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.