I am painfully bad at sewing. Most of the time I get lazy and impatient, so I’m not very careful about making sure everything is cut and pinned and sewed correctly… which does not usually result in a presentable product! I also have little knowledge about various sewing accessories so I end up improvising with the basics that I happen to already own. Is it surprising that my projects don’t usually turn out?
Last summer I tried making a skirt based on one of the many, many tutorials I’ve come across on Pinterest, and the results were not pretty. Right after tearing it apart and making it again SIX TIMES, I found this post on Pinstrosity that sums up the problem quite well – the skirt ballooned out and made me look pregnant, not exactly the look I was going for. I modified it several times and ended up with a passable skirt that I only wore once because it still just didn’t fit right or look great, so I pretty much gave up on making my own skirts… until now!
A few weeks ago I wore a skirt I actually made in high school (with my grandma’s help… the zipper was too intimidating) and realized that if I’d been successful with that pattern once, I could do it again. And I did! Twice!
The first one pictured above is the original. I think the pattern I’d bought had modifications to make a shorter skirt (just the patterned part) or to add on that wide band at the bottom. I had a bunch of fabric I’d purchased for another Pinterest tutorial before I realized I’d probably just ruin it, so I decided to make a similar-length skirt minus the band – but I still wanted it to be past knee-length so I could wear it to work.
This skirt requires a little more work than the other one I posted, but hopefully I can explain it in a somewhat helpful way for anyone who wants to give it a try…
Materials: about 2 yards of fabric (depending on print – see step 2); 7″ zipper; hem tape or similar to line waistband
Quick Instructions: Make the template and cut six wedges, sew together, add a zipper and lining, finish the waistband and hem.
1. I used my original skirt as a template to create a pattern and used half-inch seam allowances throughout. To create your own, you’re going to measure your waist (wherever you want the skirt to sit) and divide by 6. That’s going to be the length of your top arc. The bottom arc depends on the length you want the skirt – mine is a little past knee length (25″) and the bottom arc is about 2.5 times longer than my top arc. The wedge is about a 30-degree angle, if that’s more useful to know? The length of your bottom arc will depend on how long the skirt is — you’ll get a really full skirt if you do 2.5x regardless of length! I realize I’m probably not making much sense…
Basically, if you’re doing a shorter skirt your bottom arc should be less than 2.5x the length of your top arc, and you can use the angle 30-degrees to figure it out if you want your skirt to hang like mine.
2. Cut out SIX wedges using your pattern. If you want a contrast band at the bottom like my original skirt, you can make a sort of “rainbow” piece by just extending the wedge and then cutting the pattern into two separate pieces. In the original pattern it had me cut out TWO “rainbows”, one for the front of the skirt (attached to THREE wedges) and one for the back. How you cut your wedges depends on the print on your fabric. If it’s a more random design you can just cut the pieces as close to each other as possible, facing any which-way, but if you need to cut them all vertically you might need more fabric.
3. Pin the wedges together right-sides-in and sew. Press seams.
4. I’d never installed a zipper before this project, and honestly I just kinda winged it based on what the one my grandma did for me on the original skirt looked like. I’m just going to recommend that you do the zipper and final seam however you typically do zippers, and if you’ve never done one before, google it!
5. My original skirt had a narrow lining on the waistband – pretty sure it’s hem tape, but it seems a bit thicker and more durable than the kinds I saw at the store this time around. Anyway, I was in a hurry to finish this skirt and didn’t want to drive across town to the bigger fabric store, so I went to a tiny one and the only thing I could find that looked anything like hem tape was about 2 inches wide:
So, I didn’t see a problem with this until I put the skirt on and the waist was all wonky and wouldn’t lay flat against my body, and being incredibly lazy I just cut it in half and sewed a seam along the cut edge in the hopes that it wouldn’t unravel completely. Now it’s about an inch wide and so far that’s been working fine, although if it unravels too much I’ll have to remove this thing and replace it. I used hem tape on my second skirt.
6. Like step 4, I just did what seemed to work for me, but if you have a good way to do hems, you should do that.
After my success with this skirt, I decided to rip apart my Pinstrosity skirt and re-do it AGAIN based on this pattern.
Now, after having cut the original down to size several times, there wasn’t enough material on its own, but luckily I bought like 4 yards of that fabric for some reason and was able to get enough pieces for the new pattern. It has a sort of striped texture but I couldn’t fit all the pieces running the same way so the front and back panels are (sort of) vertical while the two pieces on each side are horizontal. It looks cute and isn’t particularly noticeable so whatever.
Neither of these skirts drove me to angry, frustrated tears at any point in the sewing process! I call that a MAJOR WIN! :)