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.