Monday, May 28, 2012

Cotton summer skirts.

Over at the blog Crafterhours Skirt Week 2012 (which really is a month but who is counting) is in full swing and that made me think about what skirts I have made lately. And my next thought was that they would be kind of perfect to show here on the blog so here we go.....
It is basically the same skirt in two different fabrics and with the only difference that the orange is fuller than the leopard and the leopard has deeper pockets (which you can't see from the outside but they fit my long monkey arms better).

I made the orange one first for a vacation in Florida earlier in the year and even though I was happy with the result (except for the not deep enough pockets) my original idea was a skirt less full.....and that is where the leopard one comes in the picture because that was the next attempt. 
The orange fabric is 100% quilting cotton from Kaffe Fassett Collective 2010 Dapple Orange. The leopard fabric is a crispy cotton poplin (both bought a 

The model itself is very simple - if we can just forget the pockets at first (and still with pockets is it a project a new beginner could do). Basically two rectangles sewn together, gathered and sewn on to a bit smaller waistband. Divide the waistband into 4 casings/canals, put elastic in at a length that fit the place you want to skirt to sit (waist, below waist etc) in the 3 bottom casings, hem the skirt and wupti you are done. 
And no this was not a full tutorial. It should be enough though for a more experienced sewer to understand what to do when they get the measurements later in this post. If you are a not such an experienced sewer (and you are very welcome here too) I would recommend you to go to this very talented lady's website: Marapytta. It is in Danish (because Line is Danish and live in Denmark so I guess that is kind of fair enough.) BUT the DIY I am going to tell you about has brilliant photos and you should be able to figure it out from them. 
It is this DIY that taught me to make the waistband a bit smaller than the skirt piece in skirts with elastic waists because then you are dividing the gathering better by using both gathering thread which will be fixated when you sew the waistband on the skirt and elastic that gives the waistband flexibility. Clever! 

A closer look at the elastic waistband and front pockets. A piping along the pocket opening would be a nice detail by the way.

The orange skirt has a finished bottom circumference of 210 cm (82.6 inches). The leopard is 150 cm (59 inches) all the way around. This still gives plenty of gathering at the waist and room to take steps without need of a slit but it does have a less full look. I like and wear them both for everyday life but my favorite at the moment is the leopard one. Which one is yours?

Yeah I know what you are thinking....she should have ironed her skirt before she took photos (I know I would!) .....and I DID iron it! But like I mentioned before the fabric is kind of crispy (like nice bedsheets) and lazy me are throwing garments like that in the tumble dryer and that has given it some crinkles that does not go least not with my household iron. Oh well it is an everyday cotton skirt and my everyday can take some crinkles.

Last shot from the back of the skirt.....and of the fence that needs painting. But we are still expatriates and are renting this house so not our problem - phew!

Because the skirt itself is so simple I would definitely recommend to make a big hem like I have done on these two skirts (9+1 cm (4 inches)). It is one of those tricks that makes your garments look more exclusive and nice simply because of that extra fabric that has been used. An extra bonus is that that is very easy to do in a skirt that has a square pattern/starting point like this one. 
If you were making a skirt from a circle pattern you would have to make a separate facing to make a high hem like this because well that is simple mathematics (even though it is going to sound complicated in writing, sorry!)....the circle's circumference is much higher on the outside than further up on the circle where you have to stitch the hem to the skirt. Got it? I hope! Otherwise forget about it because this skirt's hem is straight and therefor you simply add whatever length of hem you want to the pattern. 
And the tutorial for this hem is fold, iron, sew, iron, done!

Okay so since I just posted a detailed full sewing tutorial for this skirt I thought that I would focus more on the pattern in this post.

Here you see the back skirt pattern piece. This pattern piece is made 'to fold' which means the CB (center back) will be where the fold is and the piece of fabric you cut after this pattern will be double size in the width. To do it this way is simply just a way to save paper  and you can of course only do it to patterns pieces that are symmetrical. 

Here you see the front skirt pattern piece. This also has to be cut 'to fold'. You can make your side pockets round or straight or square (Yippie, more options!)
When you decide on your type of pocket you draw the line and then add the sewing allowance you sew with. I use 1 cm.

Before you cut out your pocket opening on the front skirt piece you have to make a what I call a back pocket bag. This pattern piece is going to fill out the front skirt piece so that it becomes a full rectangle again - you are going to cut of the corners for pocket openings remember. 
By the way you can see here that I have extended the pattern for the leopard version so the pocket became deeper.

Here you see the front pocket bag pattern. This is made by tracing your pocket opening and then trace the back pocket so the front and back pocket is the exact same size.

Last pattern piece is for the waistband. Again I have made this 'to fold' so what you see here is half of the fabric piece you are going to end up with after cutting. By the way you need two pieces - a front and a back.

Some measurements would probably help the project along too.
Since this skirts is made of big rectangles that you gather together with elastic the only measurement that has to fit you precisely is the length of the elastic you put in the waistband. And the length of the skirt.
I am a size 38-40 (US: 6-8) and I should mean this skirt could be used for size 34-42 (US: 2-10) - with different length elastic in the waistband. 
I am 178 cm tall (5"10) and I have made the finished skirt 61 cm (24 inches).

I will give you the measurements of the pattern pieces as you see them on the photos above. 
Remember the patterns are made 'to fold' and you have to multiply with two to get the full front (or back) width and four to get the full skirt's or waistband's circumference. 

Front + back skirt (orange - fuller skirt): 
Width: 52.5+1 cm = 53.5 cm (width, skirt+seam allowance)
Length: 1+56+10 cm = 67 cm (seam allowance, top+length skirt+seam allowance, hem)
Front + back skirt (leopard - less full skirt):

Width: 37.5+1 cm = 38.5 cm (width, skirt+seam allowance)
Length: 1+56+10 cm = 67 cm (seam allowance, top+length skirt+seam allowance, hem)

Front + back waistband (orange & leopard): 
Width: 29+1 cm = 30 cm (width, waistband+seam allowance)
Height: 1+5+5+1 cm = 12 cm (seam allowance+waistband, outside+ waistband, inside+seam allowance)

The pockets are obviously hard to give measurements to because of the round lines but I will give you the width and height of the pocket bag and then I am sure you figure out the rest. Besides even the height and width will depend on what type/style of side pocket you decide to make.

Front and back pocket bag (orange & leopard): 
Width: 1+16+1 cm = 18 cm (seam allowance+pocket+ seam allowance)
Height: 1+32.5+1 cm = 34.5 cm (seam allowance+pocket+ seam allowance)

If you are wondering why the measurements are only in cm it is because I still do not know what you Americans are using as seam allowance but I can recommend Please let me know if I can help in any way!

Okay, I think we are through here.
If you decide to make this skirt please upload a photo or two to Sewing Like Mad's Flickr Group.

This skirt is only for private use.
Happy sewing!

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  1. Two fabulous skirts!!! I especially like the orange one. I love pockets in a skirt... adds interest and dresses it up. Thanks for sharing how you made them. I would love for you to share this at our ONGOING linky that's just for Women's Skirts...

    1. Thanks for the nice words and for letting me know about your project! I have linked up already :-)

    2. Thanks for linking up. Looking forward to seeing more of your creativity...

  2. I would love to make this skirt today! We wear the same size so it should be easy Can you tell me though, in the "front + back" skirt directions, you have written 52,5 + 1. Is that supposed to be a comma or did you mean to type a period (52.5 + 1)? Or is it 52 cm + 5 cm? I'm having to convert so I want to make sure I'm correct. Thanks! And thanks for linking up at Creative Me!

    1. Hi Jenny. I am sorry it is another one of those European living in America Europe we use komma there and you use dot. Yes it is 52.5+1 cm! I think I will correct the post to avoid any more of that confusion.
      Maybe you can help me too. What do you add as sewing allowance in inches?
      Will be looking forward to see the result in my Flickr Group (no pressure :-)
      Please let me know if I can help you along the way!

    2. Thanks, Mie! I never knew that you used a comma rather than a dot! A pretty standard seam allowance here is .5 inches, or just over 1,25 cm (as you would write it, I think). I may be totally confused in translating that. :)

      I appreciate your help so much! Have a great day!


  3. They're both super cute! Love the pocket details. Thanks for sharing at Etcetorize!

  4. This is a great idea,thanks for sharing!

  5. Cute skirts!! I love the pockets!! I have been intimidated by pockets.... Maybe I should try it! Thanks!! :)

  6. Very cute skirts! I live in skirts in the summertime-thanks for the tutorial, I may get brave enough to try one (I haven't sewn in years!)


    1. Go for it Melissa! I will be here for you if you get in trouble :-)

  7. LOVE THIS! Saving it to my favorites to try out :)

    New follower from the blog hop, I can't wait to catch up your posts!

    Check out my blog if you get a chance :)

    xo, Jersey Girl

  8. I like the big hem, I do that on all my skirts/dresses too.

  9. Love these!!! One of my summer goals is to learn to sew!!

    1. Go for it. Let me now if I can help!

  10. I love summer skirts! I am just learning to sew and can't wait to try making this. I pinned it!

  11. What a cute summer skirt. I may have to make one or four of these! :) Thanks for sharing it with us!!

    1. Knock yourself out. Please don't forget to upload photos to Sewing Like Mad's Flickr group when you are done with your one or four ;-)

  12. Very Cute skirts! I would love for you to link the up at "I Made This", going on now at Grits & Giggles!

  13. These are darling! I'm adding them to my to do list. :)

  14. I love this skirt. I will be making one for sure. Thanks for sharing it. I'm a new follower of your Lovely Blog.
    Rose @ {A Rosie Sweet Home}

  15. Super cute! Thanks for linking up, I just shared this project on my fb page:

  16. I love this prints. Absolutely gorgeous and perfect for summer. If you haven't linked this up to my party you totally should:>

    1. Thanks Danielle! They are linked 19 in your link party :-)

  17. This a great! I just bought a small sewing machine and I had no idea what to make or how to do it. This is perfect! I've been wanting some skirts too.

  18. Those are super cute! I love the pockets! Thanks for sharing at The Little Giggler! :)

  19. Nice skirts! Think maybe I need to make a couple for myself for summer.

  20. Such thorough and clear instructions. I just used this casing idea for a maxi dress bodice and I love it. I think I like the orange one best but both are adorable. I just love color.

  21. Cotton is the most common fabric in the world they said. Most of the people prefer cotton clothes because of the goodness of the fabric. Also, it is natural and a biodegradable fabric, very green.

  22. woah thank you !!! i am terrified of my sewing machine.... but this i may try !

  23. thanks for sharing.

  24. Very nice! I am looking for this type of info and sometimes I get lucky like today...:-). Thanks for your post.

  25. Cute skirts! Love the trick with the wide hem. So nice to meet you this weekend!

  26. Such a cute skirt! Definitely on my list of things to make, especially since my sister is completely obsessed with these types of skirts right now. By the way, the standard American seam allowance for clothing is 5/8 inch.

  27. I'm a fan of the leopard print skirt. I am looking for examples of less full skirts that I can lengthen and not have a ton of fabric at the bottom. I don't likemy skirts making me bigger than I already am.

  28. Hello from HOT Texas. I sure love this skirt, but I am having trouble understanding the pocket pattern pieces and how they go together. I love the waistband and I looked at the Danish instructions (and even had the Internet translate some of them) so I could understand the waistband. But the pockets are stumping me. Robin


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