Friday, 19 March 2010

How to make a skirt pattern - part 3

So now you have your skirt block, you can make a plain 'tailored' skirt with the basic block pattern.

In this post, I shall go through some basic techniques to:

Make a pencil skirt
Make a facing 
Close darts
Make and Mark your pattern

To make a facing for any skirt, decide how deep you would like it to be, and draw a line right across the pattern.  Then trace up from that line, the outline of the top of your skirt - where the red dotted line appears in the diagram below.

Now trace this red outline onto some tracing paper so that you have a front half and a back half.   Make sure you trace the darts accurately.

Cut out the pieces around your outlines, and then fold the paper where the darts are - just as if you were sewing them together.  This will make your front section and back section 'curl' up.  That is fine.  Trace these two shapes back onto your master pattern ensuring the lines are smooth.  You should end up with something which looks like the green lined shapes below:

To make a pencil skirt shape, simply decide how narrow you would like the bottom of the skirt to be - I usually take mine in by about 5-6 cm, divide that measurement in two, and then measure from the centre line of your master block back by that half measurement on either side, and join those points to your hip line.  You should end up with :

From here you can make further adjustments to the design of your skirt.  Keeping it simple, you could either go for the basic pencil skirt as shown, or you could make it into a panel pencil skirt by cutting 10 pattern pieces instead of 4 - ie: by cutting through the darts and flare lines.  A bit more work, but a lovely effect especially if you use flat felled seams.

Now your complete skirt pattern (basic model) plus facing, should look something like this:

Because you have closed the darts on the facing, you do not have to sew darts into it - you can do this with the skirt too if you want to, using the same technique.  However, this pattern description is fora simple pencil skirt which will have a side zip and no seam at the centre front or back, there are 4 pattern pieces which will result in 6 fabric pieces to mark and sew together.

When tracing the pattern, the following steps should be taken:

  • Trace with clear sharp lines
  • Before removing each pattern piece:
  •  make sure the piece is labelled - cf/cb/sf/sb etc.,
  •  mark a grain line running vertically from top to bottom in order to ensure that your fabric is straight
  •  mark balance points - where you will join the fabric pieces together - I usually do this at the hip line.
  •  make sure your darts and any other important features are marked.
Pattern markings should therefore look a little like this:

    And the same for the facing:

    After tracing the pieces from the block, don't forget to add seam allowance!

    When making up the skirt, you might want to interface the facing to give it stiffness, and you might want to add a lining to the facing or underneath the facing.  For the former, you just draw onto your basic block, down from the facing line, thus creating 2 further pattern pieces, or for a complete lining, you just cut out two lots of skirt pattern from the appropriate fabrics.

    Other points to consider before you start tracing:

    Where will your fastening be?  if at the back, then you will need to cut two separate pieces for the CB - ie: not cut on the fold as per my example.  You will also need a split or splits in order to make walking possible!  You could have one at the back, or one at the front.  You could even do a little peplum - but that is for another post.

    And so I hope this tutorial is useful for you!  I hope to return to normal daily blogging next week!

    Happy weekend everyone!!

    Tuesday, 9 March 2010

    How to make a skirt pattern - part 2

    Today we shall talk about DARTS on the skirt block.

    Darts are there to shape the skirt - obviously - to your own contours preferably.  You can put any number of darts into your skirt, but for the basic block, there will be 2 at the back and one at the front.  This translates to a total of 6 darts in your skirt.  We're putting more darts into the back as there is more ease there, if you remember.

    The waist is going to have 1cm ease which will be split equally between the back and the front of the skirt block - so 0.25cm either side of the block as each half of the block is a quarter of your skirt.

    The darts will be 2cm wide each.

    You can plot these lines now as follows:

    click the image to enlarge

    The front waist will be quarter of your waist measurement plus 2.25cm.  That is 2cm for the dart and 0.25cm for quarter of the ease.  Draw a line this length back towards the centre of the skirt and then connect this line to the hip line.  Extend that line by 1.25cm above the top line.   The front dart is usually placed about 7.5cm-10cm left of the CF line.  Draw a line straight downwards.

    The back waist will be quarter of your waist measurement plus 4.25cm.  That is 2 x 2cm darts plus 0.25cm for quarter of the ease.  Draw a line this length from CB towards the centre of the skirt and join with a diagonal line towards the hip as shown.  Again, extend this line 1.25cm above the top.  The two back darts are placed at evenly spaced intervals at the back.  Draw these in vertically from the top line, extending them to meet the diagonal line you have just drawn.

    Your darts should be the lengths indicated here:

    click the image to enlarge

    To draw the darts in, measure 1cm either side of each central dart line, and join each point to the bottom of the dart:

    click the image to enlarge

    Do this for all of the darts, and then, add some curve to all lines like SO:

    click the image to enlarge

    Now there is just one more thing to do before the basic block is finsihed, and that is to add your "flare lines".  You don't HAVE to add these, but I always do as it helps me define the line of my final skirt.  ie:  If you want a flared skirt with godets you would put the godets where the flare lines are.  Or if you wanted a panel skirt then you would cut where the flare lines are and these would then become seams.

    Flare lines just extend from the bottom of the dart to the bottom of the block.  You can have more flare lines than this depending upon your design, but for this block we are sticking to the basic.

    The basic skirt block, complete with flare lines, looks like this:

    click the image to enlarge

    NOW you are ready to make a toile (muslin).  What you have to do is trace your block onto some thinner paper - I use plain greaseproof paper (not baking parchment with silicone as that is too slippy).  Trace the two halfs - front and back - with the dart markings.  After tracing each half, you have to add a seam allowance of 1.5cm to the sides only.    The centre front of this pattern is cut on the fold of your fabric as is the centre back - so for the purpose of your toile for fitting, the opening to your skirt will be at the side.  Make the toile up in cheap fabric, and fit it to yourself.  It should already be quite a good fit, but may need a little adjustment at the waist and hip.  Mark where your adjustments are (if any), then transfer these to your block.

    et Voila!  You have your own personal skirt block which can be customised in various ways to make virtually any skirt you can think of!

    Future posts will include ways to do this.  

    To preserve your block so that you can use it time and time again, it is a good idea to transfer it now to some thin card.  Make sure to transfer all of the basic markings too.  When you come to make patterns, you just trace around the block, marking where the darts, flare lines and hip line is, and then create a new pattern.

    If you are new here, or if you have found these posts interesting, I would love to hear from you!  Please do say 'hi' in the comments.  I will upload a PDF of this post soon.

    Tuesday, 2 March 2010

    How to make a skirt pattern - part 1

    At last I have some useful information for you.  Here is the first instalment of skirt pattern (block) making.  Click on the diagrams for a larger view.  For ease of reference, click here for part 2 and part 3.

    Part 1, is measuring and applying the measurements to the first part of the "block".   You need only THREE measurements:

    Final length of skirt

    When taking measurements, don't breathe in, don't leave the tape slack.   Measure snugly as you would like the skirt to fit.  Ease to allow for movement will be added later.

    The block works with half your body.  You therefore need to half your measurements, and then quarter them for half of each side - front and back?  Are you with me?  Don't worry, there's a diagram at the end.

    First of all,  record your measurements - and do the calculations.  I like to make a table for easy reference.

    Don't bother filling out the grey coloured squares as you don't need those measurements.   Here you can see that we're adding half the total amount of ease to the finished block measure.  So the total amount of ease on your skirt will be 1cm at the waist, and 3cm at the hip.  This will allow for comfort and movement, but also give a nice fit.

    The final block measures are as follows:

    Waist =  quarter of the waist measurement plus 0.5cm
    Hip back = quarter the hip plus 1.5 cm
    Hip front = quarter the hip

    So if we were using my own measurements, the chart would look like this:

    I tend to like my skirts on, or just above the knee, but with your block you can go as long or short as you like.  You do not add hem allowance or seam allowance at this stage.

    SO.  Now you have your measurements, you need a large piece of paper, a long ruler, a set square, a pencil and a rubber.  The piece of paper should be able to accommodate a square which is the width of half your hip measurement plus ease (50.5cm in the above example) and a few inches longer than your final length of skirt measurement.  Personally I prefer to use dot and cross, or squared paper because my eyes are funny and can't see straight lines no matter how hard I try, but brown paper or even the white back of wrapping paper will be fine as long as it is wide enough!

    You will need a set square in order to get perfect 90° angles.  ALL angles at this stage must be 90°.

    First of all, draw a square, which is half hip + 1.5cm wide and length of your skirt long.  Label the left vertical edge "centre back" and the front vertical edge "centre front".  The top line is your waist.  From here, measure 20cm down (or the length of your waist to hip) and draw a horizontal line across.  This is your hip.  Measure quarter hip plus 1.5cm across from the centre back (left side) and draw a line down to the bottom.  You should now have a diagram which looks like this:

    Note that all the ease for the hip is at the back - this is where you need the space for sitting down etc., and obviously, it's where you are most 'fleshy'.  

    So from the hemline up to the hip, the basic block is done!   Next post I will show you how to shape the waist with darts and how to trace the pattern off and make it up.

    Monday, 1 March 2010

    A mood board for a Marie Antoinette

    I watched "Marie Antoinette".  Have you seen it?  Oh lordy!  There were Corsets, there were Cakes, there were Shoes and there was Shopping, not to mention all of the rumour and scandal mentioned on the box!  It was a feast for the eyes and the senses ... Blow  historical accuracy, that film was stunning!  

    And so I spent ALL DAY on Sunday - bearing in mind EVERYTHING ELSE that I have to do - making a 'mood board' of images inspired by the film - it's the colours I love.  Here's what I ended up with:



    Now I have an idea to "Mood Board" Moulin Rouge, another visual feast ... sigh.
    ps: Have you noticed the "musical theme" to my last two titles.