UFO Busting: Self-drafted A-line skirt

I proudly present what may very well be the best fitting skirt I have ever had. I made the pattern following (most of the) instructions from Craftsy’s “Design and sew an a-line skirt” class. The fit of this skirt is so much better than any RTW skirt I have been able to find. The main reason I hardly ever used to wear a skirt is that I simply didn’t have any good fitting ones. Usually, when I tried on a RTW skirt it was either way too large at the waist or way too tight at the hip. Now I want to make lots more!

Denim A-line skirt

This quite simple skirt turned into an UFO because I probably used inaccurate measurements when I drafted my first pattern months ago. My muslin looked hideous. I decided to toss it and start from scratch. This time, I marked the exact location of my waist, hip and desired hem line on my body so that I would be sure to measure in the right location and also have accurate waist-hip and waist-hemline measurements.

I still had to tweak the side seam between waist and hip quite a bit in my muslin because the difference between those two measurements is quite large due to my pear shape. Perhaps I could get it to fit even better in that region in a next version but for now I’m very pleased with how it looks.

A-line skirt with inset pocketInstead of making a very basic skirt I wanted something a bit more special, so I added a facing, cut up the front and back to do some colour blocking and added inset pockets. How to draft this type of pocket isn’t included in the class but I very much prefer this pocket over the options provided in the class. For example, I detest inseam pockets. Seriously, they always gape and then stand out a little bit from your body and since they’re usually located in the hip region of a skirt or dress they draw extra attention to your hips. I think it is safe to assume that over 90% of Western women does not want to draw extra attention to her hips. So, my advice is to avoid inseam pockets like the plague. It’s not difficult to add inset pockets to an existing pattern, although with hindsight I should probably have made mine a little deeper.

Facing

For the skirt fabric I used pieces of cut up old jeans. I have collected a selection of old worn jeans that I occasionally cut up into pieces and use to make stuff. When I pulled out my stash I discovered I had 14(!) pairs that I hadn’t yet cut into, which, even to me, seems like a somewhat ridiculous amount. Most worn jeans still have areas where the fabric is in very good condition, most often the back of the lower part of the leg. You want to avoid using parts that are clearly worn and the knees. Most denim nowadays contains some spandex and the knees in old jeans have usually become stretched out and baggy. For this skirt I used fabric from 5 different pairs and I really like how they work together. For the facing and pocket lining I used a floral cotton. The facing is interfaced with medium weight woven interfacing.

denim A-line skirtSome of you may have been wondering when I was ever going to post a project for which I used my new overlocker and coverstitch machine. Right now! I finished the seam allowances with a 3-thread overlock stitch and I think the inside now looks very nice and it was so much faster than what I used to do before. The hem was finished with a 2 needle coverstitch and I also really like how that turned out.

Left: details of 3-thread overlock stitch. Right: 2-needle coverstitch on hem.

Left: details of 3-thread overlock stitch. Right: 2-needle coverstitch on hem.

Largest revelations during the skirt drafting stage:

  • I do not need darts in the skirt front (which is actually a very good thing because it reduces the number of darts to sew by a whopping 50%!). Instead I lowered the top of the skirt a little bit at the centre front to ensure that the top of the whole skirt would be parallel to the floor.
  • Pinning a back dart on yourself while simultaneously trying to look in a mirror to see what you are doing puts you at serious risk of a strain injury.
  • My back darts needed to be quite a bit longer than I originally thought they should be.

140201_A-lineskirt4I did find this Craftsy class useful but I thought the teacher was a bit too happy. If you want to learn how to draft a simple skirt it is a good option though and if you start out with the right measurements you’ll most likely end up with a very nice fitting skirt. However, would I buy a skirt drafting class today I would most likely get the “Pattern making basics: The skirt sloper” class as that one seems to be much more versatile. I might still get it, I really want to learn more about pattern drafting, I thoroughly enjoy the process and dress making is even more fun when your finished garments actually fit well.

February 1, 2014

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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19 Comments

  1. Deborah

    I really like the way your combination of cuts from different jeans made this such a unique skirt. And it fits you so wonderfully! I can see why you would want to make lots of them! 🙂

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I really like skirts but because I never had any good ones I didn’t wear them very often. I hope to change that this year.

      Reply
  2. Diana

    It’s such a beautiful skirt! Not that you need it, but the placement of the dark denim makes it a very slimming skirt. And I’ll admit: so jealous over the coverstitch. 😉 Well done.

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! The placement of the dark denim pieces was very intentional. 😉

      Reply
  3. dressingtherole

    Wow, that fit really is perfect!! I’ve been wondering about getting into pattern drafting, and I think you’ve inspired me to (eventually) try this out. And fun colorblocking – neutral and versatile, but still adventurous and unique

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I find pattern drafting great fun, all those design choices you can make along the way and it makes it so easy to end up with a truly unique garment. If you start with something simple like a skirt (and measure yourself correctly) it’s not very difficult.

      Reply
  4. Claire

    This is a very inspiring project. I would be proud to make something like this. You’ve drafted your pattern and customised it, used recycled fabric, added personal touches and, as always, your work looks so neat and professional. I love the colour blocking. It suits you and fits you very well. Enjoy wearing your skirt – and the others which will follow.

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I didn’t take it off after taking pictures yesterday and am wearing it again today!

      Reply
  5. Lady Stitcher

    Great use of different denims and it looks like a brilliant fit. I love the pockets, they sit really well and the rounded opening is a really nice feature. And look how neat it all is on the inside!!

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I am very pleased with how it all turned out. I used a curved ruler to draw the pocket opening.

      Reply
  6. Ali

    Love your skirt! Well done! It looks really professional.
    I may have to rummage in my husbands wardrobe – he has ridiculously long legs – 35″ inside leg, so there’s lots if fabric in his jeans! Will save me having to cut up mine!!

    Reply
    • Emmely

      And men’s jeans are often also a bit wider than women’s too so you’ll be able to get wider and longer pieces of fabric! 😉

      Reply
  7. Tracey

    That is darn cute skirt! I love it and it fits you so well! Good for you! Bust those UFO’s!!

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you!

      Reply
  8. lisanathangoucher

    Oh my goodness, this is SO neat! I love the contrasting floral fabric you’ve used inside. It’s just like the fabric I’m about to use to sew my first ever dressmaking project. I hope it turns out half as lovely as this!

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I really love this skirt.
      Good luck on your first dress! Just make sure to work careful and slowly but from the projects I saw on your blog I’m sure you already work precise.

      Reply
  9. Lisa in Port Hope

    I rarely wear skirts, for much the same fitting reasons as you, but you have inspired me to try again one day. The thing I have never remembered is to take my lessons from making trousers (I am very short-waisted) and apply to a skirt. Thanks for sharing your learnings.

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Using your own (accurate) measurements really is the way to get to a good fitting skirt. When I want to make a commercial skirt pattern in the future I am first going to compare it to the pattern I made myself to get an idea whether it has a chance of working out for my shape at all.

      Reply

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