Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tutorial - color block a-line skirt.

I am VERY excited to finally make this post. A REAL tutorial with measurements and full sewing instructions to make a color block a-line skirt with elastic waist including a little ruffle waist (did I just invent a word there?) in size 2-3 and 4-5 years old. And it's very easy to change to other sizes. Which I will give an example of a little further down in the worst hustler way.
I am very happy for this skirt for many reasons. I love the a-line shape. You don't see that shape to girls as often as the full skirt. And this shape is still loose enough for them to move freely. It's very easy to sew and you can use up all those long leftover pieces all sewers has lying around after using most of a piece of fabric. And it is a basic shape that has so many possibilities by for example adding different pockets, belt loops, a bow maybe (like these shorts, remember). 
I will try to make this tutorial so even beginners can follow but also try to add tips for the more experienced sewer to give your garment a professional look.

First you need to make a pattern. The reason I can even do this full tutorial is that the pattern consists of only 3 pieces and they are all rectangles.
Since I am European and is mostly familiar with the Metric system the measurements in this tutorial will be in centimeter. But PLEASE let me know if I in any way can help if you are American and would like to make the skirt and is unable to because of this.
I usually use this website http://www.metric-conversions.org when I need to convert measurements and I was planning on doing both a European and an American version in this tutorial but realized I don't even know what you American sewers use normally for seam allowance. Would love to know though! 

Size 4-5 year old.
Top skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 5+10+1=16 cm (seam allowance, ruffle waist+height+seam allowance)

Mid skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+10+1=12 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance)

Bottom skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+10+4=15 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance, hem)

Finished skirt length: 30 cm

Top skirt pattern piece.
 Mid skirt pattern piece.
Bottom skirt pattern piece.

As you can see do they all have a 1,5 cm fold in the height. That because I can be a bit of a cheater sometimes and here comes the hustler tip: My 2 and 4 year old have kind of the same waist size so it only had to be shorter and I found out that 4,5 cm would do it......A very easy calculation tells me that I need to subtract 1,5 cm in the height of each of the 3 pattern pieces and I should of course have made a new pattern but ohhh come on it was sooooo much easier to just fold each piece and make it 1,5 cm shorter in height.
Here comes the measurements for the size 2-3 years old.
Top skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 5+8,5+1=16 cm (seam allowance, ruffle waist+height+seam allowance)

Mid skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+8,5+1=12 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance)

Bottom skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+8,5+4=15 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance, hem)

Finished skirt length: 25,5 cm

Now to the fun part - picking out the three fabrics you want to use for your skirt. I had a little helper today. I was choosing fabrics for two skirts and cut them both today. The pictures from the sewing part of this tutorial is just of the skirt with the ice cream fabric (from Jo Ann Fabric - so crazy cute.)

These are the 2 x 3 combinations I choose from my fabric stash. 
Flowers for the 2 year old and ice cream for the 4 year old.

Cut out the three pattern pieces. One of each of the three fabrics you have chosen. This pattern's height runs along the selvedge (see this sewing glossary for more info in case you have no idea what I am talking about.)

Before you start doing any sewing you can pre iron your ruffle waist/elastic casing plus the hem for easier sewing later.
First fold the top of the top skirt pattern down 5 cm and iron.

Then unfold the 5 cm and fold down 1 cm and iron.

Take your bottom skirt piece and fold the hem 4 cm and iron.

Unfold the 4 cm hem and fold 1 cm and iron.

Time to sew. I chose a neutral color that goes with all the three colors. If I was sewing a skirt with very different colors I would be changing thread (also on the overlock/serger) so it matches what I am sewing. Yes, this seems a little annoying and time consuming but it is one of those 'tricks' that will make your finished product look better and more professional.
Sew each long piece's side seam together first. Again the finished product will look better if you sew it in this order....not sure why, it just does :-) Or more correctly one of those things I have a hard time explaining in English, sorry!
Overlock each seam.

Iron the seams. All the same way and with the front side of your overlock seam visible - so you have to think about that before you start overlocking.

Now it is time to sew the top, mid and bottom piece together.

Make sure your three side seams are meeting exactly and that the seam allowances on the inside are ironed the same way (before you start sewing). Another thing that make your garment look professional.
The front side of the skirt will be the one where the inside seam allowances are pointing forward. The skirt looks best that way. It is hard to explain why (especially for me in English) but try it and you will see what I mean.

Here is the skirt after the top, mid and bottom has been sewed together lengthwise and the seam allowanced has been overlocked.

Iron your seams so that the inside seam allowances point upwards. Yes, you know what I am going to say now....professional looking!

Now it is time to make the ruffle waist plus casing for the elastic and hem the skirt. Since these stitches will be visible on the outside of the skirt it is time to change to a perfect matching color. (Yes I know, I am very annoying ;-)

Let us start with the top. You have already pre-ironed the top skirt piece and now you fold it again 4+1 cm and stitch 1 mm from the edge from the inside of the skirt. Make sure to leave a 3-4 cm opening for the elastic to come through. 1,5-2 cm each from the side seam would be a good place to do that. If you are not an experienced sewer it is probably a good idea to put a few needles in to keep it all in place.....and if you care about your sewing machine you should never sew over needles!

Turn the skirt around and stitch 1,5 cm from the top on the outside side of the skirt - this time all the way around. That 1,5 cm at the top will make the ruffle when the elastic comes in.

Here you can see the top of the skirt from the inside including the opening for the elastic.

Your casing for the elastic is 2,5 cm so I use a elastic that is 2 cm wide. For both my girls (size 2-3 and 4-5 yrs old) I cut a piece that is 45 cm long and that includes 1+1 cm seam allowance to sew the elastic together after it has been put through the casing with a safety pin :-)

Here is a photo of the elastic on its way through the opening and the casing.

Overlap the ends of the elastic with 2 cm and sew them together securely.

It is now time to close the opening in the casing and because of the elastic inside I would definitely recommend putting in some needles - just pull them out as you sew. Because I needed my hands to take the photo it does not show you that you stretch out the elastic both ways while you sew.

Almost done here....second last thing to do is to hem the skirt. Again you have done the prepping by iron the bottom of the skirt 3+1 cm and now you stitch 1 mm from the edge on the inside of the skirt.

Last - but not least - iron your skirt. Especially the hem and all the seams. 
I must admit looking at this photo that my finishing ironing could have been better - ohhh well the 'model' is in preschool and I want to post this so no time to take new photos.
Now I will go to my sewing room and sew the skirt in size 2 years old and since they are crazy fast to sew - especially when the pattern are made and the fabric cut - I should be able to post photos of that one tomorrow. Hmmm, maybe I will even put pockets on that one to show some variation possibilities....Uh Mie be careful what you promise!
Here is a link to an earlier post showing another version of this skirt.
Like I said earlier please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding this tutorial.
Please note that this tutorial and the color block a-line skirt is only meant for private use. Please contact me for a limited commercial license permission: sewinglikemad@gmail.com
Happy sewing! 
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