I do say so myself.

And here is the end result, in all its straight skirt glory:

how to sew a straight skirt

You can see one of the front darts here

Dart alternative or using darts to hide stomach for better fit

sew a straight skirt for big stomach

I ended up using a hook and eye to close the waist because my zipper ended up being a touch lower than I thought it would be (I put the zip in before turning over the waistband). Still works for me!

straight skirt waist using zipper and hook and eye

Putting a slit in the back was so easy. I don't know why it always seemed intimidating.

Adding a slit to a straight skirt is easy

This denim is light-weight with a bit of stretch, so it will be perfect for summer with a colorful t-shirt and sandals.

One skirt down, two to go!
My next two will be from blue and white seer sucker cotton and a light-weight flowy hawaiian print cotton. Still deciding on styles, but I'm thinking one will be gorded and the other maybe straight with a ruffle. One more breath before jumping in. J

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  1. This is a big deal! You've graduated to the big leagues! Impressive Shannon. :)

  2. I would like to post this link on my blog and include the "how to hide your tummy" page - will that be ok? I want to draft my own pattern and this is great advice.

    1. Hi Joluise - thanks so much for asking, yes, you are welcome to post my link on your blog and include the how to hide your tummy page. Good luck with your skirt! :)

  3. This was so helpfull , your page is in my fav

    Bless u

  4. You have inspired me Shannon. I don’t have a favourite skirt but think I can wing this.


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