Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sew a Full, Gathered Skirt , Part One: Make Your Own Pattern!

A lot of you went gaga over this taffeta skirt from Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing. Well, do I have a secret for you! This type of skirt is easy to replicate, no scrounging around for a vintage pattern required. This is part one of two in this tutorial. In this installment, you'll learn to make your own simple pattern for this skirt.

This is a basic dirndl style skirt. Basically, that means that the pattern is composed of two rectangles: one for the skirt body, and one for the waistband. What could be easier?

First, you need a big rectangle for the skirt front and back. Get out some sort of large patternmaking paper. (This could be actual patternmaking paper or Swedish tracing paper, which is my personal favorite. Or you can use butcher block paper or even a bunch of printer paper taped together.)

The skirt pattern piece will be 40" wide. The length measurement is determined by you. I like my skirts to be 25" long, which is just around knee length for someone my height. (Handy hint: measure some skirts you already own to figure out your preferred length.) Now, this skirt has a deep hem, so you'll add four inches to the bottom. So, this means that my pattern piece will be 40" wide by 29" long. Now, add 5/8" seam allowances to either side, using a clear gridded ruler. There's your pattern piece! (Note: this image isn't anywhere close to being to scale! I'm just amazed I managed to get it in here.)



Second, you need a long, skinny rectangle piece for the waistband.

You want your waistband length to be your waist measurement plus one inch of ease. For a 29" waist, your length measurement will be 30".

Now for the width, which will be 1-1/4" finished.

So. Make a rectangle that is 1-1/4" by 30". Now, add a 5/8" seam allowance all around.


Those are your two pattern pieces!

My only disclaimer is that the measurements I'm using here were developed on my body. (I'm 5' 7" and a ready-to-wear size 8, in full disclosure.) You can definitely still use these guidelines if you're a different body type, but you might need to futz with them if you're petite or plus size. The smaller your waist, the fuller the skirt will be, and vice versa. Luckily, this is an easy pattern to customize. If you're a big and beautiful lady, you might want a longer pattern piece to get more gathers. If you're very thin, you'll probably want to decrease the width of the pattern piece so the fullness of the skirt won't overwhelm your frame. And, obviously, if you're petite or tall and willowy, you'll want to change the pattern length accordingly. Anyone who wants to can wear this type of skirt, no matter if you're shaped like Tinkerbell or Julia Child or Beth Ditto! That's the lovely thing about this type of pattern. The only measurement that's crucial is the waist measurment, so be sure to get an accurate one.

Next up, look for the second part of this tutorial, which will walk you through the construction of the skirt.

61 comments:

  1. Very generous of you! I will stay tuned. :-)

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  2. We did that in my high school sewing class. I was surprised how simple it is! Yours however, is much prettier than mine (mine was floor length toile print on upholstering fabric. I didn't know better!)

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  3. Thanks, Gertie. All I need to do now is find some material truly worthy of the pattern. Simple pattern =high quality material?

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  4. those skirts are my favourites, because they're so easy to make

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  5. I love quick and easy projects. Thanks so much for the tute.

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  6. Thank you Gertie! I've been wanting to try this sort of skirt for my mother, but I wasn't sure this could actually be that simple...
    Moreover, a basic skirt pattern is always welcome, and I'd rather tend to think that a dirndl fits better on a Tinkerbell figure than, as an example, a circle skirt (plus it seems easier to hem!)

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  7. Fantastic! Gathered skirts are one of my favorite, quick and easy projects. :) I'll definitely be linking to this (and the construction) post this week! :)

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  8. Woo hoo! Thanks, Casey! The construction post should be up tomorrow morning.

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  9. I have to get sewing, I leave for my cruise on 8/29 thanks so much!

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  10. Hi Gertie~

    Just wondering, is your sizing US or AU?

    I'm always very confused with sizing cross continents :(

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    1. Oh my god I'm just as confused with sizing. AU to US is so confusing. Did you end up figuring it out S?

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  11. S, the sizing is based on US ready-to-wear. A US rtw 8 is the equivalent to a UK 12 or a sewing pattern size 40 (European) or 14 (US). I'm afraid I'm not familiar with AU sizing. It's all very confusing, isn't it? Let me know if you have more questions!

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  12. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for this. Will try it as soon as I can get my act together! :)

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  13. thanks for taking time to post this. it's exactly what i have been wanting to make for myself for a while.

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  14. I just finished this skirt in seersucker and I love it. It's the perfect simple skirt and I can't wait to make it in a million different fabrics. Thank you!!

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  15. I'd love (LOVE) to make this! I'm having trouble finding part two, though. Any hints as to where it's located?

    Thanks so much! I absolutely love your blog and always learn something new from you!

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  16. I just wanted to let you know that I posted a link to your summer skirts summary on my blog. I used part of your pattern for a gathered skirt in making a skirt of my own, and wanted to link back to your blog because I couldn't have made it without your post.

    Thanks for all the time that you spend in putting up these tutorials and patterns! You really inspire me.
    You can find the post here:
    http://laceandbuttons.blogspot.com/2010/08/sydney-makes-skirt-part1.html
    Please let me know if you want anything changed/ removed.
    P.S. I love the idea of making a winter coat, but I think I'm going to have to pass on this one, I think I might want to get a better handle on sewing before trying a pattern labeled "advanced." I LOVE winter coats, so making my own would definitely cut down on my shopping expenses.

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  17. Hello! I love your skirt tutorial, and it's so easy to follow.
    I will be making this in a nylon fabric that is slightly heavy. Do you think it would be okay to change the length to 45 or 50 in. to get more gathering?
    Thank you :)

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  18. So I just made this skirt with black taffeta. It turned out FABULOUSLY! I'm SOOO glad you posted this. Now I just have to find the perfect shirt to go with it. I'm wearing it for family Christmas pictures, and my little one-year-old has a taffeta skirt (though not this one) and it's all gotta look good, right? Thanks again!

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  19. So I'm only a couple years behind the ball, but I am SO EXCITED to find your blog!!! I'm making this skirt this week, I've been looking everywhere for a tutorial for 1940's clothing. SQUEAL!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope your book is available soon, I'm anxious to see it. YAY Gertie...ok, I'm a little TOO excited. hahaha
    (I can't do LOL, I feel stupid. I'm a 1980's child.)
    natalie

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  20. I know what I'm doing this week!!! X

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  21. Dearest gertie

    Found your link via google. I am a house-mom from south africa wiht very little budget to spare. i too saw a similar skirt on a tv show here and was bummed that i would never the able to afford one.

    Like thineself I too am naffy with the sewing machine and after reading your blog I went and scrounged thru my material collection and found a perfect piece and made my skirt!

    I took me half a saturday - just in time to wear to church the next day - and I am thrilled with the result.

    Thanks for putting things in layman's terms for peeps like me who dont often get the fashion guru "jargon'.


    Best wishes
    Tiffany Trevor-Jones
    Cape Town
    Sunny South Africa

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  22. I am just beginning to sew. Will you please tell me where to place the pattern piece on the fabric for the gathered skirt tutorial? Thanks.

    Mae
    9/27/2011

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  23. i love this skirt and lately I have been looking for a vintage dress pattern with that really full skirt. Do you have any of those patterns?

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  24. I love this skirt, its just what I've been looking for. I'm a plus sized gal and cute skirt like this is hard to find. Oh if only I sewed! I guess I need to learn how.

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  25. Just found your site and I am thrilled. Thank you for sharing all the great instructions! I searched Google for "Make a Full Gathered Skirt" and your site was the first one! I am going to make this with two layers of linen; white, medium weight with light weight ballet pink on top. It will be my first piece of clothing. I am going to look at your site now for more great tips :)Thanks again!

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  26. Love your whole site and I have subscribed so I get updates on my email! Thanks! Leslie

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  27. Hi, i'm just finding your blog and from what i've seen it's very helpful and inspiring to me, as i am a self taught sewer and pattern maker. i was wondering how you think this full skirt pattern would work with a double layer of fabric, because i'm trying to do a satin with a "lace" fabric, but would i have to alter the pattern dramatically to do so?

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  28. Thank you so much, i am making my yr 12 major textiles project and desperately wanted a simple pattern for a pretty skirt so i could decorate it, instead of spending hours making the actual skirt seeing as the actual sewing bit isnt my strongpoint! but anyways this is perfect! Thank you so much :)

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  29. I am so late to this but I have this beautiful dotted swiss cotton that has the prettiest border at the bottom and I've always been afraid to cut it up! This skirt solves the problem! Thank you!

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  30. I am beginner at sewing and I am exited to try this awesome project. Thank you!!
    Gabriela

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  31. Hiya Gertie, LOVE the project, have been wondering how to make something like this for ages...I may be being silly but how do you get the skirt on? I have one that is shaped like this but it has a zip and it really helps it fit better once it's on...

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  32. This is one of my favorite skirt designs since it flatters my body shape. Never knew it can be made this easily. Thanks for sharing this!

    annabella merlin
    Creative Photo Albums

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  33. Thanks for this tutorial. It helped me make my step-daughters first communion skirt out of taffeta. Pics available here http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/communion-confirmation-skirt-and-top.

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  34. I will be making this for both of my daughters (10 & 15) this weekend out of some lonely solid silk taffeta that I could not turn down or use frivolously. Perfect.

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  35. Hey Gertie!

    Love the tutorial! I made this skirt this last weekend and it turned out great! Mine was made from cotton and it still looks gorgeous! I am inspired!

    http://freshcleanbloomers.blogspot.com/2012/06/domesticated-or-trying-to-be.html

    Thanks for the help!

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  36. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial!! I adore this skirt and just finished one yesterday. http://whennatashasews.blogspot.com/2012/06/summer-of-skirt-gathered-waist-skirt.html.
    Such a fun project - I'm sure I'll make another before summer is over :-)

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  37. Nice skirts and tops, I like pink one very much!!!

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  38. Thank you so much! I just found your blog and this is a great site!

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  39. Thanks for sharing...I belongs to an online shopping and dealing with their designing section...I found a great movement in such skirts...So thankful to you

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  40. I've been looking all over for a skirt that is simple, full and with an actual waistband. It seems like the perfect project for a number of vintage fabrics I inherited from my mom! Thanks!

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  41. I Gertie! I just discovered your site and love it!
    I decided to make this skirt, however...
    I'm so confused! I have a 28" waist and 38" hips. I figured using the 40" wide skirt sizing pattern would be close enough for me.
    Now that I've cut the fabric and draped it around me, I'm not going to get enough gathers...if any. I think it makes sense since it's only 2" wider than my hip size. It looks more like a pencil skirt.
    I have extra fabric so I'm going to try again and make it MUCH bigger. 70" instead of 40"? Do you know where I went wrong? Did I misunderstand your directions?
    ~Jenna

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    1. Hi Jenna! I'm not Gertie, but I think you are missing a piece. 40" is the size of the *pattern* piece, of which you need 2 pieces of fabric- one for the front and one for the back. If you see the second part of her tutorial (linked below the post), you cut the pattern on a folded piece of fabric, meaning you'll get two identical pieces of fabric out of the one pattern piece. You will probably need to go for 80". Hope this helps~ :)

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  42. It is a significant garment since it identifies you with the other recipients. Moreover, it also recognizes you with your church where the service is being received.

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  43. Its important to match the appliques with the fabric of the dress. Since silk never comes in pure white, its important to be able to see the white first communion dress before you buy it online, to ensure its white enough and appropriate for first communion.

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  44. I want to make this skirt with tulle. Hoping for a big Carrie Bradshaw moment! HOw many yards is this pattern? I want to make multiple layers for maximum fullness.
    So happy I found your blog... Thank You

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  45. These dresses are really good though, and they really cute on little angels, they are rarely worn like only once when a wedding in being planned so people hesitate to buy one.

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  46. Flower girl dress for less-

    These dresses are perfect for any occasion, and will certainly not be a one-and-done purchase. A great destination to find a dress that fits your girl would be flowergirldressforless, which is an online store that carries all types of clothes. Not only designer lines but they have categorized the line range in different segments like shop by color, shop by style, shop by price and shop by size.

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  47. Hi - thanks for the great instructions! I have a question: Is there a "rule of thumb" for the width of fabric in order to get a good fullness? I am making these for my granddaughters (4 & 8) and of course the measurements would be different. Thanks in advance, Maria

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  48. Where do i find part 2?

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  49. thanks for taking time to this post. so it is very good. if you want visit my site please click.
    http://label.ritukumar.com/

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  50. Wow amazing skirts!! It looks very pretty and specially the third one.. :)

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  51. bonjour
    merci beaucoup pour les explications très sympa à faire juste à convertir en cm
    corichounette

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  52. I am so excited to make this skirt. I bought a big piece of white raw silk material only becuz it was so gorgeous and i couldnt leave it behind. After realizing i wanted to make a skirt, this is the exact style i had in mind to make with it. I didnt realize it was that easy. Thank you and cant wait!!

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

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