One of the most popular posts on the site was an early one I wrote a long time back now on how to draft your own custom fit straight skirt pattern. It was followed up with a sew-a-long series of posts for beginners covering every step in detail from choosing fabric to inserting the invisible zipper and lining the skirt too. It's been really successful and ladies have written to tell me how they were amazed that they made their own pattern and a skirt that actually fitted. The beauty of your own custom pattern – once you've made the pattern once, you can use the same pattern over and over again to quickly sew up a whole wardrobe full of skirts without lots of fitting adjustments needed.
So today, let's do that again. We'll make ourselves a simple half-circle wrap skirt. You can make this is a light and floaty fabric for summer, or draft it longer and use a thicker warmer fabric for winter. It also means, whatever your size, tiny or curvy, this tutorial is for everyone.
I'm splitting this into two articles – this first one will show you how you can draft your pattern pieces in the right size for you, and then we'll follow up with the sewing instructions later. But I promise, both are pretty easy.
Drafting your custom fit wrap skirt pattern.
Start with this handy calculator. It works in both inches or centimeters, just don't mix the two. Enter your waist (or where you want the skirt to sit), your seam allowance, and the length of the finished skirt. The calculator does the rest and gives you two numbers. You'll need these to make your pattern.
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(This allows for a little stretching on the bias of the waist, and adds in the seam allowance for the side seams, top and bottom.)
Drafting your custom pattern piece
OK, so if you've been into sewing for a while, you've probably seen a tutorial somewhere along the line for circle skirts, but just in case, I'll show you how to make up the pattern from these two numbers.
1. Take a look at the largest number. In order to draw out your pattern piece you'll need a piece of paper at least that big square. Any paper will do, newspaper, printer paper taped together, brown paper, wrapping paper or tissue paper. I use this big Roll of Paper for making my patterns and for tracing. It's intended for use in the spa but it makes perfect tracing paper and is strong enough to pin or sew together for paper fitting too.
2. Make sure your paper is square at the corner and take note of your measurements above. Let's start with line 1. This will be your waist. Mine was small enough that I could use a ruler. Assuming your answer to Line 1 is 9.5 inches, place the 9.5 inch mark on your ruler at the very point of the paper in the corner.
Swing the ruler to each of the edges and mark at the end of the ruler to get a point 9.5 inches from each corner. Now swing the ruler round in an arc, each time keeping the 9.5 inch line at the point of the paper and mark a spot a the end of the ruler. Eventually you'll end up with a dotted arc which is 9.5 inches away from the corner at each point. Join up the dots to get a curved line.
3 – For the second line you'll need to use your tape measure. Same as with the ruler, check the measurement for Line 2, place that number on the corner point of the paper, and measure along each edge and mark. Then swing the tape throughout the arc and make little dots or lines which you can join up to make a larger arc this time. This is the bottom of your skirt.
Cut out your pattern piece, we're nearly there.
4 – We'll be using this same pattern piece to cut both the front and the back of the skirt. But this is a wrap skirt so we also need a piece for the front wrap. We can use the same piece, but make it a little smaller. Fold your piece in half matching the two long edges. Crease. Then fold it in half again so you get quarters, and crease. Open out the paper and draw a line on one of the outer creases, so you have marked off a quarter of it. When cutting the third piece of fabric for the skirt, we'll fold back this quarter and make the wrap over piece just 3/4 as wide as the other panels.
Now you are ready to cut some fabric and start to sew. That comes up tomorrow. Or you can download these pattern instructions and the sewing instructions together now if you prefer.