Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to Sew a Simple Girly Skirt

Here's a lesson in sewing a simple half-circle skirt for your favorite girly girl. I'm creating mine for a three-year old, and it's going to take a little less than a yard and a half of fabric. I will also need matching thread, a tape measure, scissors, chalk, and a drawstring that is 12 inches longer than the child's waist measure.

First, measure around the widest part of your girl's hips. Then measure how long you want the skirt to fall from her waist. I want this skirt to be about 15 inches long, since I like the length of the pink skirt I already made.

Now, take that hip measure and add an inch for the seam allowance, and then divide it by 3. My hip measure was about 17", so my magic number is 6".

Now, lay your fabric out folded in half crosswise, so that the selvedges lie on top of each other. Choose a corner on the fold, and designate that the top of the skirt. Now take your magic number, and using your tape measure, mark an arc 6 inches (or your magic number) out from that corner, in a quarter circle at the top of the fabric. Hold the tape measure in the corner, and swing it around the full arc (just like using a compass) making chalk marks periodically, then free-handedly join them into a continous line.

Now, working from the arc you have drawn, draw the bottom hem of the dress, using the number of inches you want plus an inch for seams. I wanted my skirt to be 15 inches long, so I hold the tape measure 16 inches out from the short line and again mark an arc, just like a compass, farther down the fabric. Now cut on your lines, and you will have a shape like this:

Using the leftover fabric, cut a waistband that is 1 inch longer than your hip measure, and is 2 inches wide. Working right sides together, pin the waistband to the waist of the skirt. Let half an inch of the waistband hang over the side edge of the skirt. If you've never done it before, pinning a straight piece of fabric to a curved piece will feel a little strange. Don't fret, it will all work out. Just let the straight piece curve gently for now, and match the edges carefully.

Stitch them together using a half-inch seam allowance.

Now, carefully snip into the seam allowance--almost to but not reaching the stitching--about every two or three inches. You will find that your waistband will now lie much more easily.

Time to press! Press the seam allowance of the skirt up towards the waistband. Press the little excess ends of waistband under, towards the inside of the waistband. Stich down with a zigzag stitch. Your drawstring is going to emerge here, so do a good job. Then press down the top of the waistband, so that a half inch is folded under.

Now fold the waistband over towards the inside of the skirt, aligning the pressed edge with the seam. Make sure that the casing you are creating is wide enough for your ribbon drawstring. If it's not, pick a new ribbon! Or refold the waistband with a smaller seam allowance.

Pin the folded waistband in place. Working on the wrong side of the skirt, stitch the waistband down, forming a casing (a tube through which you can thread a ribbon). Stitch all the way from one end to another, but do not stitch the short zigzagged openings closed. Reinforce the ends which might be strained by pulling on the drawstring by stitching over them several times.

Okay, you're past the hard part! Now arrange your skirt inside out, two selvedge edges together, right sides together. You're going to sew up the back seam. But DON"T sew the waistband! Remember you'll be threading ribbon in. Reinforce the top of the seam by stitching over it 2-3 times, up and down the first inch of the seam. Now press it open nicely. No need to finish the seam since you used the selvedges!

Time to press up the bottom hem. Working carefully, press up half an inch all the way around (if you can manage; nothing bad will happen if you go a little larger, but try to keep it even all the way around). Now, tuck the raw edge of the fabric in until it meets the pressed crease, and pin in place. Isn't that tidy? You're going to stitch all the way around the skirt right beside the top fold you just made, and your hem will be completed.

So close! Now thread your drawstring in. Pin one end to a safety pin that will fit in the casing, and poke that all the way around the skirt, drawing the ribbon along behind. Leave even amounts dangling out, and knot the ends so they can't be pulled in.

Decorate child with skirt and allow to twirl!


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was so great! Thanks! I was curious how you did that when I read the previous post!
~Lisa (a new reader)

Jen said...

What a great tutorial! I want one for myself. :)

P.S. I love your new profile picture.

Haust said...

Thank you so much! I'm definately going to try this! :)

Rebecca said...

Your last post had me on the lookout for fun cordoroy. I wanted to try it then-but as usual, I was just going to 'fudge' it. I was pleasantly surprised the view a tutorial here today! Apprpriate, given your blog name. ;-) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You made this look so easy AND you eliminated my least favorite part of sewing clothes: wrestling with those too thin crinkly paper pattern pieces!


Becky K. said...

You made that sound like fun...and almost easy. Great job!
Becky K.

Anonymous said...

Hi, i love your stuff,and other creative blog stuff. Let me give you l little sewing tip. if you place your pins vertically instead of horizontally (like in your hem photo) you can sew over them, and ou don't have to remove them while you sew, in fact you should do all your pinning vertically, for ease of machining.

Lady Laura said...

Thanks for the tutorial! This is EXACTLY what I needed in order to finish a Little Red Riding Hood costume for my niece, who is just beginning to learn to sew.

Family W said...

That's so great that you posted this, because yesterday I asked my mom to pop over and read your entry and tell me how in the world you made that skirt! :) She said that my grandmother made her the same kind of skirt when she was a child.... it was a favorite!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share these details..... we wanna-be-seamstresses REALLY appreciate it!! :) Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

Love that last sentence...Decorate child with skirt!! If I can figure out the whole compass thing I will try this.
Thanks for the tutorial!

Elisabeth Black said...

I will definitely use this.

Lauren Christine said...

So cute! I want one for me too.... :)

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial! thank you. Can you give us some tips about how you did the one with the zipper for your older daughter? I have a 12yo who would love a twirl skirt or 2. You inspire me! About the sew over the pins tip. Please don't do it if you have a newer computerized machine or it could jump timing and require a trip to the repair shop.

Mrs. Cote said...

Very cute! The skirt looks great and you've just given me a great Christmas gift idea for the little girlie I care for. Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this! My grandmother was an expert seamstress -- she could make anything. I regret that I never paid attention, but I inherited her sewing machine. I think I will pull it out and try this! Any recommendations on how many yards it would take for a 10 year old that wears a 14/16? And another 10 year old that wears a 10/12 and is super skinny? I have twins and as you can tell their body styles are night and day.

I have really been enjoying your blog quite a bit. I found it a few weeks ago and have been catching up on your archives.

Anna said...

Elise--you remember the little silver compasses you used in geometry to draw perfect circles? One leg was a sharp point and one leg was a pencil. Here, you are going to hold the zero of the tape measure at the corner of the fabric as though it were the point of the compass. The 6-inch (or whatever length) mark of your tape measure is going to swing around that fixed point at the same distance from the point, in a quarter circle.

No, no, don't sew over pins! You will ruin your sewing machine needles, and possibly break one and sent it flying into your eye. Can't have that.

For a larger skirt, you will need to find your magic number, add that to the desired length, and double to get your yardage requirement. Realize that your total length cannot be longer than the fabric is wide--45" for most fabrics.

To make a skirt with a zipper, cut the top of the skirt to fit the waist, not the hips. Then install the zipper before sewing up the back seam. Sew the waistband on after that, making sure it's cut long enough to extend in a little tab across the zipper, then sew a hook and eye, snap, or skirt bar on to keep the tab closed. Or be super lazy like me and run the zipper up through the waistband, right to the top!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tip Anna!!

Kristi said...

The skirt is precious! Thanks for the tutorial. If I feel really brave, I just might attempt it for my little princess ;).

Hopewell said...

I love it! Where were you when I was sewing that really demanding, way too complicated "Little House on the Prarie" dress last Halloween!!! Lol...SUPER tutoiral. Maybe it should be on Utube?

Simply Stork said...

thanks so much for this tutorial...I have no sence for how to do this...I knew it was simple but now I know it is...thanks again.
~simply stork~

Kristi said...

What a cute pattern... I like knowing the trick for measuring the hips, dividing by 3, etc. When my baby girl gets a little bigger I think I'll make one for her!

DoughGirl said...

You are such a talented seamstress! I'm a beginner at sewing, my very first project is an apron....I can't imagine ever being good enough to make the things you do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! so very much for posting the pictures. I'm visual and needed that to wrap my mind around your instructions. I can't wait to make a few.

Anonymous said...

hi anna~ typing one handed as my 17 month old is feeling clingy.
i so appreciate this tutorial as well; i'm a complete novice. might you recommend a beginner's machine?

thanks so much for any time and consideration you can give to the subject.

kim, a new reader

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

Thank you for this blog! Your homemaking inspires! I am trying to make this little skirt for my 8 year old daugher. Her hip measure was 24.5 so my magic number was 8.5. Then I cut a 25.5 waistband - but it is too short to pin across the whole top of the am I doing wrong?

A beginning sewer friend,

Anonymous said...

What do you suggest for the drawstring? I cannot seem to get mine tight enough to NOT fall off dd's waist!

Unknown said...

I just made 2 of them. So easy, took only 2 hours from start to finish! My DD is a tall 7-yr-old so I adapted it: measured single-ply each from opposite ends of the yard of fabric. The waist was a bit bigger than the waisteband so I put in 4 pleats. Looks great, super easy. First time anyone told me my sewing looked store-bought. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna, thanks for your inspirational posts! I was wondering, though, how do you sew the hem of a circle skirt without it puckering? I'm making a satin skirt for my daughter and the hem puckers horribly. Is there any tricks to prevent this? I just started sewing and am still trying to figure it out.
Thanks for the help,

Quiver of Arrows said...

If I am making a 1/4 circle skirt should I divide by 6 instead of 3 ? Trying to figure this out in my mind, Thanks!
~cristy in Alabama

CassiLou said...

Mahalo Nui Loa for this tutorial! I really appreciate it.

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