Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Make This Skirt! Part Two of the Gathered Skirt Tutorial



Sunday, I posted the first part of this tutorial (see it here), which showed you how to draft a simple pattern for the blue skirt above, which is similar in style to the taffeta gingham one on the right, from Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing. Now, here are instructions for the easy-peasy construction.

First, a note about fabrics. If you want super-duper fullness, I recommend using a fabric with a lot of body, like taffeta. If you want a softer look, something with more drape (like silk crepe or a soft cotton) would work better. Also, it's worth noting that this type of pattern was just made for border prints! For my skirt here, I'm using a navy dupioni ($9 a yard at AK Fabrics in New York!) The dupioni is softer than the taffeta, and you can see the difference in the photos above. For a 45" wide fabric, you'll need about 2-1/2 yards.

Also, please note that my method is a little unusual in that the zipper stops at the top of the waistband, rather than requiring a tab and button. This makes it faster and easier to construct, but it might look a little strange to you at first, if you're used to traditional methods.

Okay, let's get sewing! So you've followed the directions in part one of this tutorial, and you have your pattern pieces ready to go.

Now, on to the cutting. For a 45" wide fabric, you'll need to use a crosswise layout. This means laying out the fabric completely flat, with the selvages at the top and bottom, and then folding the fabric horizontally, so that the fold is on the right side.

Above is a picture of my layout. Note that there is a double layer of fabric, with the selvages at the top and bottom, and the fold on the right side. Make any sense? The waistband piece can go below or above your skirt piece.

Now cut.

If you're serging your seam allowances, do so now. If you're finishing your seams by pinking or zigzagging, do so after the seams are sewn.

Now, sew the right side seam of the skirt only. We'll sew the left side after inserting the side zipper. Press open.

Gather the top of the skirt. You can use the traditional method of running two lines of long stitches, and then pulling up the bobbin threads. But have you ever tried the method of using cord and a wide zig zag stitch? There's a great tutorial for it here. It's fantastic for fabric like taffeta that has a lot of body. I used it for the first time for this skirt, and I don't think I'll ever go back to the old way!

Apply interfacing to one of the waistband pieces. Pin the two waistband pieces together, right sides together. Sew along both short sides and one long side.



Trim seam allowances, cut corners diagonally, and turn right side out.



Use a point turner or knitting needle to push corners out. Press.


Next, you're going to pin the interfaced side of the waistband to the gathered skirt, right sides together.

Now, find the middle of the waistband by folding it in half. Mark that point with a pin. Match the halfway point on the waistband to the side seam on your skirt. Next, pin the ends of the skirt piece to the end of the waistband. The finished ends of the waistband will match up to the raw edges of your skirt. (This method is a little unusual, but bear with me.)


See how I'm only pinning the interfaced side to the gathered skirt, and the uninterfaced side is free?

Now, distribute the gathers evenly among the sections and pin. Next, baste the skirt to the waistband by hand or machine. If your fabric has a lot of body (like a thick taffeta), I highly recommend doing your basting by hand. You'll save a lot of time ripping out machine basting that went wrong! This dupioni I used was soft enough that machine basting was fine.

Now, stitch the skirt to the waistband. Trim the seam allowance and press up towards the waistband.

Next, you're going to hand stitch the inner waistband down. Turn the seam allowance up and pin it in place on the inside of the skirt.


Using thread and a hand sewing needle, slip stitch the inner waistband down.

Next you'll insert an invisible zipper. You need to cut off the top of a zipper, right past the upper stop.

See where I've marked this zipper in blue? Cut off the top with pinking shears.

Now, you're going to insert the zipper. Make sure to align the top of the zipper with the top of the waistband, like so:




Follow your favorite method for invisible zipper insertion. There are a lot of tutorials online, like this one. My favorite method is from issue #119 of Threads magazine, which you can order online here.

After your zipper is in, finish sewing the seam.

Now, all you have to do is hem. Remember that you have a 4" hem allowance on your pattern. So turn up four inches, press and pin. Try it on to check length. Then hem by hand or by using a blind stitch on your machine. (There's a great video tutorial for that here.)

Add a hook and eye to the top of the zipper, if you wish.

Now, as VoNBBS would say, press your skirt, freshen your makeup, and slip into your fabulous new skirt. And go show the world what you've made!

If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments and I will respond in a jiffy.


73 comments:

  1. I have bought some black raw silk from my local market ($6.58 a metre) and am all set to make my own version of this skirt. Can't wait!

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  2. Thank you for the tutorial! I might give this a try.

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  3. Thank you for the tutorial. Now I have added another project to my sewing marathon this coming weekend. I guess this calls to another Fabric store run, the SO will not be pleased. :-)

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  4. As I just said on Sew Retro, you're an angel for putting together such a great tutorial. I'm already thinking through my stash, wondering what I can use to make this skirt!

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  5. This tutorial is wonderful, and easy to follow. Thanks for posting.

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  6. thank you so much for posting this tutorial!!! I've been looking for a basic tutorial like this to make a full, vintage feeling skirt for so long! (searching for & buying an expensive pattern for what I knew was a fairly simple skirt to make didn't really make sense)I really love your tutorial,and it answered all my questions, thank you so much for sharing it!!!

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  8. Thanks for the tutorial, I can't wait to make one! I love how this most recent one you're wearing has a completely different look than your first one. Both gorgeous but it's nice that one can get different looks from the same pattern.

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  9. Thanks for the invisible zipper link! I'd just been winging it for so long, struggling as I did it completely wrong. I tried it out again last night after reading your post and it worked perfectly!

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  10. Very cute skirt! Your tutorial is clear and the result is professional.

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  11. ditto all the above.
    I am looking forward to trying this.

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  12. Love your blog! I was just looking for a pattern like this and completely couldn't find one. So...I raced home last night and made your version. Perfect! I'll Tweet some pics later and send to you.

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  13. Oh, great to hear, Michell! I can't wait to see your pics.

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  14. Thank you for providing such a well-written and detailed tutorial - it is the perfect skirt! This project may just have to jump up to the head of the sewing queue.

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  15. Fabulous! Can't wait to make it. Thank you so much for posting this!

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  16. If i make the waistband longer do you think i could skip the gathering and the zip by elasticating the waist?
    4 have bought some tartan to make it and i want to save time.

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  17. Angel, you could make a sewn-on elastic casing, as in this tutorial

    http://sewing.about.com/library/sewnews/qa/aaqa0102a.htm

    but it will add a lot of bulk at the waistline. I would probably reccommend sticking with a zipper to avoid added bulk.

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  18. I think I'll be doing this sometime this week! I'm going to an oldies tribute concert this week and have some Elvis fabric I want to wear. :) Will this pattern make a skirt full enough to fit a traditional petticoat underneath? Thank you!

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  19. I made this last week using your tutorial. Other than making the waist a bit too big, it looks great. So thanks for an easy to follow design that gave me a very happy Sunday followed by a new skirt!

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  20. Oh Gertie!!! Your method to gather a skirt is grand! I am making a southern belle costume for a granddaughter and I didn't know how I was ever going to get that huge skirt gathered for her tiny waist. your method of zig-zaging over crochet cotton is the greatest!

    Sally Evans

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  21. Thank you so much for this, Gertie! I have been reading your blog for a while now and it inspired me to get into sewing a little more. This skirt was my first project! I absolutely love it!

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  22. Thank you for this, Gertie! I have been reading your blog for a while now and it has inspired me to learn machine sewing. This skirt was my first project and I couldn't love it more!

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  23. hi gertie! i read your blog religiously--it always brings a smile to my face and makes me think in new ways about my own sewing practice. thank you so much! i'm writing b/c i made a wool version of the gathered skirt following your tutorial. to accommodate the bulk, i made it rather less gathered. it turned out lovely, but I'm having trouble with the zipper. what happens is that when the zipper pull reaches the waistband, it starts to be very hard (almost impossible) to pull. there aren't any stitches in the way--i can sometimes get it to the top of the zipper. my hypothesis is that the bulk of the folded-over end of the waistband is obscuring the zipper track. do you have any thoughts on how i can salvage this? i don't want to get stuck in the skirt every time i wear it--but it's so cute! thank you!

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  24. Hi oneredboot! The problem may indeed be the thickness of the fabric. I think if I were you, I would take the zipper out (a pain, I know), and reinstall it so that the zipper stop ends right below the waistband. Then, add hooks and eyes to the waistband to close. I hope this helps! Sorry you're having a rough time of it!

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  25. Thanks, Gertie! Good idea--I'll work on that fix tonight!

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  26. This is exactly what I'm looking for to make a skirt with a border print. Do you use a 7-inch zipper or a 9'inch zipper because it goes to the top of the waistband? Thanks!

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  27. Hi Martha! I used a 9" on mine. I think 7" might be too short.

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  28. Hooray! This tutorial is great. I have been SEARCHING for a good tutorial on vintage skirts & this is perfect! Thank you. Will send pics when I'm done!

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  29. I have sewed one lousy bag before as a home ec project and thats about it. so this will basically be the first real thing i have ever sewed, with no training. I am getting a sewimg machine soon, do you think it's possible to teach myself and doing this as my first project? i really want to make a dress or skirt and i fell in love with this

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  30. Natalie, I don't see why you couldn't do it as your first garment! I will say this - it would be a good idea to have a thorough reference book around in case any of my instructions are too vague for you. Good luck!

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  31. Natalie, I had no experience with sewing (not even a lousy home ec bag!), never had used a sewing machine, and I did this skirt for my first project. It came out beautifully! I made two, and whenever I wear them, I get an abundance of compliments, and "You made that?!"'s. I just watched a couple of youtube video's for inserting the zipper and how to gather, read the instructions on the packaging of the fusible interfacing, and made a cheap little muslin first. If you see yourself learning to make more garments in the future let me recommend a book that I keep right next to my sewing machine. The Dressmaker's Technique Bible, by Lorna Knight, is the best and most detailed reference book I have come across, and has helped me out tremendously in my adventure that is learning to sew. Good Luck to you!

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  32. Thanks for the tut! I'm a bit confused though. Am I cutting two 40" pieces and then putting the zipper on the side?

    I'm incorporating the skirt into a dress, so I'm probo gonna put it in pieces anyhow. =]

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  33. I love this!!! The perfect high waisted retro inspired skirt I have been looking for! Thank you so much!!

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  34. I love this and had been planning to make a full skirt just like it and had been planning it out in my head. It's so great to see it all laid out -- I'm sure it will totally save me from huge mistakes.

    Two questions though: did you sew the skirt as one piece (with just one side seam) or did you cut it into two pieces (front and back)? I think I'll do two pieces because I want to add packets on each side seam. :) Though that is going to mess with the side zip... Hmm. back to thinking some more.
    Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  35. I just finished this skirt for my Easter outfit. Love it!! I love that it's simple and I enjoy the hand sewing.

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  36. I am very new to sewing garments, and really think this is a great tutorial! Thank you so much! I have a question: has anyone put side seam pockets into this skirt? I want the skirt to be nicely "finished", and I was uncertain as to whether I should line the skirt to hide the pockets or not. I don't have a serger and would hate to have my ugly insides of the skirt hanging out! Any ideas or suggestions would be SO appreciated!

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  37. Hi Gertie, I bookmarked your tutorial knowing I would eventually use it and I finally got the chance this weekend. I have some vintage tablecloths that have a border print and they work perfectly with this dirndl style skirt. Thank you!

    Here's the pics:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/27668608@N02/4634134434/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/27668608@N02/4633537173/in/photostream/

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  38. I think this is adorable! My mother and I were hunting around for a pattern we could use to make three matching skirts for my nieces and this would be perfect. Love how you modified it to make it easier. It's going to be this weekend's project. ;)

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  39. I cannot wait to try this skirt! I love this look from the 1950's and I even have a pattern to create a dress with a skirt this full, but I'm too scared to use it! So I can't wait to try my hand at this before I jump into the deep and confusing waters of a vintage pattern :)

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  40. Thanks so much for this tutorial, I have just made the skirt for myself and I also made a matching one with elastic in the waist band instead of a zip for my 7 month old daughter. We both wore our skirts to church today and we received so many comments! This is the first item of clothing I have made and you made it so easy! Thanks again!!!

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  41. Thanks so much for the great instructions Gertie, I made this skirt on the weekend and it turned out so well! I am basically a complete beginner so this was a great place to start. The method for gathering the skirt was so clever! Pics here: http://givemebows.blogspot.com/2011/03/skirt-numero-uno.html

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  42. So adorable! Thanks so much for posting this and I LOVE the gathering trick you mentioned! I'm definitely going to try it!

    - Sarah
    http://agirlintransit.blogspot.com/

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  43. I guess I'm pretty late at commenting, but I recently made one myself.

    You can see it at .

    You probably won't read this anymore, but I really enjoy reading your blog.

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  45. I love this tutorial Gertie - thank you so much! I am planning to make this in gabardine (it is autumn here). I would love to use some horsehair braid to give the hem more fullness - as the hem is 4 inches.... do I need 4 inch wide braid? What if I can't find 4 inch wide braid - could I use a narrower one and yet still have a deep hem (I like the deep hem). OR do you think that the deep hem gives the skirt extra volume so the horsehair isn't necessary? As you may guess I haven't used horsehair before! Sorry to pest you - any suggestions appreciated!

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  46. Hi Gertie! I love the skirt tutorial. I found the closest pattern match possible as the one in Vogue. I'm so happy that it turned out alright, and it was a cinch, really. It only took two and a half hours or so, and most of that time was spent gathering the fabric just right. I used a nine inch zipper, too. I agree that a seven might be too short. I'm a size eight as well, and 5'6". I did take the skirt up an inch or so, though, so it hits right in the middle of my knee when I'm standing.

    I love it! I'm your new biggest fan!!

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  47. I just finished my own full skirt from your tutorial and I love it! This was the first time I attempted a blind hem - a little daunting at first - but I sucked it up and did it. Wow! What a difference something like that makes on this skirt. Thanks for the tutorial and I can't wait to wear it to work with my new crinoline!

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  48. Thank you for this fantastic tutorial and for your blog, I love it. I have learnt so much from you.
    I'm making a dress and using your tutorial as the skirt rather than the straight skirt that the pattern has.
    I'm so glad you talked about your dramas with the gathering, it made me very aware of potential problems when I came to do it.
    I machine gathered then hand basted the skirt to the bodice, then I tried something I have never done.
    I used a walking foot to attach the bodice and waist pieces and it is the most perfect, even job, I have ever done of attaching a gathered piece.
    If you don't have one already get one, it will save you time and stress.
    It just slowly "walks" its way over the gathering without flattening it.
    You will find many uses for the walking foot besides this.

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  49. This skirt is so great! But I have one question: You wrote that you need about two and a half yards of fabric to complete this skirt but why is that? It seems like you would only need one for everything it is 45 inches by 36 inches.

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  50. Looks good, how long does it take to make?

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  51. Hey, Gertie! So my BFF told me the other day while we were fabric shopping at our local quilt store that she wanted to make a skirt. She explained what she was thinking and I said, "WAIT! Two years ago I saw a tutorial for that EXACT skirt in your head! It was on this blog with this girl who had this fabulous vintage style and looked really cool.... but I can't remember her name or where it was." She said it didn't matter, she'd find another tutorial. And I told her no because this one was perfect. SO I spend 45 minutes this morning searching for your blog armed with nothing but the fact that there was a good skirt tutorial and I could see the gingham in my head. Haha. I'm so happy I found you again! I'm bookmarking this site so I never have to look for it or miss out on what you're writing instead. Thanks for posting this tutorial! My friend and I can't wait to get started on this skirt!

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  52. Thank you for this fantastic tutorial! I made a skirt following it this morning and it turned out perfect!! This is the third go at making it (using other tutes) and I have now bookmarked this for all skirts I make. Love it! I machine stitched the back of the waistband by stitching in the ditch...life's too short for handstitching ;)

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  53. Thanks so much for this! I have just started it, but am a newbie sewer and a little bit confused by the part at the beginning where you say " Sew the right side seam of the skirt". As the fabric was cut on a fold, do you mean just to create a seam on one end of the fabric? And by right side, do you mean on the printed or back side of the fabric?

    Also, I was planning on having no side seams, just a seam at the back where my zip will go. Do you think this will work and will I have to adjust any of your intructions?

    Thanks again! It looks great :)

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  54. This is/was my first sewing project. It's amazing. I look amazing and I feel like accomplished something.
    Thanks for having a blog that can cater to people like me: the person with the random spark to sew and make her how clothing. I feel like my fashion sense can now shine, without me feeling huge during a shopping session.
    You're awesome.

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  55. I was wondering if you have any tips for making it for a plus size? I am a rtw 18/20. I was thinking of using 3 yards rather than the 2 1/2 yds. What was your finished waist length?

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  56. this will be my first item of clothing that i will make for myself! i'm so excited! thank you so much, i can't wait to explore your blog more.

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  57. Hi Gertie, it's Ashley again. I'm making the skirt now and I'm having trouble with some of your instructions:
    "Next, pin the ends of the skirt piece to the end of the waistband. The finished ends of the waistband will match up to the raw edges of your skirt."

    So am I supposed to do this with the skirt seam face up or down?
    Also, what way is the waistband facing? Is the finished part on the top so the skirt like fits up into it, and I push the skirt all the way up?
    Ah sorry, I'm troubled!! Please help! Thanks :)

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  58. Dear Gertie,

    Thanks for this tutorial!! Instead of a side zip, I'd quite like to use a back zip as I was hoping to join this skirt to a pre-existing bodice pattern. Have you got any suggestions?

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  59. Oh Gertie, I love this skirt and the tutorial, but I'm so stuck on one point! Lining up the raw edges of the skirt side seams with the finished edge of the waistband. If I do this, the waistband will lose the extra inch ease when I fold under the side seams to attach them to the zipper - is this right? Am I supposed to fold the waistband ends in? I'm worried I won't be able to breathe or eat lunch if I lose the ease! Or have I misread part of the tutorial? I know you posted this tutorial ages ago, so sorry for raising a question so late! xx

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  60. I saw in other comments how people have made the skirt and put it on their blog with a link back here to the tutorial! I'm so glad I can do this! I made this wonderful skirt for my 8-year-old daughter, just downsizing to fit her measurements and it turned out perfectly!! Thank you Gertie for sharing such a wonderful tutorial. :)

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  61. I just found this blog and skirt via Pinterest. Great to see after all these years, it's still being visited so much! Can't wait to make this and to browse through your other tutorials!!!

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  62. 2 skirts in 2 days :)! Inspirational! Thank you. Now need an occasion to wear them...

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  63. Thank you for this tutorial, Gertie!
    Yesterday, I made my first gathered skirt using old silk sari material. (http://www.juanitatortilla.com/2012/10/gathered-skirt-from-silk-sari-cloth.html) As a beginner, I am really thrilled with this skirt that took me a step up from Beginner's Skirt 101 *LOL*

    Will make a fuller gathered skirt, the next time!

    -Juanita

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  64. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! I made this last week and I am stoked with how it turned out. Wore it yesterday and felt uber feminine!
    Thanks for inspiring me to sew.

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  65. I made this skirt two days ago and it is glorious, such a great and easy tutorial. Thank you!

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  66. Hi! If i wanted to add a lining, would i attach it to the waist band or the gathered skirt part?

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  67. I used your tutorial and I wanted to share a picture! I will definitely use this tutorial again. The only thing I did was add 3/4" to the waistband past your suggestion (I thought it would be too tight) and that was a mistake that I had to go back and fix. Your tutorial is great.

    I have also learned the blind hem, with lots of practice- it came out wrong the first two times ;) But got it now!

    http://b-handmade.blogspot.com/2013/04/vintage-bike-skirt.html

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  68. A beautiful skirt. I have to try it, I have a really big gingham fabric in black and white that will work fine... or I think so.
    Thank yo very much for sharing!

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  69. I can't wait to make this skirt!!! Only problem is, I can't find invisible zippers at the fabric shops here (Montreal). They're regular ones. Do you think they would look hideous, or can I get away with it??? I'd really like to try the zipper all the way to the top of the waistband since the two skirts I've made from another pattern stop at the waistband, and try as I might, they just look all bumpy... Also, could this work as a side-zip? Or does the zipper all the way to the top look better at the back? So many questions!!! :) Thanks for your great site... will definitely be getting your book on amazon.ca!!!

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  70. Oh, sorry, I didn't see the Please do not comment anonymously bit... The name is Nan. :)

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  71. Hello, I have been meaning to make this skirt for ages. I finally found time last week, and here it is http://busyellebee.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/scarlet-gathered-skirt-completed/ Such an easy skirt to make, thanks for the tutorial :)

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  72. Hi, I finally made time to sew this skirt last week, and here it is http://busyellebee.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/scarlet-gathered-skirt-completed/ Thanks for the brilliant tutorial, I shall be making more.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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