Well, folks, here is skirt variation 1. Isn't she adorable? I'm really pleased with how this one turned out and I think she will get a lot of wear this spring and summer (please the excuse the pink/pale skin). Now before we get into the technical pattern drafting, let's look at the inspiration picture:
I had pinned this skirt awhile ago. It's Miu Miu and I found it on Net-a-porter. For a measly $1,445 I could have just purchased this skirt from the site, but where's the fun in that? Instead, I used a coral rayon/linen blend that I had in my stash. The statement buttons were what really grabbed me on this skirt. While I love the buttons on the inspiration skirt, I had these lovelies that I had purchased to go with said coral linen and I think they work beautifully!
So, how did I turn a straight skirt pattern into this very simple A-line mini? It was really quite simple and I will walk you through the lazy drafter's steps that I used. Now, before I start I want to add a disclaimer. I am well aware that there very precise ways to pattern draft and I totally use these steps all the time, however, for this exercise, I skip some of the more fiddly steps because I'm impatient. Now that's out of the way, let's get started!
First, trace your perfectly fitted pattern onto some pattern/butcher/drawing paper. Pattern drafting rule number one says to use a fine tip pencil for all tracing a drafting so as not to add any extra width to the pattern, but I used a Sharpie so you could actually see what I was doing!
Now, as you can possibly see, I have folded up the hem allowance, but left all the seam allowances. In pattern drafting, they always tell you to take off the seam allowances and it does make drafting intricate patterns much easier, but for stuff like this, I'm just too lazy to do it.
We'll start with the front, but I always go ahead and trace off both the front and back at the same time.
Now, because I don't have any darts in the front of my piece, I have to do this a little different (if you do have front darts it will be done just like the back of the skirt that I show in a minute). When tracing off, I marked where the darts would go, if I had some (see mark at the top). Next I do mark in the seam line along the waist. We will cut to this line, but not through it so it will act as a hinge. This allows us to manipulate the skirt width without changing the waist measurement. I measured over from the center front and then added 1/4" to that measurement and used it as my marker for the bottom of the skirt. I then connected my dots with a straight line.
Next you will cut along this line until you get to the orange dot (at the waist seam line). Then cut into the seam allowance from the top, but stop at the dot so a tiny hinge of paper remains.
Now you will just spread the bottom open 2" and slid in a piece of scrap paper to fill in the gap. Tape these cut lines down really well so they don't get caught on anything! You will also notice that your cutting line (i.e. the top of the pattern) is overlapping itself. This is ok! Your sewing line has not changed so it will not affect your waist measurement or fit.
We will now add a 1" flare to the side seam. We add 1" here because we will add the other 1" to the side seam of the back. This combines to an extra 2" at the side seams. The idea here is to add fullness evenly around the skirt. Add your 1" and then blend to the hip like above.
Now because our side seam is now slightly on bias, it will stretch a bit. In order to compensate for this, we will raise the side seam by 1/4" and blend it back into the original hem.
Now we will draft the front placket of the skirt. In order to determine the size of our overlap, we need to measure the buttons we plan on using. This one is 5/8" wide so our overlap extension will be 5/8" (I actually totally changed my mind and decided to use the fabulous buttons which were much larger so I had to go back and redo this part for my final skirt, but the steps remain the same!).
As you can see, I just extended the center front by 5/8". Now because my original pattern had the front cut on the fold, I didn't have to mess around with any seam allowances because there were none on the original pattern. However, our new skirt will close in the front so we will add those seam allowances at the end!
Now I traced the extension with my tracing wheel to make it really easy to fold back the excess paper to draft the facing like this:
Now trace the center front line and the top and bottom of the skirt with your tracing wheel.
Unfold your paper and trace the lines that were left by your tracing wheel. This makes up the facing that will be folded back during construction and it ensures that it fits perfectly along the hem and top of the skirt. Add a 5/8" seam allowance to the facing and your front is ready to go!
For the back, I did have darts to contend with. You would use these steps for the front if you have front darts. I only wanted 1 dart in the back of my skirt so I had to first combine my two darts. This required some measurements. As you can see, my darts combined for a totally intake of 1 1/4", Instead of two darts, I want one big 1 1/4" dart.
Here I just crossed out the old darts and put in a new dart in the middle of the back. Make sure the width you need is at the sewing line and not the top of the pattern.
This time you will draw a line from the bottom of the pattern to the base of the dart.
Now you will cut from the base of the pattern to the base of the dart (I put an orange x where you will stop). Don't cut through the x. You will then cut from the top of the pattern down one of the dart legs (it doesn't matter which) to the x, but not through the x. You want to keep this a hinge like in the front. Spread the bottom by 2" just like in the front.
Notice that this closed the dart a bit at the top. Instead of a 1 1/4" dart, I now have a 3/4" dart. This is exactly what you want to see. Because most of us have bottoms that protrude from our bodies, we want to keep some sort of a dart for shaping back there!
Next you will add in that same 1" flare on the side seam and raise the side seam by 1/4" just like you did on the front.
The original pattern had a seam up the back of the skirt because this is where the zipper was located. However, because we have our opening in the front, we can save some time and cut our back on the fold. To do this, we must first cut off the seam allowance along the center back.
In order to cut this on the fold, the center back needs to be a straight line. To do this, add some scrap paper and draw a straight line from the base of the pattern to the top of the skirt. You will notice that the top of the skirt goes inward. This is because there was some shaping added into the seam line of the original pattern. On my pattern we are adding 1/2" at the waist in order to make it straight.
So that our skirt isn't too big for us in the waist, we will need to remove this 1/2" (or whatever your measurement) from the side seam like this:
Add in your hem allowance at the bottom of both pieces, and that's basically it! Your pattern pieces will look like a complete mess just like mine!
In addition to these steps, I used a straight waistband that I drafted. It's just a long rectangle. You just want to measure the waist of your pattern pieces (remember to removes those seam allowances from your measurement) and multiply it by 2 since the pattern is just 1/2 of a skirt. Also, make sure you measure past the center front and through to the edge of the extension, but not the facing. Add seams allowances to either end of this rectangle's length. For the width, I prefer a 1 1/2" finished width. You multiply this by 2 (so you can fold it in half) and then add 2 seams allowances. This makes my finish width 4 1/4" (I use 5/8" seam allowances). Also, make sure you add in a hem allowance when all is finished. This width is entirely up to you. I used just a 5/8" hem allowance on this example. I also ended up shortening the original pattern by 2" because I decided I wanted it to be a mini length.
Whew! You made it to the end! As a reward here are a boat load of pictures of the finished skirt. While the fabric isn't quite a stable as I was envisioning, I'm still pretty pleased!
I will leave you with this overly smiley picture.
Until next time!