Easy Guide to Sewing Skirts

August 9, 2017 | Author: Elizabeth Holt | Category: Seam (Sewing), Linens, Yarn, Sewing, Skirt
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Easy Guide to


Sewing Skirts

Easy Guide to

Sewing Skirts Marcy Tilton

Cover Photo: Boyd Hagan Back Cover Photos: Robert Marsala

Designer: Jodie Delohery Layout Artist: Catherine Cassidy Illustrator: Steve Buchanan Typeface: Bookman/Optima Paper: 70 lb. Warren Patina Matte

Printer: Quebecor Printing Hawkins. New Canton. Tennessee



for fellow enthusiasts

© 1995 by The Taunton Press. Inc. All rights reserved. First printing: 1995 Second printing: 1996 Printed in the United States of America

THREADS Book THREADS@ is a trademark of The Taunton Press. Inc . .


registered i n the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Taunton Press. 63 South Main Street. Box 5506. Newtown. CT 06470-5506

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Tilton. Marcy. Easy gUide to sewing skirts / Marcy Tilton. p.


Includes index. ISBN 1-56158-088-0 1 . Skirts. 2. Sewing.

1. Title.

TT540.T55 1995 646.4·3504--dc20

95-6384 CIP

Introduction I have sewn hundreds, maybe thousands, of garments during a 35-year career that has been devoted to this pleasurable passion of mine. But the garment that stands out most clearly in my mind is the very first one I made.

1 was 16 years old, loved beautiful clothes, and haunted Frank Murphy's, St. Paul, Minnesota's finest women's store, where I found the garment that inspired me-a lemon-yellow Irish linen straight skirt. Simple. Sophisticated. The

$110 price tag was clearly beyond me,

so I

found the fabric and sewed a copy of the skirt in a weekend. I was amazed at how quickly things came together, elated at what fun this was and how good it felt to create just what

I wanted from a bit of

fabriC, a pattern, and some thread. I was hooked. I had my first clothing class a few years later in college. Starting once more with a skirt-a supple, moss-green, wide-wale-corduroy A-line, cut on the bias-I learned about fitting, pressing, lining, making the inside as beautiful as the outside. I wore that skirt out, shortening it each year as the mini-skirt gradually emerged on the scene. I learned to sew from nuns who taught with gentle kindness and good humor (I wondered how they had learned all this-they wore the same thing every day!) as well as from my beloved Aunt Mary who fixed my mistakes, ripped when

1 was discouraged, and predicted: "You will

never be able to walk past a fabric store again." Years later, I met Sandra Betzina, who had a school in San Francisco devoted to fashion sewing, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I taught classes for her and on my own throughout the Bay

Area. A few years after Sandra closed her school, my school, The Sewing Workshop, the fulfillment of my dream, was born. Since then, I have learned from my colleagues, from tailors and dressmakers, from fabric artists, from students, from books and videos, from classes, and from keeping a close eye on ready-to-wear. The information in this book is the result of a lifetime of seeking knowledge, trial and error, success and failure. I have learned to appreciate "mistakes" because, through them, new techniques, ideas, and improvements develop. Through teaching and communicating about sewing, clothes, and fashion,

1 continue to learn and grow. I hope that your creative journey

will bring you as much pleasure and satisfaction as it has brought me, from the day I made that yellow skirt.


Whi ch Skirt to Make?

Working with Fabrics

Getting the Right Fit

Choosing the Best Style What's Best for Me Selecting the Pattern Beyond the Pattern Envelope Which Size to Buy?

A Glossary of Fashion Fabrics Foolproof Fabrics Challenging Fabrics Prep arin g the Fabric Pres hrtnkin g and Pressing Straightening the Grain

The Basics Four Basic Steps Tools Comp arin g Measurements Measure Your Body Measure Your Pattern Proofing the Pattern Lengthening a Pattern Shortening a Pattern Adjusting Width Custo mizin g the Pattern Adding a Pocket Adding Walking Ease Adding a Lining Changing the G rainlin e of a Flared Skirt Pin-Fitting Adjustments Try on the Pattern Adjusting for Swayback Adjusting for Round T y Adjusting for Full-Hip Measurements


Construction Guidelines

M akin g Notes Cutting and Marking Cutting Marking Pressing Tools Techniques

6 8 8 14 14 15 16 18 19 20 22 22 23 24 26 27 27 28 28 29 30 30 31 31 34 34 35 36 37 40 40 40 42 43 44 46 48 48 48 50 50 50

Seams and Seam Finishes Sewing Perfect Seams Finishes for Side Seams Finishes for Hems and Waistband Seams Darts, Pleats, and Gathers Darts Pleats Gathers Side-Seam Pockets Construction Kick Pleats and French Vents Kick Pleat French Vent Zippers Some Tips Lapped Zipper Centered Zipper Invisible Zipper The Lining Attaching the Lining He mmin g the Lining Waistbands Fitting the Waist Pull-On Waistband Classic Fitted Waistband Three Interfacing Options for the Classic Waistband Fitted Elasticized Waistband Contoured Waistband Raised Waistband Hooks and Eyes He

mmin g the S kirt Hem Width Marking Hemming by Hand Hemming by Machine Final Pressing

Test Your Skills: A Gored S kirt Tips for a Lightly Fitted Gored Skirt Tips for a Fitted Gored Skirt Tips for a Full Gored Skirt


52 53 54 55 58 59 61 64 66 66 70 70 72 74 75 76 78 80 82 84 85 86 88 89 92 93 96 99 101 102 104 104 104 105 106 106 108 108 109 109



Which Skirt to Make? Anyone can sew a skirt, so if you're just learning, a skirt is the perfect starting point. You can get the color, style, and fit you want, and the length that's exactly right for you. The number of choices in the pattern books may seem overwhelming at first, but there are really only a few skirt styles and silhouettes to choose from. In this chapter, you'll learn how to determine which styles work best on your figure and which styles and fabrics are best for your skill level. A simple style and a beautiful fabric are the best combination for fast, easy, and successful sewing Uust look at the skirts in any Calvin Klein collection). When you want to make a skirt quickly, stay at or just below your skill level and use the techniques and details that you've mastered. If you want to stretch your limits, choose skirts with some new element-a different zipper application, a more fitted style, or a more challenging fabric. The more difficult and time-consuming skirts to sew are those that are fitted at the waist, high hip, and full hip, or that have more pattern pieces and construction details, such as pleats or pockets.

Choosing the Best Style Begin in your closet. Try on your favorite skirts. Make notes and take measurements. Decide which styles and silhouettes look best on you. What are the most flattering lengths? Which waistband styles, lengths, and widths are most comfortable? What is the hip measurement of the fitted skirt that looks best on you? Next, take your tape measure to the stores. Try on a variety of skirts to see what works for you and what doesn't.


do this at

least twice a year-late August and March are when the stores have the best seasonal selections.) Again, make notes of the most flattering lengths, hem widths, waistbands, and so on. Check the fabric types-this will help you learn which fabrics work best for which styles. If you find a skirt in the stores that looks fabulous on you, you'll probably be able to find something similar in the pattern books.

Wh at's Best for Me? Skirt styles fall into a few basic categories: straight, A-line or flared, gored, pleated/tucked, gathered, wrap, and bias. But how well a particular style will look on you depends on your figure type. Some styles look good on almost anyone, while others seem to suit a particular body shape. The so-called "average" or slim, well-proportioned figure can wear almost any style of skirt. Four of the other common figure types and the styles that most flatter them are described on the facing page. The chart on pp.lO-13 describes each of the basic skirt styles, the figure type best suited to each, the range of sewing skills required, and the recommended fabrics. For easy reference, each skirt style is coded with the appropriate figure symbols. The page numbers in parentheses direct you to more detailed discussion of the suggested style variations and design details.


Which Skirt to Make?



x or Hourglass

The hourglass figure looks balanced,


H or Rectangular

The rectangular figure has few

curvaceous, and wel l defi ned. The shou lders and h i ps

curves and not m uch waist l i n e defi n ition. The

appear to be the same width, and the bust and h i ps

shou lders and the h i ps are s i m ilar i n width, which

are about lOi n . to 12 i n . larger than the waist (an

makes the figure appear balanced. If you have a

hourglass figure m ight measure 38-27-38, for

rectangular shape, most l i kely your clothes usually

example). A woman with th i s shape can wear both

hang wel l . You can wear skirts that are sl i m-fitti ng, as wel l as ones that are gracefu l and flowing.

straight and flared styles. If you're fu l l figured, however, you ' l l look better with stra ight l i nes that m i n i m ize your curves, such as those on a skirt with vertical seams.


A or Pear

On a pear-shaped figure, the shoulders


Y or Wedge

The wedge figure has shoulders that are

appear narrower than the h i ps or th ighs, the bust i s

broader than the h i ps, and the upper arms may be

small, a n d t h e waist is sma l l i n proportion t o the h i ps.

heavy. Some women develop a wedge shape as they age; others are born with these proportions. If you

If you are pear shaped-most women are-avoid b u l ky skirts and severe sl im-l i ne skirts. Flared, A-l i ne, gored, and bias skirts are most flattering. To

have a wedge shape, s l i m skirts are made for you . Gored and bias skirts are also good choices.

camouflage fu l l h i ps, choose soft, flowing fabrics, soft pleats, and long, gracefu l skirts.

Hourglass figure

Pear figure

Rectangular figure

Wedge figure

Choosing the Best Style



Style and figure notes

Required skills

Suggested faorics


More than any other style, straight skirts reveal the figure. An oversized top worn over a straight skirt, however, works wel l on figures with proportional ly large hips.

Straight skirts fit closer to the body than any other style, so it's important to have some experience with fitting.

For fitted, darted styles, the best fabrics are m idweight, sometimes termed "bottom weights" that is, for skirts or pants.

[I][j][!] A straight skirt is cut straight (or tapers in slightly) from the f u l l hip to the hem.

Short straight skirts ending just above the knee are the most flatteri ng. Super-short straight skirts, such as the micro-mini, are best on slim, long-l egged figures. Long straight skirts can have an air of chic, but look dowdy if they're the wrong length. They're best if they end where the leg begins to taper. Some French designers use patterns that are slightly "pegged" at the in. hem-cut about narrower than the f u l l h i p at each side seam. A pegged skirt tapers from fu l l hip to hem, creating a curvy, pleasing line for al most any figure that can wear a slim skirt.



Which Skirt to Make?

A traditional tailored straight skirt might have darts, soft pleats, curved seams, a zipper, fitted waistband, vent or kick pleat, and a l i ning. Easy: A slim skirt with a pul l-on e lasticized waistband (pp. 89-91 ) is an ideal beginner's project. A French vent (p. 72) and lining (pp. 82-85) are optional . Average: Soft front pleats (pp. 6 1-63); darts (p. 59), gathers (pp. 64-65), or elastic (pp. 96-98) in the back; machine-stitched zipper (pp. 78-79) at center-back seam; optional French vent (p. 72) and lining (pp. 82-85). Advanced: Darts (pp. 59-60) in front and back; shaped darts for better fit or pockets (pp.66-69); hand-picked zipper (p. 79); lining (pp. 82-85).

The best choices in wools are crepe, lightweight gabardine, fine tweeds, and twills. Avoid wool flannel; most kinds are too stiff and heavy for any skirt. Other fabrics that work wel l are linens, sil k linen or b lends, light tweeds, brushed cottons, and den i m-weight cottons. For pul l-on straight skirts, fabrics should be soft and fl uid to avoid excess bu l k at the waist and high hip. Silks, wool jersey, chal l is, and rayon are good choices.

Skirt type

Style and figure notes

Required skills

Suggested fabrics


The A-line or flared skirt is probably the best style for most women. It works well on figures with a small waist in proportion to the hips; adds the i l l usion of a waist on straight up-and­ down figures; and may be the only style that works on fu ll-hipped figures.

A-line skirts may be fitted at the waist, high hip, and fu l l hip, which requires ski l l in fitting. They can also be fu l l with a n el asticized waistband-super-easy to sew and fit.

Because A-line skirts are usual ly flowing, choose fabrics that drape and move nicely.

[IJ[j][I] An A-line skirt is fu ller at the hem than at the waist.

Check the shapes of the pattern pieces on the instruction sheet. The skirt should be flared, not rectangu lar. If the lengthwise grain is at center back or front, you may want to alter it for a more flattering effect. Also check the finished skirt width at the hem to be sure it's exactly what you want, based on the measurements you've taken of garments in your wardrobe or in stores.

Easy: Full skirt with pu ll­ on elasticized waistband (pp. 89-91); gathers (pp. 64-65) or soft pleats (p. 61); machine-sewn hem (pp. 106-107). Average: Fitted or partially elasticized waistband (pp. 96-98); zipper (pp. 74-8 1); pocket detailing (pp. 66-69); curved seams (p. 53).

For more fitted styles, choose wool crepe, double knits, light gabardine, rayon and silk tweed, brushed denim, suede, sil k linen. For full, gathered, or softly pleated flared styles, pick sil k broadcloth, crepe de chine, rayon, challis, tissue faille, cotton knits, sil k noil, wool jersey.

Advanced: Bias cut (pp. 37-39); lining (pp. 82-83); raised waistband (p.l 0 1 ); more fitted, but the more fitted the skirt, the more ski l l s are required t o make it.

Choosing the Best Style


Skirt type

Style and figure notes

Required skills

Suggested fannes


A true classic, the gored skirt is always in fashion. It's also one of the most flattering styles. The vertical lines of a gored skirt create an illusion of height and slimness.

The more fitted the skirt, the more important your fitting ability. You' l l also need accurate stitching and pressing skills to achieve flat, nearly invisible seams. Hems can be sewn by hand or machine.

The best fabrics for this style are fluid and drapey.

[IJ[j][iJ[!] This style consists of four, six, eight, or more gores shaped to flare from waist to hem.

A gored skirt can be either straight or A-line, depending on the contours of the gores. If you look best in a slim skirt, choose a gored style that's fitted at the waist and hips and that flares near the hemline. If an A-line is best for you, choose a skirt with gores that flare from waist or high hip. Shaped and curvy gores emphasize the hips. (See pp. 108-109 for tips on constructing a fitted, lightly fitted, and full gored skirt.)


Which Skirt to Make?

Easy: Pul l-on elasticized waistband (pp. 89-91); additional ease at waist and hips (p.108). Average: Lightly fitted skirt (p. 1 08); invisible zipper (pp. 80-8 1 ); mach ine-topstitched hem (p. 1 06) Advanced: Fitted (p. 109); hand-picked or invisible zipper (p. 79 and pp. 80-8 1 ); hand­ sewn hem (p. 105).

Wool jersey, velour, and wool double knits are good for lightly fitted skirts; wool crepe, silk tweed, and fine worsted wool for fitted skirts. Silk crepe de chine and rayon are also good choices. Avoid wool flannel and gabardine.

Skirt type

Style and figure notes


Pleats create a subtle vertical line while softening the figure. A skirt with all-arou nd pleats, however, flatters only s l i m, narrowhipped figures.

[j][!] You can vary the size, n u m ber and placement of the pleats to create different effects.




1Il111 Gathers emphasize the drape and movement of soft, fluid fabrics.

The position, direction, and depth of the pleats can be varied from those on the pattern to achieve the look that's best for you . Experi ment.

Gathered skirts visually add weight and bulk to any figu re, so choose your pattern and fabric carefu l l y. Beware the rectangu lar­ shaped "di rndl" skirt, which is fine for children but frumpy on most women . Check the pattern instruction sheet to make sure the pattern pieces are narrower at the waist than at the hem.

Suggested faorics

R uired skil s Easy: Soft pleats (p. 61 ). Average: Pressed-down or stitched-down pleats (pp. 62-63).

Soft pleats require soft fabrics, such as silk and s i l kies, rayon, and jersey.

Advanced: A l l -around pleats, which are extremely difficu lt to fit.

The best choices for pressed- or stitcheddown pleats are crisp fabrics, such as l ight gabardine and menswear worsteds, s i l k twi ll, and broadcloth .

Beginners often choose to make a gathered skirt as a fi rst project, but gathers take patience and fussing to get just right.

To avoid an u nflattering puffy look, use soft, fluid fabrics, such as silk, polyester "si l kies," rayon, jersey, and challis.

Easy: Gathers created by an elasticized waistband (p. 89); short spans of gathers.

If you're u nsure whether a fabric is too heavy for a gathered skirt, it probably is.

Average/Advanced: Long spans of gathers; a m u l ti-tiered, Santa Fe­ style skirt.

Carefu l l y position the gathers (pp. 64-65) for the most flattering effect.

Choosing the Best Style


Selecting the Pattern Keep it simple. The key to success is to begin with a loose­ fitting style and a beautifulfabnc. As a rule, a garment with fewer pattern pieces requires less time to fit and sew. Scrutinize the illustrations in the pattern books. Keep in mind that each detail-yokes, pockets, pleats, raised waistbands, and intricate seam treatments-adds time and complexity to the project. Build your skills gradually. With each new garment you make, plan to add another technique or fitting skill to your repertOire. For instance, once you've made a simple, slim skirt with an elastic waistband and a machine-stitched hem, you may want to make the same pattern again, this time adding pockets to the side seams and hand-stitching the hem. Then you'll be ready for a more challenging pattern, say, a darted skirt with a kick pleat and a fitted waistband.

Beyond the Pattern Envelope The pattern envelope contains a lot of useful information, but you have to know how to interpret it. Pattern illustrations can be somewhat misleading, because the artists' drawings are much taller and slimmer than most real women actually are. So keep in mind that you'll probably look very different in the skirt than the figure in the sketch. Also, if there's a photograph of a designer original, remember that the pattern company does not buy the original pattern, but rather the right to copy the design, so the cut of the garment won't be exactly the same. Don't get distracted by details, such as a skirt pocket or the color of the garment in the illustration. Look at the lines of the drawings on the back of the pattern envelope. These will show you the skirt's basic silhouette-that is, whether it is straight, flared, or gathered.


Which Skirt to Make?

Open the envelope, if the retailer will allow you to, and check the line drawing on the pattern instruction sheet. This is usually larger than the one on the pattern envelope, and the details are easier to see. Also check the shape and grainline position of the pattern pieces. Check the finished skirt length and width, and compare these to your notes on what looks best on you. Your best lengths may vary, too, depending on the style of the skirt. Length is simple to change, but widths are more difficult to adjust, so you may need to try another size. Read through the pattern instructions. Be sure you understand or can learn every step. Check the garment details to be sure you are confident you can master them. If not, see if you can simplifY the skirt, at least the first time you make it.

Which Size to Buy? Choose a skirt pattern based on your full-hip measurement (p. 28), not your waist measurement-the waistline is easier to adjust than the hip. If your upper thighs are larger than your hips (as on a pear-shaped figure), substitute your upper-thigh measurement for the hip measurement when selecting the size. If the skirt is part of an ensemble pattern, select the pattern size

W h i l e you're searc h ing the pattern books for a skirt, be sure to a l so check the patterns that show ensembles. You just m ight find the perfect skirt, as wel l as a matching jacket or coat.

you would normally take in a blouse or jacket. You don't have to buy another pattern for the skirt-simply adjust the skirt pattern to fit. It's much easier to alter a skirt than it is to alter a blouse or a jacket.

Selecting the Pattern


Working with Fabrics It's impossible to select fabric without touching it. When you find a fabric that appeals to you, open it out to the length of the garment to examine its drape and overall effect. Crush it in your hand to see if it wrinkles and if the creases disappear easily. Take the bolt to a full-length mirror and hold the fabric up against you, draping it like a skirt. Stand back and squint to get a different perspective-sometimes a fabric that's appealing at close range isn't when you see it from a distance. If your skirt will have pleats, fold the fabric to duplicate them. If you want to make a skirt with gathers, scrunch up the fabric to imitate a gathered effect. From these tests, you'll discover whether the fabric drapes smoothly and gracefully (which will flatter the figure without adding bulk) or is stiff and three-dimensional. When you begin shopping, the fabrics recommended on the back of the pattern envelope are a good starting point. These are the fabrics the pattern designer believes will work best for that garment. Often these recommendations are too generic, however, and make no allowances for the sewer's abilities. The recommendations also fail to take into account that the characteristics of a specific fabric type (such as wool gabardine) can vary greatly. Consult the chart on pp. 10-13 for other suggested fabrics for your skirt style.

A Glossary of Fashion Fabrics Allow yourself time to seZect just the rightJabric-one that you will eryoy sewing and wearing. The most common mistake that sewers make is to pair a pattern with an incompatible fabric. If a fabric seems too heavy, too slippery, too wrinkly, too unstable, prone to fraying, or not quite the right color, keep looking. Most sewers have a "little voice" inside that instinctively recognizes when a fabric isn't acceptable. Better to find out before the garment is made than during the project or, worse yet, after the skirt is finished. When you're not sure how a fabric will handle, buy


Working with Fabrics

118 yd.

to experiment with.

Foolproof Fabrics Certain fabrics are like dependable old friends. They are a pleasure to touch, gratifying to sew and press, and they wear, move, and flow beautifully. Natural fibers head the list of foolproof fabrics for skirts.

Cotton: Denim, brushed cotton, chambray, fine poplin, lawn.


for long-fiber cottons (the best quality), which can be identified by their beautiful sheen and resistance to wrinkles. A pleasure to sew and press, these cottons last and last.

Wool: Wool crepe, double knits, wooljersey (though notJor rank beginners), wool challis. The weight and drape of wool makes it a perfect skirt fabric. Wool crepe is excellent, as the texture does not add bulk to the figure. It's also easy to press and sew. Avoid wool flannel entirely-it's thick and bulky and doesn't press well.

Linen: Linen blends.

Linen blends well with other fibers. With

linen/rayon, for example, you get the best of both fabrics-the drape of rayon and the stability of linen. Moygashel, a brand­ name Irish linen, doesn't wrinkle as much as other pure linens. For slim and fitted flared skirts, choose heavy weights. Consider lining your linen skirt, depending on the style.

Silk: Silk linen, silk noil, silk tweed, silk broadcloth.

Silk can be

smooth and slippery or have the look and feel of cotton or linen. Until you have more experience, avoid the slippery silks, such as charmeuse, crepe de chine, georgette, and chiffon.

N E E DLES, THREADS, AN D STITCH ES For most skirt fabrics ( lightweight to midweight wovens and some knits), a #12/80 universal-point needle is best. With these fabrics, use a good-quality

With heavy, dense, thick, or textured fabrics, use a longer stitch and larger needle. With denim, for

long-staple polyester thread and a 2 m m to 2 . 5 m m

example, use a #14/90 needle. Even if you r fabric isn't heavy, because you are stitching through so many

stitch length (about 8 to 1 0 stitches per inch).

thicknesses, you may want to topstitch with a size

For very lightweight fabric, such as crepe de chine, use

#14/90 or special topstitching needle.

a smaller needle (#10/70) and finer thread-machine­

I baste with silk thread to avoid making indentations in

embroidery thread, for example.

the fabric when I press it before the final stitching.

A Glossary of Fashion Fabrics


The feel, weight, and drape of the fabric are essential to the success of your finished garment.

Challenging Fabrics Some fabrics are more challenging to work with because they require expertise in cutting, handling, sewing, pressing, and hand-stitching. To gain some experience gradually, combine a challenging fabric with a simple-to-construct design. For example, try making a simple four-gore pull-on skirt in rayon or silk crepe de chine.

Rayon: A man-made fiber composed oj natural materials.


soft and drapey characteristics, which give the fabric its appeal, are also what can make it hard to handle. Sand-washed rayons, especially, shift and move easily while they are being cut and sewn. Imported, cottonlike rayons are often more stable and easier to handle than inexpensive, domestic versions. Try the wrinkle test: If the wrinkles fall out after you crumple the fabriC, the rayon is probably of good quality and will be easier to sew.


A man-made fiber that can look andJeel like silk or

rayon. Polyester is difficult to cut, sew, press, and shape. The fiber is so strong that topstitching often puckers. Avoid polyester "silkies" until you're a seasoned sewer, and even then, test the fabriC first.

Wool gabardine: Can be firm and crisp or soft and drapey. Although suitable for a variety of skirt styles, gabardine is a difficult fabric for a beginner to work with because it eases poorly, frays readily, and shows stitching errors. Gabardine also requires expert pressing and topstitching to look its best.


Working with Fabrics

FABR ICS FOR POCK ETS, INTER FACINGS, AN D L ININGS Once you've found your skirt fabric, select the fabrics for the other items you'll include in the skirt.

Pockets: If the skirt fabric is

l ightweight, doesn't show

through from the right side, and won't stick to itself, make the pockets from the same fabric. You can also

cuffs, woven fusible is perfect for waistbands. It creates a crisp finish that holds the waistband's shape. Sew-in interfacing doesn't work as wel l . There are also waistband styles for which you don't need interfacing (pp. 89-91) .

Lining: A lining fabric should be thin,

use the l i ning fabric to make the pockets. Pockets may also be made of any strong, slippery fabric or pl ain-weave cotton in a color close to that of the skirt. Plain broadcloth or cotton twill are also good to use. If the skirt fabric is a pale color or white, make the pockets of a lightweight lining fabric of nude- or flesh­ toned silk or nylon organza.

strong, and

smooth . It should also be compatible with the weight, drape, and care requirements of the skirt fabric. The color should not be visible through the skirt fabric . If your skirt pattern doesn't include a l i n i ng, you need to calculate how much fabric you should buy. The general rule is: double the skirt length . However, it's safer to lay out your pattern pieces on the lining fabric (except for the waistband, which is un l i ned). For future

Interfacing: You have a number of choices for

reference, note on the pattern envelope how much

waistband interfacing. You don't have to use what the

l i n i ng fabric you need for the skirt.

pattern says. Although designed for shirt collars and

Rayon linings are ideal. Not only are they inexpensive, they "breathe" and have excel lent draping qualities. They can be difficult to find, however. (polyester, though less expensive and more available, doesn't breathe wel l and has only fair draping qualities.) Sil k is the ultimate in l uxury. It's expensive, feels marvelous, and can add warmth to the garment. Crepe de chine is an excellent and sumptuous companion to wool crepe or light gabard ine. China

- -- /

/ ./

silk is an excellent traditional l i n i ng fabric, but beware of the thin, cheap varieties-with any stress at all (as in a fitted skirt), the seams may pull out.

Fusible interfacing creates a stable, crisp waistband.


Waistband Interfacings


Plain-weave cotton

Fusible nonwoven, precut


Plain broadcloth

Fusible woven yardage


Cotton twill

Sew-in woven, by the roll

Crepe de chine

Lining fabrics of sil k or nylon organza

Elastic and flat-ribbed elastic

China silk

A Glossary of Fashion Fabrics



g the Fabric arin Prepare the fabric before you sew to ensure that the finished garment will look, hang, and wear well. Most fabric will shrink the first time it's laundered, so you should wash or dry-clean it before you cut out the pattern pieces. Preshrink using the same method you plan to use to launder your finished skirt. For example, if you'll be washing and drying the skirt by machine, pretreat the fabric by machine. After pre­ shrinking, straighten the grain of the fabric by pulling or pressing to ensure that the finished garment will look its best.


g and Pressing hrinkin

Washing by hand is often the best way to launder hand-sewn garments. To preshrink the fabric, either wash and dry it by machine this first time only, or wash it by hand. To preshrink by hand, fold the fabric and submerge it in warm to hot water and a little detergent. (The detergent removes the excess dye or finishing substance.) Then rinse and air-dry the fabric. Undyed white and off-white wools tend to shrink at alarming rates and should always be preshrunk. Lay the fabric on a large terry towel that has just been washed in the machine (the towel should be damp, not sodden). Roll the fabric and damp towel together like a jelly roll, leave them overnight, and, the next day, press the fabric smooth to remove the moisture. Some fabrics, such as wool crepe, must be dry cleaned. To pre­ shrink the fabric, have the dry cleaner process the piece of fabric just as if it were a garment. Not all fabrics need preshrinking. Many wools and silks are "needle-ready," and need nothing more than a touch-up with the iron before you lay out and cut the pattern pieces. Press the preshrunk fabric before you cut out the pattern pieces and hang it on a hanger so it won't wrinkle. Press and hang your pattern pieces, too. They'll be easier to work with.


Working with Fabrics

Straightening the Grain Even though fabric is woven straight (with the lengthwise and crosswise threads at right angles to each other), it is often pulled off-grain during the finishing process or as it is wound onto the bolt. If you cut and sew a garment off-grain, it may never hang the way you expect it to. So, before you lay out your pattern pieces, check that the fabric is on the "straight of the grain," that is, with all edges, selvage, and cross grain straight and at right angles. Make a snip through the selvage about 1 in. to 2 in. from one of the raw edges. Tear the fabric if it tears easily and without distortion, or pull one thread out and cut along the area it was pulled from. (Some fabric stores will do this when you buy the fabric.) Now fold the fabric in half, with selvages together. Press the fabric and place it on a flat surface. The selvage and cross grain should be straight and at right angles to each other; cross-grain threads should lie on top of one another. If the fabric is off-grain, pull the fabric firmly from the corners along the bias to straighten it. If you have a lot of yardage, work down the length of the fabric, pulling every 12 in. from corner to corner. This task is easily accomplished with two people, but if you're working alone, you can press the fabric, stretching it along the bias as you work, as shown in the photo on the facing page.

To find the "straight of the grain, " tear the fabric or pull a thread and cut along the crosswise grain. Check that the selvage and cross grain are straight and at right angles.

Preparing the Fabric


Getting the Right Fit Part of the fun of sewing for yourself is to get the best fit possible. Fitting is the process ?f adjusting or altering a commercial pattern so that it will exactly fit the person who will wear the garment. It is rare for anyone to have precisely the same measurements as a commercial pattern, and seldom can a pattern be used straight out of the envelope without changes. Altering and customizing the pattern are as much a part of creating clothes as sewing and pressing are. Fitting has an undeserved reputation for being difficult. It's not, but it can be time-consuming-up to one-third of the time it takes to construct an entire garment is spent preparing and adjusting the pattern. Once you know how your body differs from the pattern, you can adjust all your patterns for your specific hip or waist measurements, preferred length, or other variations. With all the time you'll invest in perfecting a pattern, it certainly pays to have a collection of favorites that you can use again and again. Because fitting is a trial-and-error process, it helps to take a fitting class or to have a friend who sews or a professional dressmaker assist you in measuring and basic fitting. Reference books help too. One of the secrets to success in sewing is the process of "proofing" the pattern. When you proof a pattern, you make certain that the skirt will fit around your body and that it will be the right length. Once that's accomplished, pin the tissue pieces together and try on the pattern to check the style, details, and silhouette. When you have a pattern that's exactly customized to the shape of your body, you're ready to cut out the fabric and begin sewing a garment you can be sure you'll enjoy wearing. Make it your goal to add pattern adjustment and fitting to your repertoire of sewing skills, expanding your knowledge bit by bit with each project.


The Basics For many people, fitting is a mystery-but it needn't be. There arefour basic steps. Take them one at a time. It also helps to have a few tools handy.


Getting the Right Fit

Four Basic Steps


If you fol low these four s i mple steps before you cut your fabric, any fitting you do during construction wi l l be fi ne-tuni ng, not a major overhaul .

Adjusting patterns is much si mpler and the results are more professional if you use the right tools. Each tool has its own specific uses for the various patternmaking tasks; none substitutes for another. As you grow more fam i l iar with them, they ' l l become l i ke extensions of your hands.

1. Compare your

body measurements to those of the flat pattern (pp. 28-29) . 2. Proof the pattern to ensure that the skirt w i l l be the right length and wil l fit around your body (pp . 30-33) . 3 . Pin the pattern pieces together as they wi l l be sewn and try on the pattern (p. 40). Adjust for swayback (pp. 40-41), round tum my (p. 42) or large h i ps (p. 43). 4. Make any desi red changes to the pattern for pockets (p. 34), wal ki ng ease (p. 35), linings (p. 36) or changes in grainl ine (pp. 37-39). Pin-fit aga i n if necessa ry, and transfer any further adjustments to the pattern.

Acquire the fol lowi ng, arranged here i n order of necessity: Of course, you' l l need a measuring tape and 6-i n . gauge. A 2-i n . by 18- i n . C-Thru ruler is i nvaluable for creating straight l i nes, finding right angles, lengthening, shorte n i ng, and more. A metal h i p curve is just right for curving and shaping the h i ps, waist, and legs. (This professional pattern maker's tool is ava i l able at stores that sel l patternmaking suppl ies or from m a i l -order sources.) Once you use a metal yardstick you' l l never aga in use a wooden one. It's great for making clean, long straight l i nes and edges. There are severa l additional tools you' l l fi nd useful when adjusting your pattern-glue, tape, strips of elastic, traci ng paper and pattern ti ssue, penc i l s and pens, chalk, Clo-ch al k, d ressmaker's penc i l s, right-angle ruler, ful l-length m i rror, hand m i rror, embroidery floss and chen i l le need le, scissors, and appl ique scissors. The l ist wi l l conti nue to grow as you find your own way of worki ng.

The Basics


Comparing Measurements The first step in altering your pattern is to compare your body measurements with the pattern's.

Measure Your Body The four critical measurements are the waist, h igh h ip/tummy, ful l h ip, and finished lengt h. Make a note of these. They're essential for alteri ng and fitting your pattern. When measuring, wear the underclothing and shoes you m ight wear with the skirt.



Measure waistline.

2 Measure high hip or tummy.

Pin a length of wide elastic around your body where you'd l i ke the skirt waistl i ne to be. Measure over the elastic, hold ing a finger underneath the tape measure to a l low an adequate amount of ease (1).

High hip/tummy: Check your side view in a ful l-length m i rror and measure your high h i p/tummy wherever your figure is largest­ between 1 1/2 in. and 4 in. below the waist (2) . Be sure the tape measure doesn't rise up slightly at center front. Also measure from waist to high h ip.


Measure full hip, and from waist

to full hip.


Getting the Right Fit


Measure finished length.

Full hip: Check your side view agai n and measure around your h ips at their ful lest point (th i s is the ful l-hip measurement) . Also measure from your waist to your ful l h i p (3).

Finished length: Measure from the waistl ine at the side seam or front to the desi red finished length (4). (Or measure the length of you r favorite ski rt o f s i m i lar style.) _


Measure Your Pattern To make it easier to measure the pattern, take it out of the envelope and spread it out on a flat, uncl uttered work table.


Measure the waistline, excluding the darts, tucks, pleats, and seam


Waist: Hold the tape measure on its edge (to make it easier to fol low the pattern's cu rves) and measure the waist along the stitch ing l i ne, exc l u d ing seam a l l owances, tucks, pleats, or darts ( 1 ) . Pin these in position or simply skip over them when measuring-th is wi l l give you the actual measu rements of the finished ski rt. (Because of the ease b u i l t i nto the pattern, this measu rement shou ld be larger than the waist size l isted on the pattern envelope.)

High hip/tummy: If you have a rounded tummy or high round h i ps, take an additional measu rement 1 '/2 to 4 in. below the waistl ine of your pattern. Full hip: The fu l l- h i p measu rement on the pattern w i l l be the same d i stance from the waist as the measu rement on you r body. If you r ski rt has tucks or p leats, p i n them into position fi rst to get a true measu rement of the finished garment (2). Finished length: Along the ski rt's center front or side sea m l ine, measure from the waistl ine to the bottom edge of the desi red hem.


Measure the pattern at full hip with the pleats pinned in position.

The Four Essential Measurements r




- - - - - - - - Waist - - - - - - - - High hip/tummy - - - - - - - - Full hip

(1'/2 in. to 4 in. below waist)

(9 in. below waist)

Before altering and fitting a pattern, record these four essential measurements of your

ixxJy and your pattern.

- - - - - - - - Length (from waist according to preference)

Comparing Measurments


Proofing the Pattern Adjust the length and width of the fiat pattern before. you try it on to reduce the amount of fitting you'll need to do later. It's more efficient to lengthen or shorten your pattern before you add width so that you' l l be work i n g only with the necessary length. You' l l also be able to blend the side seam lines easi ly and accurately as you smooth the jog that often occurs when you change the length of the garment. If you need to lengthen or shorten your skirt 2 in. or less, sim ply add or subtract length at the hem. If you need to adjust it more than 2 i n . , a l ter the body of the skirt at the lengthen/shorten l i ne. If your pattern doesn't have a lengthen/shorten line, add one so you wil l be able to realign the top and bottom halves of the skirt. To do this, extend the gra i n line; then d raw a line at a right angle to it at the point where you want to lengthen or shorten your skirt. If your skirt is shaped at the hem, as in a gored, flared, or pegged ski rt, or if it has a kick pleat, French vent, or hem detail , lengthen o r shorten below the ful l h i p so as not to i nterfere with the design deta i l . You may need more fabric if you lengthen or widen the skirt significantly. To find out for sure, do a trial layout of your pattern pieces on paper or on a gridded cutting board. 30

Getting the Right Fit

Lengthening a Pattern Cut a long the lengthen/shorten line and tape or glue a piece of tissue paper a long one cut edge, overlapping the pattern and tissue edges about 1/2 i n . (You can use scrap pattern tissue, as long as it's as wide as the pattern piece and at least 1 i n . longer than � he amount you're adding to the skirt.) On the scrap tissue, para l lel to the lengthen/shorten line, mark the amount you want to add to the skirt. Extend the grainline th rough the scrap tissue. Line it up with the gra i n l ine on the other half of the skirt pattern and glue or tape the scrap tissue in place. If you're not also changing the width of the skirt, simply draw the side seam l i nes on the scrap tissue and blend the seam l i nes of the skirt halves. If you are changing the skirt width, make these adjustments (p. 31) and blend all the seam lines in one operation .

To Shorten

To Lengthen

Center back

Cut pattern

Scrap tissue

apart on lengtherv'

Fold the pattern

shorten line.

piece along the lengtherv'shorten


line. Bring the fold

pattern and

to meet the drawn

scrap edges

line. Tape or glue

Lengthen/shorten line

about 'h in.


Draw a line

through the

parallel to the

scrap tissue.

-_--+� Align it with

lengtherv'shorten line to mark the

the other

amount you wish

half of the

to shorten the

grainline Blend searnlines on scrap tissue.


and tape it in place.

Shortening a Pattern

Adj usting Width

Mark the amount you want to shorten you r pattern by d rawing a l ine paral lel to the lengthen/shorten l ine.

Adjusting width is the most common pattern alteration, and it pays to master it from the start. Increase or decrease skirt width at the side seams only. If you add width at center front or back, the darts/tucks w i l l be positioned too far apart.

Fold the pattern piece a long the lenthen/shorten l ine and then l ift the fold to meet the drawn l ine. G lue or tape the pattern piece in position. The pleat that forms should be half the total amount to be shortened (for example, if you' re shortening the skirt 1 1/2 in., the pleat w i l l be % in. wide). Make width adjustments, if needed, at the hip or waist. Connect and blend the seaml ines.

the fold in place.

Pleat will measure one-half amount to

be shortened.

Although you ' l l decrease width less frequently, the same principles apply for both increasing and decreasing. Adjust the side seams on the pattern tissue, drawing in new cutting l ines. This w i l l a l low you to pin the tissue together along the stitching l ines and try on the paper pattern to test the fit. The tota l amount of adjusted width should be divided evenly among the quarters of the skirt-if an extra 2 in. is needed, for example, add 1/2 in. at each side sea m .

Proofing the Pattern


You can add a total of u p to 8 in.

(2 i n . at each side seam) to the


waist and/or hip before the shape

Two types of ease are built into the pattern: wearing ease and design ease. Wearing ease is the amount of extra fabric you need to move

becomes distorted. If you need to add more width than this, you

comfortably in a garment. Design ease is the amount of extra fabric the

sho u l d use a l arger-size pattern.

designer or patternmaker adds to give the garment a certain style and look. The total amount of ease is the difference between the size

It's a l so possib l e to make vary i n g

measurements on the pattern envelope and the actual measurements of the pattern.

adj ustments t o t h e hip, high hip,

For example, the size chart on the pattern envelope or in the pattern book may indicate that a size 1 0 pattern has a waist of 26 in . and hips of 34 in. The skirt's flat pattern, however, measures 2 7112 in. at the waist and 38 in. at the hip. This means there is 1112 in. of ease in the waist and 4 in. in the hip, which is standard for a straight skirt. Flat-pattern measurement - Envelope measurement = Amount of ease

To determine the amount of ease in your pattern, measure the flat pattern (p. 29) and compare these figures to the body measurements on the pattern envelope. Write down the amount of ease your pattern a l l ows in the waist, h igh hip, and fu ll h i p. When you adjust your pattern for your body measurements, you want to maintain this amount of pattern ease (as shown in the chart below).

and waist. Figures with a rounded t u m m y or high rou nd hip, for exam ple, may need extra w i dth at the waist as well as at the high h i p to achieve a smooth l i ne (pp. 42-43). This is especial l y true for small-waisted figures (an e lasticized fitted waistband, p. 96, works very well on these shapes) . After you' ve made all necessary adj ustments, u se l -i n . side seams to b u i l d in extra fitting insurance. This will a l low you enough extra fabric to alter the skirt w h ile you ' re

CALC U LATING T H E W IDTH ADJ U STM ENT Make a copy of this chart and record your body measurements, the flat-pattern's measurements, and the pattern ease. The chart wil l help you determine how much to adjust your pattern at each seam for the best fit, while retaining the right amount of wearing and design ease.

Waist Body Measurement


Plus Ease (as calcu lated above)




Minus Flat-Pattern Measurement


Adj ustment to Pattern (distributed evenly at side-seam a l lowances)


Getting the Right Fit


High hip/ tummy

Full hip

sewing; the extra seam width can always be trimmed or evened afterward . Make dots on the tissue with a penc i l to mark the amount you need to adjust the side seams at waist, h ig h h i p, and fu l l h i p. If needed, attach scrap tissue paper to the side seams to add enough width (1 ) . Make sure you maintai n the h i p ease a t you r fu l l-hip measurement. Use a h i p c u rve to connect the dots, add i n g the same amount you added to the fu l l h i p a l l the way down the seam to the hem, i n order to retai n the orig i n a l s i l houette o f t h e ski rt.

1 Add extra

width to the side seams of the pattern pieces with tissue paper.

Remember to adjust the waistband pattern piece if you make any changes in the skirt width at the waistl ine. If you add 112 i n . to each of the ski rt's side seams, for example, you ' l l also need to add 2 i n . to the waistband by add i ng 1 i n . to each waistband side seam. As you become more adept at making and fitting ski rts, you may prefer simply to chalk-mark the amount that you need to add or subtract d i rectly onto the fabric (2), and cut.


Mark additions directly onto fabric.

To Add Width to the Waistband


Ce te b

A hip c u rve w i l l help you redraw the new s i l houette of the skirt perfectly.


Cent r firont


....j,,-...,- ______ r.L'r-

Side seam


Scrap tissue




-r--J.oI ,Ir�--

Side seam

7. At each side seam, spread the pattern one-halfthe amount you wish to add to the waist. Clue or tape scrap tissue underneath, maintaining the alignment of the grainline.

2. Draw new cutting lines on the pattern tissue. Mark new side seams in the center of the added tissue.

Proofing the Pattern



miz ing the Pattern Afew simple, optional alterations to thejlat pattern might make your garment more attractive and comfortable. Consider pockets, linings, and additional walking ease.

Adding a Pocket If you r pattern does not have a pocket, borrow one from another pattern . When you fi nd a pocket that works wel l, copy it and save it for future use. Position the pocket pattern so it extends i nto the waistband and mark the open ing. If necessary, shape the side seam so it is the same as the side seam on you r skirt. (Some skirts are cu rved to

the shape of the h i p, others are straight.) Position the pocket pattern on the skirt pattern, a l i g n i ng them at the waist l ine, and trace the ski rt's side seam onto the pocket. Transfer the marki ngs for the pocket open ing with t i ny snips or chalk marks on the wrong side of the fabric.

Adding a Pocket

Align the pocket and skirt


patterns at the waistline and trace the skirt's side seam onto the pocket.


Getting the Right Fit

Adding W g Ease


Wal ki ng ease, a secret of fine d ressmakers and never calculated i n commercial patterns, is a si mple alteration that makes kick pleats, French vents, sl its, front open i ngs, button-front and wrap skirts hang perfectly stra ight. In fact, the straightness i s an optical i l l usion.

Adding Walking Ease to a Pleat, Vent, or Slit

� scrap \ I I


When you add wal king ease, you do not change the origi nal gra i n l i ne of the garment. Make th i s pattern change after a l l other adj ustments are com pleted .

Kick Pleats, French Vents, Slits Add wa l ki ng ease at the front or back sea m l i ne, depe n d i n g on the p l acement o f the kick p leat, F rench vent, or s l it. Add 112 i n . for a knee- length ( 1 9-i n . to 24- i n .) skirt, 1 i n . for a m id-calf ( 3 2 - i n . to 3 6- i n . ) skirt. Add s l ightly more Cia in. to 1/4 i n .) for heavy or thick fabrics. Adj ust the l i n i ng pattern too (p. 3 6 ) . On t h e ski rt-pattern piece, c u t along t h e seam l i ne/vent fold l i ne from the hem to the waist. Tape or g l ue a scrap of tissue along one edge. Position the other edge so that the wal king ease is added at the bottom of the hem and tapers to noth ing at the waist end of the seam.

Center front of skirt half


When a garment is cut stra ight, there's a natural tendency for it to hang open at the hem. If you add wal k i ng ease, however, skirts appear to hang arrow-stra ight.

The amount of ease is based on the length of the garment and weight of the fabric.

Adding Walking Ease to a Wrap Skirt



7. Cut along the seamlinc/vent fold line

7. Cut along the center front from hem

from the hem to the waist.

to waist, on both the right and left sides

2. Add walking ease at the bottom of

of the skirt.

the hem by spreading the pattem and

2. Add walking ease at the hem,

adding scrap tissue. Taper the slit in the

tapering the pattern slit to nothing at

pattem to nothing at the waistline.

the waistline. Add ease to a button­ front skirt in the same way.

Other Skirt Styles For wrap or button-front styles, add 112 i n . of ease for knee- l ength s k i rts, 1 i n . for m id-calf- l ength skirts. Add the wa l k i ng ease at the center front, from hem to wai st, on both the left and the right s ides of the skirt. If you r fabric i s a plaid or stripe, or if it has a strong vertical des ign, add wal k i n g ease at the side seams. For ski rts with side buttons, add wa l k i ng ease at the front and back side seams.

Customizing the Pattern


C UTTING C HECKLIST 1 . Choose the l i n i ng fabric for your ski rt (p. 2 1 ). 2 . Decide on the finished length of the l i n i ng. Pick the hem treatment you want to use (pp. 84-85) and shorten the l i n i ng accord i ngly, or simply cut it 1 i n . shorter than the skirt. 3. Mark all the darts and tucks with snips. 4 . Mark the center front and back with sn ips. 5. Mark the zipper end with a snip.

inin g

Adding a L

L i n i n g a skirt has m u ltiple benefits : It gives a fi n ished look to the inside of you r garment, makes the s k i rt easy to s l i de on and off, and helps it stay wri n k le-free. I n add ition, a l i n ing keeps the skirt fabric from c l i ng i n g and makes a l ightweight fabric opaque.

with special deta i l s such as a French vent, however, may req u i re add itional adjustments, as shown in the drawing below. When you sew, stitch the l i n ing's side seams sl ightly narrower (1/8 i n . ) to a l low for sitting room and to keep the seams from p u l l ing out.

Even if the s k i rt pattern i nc l udes a l i n i ng, I p refer to cut one from the skirt pattern p ieces. (For a l ist of suggested l i n i n g fabrics, see p. 2 1 .) L i n i ng fabrics are firm l y woven and usua l l y have much less give than the s k i rt fabric, so don't make the l i n ing smal ler than the skirt.

Cut the l i n ing so the hem w i l l be at least 1 i n . shorter than the ski rt, wh i le covering the raw edge of the s k i rt hem. Different l i n i ng-hem fi n ishes may req u i re that you cut the l i n i ng to sl ightly d i fferent lengths (pp. 84-85). If you ' re not sure how you're goi ng to fi n ish the l i n i ng hem, s i mply cut the l i n i ng 1 i n . shorter than you r skirt. Tri m as needed.

Cutting and constructing a l i n ing i s s i mple and fast. L i n i ngs for skirts

LINING A SKIRT WITH A FRENCH VENT 1. To adj ust the skirt pattern to be used for the l i n i ng, fold the pattern piece back along the seaml i ne and vent fold l i ne. Trace the cut edge of the vent onto the pattern. 2. Add seam allowances by drawing a new cutting l i ne 1 % i n . from the traced l i ne, as shown i n the drawing. T h i s allows for the skirt's %-i n . seam allowance plus the l i n i ng's %-i n . seam al lowance. The skirt and the fi n ished l i n i ng will be flush at the vent open i ng.

l % in. Skirt pattem cutting line Traced line

1 1/4 in. For lining pattern, mark new vent cutting line

7 � in. from skirt's vent line.

3. Now draw the %-i n . seam

allowance of the l ining vent, i ncluding the corner, as shown. Don't skip this step. You ' l l be reinforci ng the seam l i nes at the corner, so you' l l want them to be clearly marked.

.., ..1-l/i � _

Skirt pattern


Mark seamline at comer.

Seamline for %-in. al lowance

Draw in seam allowances for the lining vent % in. from new vent cutting line.


Getting the Right Fit

Changing the Gr e of a Flared S

ainlin kirt

The d rape and fl attering effect of an A-l i ne or gored flared skirt can be changed sign ificantly by reposition i ng the gra i n l i ne on the pattern pieces. Lengthwise gra i n i s often placed at center front and center back of the pattern, on the lengthwise fold, which makes the front and back one pattern piece. This l ayout is common on commercial patterns because less fabric is req u i red than with other l ayouts. It's the least flatteri ng, however, as it resu l ts in a wide s i l houette that broadens any figure and exaggerates a tummy. In addition, the b i as at the side seam may stretch , creating an u neven hem. Two alternate lengthwise-grai n positions a n d one b i as-gra i n position for the same skirt panels are shown on p. 38. Treat both front and back pattern pieces i n t h e same way. Remember that you may need add itional fabric if you change the gra i n l i ne. To figure out the yardage you ' l l need, do a trial layout on paper that i s the width of you r fabric or on a gridded cutti ng board. You can reposition the gra i n l ine for any type of fabric.

Lengthwise Grain in Center of Front and Back Panels Often used by Ralph Lauren, t h i s cut i s very fl attering and s l i m m i ng, espec i a l l y for the pear-shaped figu re. Becau se the fu l l ness h angs even ly arou nd the s k i rt, an u neven hem is less l i ke l y. T h i s l ayout is a perfect choice for rayons, kn its, o r other fabrics t h a t m a y stretch a t the h e m .

To a lter t h e pattern, s i mply fold the skirt panel in h alf, center seam. to side seam. The waist shape w i l l not match, but that's okay. Draw i n a new gra i n l i ne down the center of each panel . (Add seam a l l owances at center front and back if the original pattern was one piece cut on the fold.)

Lengthwise Grain Parallel to Side Seam I f the straight of the gra i n i s para l lel to the side seam , t h e s k i rt's fu l l ness hangs a t the center. The center seam i s on the bias and may tend to stretch . Th i s styl i ng c reates a strong vertical l i ne, which i s espec i a l ly effective w ith stri ped fabrics. This layout broadens the figure and emphasizes a protruding tummy or derriere, but i s a good choice for a figure with roundness at the side of the h ips-the straight of the gra i n fl attens out t h e c u rve.

Bias Grain The 45° d i agona l l i ne through t h e lengthwise and c rossw i se gra i n of the fabric i s the bias. A bias-cut s k i rt req u i res more fabric than any of the other l ayouts, but noth i ng else has such a beautifu l , flow i ng d rape. The b i as cut w i l l reveal cu rves and bulges, however, and garment construction and hemm i ng take a bit of special care. If you are adapting a pattern with a one­ piece front or back to a bias layout, add seam a l lowances to the center front and back. This way, the garment w i l l hang without twisting to one side.

Customizing the Pattern


Different Grainlines - Different Effects How it's laid out



How it looks

How it drapes

Side seam ./ Lengthwise grain in center of front and back (typical in

Fullness tends to hang at the sides.

commercial pattems).

Cffi( Ii

Side seam ../ Lengthwise grain in center of front and back panels.

Fullness hangs evenly around the skirt.

Side seam / Lengthwise grain parallel to side

Fullness hangs at the center of the skirt;


sides hang straighter.



Side seam / Bias grain.

Original grainline New grainline - - - - - - - - - - -


Getting the Right Fit

Requires more fabric, but has flowing drape.

The simplest way to a lter a pattern for the b i as cut is to use a right­ angle ruler that has a 45° angle marked on it. An alternative i s to mark l engthwise and crosswise gra i ns with a C-Thru ru ler. Then fold the fabric at a right angle through the intersection of the gra i n l i nes so the l i nes are superimposed on each other. Draw a l i ne along the fold to mark the b i as gra i n l i ne. Mark a second bias gra i n l i ne at 90° to the fi rst. This way, when you turn over the pattern piece to cut out the second half, you can eas i l y position it.

Place bias-cut pattern pieces on a s i ngle l ayer of fabric, keeping the pattern in a one-way l ayout, that is, with the nap of the fabric always i n o n e d i rection. A l l the hems w i l l be facing the same way. When cutti ng two front or back pieces in one l ayer of c loth, be sure to fl i p the pattern piece over to cut the second half so that they w i l l be m i rror i mages.

Finding the Bias Grainline I , I , I, I, I,


. . ' . '" . "


• I " , I " ,I ,I


. I ,, I, I, I.

".'.' I

. . . , . ,

" , I , I ,I .'



* " , ,''':1 ,






2. Fold the fabric at the intersection of the grainlines

7. With a C-Thru ruler, mark the crosswise grain and lengthwise grain.

50 the halves of the lines align.

3. Draw the bias grainline on the fold. Draw another bias grainline at

900 to the first.

Customizing the Pattern


Pin-Fitting Adjustments There's no substitute for pin-:fitting your pattern and altering it as carefully as you can before you cut the fabric. Once the two-d i mensional flat pattern has been adj usted, it's t i me to have a look at you r pattern i n three d i mensions. Pi n-fitt i ng the pattern on you r body, j u st a s if it were t h e fi n ished skirt, al lows you to adjust for aspects of you r body profi l e that are not accounted for by measurements a lone. A swayback, a protrud i ng tummy, and a fu l ler than average derriere, for example, may prevent you r skirt pattern from fitting wel l . These very common adj u stments are best made on the pattern tissue, now, before you cut out the garment.

Try on the Pattern Pin the pattern together and try it on as if it were the fi n ished skirt. Place p i ns para l lel to the stitc h i ng l i nes a long the seams. Pin any darts, tucks, or p leats i n position . Hold the pattern in p lace at the waistl i ne with a 1 -i n .-wide length of e lastic. Position the center fronts and backs and check the fit, length, and overa l l sty l i ng in a fu l l ­ length m irror. It takes o n l y a b i t of practice to develop an eye for the way the fin ished garment w i l l look.


Getting the Right Fit

U se a large hand m i rror to see the back view. A knowledgeable friend i s a l so a great hel p ! After you check the fit a n d length, and have made the necessary adju stments, see if the skirt needs an adjustment for swayback or a protrud ing tummy.

Adj usting for Swayback If the skirt needs some adjustment for swayback, you ' l l fi nd horizontal wrinkles at the center back of the p i n-fitted skirt pattern, j u st below the waistband. Here's how to estimate the amount you ' l l need to remove a t center back for the skirt to l i e smooth l y. Wh i l e pin-fitting, lower the waistl ine at center back by s l i pp i ng the pattern sl ightly u nder the e lastic unti l the wri n kles are e l i m i nated. Mark the pattern tissue with a pen or pen c i l right u nder the e l astic at center back. The amount you ' l l need to remove usually ranges from 1/4 i n . to 1 112 i n . Pin a l l darts, pleats, o r tucks i n p l ace. Then draw a new l i ne to e l i m i nate the desi red amount of pattern tissue, starti ng at center

back and gradually meeting the waistl ine at the side seams. The h i p c u rve i s the perfect tool for drawing th i s new waistl i ne. If you r ski rt h a s gathers, t h e l i ne i s less critical, so s i mply d raw, freehand, an even, s l ightly cu rved l i n e from center back to side seam . Overlap the pattern pieces for the amount of the adjustment at the center-back seam l i ne, taperi ng to noth ing at the side seams. Redraw the l i nes for darts, tucks, and the center-back seam. Make correspond i ng adjustments to the back faci ng. Avoid the pins and cut along the redrawn waist l i ne. If you're working without a partner, it may be d ifficult to determ i ne the exact amount you ' l l need to remove. That's okay. Esti mate now and fine-tune the fit l ater wh i l e you're constructing t h e garment. You can make this swayback alteration j u st before you apply the waistband to the skirt, but you may need to shorten the z i pper, too. It's easiest to make pattern adjustments before cutting, then double-check them d u r i ng the garment's construction .

If you r skirt has a rai sed waistband (p. 1 01 ), make the swayback adjustment by cutt i ng the pattern back along the waistl i n e, from the center back to VB i n . from the side seam.

To adjust for swayback, lower the waistline at center back until the horizontal wrinkles are eliminated. You may need to remove from 1/4 in. to 1 1/2 in. of excess pattern tissue.

To Adjust for Swayback _

Draw a new �

_ _


Center back

/ Pin darts, pleats, or tucks in place. Draw a new waistline, eliminating the desired amount at center back. Taper the line to meet the waistline at the side seams.

Pin Fitting Adjustments


Adj usting for a Round Tummy To adjust for a round tummy, you usual l y need to add not only extra width to you r pattern (pp. 3 1 -33), but a l so extra l ength at center front. When pin-fitting, check that the skirt pattern sits correctly at the waistl ine. If it doesn't, you ' l l need to correct it by add ing length to the pattern with scrap tissue. This l ittle adjustment can actu a l l y m i n i m ize the c u rve visual ly.

SiSIze;"" E ,"A iAIUEg&· • �B..0NT �� 40


If the pattern piece you're pin-fitting sits below the waistline because of a protruding tummy, you need to add extra length at center front.

To Adjust for a Round Tummy

Add enough length so that the pattern meets the waist l i ne correctly and hangs over the tummy smooth l y. Exactly how much to add i s hard to estimate, but it's best to al low a l ittle extra. Average amounts range from 3fa i n . (wh ich doesn't sound l ike much, but can make a sma l l tummy nearly van ish) to about 21/2 i n .

Scrap tissue

Center front

1. Pin darts, pleats, or tucks in place.

2. Draw a line on the

Before you begin, p i n a n y pleats, tucks, and darts in p lace. Draw a l ine on the scrap tissue to i n d icate the add itional pattern length at center front and taper to noth ing at the side seams. C u rve the cutt i ng l i ne s l ightly outward over the tummy using the hip c u rve. Tri m the tissue with the pleats, tucks, and darts in position.

scrap tissue to add the desired amount at center fron� tapering the line to nothing at the side seams.


Getting the Right Fit

A figure with a round tummy rare l y i s flattered by a darted­ front skirt. E l i m i nate the darts and ease the entire amou nt across the front u s i ng the technique known as staystitch p l u s (p. 60).

Adj usting for Full-Hip Measurements

To Adjust for Rounded Full Hips

___ �

Back darts �---�

The straight darts on a pattern are designed for an "average" fu l l- h i p measurement, b u t you c a n c u rve the back darts to the exact shape of you r figure. The darts should poi nt toward and end 1 i n . to 1 1/2 i n . away from the fu l lest part of the figure. Shorten or lengthen them as needed. Worki ng from the m i d point of the dart, add or subtract 1/8 i n . from each of the original dart l i nes. U se the h i p c u rve to re-mark the stitc h i ng l i ne, beg i n n i n g and end i ng at the top and bottom of the dart. For rounded fu l l h i ps, scoop in the legs of the darts, a l lowing 1/4 in. of extra fabric i n the garment per dart. For flat or low derrieres and narrow fu l l h i ps, cu rve the darts out, e l i m i nating 1/4 i n . of fabric from the garment per dart.

Center back


Scoop in darts

Y8 in. from

original stitching line. This allows

'4 in. of extra

fabric in the garment per dart.

To Adjust for Flat Full Hips

__ �,...._

---:::�:o Back darts


Center back

/ Curve out darts

',1, in.

from original stitching line. This eliminates

'14 in. of fabric from the garment per dart.

Mark the position of the new end of the dart, and redraw the legs to recon nect them to thei r original positions at the waist.

Pin Fitting Adjustments


Construction Guidelines Once you've made all your pattern adjustments, you're probably eager to start sewing. But before you begin, take some time to think through the sewing sequence and plan for any style modifications, details, and finishes you've chosen. Just as an architect needs to understand the whole process of constructing a building, a sewer needs to understand the progression of steps in a garment's construction and how each step leads to the next. The pattern instruction sheet is your starting point. Read the instructions through and think about the construction sequence. Decide which techniques you want to use and which ones you want to change or modity. For example, you may decide to try a waistband style different from the one provided in the pattern or to change the way you put in the zipper. Also think about topstitching details, seam finishes, and the hem width and finish. If you decide to make any changes in construction techniques or the sewing sequence, write notes to yourself right on the pattern instruction sheet. For easy reference, also note the pages of this book where the techniques you'd like to try are explained in detail. Before you begin to work on the garment, experiment with scraps of your skirt and lining fabrics. Make sample seams and try different seam and hem finishes. With the thread and needle size recommended for your fabric, test for the best stitch length. Press these samples to determine the best heat setting for your iron. If you're planning to use a fusible interfacing, fuse a scrap of it to your fabric to test their compatibility. Be sure to try any new or difficult technique you'd like to use on your garment ahead of time, and save all your samples for future reference.

Construction Chronology This sequence illustrates the construction steps for a straight or .flared skirt with darts or tucks, pockets in the side seam, a center back zipper, and a lining. It is intended as a guide for developing your own order of constructionfor sewing your skirt. Following a "generic" sequence such as this is helpful when you addfeatures (a lining, for instance) to a pattern that doesn't have them.

Steps in gaS M



Before you begin, read the gu idesheet and mark up a l l pattern, cutting, a n d construction c hanges.

8. Pin side seams, wrong sides together, vertical l y along the sea m l i nes. Try on, a ltering as needed. Stitch s ide seams. Press. Try on agai n , fine-tu n i ng for swayback, tum my, and waistl ine measurements. 9. Construct l i n i ng: Stitch center

1 . Adjust the pattern for fit and design. 2. Cut out a l l the pattern pieces. Transfer marki ngs to fabric. 3. Apply i nterfac i ng, as needed, at pocket, waistband, or zipper ope n i ngs.

back seam, a l lowi ng room for zipper and vent open i ng. Stitch side seams.

1 0. I n sert l i n i ng. Mac h ine baste at waist, form ing tucks at darts. Handsew around z i pper. 1 1 . Apply waistband.

4. Staystitch interfaci ng.

1 2. Apply c losures.

5. Overlock edges if using serger to fi n ish seams. Apply pockets w h i l e serging t h e s i d e seams.

1 3. Hem : Mark, press, trim, pin, and try on. F i n ish edge, stitch. Press.

6. Stitch darts or tucks.

1 4. Hem l i n i ng, attach at vent.

Appl y

pockets. Stitch center-back seam, form ing French vent if there i s one. I n sert z ipper.



Construction Guidelines

1 5. Final pressi ng to fi n ish you r ski rt.

SEWING G U I DE FOR SKIRT Note: Shading Note: Shading


denotes right side of fabric. denotes right side of interfacing.

Remember to sew a

Step One: Preliminary construction

---+�'Yr-i h J

Replace front darts with staystitch plus


Fold right side in on center line. Stitch on dart stitching line, tying of{ stitching at Press darts toward center front or cenlerback.

Reinforce zipper opening

First fitting: Adjust side seams, if necessary.

.........,. �.... �- 3.

4. Slash center oock seam altowance of wearer's right side above extcnsion losquare

Center closed zipper face down ovefpJessed-open seam allowance on wrong side, with lop of zipper in. below seamline. Pin and hand-baste zipper in place.

with fusible interfacing. Baste centered zipper

1 -in. seam allowance.

1 . Stitch dar1s on SKIRT FRONT and SKIRT BACK K as follows:




from right side.





Reinforce top of vent with fusible interfacing.

offarnie, align wearer's right extension over carer's Icft exlension. Basle exte together along upper edge and � II dot.

0118 51


5. Pin cxtension toSKIRT BACK. On the outside of r h ;� �:::�� ;���� � ' i l n from square to smaU dot, f "itc h i ng ' ' .." "' Of oc g � ;� ,. .



( �����;�:�£�;::;::� �; Step Two: Waistband 1' 2. �



topstitching on right side, . n t. fI




Add two rows of


, .



a �s� l

g�," : : ' " " "' " . m i



_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .:: :: ::: ::: ::: � � _ _ _ _ _ _

Apply elasticized,

__ _

fitted waistband.

1 . Pin interfaced side of WAISTBAND 10 SKIRT, right sides together, matching center fronts, stars on WAISTBAND to side seams of SKIRT. "'" do". E,�";,,h " waistline as necessary to fit on WAISTBAND. Stitch along seamline. Trim seam allowances and press toward WAISTBAND.

K . .


Slipstitch pressed-undef edge of WAISTBAND over previously stitched seam on wrong side of skirt. and eye on WAISTBAND.

Turn hem back and halfway into hem



insert a lining.

Sew hook.

Step Three: Hem catchstitch in place

; :�::::: : t


Secure -----4f--- waistband by stitching in the ditch from right side.

Press up hem along hemline. Finish raw edge of hem with seam tape or overcasting. Slipstitich binding to skirt. Press wearer's left back extension into place and slipstitch edges of extension to skir1 back, covering hem.


Make sure you understand the instructions on your guidesheet. Remember it's just a beginning. There are many ways to enhance your pattern to get the fit and look you want. Mark your guidesheets with additional steps, reminders for fitting, and techniques to replace the pattern's suggestions.

Construction Chronology


Cutting and Marking Now you're ready to cut out the pattern pieces and transfer the markings to thefabric. Don't rush this step.

Take time and care when cutti ng and marki ng. An error of 1/4 i n . m ight not seem l i ke m u c h on a pattern piece, but as you cut and mark, you r 1f4 in. cou ld q u ickly become an i n c h .

Cutting 1

Check that the grainline and

selvage are parallel and the pattern pieces are on the grain.

You ' l l save time and make fewer m i stakes if you cut everyth ing at one time, i nc l u d i ng the l in i ng and i nterfac i ng. Be precise and fastidious about placing the pattern pieces on the straight of the gra i n . U se a ru ler to check that the gra i n l i ne and selvage of the fabric are para l lel to each other (1 ). Sharp scissors are fine, but a rotary cutter and a mat w i l l save you some time. Consider using weights, instead of pi ns, to hold you r pattern i n place.


Mark notches, darts, tucks, and

centers with 7i4-in. scissors snips.


Construction Guidelines

Marking Mark notches, centers, darts, tucks, etc., with 1/4 - i n . scissors snips whenever possible. They're easy to find, fast to make, and permanent (2). Use the tip of you r scissors, not the rotary cutter-it's very easy to cut too deep. Chalk, tracing paper, and penc i l s are a l l designed to mark t h e wrong side of the fabric. Don't use them on the right side of you r garment. (An exception to this rule i s Clo­ c h a l k, a wh ite powdery c h a l k that d i sappears with i n 24 hou rs or as soon as you r garment i s pressed or lau ndered.) You can also use simple tai lor's tacks to transfer marki ngs from the pattern to you r fabric. These tacks are eas i l y identifiable from either side of the fabric and su itable for any type of marking. They work especi a l l y wel l for position ing darts, pleats, and tucks.

MAK I N G TAILOR'S TACKS Multistrand embroidery floss works wel l for making tai lor's tacks because it's thick and won't pull out read i ly. I also use a chen i l l e need le, which is sharp and has a large, easy-to-thread eye.

Don't machi ne-stitch over tai lor's tacks; they can get caught in the stitches and be tricky to p u l l out. I nstead, baste or mark the area carefu l l y, remove the tacks, then stitch by mac h i ne.

Make one small stitch through both layers of fabric on each pattern mark, leaving at least liz-i n . tails at each end (1 ). Slowly peel the pattern tissue from the tacks without tearing it. Carefu lly pull open the fabric layers so that there is enough thread between them to clip the tacks and leave tai l s (2). These tacks on the i nside (right side) of the cloth will be more uniform lengths, so you w i l l be able to tel l the right side of the fabric from the wrong side at a glance. To mark any pleats or tucks, try using two d ifferent colors of embroidery floss to mark each set. Later, you ' l l be able to match the sets easily. (See p. 61.) To mark a dart, make snip marks to mark the tops of the legs. Use tai lor's tacks to mark the midpoi nts and tip of the dart. Then sculpt the dart by connecting the tacks with a h i p cu rve and a fine-l i ne chalk marker (3), and you ' l l have an easy-to-fol low stitching guide.


Pull the fabric apart and clip the tacks.



Use chalk and a hip curve to mark dart lines on the

Mark darts with tailor's tacks, leaving 1l2- in. tails.

wrong side of the fabric.

Cutting and Marking


Pressing Pressing seams and darts is the secret to making clothes that look professional.

Tools The best i ron gets hot and stays hot and gives off a good shot of steam . Always test a scrap of you r fabric to determ i ne the best setting to use.


Press the seam flat on the wrong

side, holding the seam halves open as you work.


Press again from the right side,

using a press cloth if necessary.


Construction Guidelines

You ' l l a l so need a c l apper/pointer, a hardwood tool for flattening seams and pressi ng points; a pressing ham, a contou red device that looks l i ke its namesake and is used to shape darts and c u rved seams; and a press c loth . Press cloths protect the su rface of the garment fabric, and professionals rel y on them. U se a cotton, see-through press c loth for cottons, s i l ks, and l inens; a spec i a l l y treated, heavy d ri l l (cotton twi l l ) press cloth and a scrap of wool for pressing wools. The heavy cotton protects the wool fabric, particu larly if you are i ro n i ng the right s ide of the fabric, and al lows you to press with the i ron set at a h igh temperature. Wool pressed agai n st wool prevents the fabric from flatte n i ng and becoming s h i ny. (Professional tai lors often sew a square of wool to one area of the heavy-cotton press c loth in order to have both at hand.)

Test you r fabric to see if it can be pressed on the right s ide. If right­ side pressing changes the appearance of the fabric, always use a press c l oth. You r fingers are a l so i m portant pressing tool s, espec i a l l y for fabrics that are s l i ppery or don't hold shape easi ly. F i nger-press a l l seams before using the i ron .



After sewi ng each seam and dart, press it flat, as it was sewn, to blend the stitches, smooth the fabric, and erase puckers. Then press the seams open on the wrong side of the fabric. U se your fingers and the poi nt of the i ron to open the seam halves to l ie flat as you work (1 ). Press the seam or dart agai n on the right side of the fabric, using the press cloth if necessary (2).

U n l i ke i roni ng, which i s a s l id i ng motion, pressing is a l i fting and lowering motion.


Shape curved darts and seams by

pressing them over a ham.

As you work, use the clapper to flatten and cool the pressed area. The hardwood absorbs heat and moistu re, and the weight of the tool and the pou nding flattens the stitched seam or dart. For some fabrics, such as cottons, rayons, and s i l ks, j ust the weight of the c l apper i s enough to do the job; for wools, you may need to apply extra pressure. Also press back darts and cu rved seams over the ham to b u i l d c u rves a n d shape t h e garment (3). Press front darts over the ham's flattest part to avoid rou n d i ng them . Press a l l vertical darts toward the center of the garment.

PRESS I N G THE STRETCH OUT OF B IAS Before hand l i ng any piece of fabric that's been cut on the bias, press the stretch out. This technique is straight from the workrooms of French couture. After pressing, the seams of bias-cut skirt panels can be sewn with minimum distortion. After the garment is fi nished, the hem will not sag, and the skirt will be less l i kely to stretch in length and decrease in width . Position the bias-cut skirt panel on a pressing su rface that is long enough for the entire length . Steam-press, and as you do, gently stretch the fabric in the lengthwise direction of the skirt. Begin at one seam and work in rad iating parallel l i nes across the panel to the other seam. Al low the fabric to cool before reposition ing it. Repeat the process with a l l of the skirt panels. The hem may become uneven, but after you've measured it and hemmed it even ly, it wi l l stay even.

After press i ng, seams and darts shou l d be so flat they al most d i sappear. Let the pressed area cool before readjusting the fabric on the i ro n i ng board.

Steam-press while gently stretching the fabric lengthwise to ensure that the finished garment will hold its shape.



Seams and Seam Finishes Stitching seams is one of the basic components of sewing. With a little practice, you'll be able to sew peTject straight or curved seams and a variety of professionalfinishes. Before you begin sewing, a lways test for the best stitch length, need l e size, and type of th read for you r fabric. Test the stitch length for appearance and strength as wel l as for ease in ripping. A too­ long stitch length uses less th read, but creates a puckered seam . Keep a supply of d ifferent need les on hand and use only the best q u a l ity-th i s is not a place to skimp. Change the need le before you begin each new garment and any t i me the need l e h its a p i n ( I isten for t h e sound o f a b l u nt or bent need l e p ierc i ng the c loth ) . If you notice skipped stitches, or if the th read keeps breaking or frayi ng, try a d ifferent-size need le. If that doesn't help, try another brand of need le.

A Hong Kong seam finish, made with China silk, rayon, or silk bias strips, is a flat and elegant binding for hems and waistbands.


Construction Guidelines


Se g Perfect Seams


For smooth seams, a lways cut, stitch, and press seams in the same d i rection. For skirts, this usua l l y means working along t h e length of the garment, from hem to waist l i ne.

Ripping out seams is an essential part of sewing. Use the narrow point of the seam ri pper to break a few stitches on one side of the seam. This frees the thread on the other side so that it can be pul led. Working from one end of the seam to the other, rip j ust a few stitches, grasp the thread with you r fi ngers, and give it a good pu l l , disposing of the loose threads as you go.

To sew long side seams, pl ace pins verti ca l l y on the stitc h i ng l i ne, positioned so that you can pu l l them out a s you sew. This saves time and-because you're not sewing over pins-it also saves wear and tear on the m ac h i ne.

Another way to rip stitches is to use the point of the ripper to break threads on one side of the fabric every 1f2 i n . to 1 in. along the seam and then pu l l the long freed-up th read on the other side. (The disadvantage is that on the first side you're left with broken th reads all along the seam that need to be removed .) Never work the cu rved portion of the seam ripper between the two layers of the seam un less the fabric is heavy and very firmly woven. Otherwise, you're l iable to rip the fabric as well as the threads.

Pi n the top and bottom of the seam fi rst. Next match the notches, then match or ease the fabric i n between. A fabric with "tooth" grabs or sticks to itself and thus requ i res fewer pins than a s l ippery fabric that moves and s l ides. You may need to hand-baste some hard-to-handle fabrics, such as velvet, before stitc h i ng. Most seams are sewn with right sides together, using a sis-i n . seam a l lowance. Some mach i nes have this Sis-in. width marked on the th roat p l ate. A magnetic seam gu ide, which acts as a "fence" a long which you can gu ide the fabric, is a l so a very helpfu l tool (see photo 3 on p. 65).

Break stitches along one side of the seam with the narrow point of the seam ripper.

A lways press a seam after stitc h i ng and before crossing it with another seam or deta i l . Remember, stitc h i ng and pressing go hand i n hand.

Seams and Seam Finishes


Finishes for Side Seams A i m for s i mple, l ight, unobtrusive seam fin i shes. Test fabric scraps to see which seam fi n ish is most compatible with you r fabric. The seam finish should keep the seam edges from fraying a nd shou ldn't show from the right side. If you r fabric doesn't ravel, t h e best seam fi n ish i s none at a l l .

Pinked Seams Tri m m i ng with

One easy way to finish a seam is with pinking shears. Pink the edges, trimming a small slice of fabric away from the seam allowance.

SEAMS FOR BIAS-CUT S KIRTS Cut, making 1 1/2-i n . seams to allow the fabric to relax. Mark the seamline with basting. Press the pieces. Pin along the marked seam l i ne and try on the garment. Adj ust where necessary. You may need to make smal ler seam allowances to compensate for the pieces' having stretched sl ightly in length and contracted in width. Sew with a sl ightly shorter stitch length than usual, stretchi ng the fabric as you sew. Because bias does not ravel, you won't need to fi n ish the seams.

p i n k i n g shears i s a c l assic, honest way to fi n i s h a seam (see photo, l eft) . The u lt i m ate i n s i m p l i c ity, it adds no bu l k and won't show from the right side. After you sew the seam , trim away the smal lest amount of fabric possible. Test the p i n king shears on fabric scraps fi rst. On some fabrics, you can trim both layers of the seam a l l owance at one time. With other fabrics, to get a c lean edge, you m u st open the seam a l lowance and trim s i ngle layers. Test both methods and compare the res u lts. Some p i n k i ng shears have a notched tip that w i l l cut a l l the way to the end of the cut. Other brands work best if you don't fu l l y open the shears a n d if you don't cut a l l the way to the poi nts. Test to see how deep a cut you need to make to work smoothly. There's a l so a rotary cutter with a wavy blade that works wel l as a p i n k i ng tool . A p i n ked-and-stitched edge i s espec i a l l y flat and ravel-resistant: Sew a l i n e of stitc h i ng 1 /4 i n . from the edge before the seam is sewn . P i n k the edges after seam i ng, without cutting the l i ne of stitc h i ng.


Construction Guidelines

Zigzag Seams Zigzag edges are q u i c k and s i m ple fi n i shes. Both are m ade after the seam is sewn and pressed . Both fin i shes have two disadvantages, however. F i rst, the extra stitc h i ng and th read can add bu l k to th i n fabrics, which wi l l keep them from lying flat. Second, these fi n i shes, which aren't found in ready-to-wear, shout "homemade." I general ly don't use them, but you m ight want to experi ment with them yourself. For a zigzag fi n ish, u se a stitch of med i u m width and length . Stitch near the edge, but not along it, and trim c lose to the stitch i ng. If you r m ac h i ne h a s th i s option, try a m ac h i ne-overcast stitc h . Stitch c lose to the edge so the points of the stitches fal l a l most at the edge of the fabric.

Serged Seams The serger, or overloc k m ac h i ne, h as transformed home sewing. A l though it doesn't repl ace a conventional m ac h i ne, a serger i s very u sefu l for q u i ck l y cutti ng and fi n i sh i ng seam edges in one fast and easy operation (above right). Fuse i n terfaci ngs to pockets and z i pper areas before sergi ng. If you r fabric frays eas i l y, serge a l l around the s k i rt, but on more stable fabrics, serge only the seams that w i l l be pressed open . Serge the hem after you mark the length and tri m to des i red width.

A serger cuts and overcasts the edges of the seam allowance in one quick and easy operation.

you normal ly wou ld. The cutting edge of the serger trims j u st the rave l l y edges before overcast i ng. Use fi ne, soft thread, mach i ne­ embroidery thread, or texturized nylon to m i n i m ize the amount of th read impression "stri k i ng through" on the right side of the fabric. A 3-thread edge, u s i ng long staple polyester or coned "serger" thread, is the most versat i l e of the serged fin ishes. Or, if you r mac h i ne has a 2-thread fi n i sh, try that for a flatter edge. Serge a wide edge on fabrics that are heavy or b u l ky, and a narrow edge on flat fabrics that are l ightweight to m idweight.

When u s i ng a serger, it's not necessary to cut wider seams than

Seams and Seam Finishes


Finishes for Hems and Waistband Seams For a flat and professional-looking finish, you can bind hems and waistband seams with a Hong Kong fin ish or with a rayon seam b i nd i ng.

On the wrong side of the fabric, trim the excess b i n d i ng 1/8 i n . from the stitc h i ng l i ne (3). Bias doesn't fray, so the binding won't rave l .

Hong Kong Finish The Hong

Rayon Seam Binding A flat

Kong fi n i s h i s a s i m ple and elegant touch for m ed i u m to heavy fabrics. This flat, narrow b i n d i ng makes a fine fi n i s h for hems or an i nside waistband seam on a s k i rt (see photo on p . 5 2 ) , but it's too bu l ky for most side seam s .

woven-tape seam b i nd i ng creates a d ressmaker's touch for bu l ky and flat fabrics that ravel . Use rayon rather than polyester-it's softer, flatter, and more f l u i d . With j ust a bit of practice, you ' l l find t h i s tec h n i q ue fast and s i m ple.

A Hong Kong fi n ish h a s two l i nes of stitc h i ng and adds three layers of fabric to the edge. The seam edge is bound in bias strips of a l ightweight fabric, such as C h i n a s i l k, rayon l i n i ng, s i l k, or polyester crepe de c h i ne.

Rayon seam b i n d i ng adds less bu l k than the Hong Kong fi n i s h . I t has on ly one l i ne of stitc h i ng and adds only two layers of fabric to the edge. Th i s seam binding can also be used to fi n ish the i nside waistband edge and the hem edge.

For the binding, cut 1 1/4- i n . wide bias strips, piec i ng the lengths as necessary. Press the bias strips to remove excess stretchab i l ity and to prevent them from ripp l i ng.

Press the b i n d i ng in half lengthwise, maki ng one half s l ightly wider than the other. Hold the end i n place with a straight p i n as you work.

Before you stitch the waistband to the skirt, sew the b i n d i ng to the seam edge, with right sides together, 1/4 in. from the edges. ( B i nd the hem in the same way after marking and tri m m i ng it.)

Position the narrow half of the binding on top of the right side of the fabric and stitch a long this half (4). Th i s way, you' l l be s u re that you r stitches w i l l catch the wider half of the b i n d i ng on the other side of the fabric.

Tri m the seam edge to an even 1/8 i n . using sharp long-blade shears or a rotary cutter ( 1 ) . Wrap the b i n d i ng around the seam edge and press. On the right side of the fabric, stitch i n the "d itch" of


Construction Guidelines

the seam of the waistband and the b i n d ing-that is, where the two fabrics are sewn together (2). For accuracy, use an edgestitc h i ng foot with the need le i n the center position.

As you stitch along the edge of the binding, pu l l it sl ightly toward the fabric with you r finger so that it wraps around and encases the raw edge. Press to el i m i nate puckers.


To apply Hong Kong finish, trim the binding to an even

I/S in. with shears


Wrap the binding around the

edge, press, and stitch in the ditch of

or a rotary cutter.

the seam on the right side of the fabric.


Trim excess binding on the wrong

side of the fabric. Here, the author is using applique scissors to get as close as possible to the seam.


To apply rayon seam binding, stitch the pressed binding with the narrower

half on top of the right side of the fabric.

Seams and Seam Finishes


Darts, Pleats, and Gathers Darts, pleats, and gathers add dimension to ajlat piece of fabric, sculpting and shaping it into curves and contours. With careful fitting, their placements and lines can emphasize andjlatter your figure.


Construction Guidelines



Begin by backstitching at the

wide end of the dart.

Darts are most often used to shape the back of the s k i rt. A fitted, darted front shows every bump and c u rve of the body. If you don't have a flat tummy, front darts may not be fl attering and can be e l i m i nated with a stitc h i n g tec h n ique cal led staystitch p l u s (p. 60) . When making darts, careful marking and stitc h i ng go hand i n hand. Position p i n s a l l along the stitc h i ng l i ne, with one horizontal p i n marking the tip of the dart. Make sure that pins are in stra ight l i nes along both legs of the dart. Stitch from the wide end of the dart, backstitc h i ng as you begin i n order to secure the stitches (1). Remove the p i n s a s you come to the m . W h e n you're liz i n . from t h e tip of the dart, change to a short stitch length (1 . 5 m m ) and stitch the last few stitches a long the edge of the fabric. Shorter stitches increase stitc h i ng accu racy and make tyi n g knots or backstitc h i ng un necessary. Stitch evenly off the edge to prevent a bubble from form i ng at the tip of the dart (2). Sew a smooth and true dart every time by menta l l y d rawing a l i ne from the first stitches to the tip, pointing the mac h i ne i n that d i rection. Th i s visualization i s helpfu l even if you've m arked the stitc h i ng l i ne with chalk. Press the dart on a ham. A perfectly pressed dart is nearly i nvisible on the right side of the fabric.


When you've reached the tip of the dart, stitch evenly off the fabric.

Darts, Pleats, and Gathers


STAYSTITCH PLUS Staystitch plus (also cal led easestitch pl us) is a machi ne-stitching techn ique with a lot of uses. For example, instead of sewing the front darts of a ski rt, you can simply ease the fu l l nessi nto the waistband for a more flattering effect. Staystitch plus can be used to ease any skirt to fit i nto any other waistband. All sewing machines are designed to sew two or more layers of fabric. Staystitch plus works with the machine's tendency to d raw up fabric when sewing one layer. To staystitch-plus, you stitch through one layer of fabric, applying pressure from beh i nd to force a tiny bit more fabric i nto each stitch. Position your finger beh i nd the foot to crimp the fabric and ease it through smoothly and evenly. Sew in sort segments, raising foot every few i nches to release fabric. Stitch short segments of fabric-l in. to 2 in. at a time-then release the pi led-up fabric by raising the presser foot (1 ). When you're done, the skirt shou ld be nearly equal i n width t o the pattern piece with the darts pi nned i nto position (2). If you need to ease more fabric, make a second l i ne of staystitch plus j ust inside the fi rst l i ne. In order to develop an even, smooth tension whi le easing the fabric the correct amount, you ' l l need to experiment and practice.


As you force more fabric into each stitch by

presser foot every few inches to release the eased fabric.

After you have used staystitch plus, the garment piece should be equal in width to the pattern piece with the

darts pinned in place.



positioning your finger behind the foot, raise the

Construction Guidelines

Pleats Pleats add control led fu l l ness to ski rts. They can be soft or sharp, p laced a l l around the waist or h i p, positioned in the front and/or the back, or used as deta i l s (as a kick pleat, for example). If possi ble, make the pleats before sewing the side seams. Mark the pleats with ta i lor's tacks (p. 49). Use two colors of embroidery floss: one for the fold of the pleat, the other for the placement l i ne.


Pin the soft pleats into position, aligning marks and tailor's tacks.


Hand-baste the pleats in position above and below the seam line.

Soft Pleats Soft pl eats m u st be secu red accu rately to hang gracefu l ly. H and- and m ac h i ne­ baste to keep them from shifting d u ri ng fitting and constructio n . W h e n the waistba nd i s appl i ed, the pleats are permanently stitched in p l ace. P i n the p leats i nto position, al igning the s n i p marks and tai lor's tacks ( 1 ) . Hand-baste them securely wel l above and below the sea m l ine with s i l k th read . Next, mac h i ne­ baste them with i n the l i nes of hand-basting, above and below the sea m l i ne (2). After stitc h i ng the fi rst l i n e of stitc h i ng for the waistband, set the pleats by steam-pressi ng them over the ham.

Darts, Pleats, and Gathers


Sharp Pleats Making s harp p leats req u i res care and accu racy. Stitc h i ng c lose to the edge of a pleat keeps the pressed edges crisp and l asti ng, even i n soft fabrics. You can edgestitch sharp pleats on the outside and/or inside of the garment. It's crucial to maintai n the straight of the gra i n along the edge of long, straight pleats. Mark the pleat fold l i ne and pl acement l i nes with tai lor's tacks every 3 i n . to 4 i n . Sn i p-mark at the fabric edges. Press the pleats i nto position on a pressing su rface long enough to support the length of the garment and wide enough to support several p leats ( 1 ) . Hand-baste the p leats with s i l k th read to secu re them (2).


Press sharp pleats into position on a long work surface.


Hand-baste the pleats securely with silk thread.


Construction Guidelines


Use the clapper and a heavy press cloth to sharpen pleats in a pleated skirt.

Press aga i n on the wrong side of the fabric, u s i ng the c l apper and a heavy press c loth to sharpen the pleat edges (3). Press aga i n , f i n i s h i ng and touch i ng u p, on the right side of the fabric. For a crisp fi n ish, after the s k i rt is hemmed , you can edgestitch the i nside edge, outside edge, or both edges of the enti re p leat, on the wrong side of the garment (4). Edgestitc h i ng adds weight and crispness, and holds the p leats i n position. U se a n edgest i tc h i ng foot for greatest accu racy and speed. A lways press aga i n after edgest i tc h i ng. Another option i s to edgestitch j u st the i nside of the pleat with i n the hem . Agai n , stitch o n the wrong side of the garment to conceal the stitc hes.


Edgestitching on the wrong side of the garment holds the crisp pleats in


Darts, Pleats, and Gathers


Gathers The best mac h i ne gathers i m itate finely done hand s h i rring by creating even, flowing, vertical folds in a soft fabric. Th i s kind of gathering i s flattering to most figures. By position ing wel l-made gathers in the flatter parts of the body, you can create a sl i m m ing effect. Poorly done gatheri ng, however, i s u neven and l umpy and adds b u l k to the figure. One of the secrets of success is choosi ng the right fabric. Another i s using three rows of gathering stitches rather than the trad itional two. Careful stitc h i ng, p i n n i ng, and sea m i ng are a lso essential . On a l l sewing mac h i nes, the bobbin tension i s adjusted to create a perfect stitch from the right side, so it's easiest to gather fabric by pu l l ing the bobbi n thread. Stitch o n the right side of the fabric and use heavier th read i n the bobbin to prevent the thread from breaking. Test for the best stitch length . For even gathers, use the shortest stitch length that gathers with ease-

When gathering a lot of fabric, d iv ide and conquer:

• Section the area to be gathered i nto halves or quarters, marking carefu l l y a n d c learly with c h a l k or s n i p marks. (Pins can fal l out.)

• G ather each section separately.


Construction Guidelines

genera l l y, 3 . 5 to 4 . 5 m m . Use a longer stitch with heavier fabrics. If the gathers go a l l around the skirt, it's best to make them after sewing the side seams. If they don't, you can make them before sewing the side seams. When making the gathers, stitch three paral lel rows 7/a i n . , Jia i n . , a n d 1/4 i n . from t h e edge o f the fabric. The row farthest from the edge secures the gathers i n position until you attach the waistband. (For smoother gathers in "cha l l engi ng" fabrics, such as den im, stitch fou r rows.) Test you r fabric to be sure that the need le holes d i sappear after you've removed the gathering th reads and steamed the gathers. If marks rem a i n, make add itional rows of stitc h i ng with i n the sea m l i n e to conceal them . Start and stop stitc h i ng each row i n the same place. D o not backstitch the ends or you won't be able to pu l l the th reads easi l y l ater. Keep th reads from tangl i ng by cutting the upper th reads 2 i n . from the fabric. Before you gather the skirt to fit the waistband, mark the skirt at center front, side seams, and center back. Also mark the waistband at the corresponding poi nts. Pu l l the bobbi n threads firm ly but gently to gather the skirt.

Sec u re the th read ends by wrapping them i n a figure eight around the p i n s at each end of the l i nes of stitc h i ng (1 ). Divide each gathered area in half repeated l y, form ing smal l vertical folds, and pin the gathered sections secu rely with p i n s pl aced close together. Use a pin point to adjust the gathers so that they are evenly d i stributed (2). The row of stitch i n g that attaches the s k i rt to the waistband holds the carefu l l y adj u sted gathers permanently in position . Stitch on the wrong side of the fabric, adj usti ng the fabric folds as you work to prevent d i stortion (3). Stitch slowly. It's inevitable that you ' l l n ic k the mac h i ne need le with a pin as you stitch, so change the need le when you fi n is h . Check t h e even ness of t h e gathers on the right side of the garment before removing the gathering stitches. Be sure to remove all the th reads before pressing-they can create stiffness and bu l k in the seam a l lowance.


Secure the gathering threads by

wrapping them in a figure eight


Adjust the gathers evenly with a

pin point.

around a straight pin. Divide and pin each gathered section to form a series of vertical folds.


On the wrong side of the fabric, stitch the gathered skirt to the waistband.

A magnetic seam guide ensures a straight line of stitching.

Pressi ng adds a fi nal tou c h . F i rst, press the seam flat as sew n . Next, work in sections on the wrong side, position ing the gathers over the h a m . Set the gathers with steam so they l ie even, gently pu l l ing them l engthwise to create para l lel folds (4) . Be carefu l not to flatten them as you work.

Tri m m i ng or grad i ng gathers usual l y isn't necessary. If you do trim them, however, never trim closer than % i n . Any more than that and the gathered fabric edges w i l l stand u p stiffly, l i ke a crewcut.


Steam-press the gathers lightly

over the ham.

Darts, Pleats, and Gathers


Side-Seam Pockets Side-seam pockets, the easiest to sew, are a good first pocket for the beginner to master. Side-seam pockets work best on sem i-fitted, fu l l, and flared skirts with soft p leats or gathers. Don't use them on skirts that are very fitted at the waist and h i p, p leated, or cut on the bias, however. If you r pattern does not have a pocket, add ing th i s one is s i mple. Add '/8 i n . extra at each side seam to make sure that the skirt has enough ease at the h i p and h igh h i p to accommodate a pocket. If the skirt i s too sn ug, the pocket openings w i l l gap. When making a skirt with pockets, pi n-fit carefu l l y, baste the pocket opening before stitc h i ng, and press the garment wel l so that the pockets I ie smooth and flat without bu lges or bu lk.

Construction You can keep pocket ope n i ngs firm and stable by rei nforci ng the front opening with fusible tricot. (You don't need to rei nforce the back of the pocket open i ng because it doesn't get stretched from use.) Mark its p l acement on skirt front. Measure from the waist to '12 i n . below the bottom of the pocket open ing. Cut a l - i n . wide strip of fusible tricot to th is l ength for each pocket.


Construction Guidelines

Fusible tricot is stable on the lengthwise grai n and won't stretch . (Fusi bles d o stretch o n the cross gra i n , however, so cut carefu l ly.) On the skirt front, position and fuse the i nterfacing over the seam so that it extends 1/4 i n . beyond the fold of the pocket open ing ( 1 ) . T h i s both strengthens and softens the edge. Stitch the pocket to the side seam, using a 1/4- i n . seam a l lowance. You can a lso com b i ne straight stitc h i ng with serged edges. Press the seam toward the pocket. Stitch the side seams of the garment, working from the hem, until you reach the bottom of the pocket open i ng. Backstitc h . Don't cut the thread . I nstead, l ift the pressure foot, carry the th read across, and reposition the need l e at the top of the pocket open i ng (2). Backstitch agai n and sew the rest of the seam . You can a l so change to a longer stitch and baste across the pocket ope n i ng rather than carrying the th read .

) 1

Mark notches on pocket and skirt seam.

Worki ng from top to bottom, serge the outside and top edges of the pocket halves. F u se the i nterfaci ng. Then, in one operation, beg i n n i ng at the hem, stitch and fi n ish the garment's side seams w h i l e attach i ng t h e pocket.

Press open the side and pocket seams as shown in the photo on the fol lowing page (3), using the flat side of the ham if the h i p area i s c u rved . U se the c lapper to smooth and flatten the pocket edges. Topstitc h i ng gives the pocket ope n i ng a crisp fi n i s h . Mark the topstitc h i ng l i ne for each pocket ope n i ng on the skirt front with a C-Thru ruler and erasable chalk or silk thread. Or you can simply stitch 1/4 i n . to 112 i n . from the edge of the pocket ope n i ng, u s i ng the fold as a gu ide. With a s l ightly longer stitch, topstitch along the ope n i ng, backstitc h i ng at each end.


When stitching the side seams,

backstitch the bottom of the pocket opening, carry the thread across the opening, backstitch the top, and continue the seam.

Side-Seam Pockets



Press open the side seams and

pocket seams.


Before stitching the pocket halves together; clip the back side seam on the

diagonal and press the back of the pocket to the front of the skirt.

Working over a ham, press the back of the pocket toward the front of the garment. C l i p the back side seam so that the pocket w i l l fal l to the front of the garment eas i l y (4). (Cl i pping on the d i agon a l prevents fraying.) To assemble the halves of the pocket, stitch around the edges, beg i n n ing and end ing at the backstitc h i ng that marks the pocket open ing (5). Pinking is a fast, simple sol ution to fi n is h i ng the pocket edges if you don't have a serger. Press the fi n i shed pocket to the front of the garment.


Sew the pocket together; beginning and ending at the pocket opening.


Construction Guidelines

SIDE-POCKET VARIATIO N This side pocket doubles as a skirt opening. Not only

above the mark. F i n ish this pocket opening by pressing



does it e l i m i nate the need for a zipper, it also adds a

the edge under

soft and fu nctional design element. (Ralph Lauren uses side-pocket openi ngs in his skirts.)

on the right side.

To turn a side-seam pocket into a side-pocket opening, make a mark 9 in. below the waist along the long

pocket underlap-that is, the top of the pocket back from the side seam to the pocket edge. Add the length

curved edge of the pocket. Reinforce 1 in . on either side of the mark and clip to it, being carefu l not to cut

finished waistband length.

through the reinforced stitch ing.

i n ., and then another

in. Topstitch

Mark the left side seam on the waistband. Measure the

of the u nderlap plus two seam a l l owances to the

Attach the waistband as you normally wou l d and add

Construct the pockets as descri bed on pp. 66-68, but

closures (pp. 1 02 - 1 03), positioning them so that when

leave the one on the left side of the garment open

the skirt is closed, the pocket halves align .

A Peek Inside a Side-Pocket Opening Edges of rxxket opening finished by turning and topstitching. Underlap length added to waistband.

Reinforced opening

(9 in.

below waist).




Side-Seam Pockets


Kick Pleats and French Vents Kick pleats and French vents allow you more freedom of movement when wearing a slim-Jitting skirt. and they are versatile design details as well. Kick pleats are stitched, c losed pleats and French vents are faced open i ngs. A kick pleat i s positioned a t t h e hem l i ne t o make a s l im-fitti ng s k i rt more comfortable for you to move and

wa l k i n . A trad itional closed kick pleat can be adapted to a n open s l it, freq uently used by French designers and cal led a French vent (p. 72). Keep you r eye on the l ength, stitc h i ng, and p lacement of kick p leats and French vents i n ready­ to-wear garments so you can adapt you r favorite skirt pattern . You can add them to any seam-center back, center front, or side. Converting a pattern to create a kick pleat or French vent is done i n the same way. Determ ine the fi n ished length of the pleat or vent-don't forget to i n c l ude the hem length . A good fi n i shed standard width is 3 i n . , i n c l u d i n g s�am a l lowances. Add a scrap of tissue to the pattern and draw i n the pleat o r vent, add ing the desi red length and width to the seam l i ne. The top of the open ing can be left square or angled. Mark the sea m l i nes. Make a dot at the top of the ope n i ng-th i s i s where the stitc h i n g ends for a French vent and marks the pivot point for a kick pleat. Add the kick pleat or French vent to the pattern fi rst, then add the right amount of wal k i ng ease (p. 3 5 ) .


Construction Guidelines


Apply a square of reinforcement at the top of both


Stitch from the square to the end of the extension and

backstitch to reinforce.

sides of the pleat opening.

Kick Pleat Before sewing a kick pleat, always rei nforce both sides of the top of the pleat ope n i ng to keep the fabric from tearing and the stitches from pu II i ng out. Position or fuse a l -i n . square of fusible or woven i nterfac i ng, a strip of tai lor's tape (tw i l l tape), or even a scrap of l i n i ng selvage at the top of both sides of the vent open i ng on the wrong side of the fabric ( 1 ) . Stitch the garment's seam to the square and press the seam in the d i rection it's sew n . With smal l reinforc i ng stitches, stitch from the square to the edge of the extension and backstitch (2). Fold back the extension on one side of the seam l i ne and press it. Lay the other extension on top of the folded one, al igning the edges (3). On the topmost l ayer, make a d i agonal c l i p through the seam a l l owance to the reinforcement


Fold one extension and press it. Lay the other over it, aligning edges.

Baste them into position at top of the extension.

Kick Pleats and French Vents


French Vent The French vent is easier to construct and less l i kely to wrinkle than the kick pleat. The extensions that form a kick pleat or French vent are the same and both are cut and reinforced i n the same way. T h e d ifference i s that on t h e French vent the extensions are pressed to either s ide of the opening, rather than overlapped on one side.


To secure the open edge of the kick pleat invisibly, catchstitch on the

inside of the garment.

square to keep the garment's seam free and flat. P i n the layers i nto positon and baste at top along the stitc h i ng l i ne. Lift the garment pieces to double­ check the hang of the kick p leat and correct as needed. Press the ski rt's seam open to the open ing. To secu re the open edge of the pleat, catch stitch on the inside of the garment (4) so that the stitches are i nvisible, or topstitch it on the right side of the garment to add extra deta i l .

After the garment's seam is sewn and pressed, press the ope n i ng as shown, al lowing the fabric to form straight folds that meet at the center (1).

Mitering the Corner For a beautifu l i n side f in ish, espec i a l l y i n a l i ned skirt, fi n ish off the French vent w ith a m i tered corner. ( Before you try it on you r garment, however, I recommend you practice m itering fi rst with paper, and then make two samples w ith a stable fabric.) Mark the hem length and fol d l i ne of the vent ope n i ng (2). Tu rn the marked edges u nder and press. At the i ntersection of the hem l i ne and the vent l i ne, fold the fabric back at an angle, a l igning the marked l i nes on top of each other (3). Press the folded corner. Tri m a 1/4-i n . seam a l l owance (4) . Fold the corner again, right sides together, to al ign the hem l i ne with the vent l i ne (5) . Mac h i ne-stitch a long the edge of the layers. Tu rn the mitered corner to its right side with a poi nt tu rner and press the corner to form crisp edges.


Construction Guidelines

3 2 1

Fold the corner back, aligning the

marked lines on top of each other, To miter a corner, mark and press

and press.

the hem and vent fold line. On a French vent, the extensions

are folded back on either side of the opening and pressed.


Fold again and stitch right sides

together. Turn the mitered corner to its right side with a point turner.


Trim the folded corner to allow a 'k in. seam allowance.

Kick Pleats and French Vents


Zippers Zippers may be lapped, centered, or "invisible. " Conquer the lapped zipper first. It has only one visible line of stitching, and it's perjectfor skirts with a side or back opening.


Construction Guidelines

Some Tips •

If this is you r fi rst zi pper, or if you' re u s i ng a chal lengi ng fabric, make th ree samples before putting the z i pper in the garment. Keep the samples for l ater reference.

I prefer to make the z i pper ope n i ngs longer than the pattern suggests-9 i n . rather than the usual 7 i n .

I a l so l i ke to use a zi pper that i s longer t h a n t h e open ing t o ensure that the z i pper closes in the wai stband (espec i a l l y good for rai sed and contou red waistbands).The longer open ing a l so makes it easier to get i nto and out of the skirt. Cut off any excess z i pper from the top after sewing the fi rst seam on the waistband.

A l ready prepared z i ppers are stu rd ier than those sold by the yard . Strong and flexible polyester z i ppers are preferable to metal ones.

• A z i pper foot i s essentia l . It a l lows you to m ac h i ne-stitch close to the z i pper, whereas the b u l ky regular foot gets in the way.

HAN D-BASTI NG more control and you ' l l be able to make sure the z i pper teeth are covered .

Add interfacing beh ind the z i pper as you wou l d for a pocket (p. 67) . This l ittle-known secret makes a noticeable d ifference. It stabi l izes the fabric and makes the fi n a l , visible stitch i ng easier. I recommend a fusible tricot, such as Sof-Knit. Work with 3/4-i n . strips cut on the straight of the gra i n to sta b i l ize the fabric and add body, and strips cut on the bias or cross gra i n for soft shaping. (Keep a supply of scraps on hand to save some time.)

It's hard to visual ize the S/8-i n . seam l i ne at the waistl i ne, so mark it with s n i ps . Begin ners may a l so benefit from marking the seam l i ne along the z ipper opening with chalk after the interfaci ng i s fused.

Press c u rves on the ham (as on a side-seam z i pper, for example) over the fl attest c u rve for subtle, rounded shaping. Press a side seam over a ham; press a center­ back seam flat.

Hand-basting is very effective for holding the zi pper i n position a s you machi ne-stitch, as wel l as for marking stitching l i nes in other parts of the garment. U se a si ngle strand of silk thread, especially with del icate or slippery fabrics, such as s i l k or velvet. Silk thread won't show when you press it or leave a trail of fi bers when you remove it. As you hand-stitch, use the basting th read itself as a guide. Hold the th read taut and paral lel to the edge of the fold, and sew along it. Machi ne-stitch next to the hand-basting. To mark stra ight stitching l i nes, use an erasable chalk, such as Clo-chalk, which disappears with i n 48 hours or washes out. (Always test marking tools on your fabric before you use them.)

Put the z i pper in w h i l e the garment i s flat. T h i s isn't a lways the order of construction recommended by most pattern d i rections, but it's easier. If you ' re u s i ng a s ide-seam z i pper, fit and adj ust the side seams before inserti ng the z i pper.

Contrary to most d i rections, don't baste the z i pper ope n i ng c losed before you put i n the zi pper. S i m ply press the seam a l l owances u nder-you' l l have




Fuse interfacing to the zipper's

seam allowances. Stitch the skirt's seam to the bottom of the opening.


Turn and press the seam allowance for the overlap to a width of % in.

Lapped Zipper A l apped z i pper laps left over right. An easy way to remember th i s i s to visual ize how it w i l l look when fin ished : On the right side of the garment, the lap that conceal s the z ipper w i l l be on the left side of the seam.


Turn and press the seam

allowance for the underlap to a width of

1/2 in.,

forming a slight pleat

at the bottom of the opening.

Snip-mark the seam a l l owance at the waist. Transfer the mark for the bottom of the z i pper open ing from the pattern onto the fabric by marking it with a snip at the edge of the seam a l l owance or with a c h a l k l i ne. Apply 3/4- i n . wide strips of i nterfaci ng that are 1/2 i n . longer than the z i pper ope n i ng. Position them so that they extend beyond the bottom mark for the z i pper and lis in. to 1/4 i n . beyond the sea m l ine i nto the seam a l lowance. Fuse the strips to the fabric.


Construction Guidelines

Sew the garment's seam u p to the z ipper ope n i ng, and backstitch to rei nforce the end ( 1 ) . Press the seam open. Press open the seam a l lowance for the overlap to a width of 5/s i n . (2) . On a side-seam z i pper, this is the seam a l l owance toward the front of the garment; on a center-back z i pper, th is i s the seam a l l owance on the l eft side of the seaml ine. Press open the u nderlap seam a l l owance to a width of 1/2 i n . (3). Form a lis-i n . pleat at the bottom of the u nderlap w h i l e pressi ng. Close the z i pper and, with it face up, position the stop 1/4 i n . to 3fs i n . above the bottom of t h e ope n i ng. Pin or hand-baste the z i pper to the u nderlap, keeping the teeth of the z ipper next to the fol d . With a z ipper foot, machi ne-stitch from

bottom to top, a scant the folded edge (4).


i n . from

With the z i pper sti l l closed, pin the overlap in position on the right side of the garment. Be sure to al ign the s n i ps that mark the seam a l lowance at the waist (5). The overlap edge should j u st cover the u nderlap stitc h i ng. Al low extra fabric at the top to accommodate the bu l k of the pu l l tab. Hand-baste the overlap i n position, making s u re it j ust covers the z i pper and the pu l l tab. (It's helpfu l to pu l l the tab down a few inches and fi nish basting with the top of the z i pper open.)


Machine-stitch the basted zipper

to the underlap using a zipper foot.


Pin the overlap in position,

aligning the marks for the seam at the waist.

Lapped Zipper

Mark and hand-baste the topstitc h i ng l i ne sl ightly to the side of the final machi ne-stitch i ng l i ne (about 318 in. to liz i n . from the folded edge). Check to make s u re the basting stitches catch a l l the layers of fabric and the z i pper. C lose the z i pper. Starting at the seam at the bottom of the openi ng, backstitch, then take about five to seven stitches across to the basted l i ne. Pivot and topstitch from bottom to top along the l i ne of basting (6). You can a lso stitch by hand if you prefer (p. 79).


Hand-baste the topstitching on

the overlap, and machine-stitch just


outside the basting.

, ,

Avoid a c u rve i n the topstitc h i ng around the pu l l tab by stopping 2 in. from the top of the open i ng, ope n i ng the z i pper, and then conti n u ing a smooth topstitc h i ng l i ne to the waistl ine (7).

'_ .. .


To a void an uneven topstitching

line at top, open the zipper a few inches and finish stitching in a straight line.



Centered Zipper A centered z i pper req u i res ski l l and precision to sew because it has two l i nes of topstitch i ng, which m u st be straight, para l l e l to each other, and an equal d i stance from the sea m . Symmetrical, centered z i ppers are a good choice for the back of a skirt.


Press %-in. seam allowances on

both sides of the zipper opening. (The raw edges of these garment pieces have already been serged.)

The topstitch i ng on a centered z ipper is a scant 1/4 i n . to % i n . from t h e open i ng. T h e fabric i s sl ightly rai sed a t the open ing because the teeth and p u l l tab are completely covered when the z i pper is c losed. As for the l apped z i pper, you can stitch by hand or topstitch by m ac h i ne. S n i p-mark the seam a l lowance for the z ipper at the waist, apply interfaci ng, and press open the seam at the z ipper open i ng. Stitch the garment's seam to the bottom of the z ipper openi ng, backstitch to reinforce the stitc h i ng, and press the seam open. Press a 5f8-i n . seam a l l owance on both sides of the z i pper open ing ( 1 ) . O n the right side of the garment, pin the closed z i pper th rough a l l th icknesses, forc i ng both sides of the fabric together sl ightly more than natural to form a ridge (2). The heavier the fabric, the more pronounced the ridge w i l l be. When the z i pper is sewn i n , th i s


Pin the closed zipper to the skirt

opening, forcing both side of the fabric together slightly more than natural, so that a ridge is formed.


Construction Guidelines


The Backstitch

For a fine custom touch, the fi nal stitch ing on a centered or lapped zi pper can be done by hand with a backstitch.

Wrong side

With a double strand of waxed sewing thread (or buttonhole th read for a more pronou nced look), insert the need le through all the layers. Each stitch is formed backward, beh ind the point where the thread emerges. Make a stitch, then bring the need le through again 1J4 in. to 3Js i n . in front of that stitch. From the right side, the stitching looks l i ke ti ny, even ly spaced dots in a stra ight l i ne paral lel to the fold. It takes a bit of practice to develop a consistent, stra ight stitch length and tension . Try making a long sample before you topstitch the actual garment.

ridge flattens out and covers the z i pper teeth com pletely. You may need to open and c l ose the z i pper and reposition i t more than once (double-sided basting tape makes the job easier) . Pu l l the tab a l l the way u p to be sure there's enough fabric to cover it at the waist end . H and-baste, j ust to one side of the topstitc h i ng l i ne. With the z i pper c l osed, beg i n topstitc h i ng at the seam at the bottom of the open ing. Take about fou r stitches, pivot, and topstitch along one side of the open i ng to the waist. Backstitch to rei nforce. Aga i n , beg i n at the seam at the bottom of the ope n i ng and topstitch the other side of the openi ng, from bottom to top (3). Backstitc h .

Centered Zipper


Begin a t the bottom of the zipper

opening and topstitch along each side to the top.

!.. I

Press the fi n ished z i pper on the right side of the garment, u s i ng a press cloth if necessary.



Invisible Zipper The i nvisible z i pper is a spec i a l l y made, th i n a n d flex i ble z i pper. I t c a n b e sewn right i nto t h e seam of a garment without topstitc h i ng. It's an easy z i pper to sew, but if th i s z ipper i s ent i rely new t o you, practice before you beg i n . Invisible z i ppers work wel l with double-knits, velvet, and s l i ppery or u n stable fabrics. They' re also perfect for bias skirts and for

designs that look best without any visible stitc h i ng. I nterfacing may not be necessary, except with l ightweight fabric or bias. To be sure, test fi rst. You wi l l need a spec ial z i pper foot made for invisible z ippers and possibly a shank adapter for you r machine. Do not stitch the seam before you put in the z i pper. Fuse the i nterfaci ng to the seam a l l owances (p. 76). Mark the bottom of the ope n i ng on the unsewn seam and on the bottom of the z i pper. If the z i pper i s too long, shorten it from the botto m . (The fi n ished z i pper w i l l a lways end u p about 112 i n . shorter than you plan ned, so al low extra length as needed . )


To shorten the zipper from the bottom, stitch in place, using zigzag

stitching with the feed dog lowered, and cut off the excess zipper below the stitching.

Open the z i pper. Working o n the wrong side, press the z i pper coi l s open with a warm i ron.


With the right side of the zipper

tape to the right side of the fabric, stitch each half of the zipper from top to bottom.


Construction Guidelines

To shorten the z i pper, d rop the feed dog and secure the end of the z i pper with a wide z igzag stitc h . C u t t h e z ipper 3/4 i n . below the z igzag stitc h i ng ( 1 ) .

With the z i pper face down, p i n the r i g h t side t o t h e r i g h t side of the garment. Pos ition the coi l s on the sea m l i n e (the edge of the z i pper tape wi l l be a scant 1/4 i n . from the raw edge); the bottom of the stop liz i n . below the mark for the bottom of the open i ng; and the top of the tape 1/4 in. below the top edge of the fabric. Working from top to bottom, position the p i ns so you can eas i l y p u l l them out as you stitch .

How to Position an Invisible Zipper Waistline

(You may want to machi ne-baste the z ipper before you m ac h i ne­ stitch it in place.) If you r fabric shifts eas i l y (as do velvet and s i l kies) or needs matc h i ng (plaids and stripes), hand- or m ac h i ne­ baste fi rst.

Top of tape is a scant

y., in. from raw edge.

Right side of fabric

Coil is on seamline. Position each half of the zipper the

With the need le centered in the hole in the i nvisible-zipper foot and the left groove of the foot over the coi l , stitch from top to bottom until the foot touches the stop (2). Backstitch at each end.

Zipper stop is

Y2 in. below the bottom of the opening.

C l ose and open the z i pper to make sure the stitc h i ng i s not too close to the teeth, which wou l d prevent it from u n z i pping eas i l y, or too far away, which wou l d cause the z i pper to show. With the z i pper c losed, position the right side of the other half of the z i pper tape to the right side of the other half of the garment. Make sure the z i pper h alves a l ign at the top of each side of the garment. Open the z i pper and stitch on the wrong side of the tape with the right groove of the z i pper foot over the coi l (3) . Agai n , backstitch to rei nforce the ends.

Invisible Zipper


Stitch the right side of the second

half of the zipper to the right side of the second half of the garment.

C l ose the z i pper. Sl ide the z ipper foot to the left so the need le goes th rough the outside notc h . Hold i ng the end of the z i pper out of the way, stitch 2 in. beyond the z i pper stop (4). Change back to you r regu lar pressure foot a n d fi n ish stitc h i ng the seam . Press. Stitch the loose ends of the z i pper to the seam a l l owances to sec u re them, bei ng careful not to catch the garment. Press.


Hold the end of the zipper out of

the way and stitch

2 in. below the

zipper stop.



The L

inin g A lining finishes the inside of your garment, reduces wrinkles, and helps the skirt hang well. Skirt l i n i ngs hang free of the skirt and are hemmed separately. They're attached at the wa i st, and the top edges are concealed by a waistband or fac i ng.

Backstitch to rei nforce the ends of the stitc h i ng. Press the seams open. If there i s a French vent, reinforce the corners and c l i p d i agonally as you d id for the garment ( 1 ) .

L i n i ngs are secu red to the garment by hand-stitc h i ng around the z i pper (and the French vent opening, if there is one).

Don't sew darts i n the l i n ing. Instead, when you baste the l i n i ng to the waist, simply position and pin the darts as if they were tucks. The tuck i s placed next to the dart, but it folds in the opposite d i rection to m i n i m ize bu l k (2).

Sew the l i n i ng's side seams on a conventional mac h i ne or with a serger. To add a bit more ease, use a 'h-i n . seam a l lowance. Stitch the center-back seam, end i ng j ust below the z i pper open ing.

2 1

If the skirt has a French vent, reinforce and clip the corners of the lining as

you did for the garment.


Don't make darts in the lining.

Instead, make a tuck in the lining

Construction Guidelines

next to the dart in the skirt, but fold it in the opposite direction.

SEW, FIT, AN D SEW One of the secrets to a good fit is to continue to fine­ tune the fit as you sew. (For this reason, always wear clothing that you can slip into and out of easily while you're working.) Construct the front and back of the skirt separately so that you can fit the garment at the side seams. Pin the side seams along the 5f8-in . seam a l l owance, wrong sides together, with pins parallel to and along the seam line. Mark the waistline with basting stitches so you can see it clearly. Wearing appropriate undergarments and shoes, try on the pinned skirt. Pin a l -in.-wide piece of elastic around your waist to simulate a waistband. You can now adjust the side seams to fit your contours. Let out or take in the seam as needed and try the skirt on again until the fit pleases you. With tailor's chal k, mark the alterations on the wrong side of the fabric. Draw a smooth line with the hip curve, making sure both side seams are the same. The detail s and constructions methods for your specific skirt style wil l determine the best times for fitting as you sew. Make notes on the pattern instruction sheet (pp. 46-47). Check again for swayback and ease at the waist before constructing the waistband or waistline facing. When you're making a classic, fitted waistband, try on the skirt again after the first row of stitching, and once

Fit the skirt at the side seams by adjusting the seam allowances.

more after the waistband finish is complete. For skirts with contoured or raised waistbands, apply

Make a l l your adjustments, stitch , press, and try on the

the facings to the front and back separatel y so you can

skirt yet again. It's not uncommon to redo a seam more

fit them as you fit the side seams. This simplifies fitting and construction and makes any additional changes

than once ! Continue fitting until you are satisfied.


Fitting is a trial-and-error process. The very best way to understand fitting is to just do it!

The Lining


Attaching the L g


Insert the l i n i ng i nto the skirt with wrong sides together, and pin the side, center-back, and front seams. Fold tucks in the l i n i ng and p i n them s o they l ie i n t h e opposite d i rection to the skirt darts, as shown on p. 8 2 . Tu rn u nder a n d finger-press the seam a l lowance on each side of the z i pper ope n i ng, making sure the l i n ing won't get caught in the z i pper teeth. S l i pstitch the l i n i ng to the z i pper tape ( 1 ) .


Turn under the seam allowances and slipstitch the lining to the zipper

tape. Make sure the lining fabric won't get caught in the teeth.

Mach i ne- or hand-baste the l i n i ng to the skirt VB i n . i nside the waist sea m l i ne. Baste the l i n i ng to the waistband '/2 i n . from the wai stband's edge. Establish the hem length for the l i n i ng. How long you make it depends on how you plan to fi n i sh the bottom edge (as descri bed on the facing page). Genera l l y, the l i n ing shou l d be 1 i n . shorter than the skirt. Press u nder the hem . If you r skirt has a French vent, you should have cut the l i n i ng as descri bed on p. 3 6 . Tu rn under and p i n a Sfs-i n . seam a l lowance i n the l i n i ng and s l i pstitch loosely to attach it to the edges of the vent extensions (2).


If your skirt has a French vent, slipsitch the turned-under edge of the

lining to the edges of the extensions.


Construction Guidelines

mmin g inin g

He the L

There are th ree options for fi n i shing the hem edge of a skirt l i ning: serging, turn ing under, and tri m m i ng with lace. If you decide to fi n ish the edge with serging, be sure to cut the l i n i ng 1 i n . shorter than skirt. The hem can a l so be turned u nder '/4 i n . to 'Iz i n . , turned agai n 1 i n . to 2 i n . , and then topstitched. T h i s creates a clean, strong fi n i s h . For this treatment, cut the l i n i ng the same length as the skirt.


To add an elegant couture touch, attach lace to the edge of the lining

before hemming.

For a simple coutu re touch, apply l ace at the hem with a z igzag stitch ( 1 ) . The l i n i ng w i l l look and feel l i ke a b u i l t- i n s l i p (th i s was a signature feature of Jacq uel i ne Ken nedy's skirts when she was F i rst Lady). You need to adjust the l i n ing length to compensate for the width of the l ace. In other words, cut the l i n i ng 1 i n . shorter than the skirt length m i nus the width of the l ace. Tri m the excess fabric under the lace c lose to the stitc h i ng (2).


After you have attached the lace, trim the excess close to the line of


The Lining


Waistbands The waistline of a skirt can be finished in a variety of ways: from the simplest elastic casing to a precisely fitted, multilayered interfaced band.


Construction Guidelines

PRO FESSIO NAL TIPS FOR A PPLYIN G A WAISTBAN D Whichever waistband style you choose, the techniques for pinning, stitchi ng, and pressing are the same. Here are some tips for getting frustration-free professional resu lts.

Pin the waistband to the skirt,right sides together, matching and pinn ing side seams and centers first. Ease the remaining fabric into the waistband and pin it in place. Position the pins on the seam l i ne so they can be pul led out easily as you sew.

Stitch with the wrong side of the waistband facing you so it's easier to see and control your work. When sewing a waistband to a gathered skirt, however, stitch with the gathered side up so you can be sure the gathers feed evenly into the machine.

• The waistband is smal ler than the skirt, so the action

waistband. Unless the fabric is very heavy, you don't usual ly need to tri m this seam allowance. Use a clapper to flatten as you press, and work over a ham as needed .

To save time and ensu re accu racy in the final stitching, after the ends have been fi nished, press the waistband as it wi l l be sewn, shaping over the ham. As you press, place pins in the ditch of the seam, catching the back of the waistband, to hold the oressed shape.

Your pattern w i l l l i kely tel l you simply to turn under the edge of the waistband before sewing it onto the skirt. There are four other, less bulky ways to fi nish the waistband edge: 1 . Use the selvage edge as the fi nished edge. 2 . Serge the edge.

of the machine will do some of the easing for you . If the fabric resists easing, however, hold it at a vertical angle as you sew-a factory trick that makes the job easier.

3 . Make a Hong Kong edge fi nish with a bias strip of l i n ing the length of the waistband and 1 in. wide (p. 56).

4. Wrap the edge with a rayon seam binding (p. 56).

Carefu l pressing is essential to the fi nished appearance of the waistband. Press the fi rst, and most visible, seam flat as sewn, then press it toward the

Skirts can be made with a p u l l-on e l asticized waistband, which is espec i a l l y easy for beginners to construct (p. 89); a c l assic fitted waistband (p. 92); a fitted elasticized waistband (p. 96); a contou red waistband (p. 99); or a raised waistband (p. 1 01 ). Some, but not a l l , requ i re i nterfaci ngs (pp. 93-95) and c losu res (pp. 1 02 - 1 03).

Commerc i a l patterns u s ua l l y provide bas i c i nstructions for attach i ng and i nterfac i ng a waistband, but you m ight want to adapt the pattern for one of these other a l ternatives.



Fitting the Waist A good fit a t the waist i s c ru c i a l to the overa l l fit and drape of the fi n ished skirt. Ease, the d ifference between the wearer's body and the amount of fabric in the garment, determ i nes how you w i l l look and feel i n the ski rt-and u lti mately whether or not you wi l l wear it. T h i n k of you r waist measurement, the fi n ished waistband (or fac i ng), and the waist sea m l i ne of the skirt as concentric c i rc l es, each nesting i nto the other. The fi n ished waistband i s l a rger than you r waist to a l low for movement, comfort, and enough room to tuck i n a blou se. The waist seam l i ne of the skirt i s l a rger than the waistband so that, when the extra fabric i s eased i n, the skirt w i l l sti l l flow smoothly over the stomach and h i ps. If the fit is right, there's enough ease for you to s l i p you r th u m b eas i l y u nder t h e waistband. This

same amount of ease is added to you r waist measurement and determ i nes the length of the fi n ished waistband (excl ud i ng the u nderlap and seam a l l owances, wh ich are added l ater). The amount of recom mended ease varies, depending on the style of the waistband and the figu re-for exam ple, s l i m figures general ly requ i re less ease than heavy ones. At the beg i n n i ng of each section on the various waistband styles, you' l l find the basi c recom mendation for t h e amount of ease for that style for the average figure. Although there are general guide l i nes, remember that ease i s a matter of persona l preference. Always measu re you r body or you r favorite ski rts to determ ine how much ease you'd l i ke to h ave i n you r fi n ished waistband, and adjust accord i ngly.

C H ECK I N G TH E F IT Before you apply the waistband, try on the skirt to dou ble-check the fit of the garment. Mark the waist seam l i ne by machi ne-basting the skirt with th read of a contrasting color. Pin a 1 -i n . to 2-in. wide length of elastic in place as a temporary waistband. Adjust the skirt so that the lower edge of the elastic is positioned along the waist seam l ine. The elastic "waistband" shou ld rest along your natural waist, with some ease-not too tight, not too loose. F i ne-tu ne the position and fit. If necessary, at this poi nt, you can adjust for swayback if you didn't alter the pattern when pin-fitting (pp. 40-41). Now remove the skirt and measure along the waist seam l i ne, excludi ng the underlap and seam


Construction Guidelines

allowances. This measurement shou ld be from 1'12 in. to 2 in. greater than the length of the fi nished waistband. The extra skirt fabric w i l l be eased into the waistband later. If the skirt's waist measurement is less than 1 '12 in. or more than 2 in. greater than the waistband measurement, you have several options. You can take in or let out equal amou nts of fabric at the side seams. You can also adjust the darts as necessary. If the skirt is too big, you can draw in the extra fabric by running a row or two of gathering stitching (using the next-to­ longest machine stitch) and easing evenly. You can also use staystitch plus (p. 60), or a combination of both . If the skirt is big, your waist small, and your h i ps h igh and round, a fitted, elasticized waistband (p. 96) also provides a solution.

Pull-on Waistband Amount of Ease: Waistband length: Hip measurement plus

1 //4 in.

2 in.


for two %-in. seam

allowances). The waist seamline should measure

2 in. more than

the fin ished waistband.

The pu l l -on waistband is a s i mple and professional deta i l that can be used with knits or l ightweight wovens. This styl e of waistband s l i ps on eas i l y over the h i ps, but doesn't add b u l k at the waist. You can even position pleats or gathers where you want them, wh i le reta i n ing the comfort and ease of a p u l l-on waistband. Knit ribbing gives the best stretch and the least bulk. You can a l so use cross-grai n kn its or lengthwise or cross-grai n wovens.

Measure and Cut Cut the waistband to a length eq ual to you r h i p measu rement p l u s 2 i n . p l u s two SIB-i n . seam a l lowances. The extra length wi l l a l low for those fabrics with zero stretch­ for example, a l l wovens and some sta b l e kn its. Cut the waistband wider than the fi n ished width, and plan to trim it after you've stitched it to the garment. Kn its, in particu l ar, often become more n arrow as they are stretched and stitched in place. For example, if I'm using l '/4-i n . wide e l astic, I cut the waistband 4'12 i n . wide, which a l lows for two SIB-i n . seam a l l owances and about

3f4 i n . of extra fabric. I trim the waistband to size and fi n ish it after I 've sewn the elastic to the seam a l lowance. Cut the e lastic 2 i n . to 3 i n . shorter than you r waist measurement p l u s two '/4-i n . seam a l l owances. (I use flat-rib e l astic or B an-rol .) To assemble the waistband, sew the seams and trim them to '/4-i n . a l l owances. Press them open and topstitch them at center with a wide z igzag stitch ( 1 ) . T h i s w i l l hold the seam flat and help you identify the garment's center back. D ivide the waistband in quarters, and mark each section. P i n the waistband to the garment, right


Sew the waistband together and

topstitch with a wide zigzag stitch.



sides together, at centers and at side seams (2). Stitch on the wrong side of the waistband, stretch i ng it as needed to fit the garment (3). If the garment i s su bstantia l l y larger than the waistband, on some fabrics (but rarely kn its), you may need to use gathering stitches. Press the stitched seams toward the waistband. Lap the seam a l l owances of the elastic to form a c i rcle and stitch the ends with a serpentine or z igzag stitch (4) . Tri m the ends and d ivide the elastic i nto quarters, as you d i d the waistband.


After dividing the waistband into quarters, pin it to the skirt, matching

marks at centers and side seams.

Position the edge of the elastic next to the waistl i n e stitc h i ng and p i n t h e elastic to the seam a l lowance, matc h i ng the marks at center front, back, and side seams. Stitch the e lastic to the seam a l l owance with a long, wide z igzag stitch, stretch i ng as you stitch (5). Wrap the waistband around the e lastic. Tri m width as needed, but be sure there w i l l be enough fabric beyond the waistl ine stitc h i ng so that when you stitch on the right side, you ' l l catch the i nside bottom edge of the waistband. F i n ish the waistband edge.


Sew the waistband to the skirt, stretching it as needed to fit.

On the right side of the fabric, p lace p i ns i n the d itch of the seam, positio n i ng them so you can eas i l y remove them a s you sew (6). P i n or baste the waistband vertical l y at each quarter to prevent it from sh ifting during stitc h i ng. On the right side of the garment, stitch in the d itch to fi n ish (7). Another fi n i s h i ng option i s to stitch several rows of topstitch i ng, stretch i ng as you sew. If you plan


Construction Guidelines

to topstitch, keep i n m i nd that every row of stitc h i n g stretches the elasic about 1 i n ., so fit the e lastic more sn ugly. Another trick i s to use a longer stitch so as not to d i stort the elasti c .


A wide serpentine stitch will

secure the ends of the elastic and


With the edge of the elastic next to the waistline stitching, stitch with a

wide zigzag, stretching as you go.

keep them lying flat.


Working on the right side of the

garment, place pins in the ditch, catching the inside bottom edge of the waistband.


To finish the waistband, stitch in the ditch, as shown here, or topstitch

several rows.



MAKE A F inED WAISTBAN D PAnERN Once you have a comfortable waistband, fi le its measurements with your patterns. You can also make a permanent pattern piece to use with a l l your skirts. To compute the length and width of a custom-fit waistband, start with yourwaist measurement (p.28). If your waist measures 26 '12 i n . and you want 1 '12 i n . of ease, your fi n ished waistband measurement is 28 i n . (A). If you use 'h-i n . seam a l lowances, double that amount (B). The underlap shou ld be at least 1 '12 i n . (C). For this waistband, the total length of fabric to cut is 30'12 i n . A . Finished length (waist measure

amount of ease)

+ preferred

B. Seam al lowances mu ltipl ied by 2 C.

U nderlap (measure under fly, pocket extension, o r si mply use length you prefer)

Total cut length

28 i n . 1 in. 1 '12 i n . 30'12 i n .

Classic Fitted Waistband Amount of Ease: Waistband length: Waist measurement plus (plus

1 7/4


in. to

1 7/2


in. for two %-in. seam


The fitted waistband is a long rectangle cut on the lengthwise or crosswise gra i n , i n terfaced, and fitted with a m i n i m u m of ease. Cutting i t on the l engthwise gra i n with o n e edge on selvedge provides a fi n ished edge that l ies flat on the i nside of the skirt. You can a l so c reate cross-grai n and bias-grai n waistbands by piec ing at the side or back seam s . If you r skirt h a s a l i n i ng, i n sert it before you construct and attach the wa istband.

As a rule, waistbands are 1 i n . to 2 in. wide. If you want your fi n ished waistband to be 1 '/4 i n . wide, mu ltiply the fi n ished width by two (A). If the front seam a l lowance is 5/8 i n . (B), and you're using a selvage edge, Hong Kong fi n ish, or rayon seam binding, add another 1f4 i n . to the back seam a l lowance (C). Always add another '/4 i n . for turn i ng under the i nside edge of the fabric (D). The tota l cut width of this waistband is 3% i n . A . Fin ished width mu ltipl ied by 2


Front seam al lowance

C. Back seam al lowance (Add

1f4 i n . for selvage edge, Hong Kong finish, o r seam binding.)

D. Turn of cloth (extra fabric to go up and

over the fold)

Total cut width

2 '12 i n .

5fa i n . '/4 i n . '/4 i n . 35/8 i n .

Use the commerc i a l pattern for the waistband and m a ke any necessary adju stments, or m ake you r own custom-fit waistband. Be sure the b ody of the skirt is completed and fits wel l before you cut the waistband-in case any more a l terations are needed. Three i n terfacing options are described on pp. 93-95 . Whichever you decide to use, fi n i sh the ends of the fitted waistband as descri bed on p. 98. Apply c losures as described on pp. 1 02 - 1 03.

Marking With c h a l k, pi ns, or s n i ps, m a rk the stitc h i ng l ines, seam a l lowances, and u nderlap on the wrong side of the waistband. Match centers, for m i ng a c i rcle. D ivide the c i rc l e i nto quarters that


Construction Guidelines

correspond to the skirt's center front and back and side seams. The skirt doesn't d ivide neatly into fou r even quarters at the waistl ine. The back from side to side i s 112 i n . narrower than the front (th i s i s true for women and men of any size and shape). Adjust the waistband after estab l i s h i ng the garment quarters. Take 1/4 i n . off the back at each side seam and add it to the center front to compensate for the d i fference from front to back. Sh ift the s ide-seam mark when p i n n i ng the waistband in place.

Three Interfacing Options for the Classic Waistband I nterfacing helps give a garment its shape, body, and su pport. The two types of interfacing are fusible and sew-i n . Woven fusible interfaci ngs designed for men's s h i rts and sold by the yard make good waistband interfaci ngs.

Fusible Interfacing Quick and easy to use, fus i b l e i nterfac i n g i s appl ied w i t h a w a r m i ron a n d req u i res no stitc h i ng. Nonwoven fus i b l e i n terfac i n g has no gra i n . Pac kaged waistband i ng i s precut and sold in d ifferent widths, accord i n g to the width of the waistba n d . W h ichever type you use, a lways fuse a swatch fi rst to m a ke s u re the i n terfa c i ng and the fabric are compatible in weight. Precut fu s i b l e i n terfac i n g is perforated so the stitc h i ng l i nes and fold l i nes are easy to see; one half i s 1/4 i n . smaller than the



Cut the interfacing to the same length as the waistband, including seam


other. Cut the i nterfacing to the same length as you r waistband, i n c l u d i n g seam a l l owances (1 ) . A smal l amount of i nterfacing i n the seam wi II stabi I ize the end of the waistband . Position the interfacing on the waistband, wrong side of fabric to adhesive side of i nterfaci ng. The narrower half forms the front of the wa i stban d . Be sure the edge of the narrower half i s 3/4 i n . from the raw edge of the fabric to al low space for stitc h i ng and for tu r n i ng the fabric. Mark the seams, centers, and u nderlap on the narrow h alf. Fuse the i nterfacing to the fabric with a warm i ron, fol lowi ng the manufacturer's i n structions.


Staystitch-plus the waistline of

skirt to fit the waistband.

Staystitch-p l u s the skirt to fit the wai stband (2) . P i n the waistband to the ski rt, wrong sides together, matc h i n g seams and centers and easing as needed. With the wai stband side toward you , stitch a Sis-i n . seam a l l owance, just i nside the i nterfacing edge. Press.



Sew-in Waistbanding A woven sew-i n wai stba n d i n g known as Armoflexx c reates a firm waistband and prevents the i mpression of the seam from showing. It's ava i lable by the yard in standard widths. The measu rement and appl ication of Armoflexx req u i re a bit more care and ski l l than fus i b l es do. Cut the interfac ing to the same l ength as the wa istband. Do not trim away the seam a l lowances. Even though it seems stiff, Armoflexx can be trimmed to a l most noth i ng next to the seam to help stabil ize the ends of the waistband. Tra nsfer the marki ngs.


Stitch the waistband to the skirt, right sides together.

Pin and stitch the waistband to the skirt with right sides together, matc h i ng the seams and centers and eas i ng as needed ( 1 ) . Press. Match the corresponding side­ seam and center marks on the interfac ing and waistband. Position the edge of the interfaci ng next to the stitc h i ng l i ne, p i n n ing as needed, and stitch in the seam a l lowance. A wide, long z igzag stitch holds a l l layers flat (2). Press.


Attach Armoflexx to the seam allowance of the waistband with a wide

zigzag stitch.


Construction Guidelines

Layered Interfacing Both fus i b l e and sew- i n i nterfac i ngs may be app l ied i n si ngle or dou b l e l ayers. I 've had better resu l ts with fusibles. Sew- i n s tend not to l ie smooth and flat, but if you prefer to u se them, here's what you wou ld do. Choose two l ayers of the same material or com b i ne two different types. Although the construction pri nciples are the same for both sew-i n and fusible, the prel i m i nary steps vary. Cut the fi rst layer of interfaci ng (on the lengthwise or cross gra i n if it i s woven) t o t h e same length as the waistband. Cut a second piece of i nterfacing on the bias to the same length and the fi n ished width plus 3/4 in. The bias-cut piece provides sta b i l ity and softness, and w i l l produce a stable waistband with a soft c u rve to its upper edge.


After fusing the first piece of interfacing, fuse the second smaller piece on

top of it, inside the stitching line. Use a press cloth if necessary.

To add an extra bit of "cru nch" to either the fusible or sew-i n i nterfaci ng, mac h i ne-stitch two rows, 1/4 i n . apart, on the back half of the waistband, 1/4 i n . from the fold l i ne.

Fusible: F u se the larger piece to the wrong side of the waistband . Now fuse the bias-cut piece on top of the larger, so the long front edge is V8 i n . i nside the stitc h i ng line of the waistband ( 1 ) . This way, the second layer won't be caught i n the stitc h i ng a n d 3J4 i n . wi l l extend beyond the fold for a crisp edge. This tec h n iq u e is best for heavier fabrics; for l ightweight fabrics, you can stitch through both layers of i nterfaci ng. Sew-in: Hand- or mac h i ne-baste the l arger piece to the wrong side of the front half of the waistband, 1/8 i n . i nside the stitc h i ng l i ne. Baste the second l ayer to the fi rst, stitc h i ng a long the fold l i ne and 1/8 i n . i nside a l l the seam l i nes (2). If you ' re u s i ng more than one layer of i nterfaci ng, tri m the seam a l l owance in the top l ayer only.


Sew the waistband to the skirt.



Fitted Elasticized Waistband Amount of Ease: Waistband length : Waist measurement plus (plus

1 7/4


in. to

3 in.

in. for two %-in. seam

allowances). Skirt waist: The waist seamline of the skirt should measure

seersucker appearance when on the hanger, but is flattering on the body. The extra fabric hard ly shows and adds no b u l k. With th i s style o f waistband, t h e skirt m u st have a z i pper or a buttoned or s ide-pocket ope n i ng (p. 69).


in. to

3 in. more than

the waistband measurement.

A fitted elasticized waistband has style, comfort, and fit, too. It works with any skirt fabric, fram crepe de c h i n e to den i m . Both the skirt and the waistband have a bit of extra ease, which the e lastic d raws i n . T h i s waistband i s perfect for figures with a sma l l waist and h igh rou nd h i ps. It has a s l ightly puckered,

Cutting the Waistband Cut the wa i stband, add i ng 1 in. to 3 i n . of ease to the l engt h . The el astic w i l l d raw i n the extra fabric. Mark the seams, centers, and u nderlap. The waist seam l i ne of the skirt should measure 1 i n . to 3 i n . more than you r waistband measurement. Simply cut the wa istband to you r waist measurement p l u s 1 i n . to 3 i n ., and then a l low for seam and u nderlap a l lowances. Cut the e lastic to you r waist measurement m i n u s u p to 3 i n ., p l u s seam a l l owances and u nderlap. I recommend Ban-ral elastic or flat-rib elastic, but if you plan to topstitch , use Ban-ra l . The dense textu re of flat-rib e lastic makes it d ifficu lt to stitch th rough.

Constructing the Waistband With right s ides together, sew the long edge of the waistband to the s k i rt w i th a sis - i n . seam a l lowance (1 ) . Press. Mark the seam a l l owances, side seams, and front and back centers on the e l astic. After you've sewn and pressed the first seam on the waistband, p i n the e lastic at the m arked poi nts, position i ng the edge of the e lastic next to the wa istband stitc h i ng l i ne. Stitch the elastic to the waistband's seam a l l owance with a long, wide z igzag stitch (2). Stretch the elastic


Construction Guidelines


Sew the long edge of the waistband to skirt, right sides


Sew the elastic to the waistband with a zigzag stitch.


wh i l e stitc h i ng between the side seams, but not wh i le stitc h i ng the u nderlap or the seam a l l owances at the ends. Next, fi n ish the ends of the waistband as described on p. 98. Tri m , press, and turn . Before the final stitc h i ng, to keep the top and bottom edges of the waistband fl at, s l i p a sma l l c i rc l e or square of fusible web (designed to fuse fabric together, and sold by the yard or i n strips) between the back of the waistband and the e lastic (3). Press and fuse it i n place. T h e el astic h a s a tendency to rol l , and this technique is a bit of i nsurance to keep the top and bottom edges flat.


Insert and fuse fusible web between the elastic and the back of the

waistband to keep the top and bottom edges flat.

Cut and mark more than one l ength of e lastic, and you ' l l save time when making you r next waistband .






Turn the waistband with a point turner.


To turn the corner squarely, take a stitch by hand

Mark the fold line with a snip on both ends of the


through the machine-stitching (with two strands of thread and no knot) and pull gently. Favor the seam to the underside, and press and pound with the clapper.


.... Trim 1/8 in. from the seam allowances at both ends

of the inside half of the waistband. Trimming to the fold line "favors" the underside, which means that the ends will naturally roll to the underside of the waistband. Pin the waistband to hold it in position.


On the right side, pin or hand-baste the waistband

in place, catching both halves. Position the pins in the ditch of the seam so you can pull them out easily as you sew. Press the waistband as it will be sewn to make the final stitching easier and more accurate. On the right side of the garment, stitch in the ditch of the


seam. Stitch the ends of the underlap together with a Fold the waistband, right sides together, aligning

narrow zigzag or straight stitch. Be sure both halves of

the edges. Stitch across the waistband ends. Trim the

the underlap are caught in the stitching. Press over a

corners, grade the seams, and trim the interfacing from

ham to reinforce the natural curve of the waistband.

the seam allowance. Press flat. Press open with a point turner.


Construction Guidelines

Contoured Waistband Amount of Ease: Waistband length : Waist measurement plus (plus

1 1/4


in. to

1 1/2


in. for two %-in. seam

a llowances). The waist seamline of the skirt should measure

1 1/2


in. to

in. more than the waistband


The u ltimate i n simpl icity, the contou red waistband i s very com p l i mentary to short-waisted figures.The faced edge of the waistband sits precisely at the waist l i ne, and the waistband faci ngs fit the body's curves. The skirt of Chanel's c lassic suit-often of th ick, n u bby wool-has th i s waist fi n ish, designed t o l ie smoothly beneath a s i l k shel l .


Sew the waistband facings to the skirt and reinforce them with twill tape

or a strip of lining selvage.

A contou red waistband faci ng shou ld measure 1 i n . to 1 1/2 i n . larger than the fi n ished waist measurement. Staystitch the waistl ine of the skirt 1/2 i n . from the top edge. I nterface the wai stband fac i ngs (pp. 93-95). Some body i s des i rable, b u t don't use i nterfaci ngs that are too stiff. You don't need to trim away the interfacing in the seam a l l owances. Sew the seams, and trim the a l lowances to 1f4 i n . F i n ish the raw edge of the waistband fac ing with a Hong Kong fi n i sh , rayon seam b i n d i ng, or sergi ng.


Grade and clip the stitched seams.

fac ing from stretc h i n g as the garment i s worn . You don't need to p i n the tape in p lace fi rst. As you stitch, ease the tape by pu l l i ng it s l i ghtly. G rade and c l i p the seams (2) .

Attach 1/4-i n . twi l l tape or a 1/4- i n . selvage stri p from t h e l i n i n g fabric as you sew the faci ng to the skirt ( 1 ) . T h i s w i l l prevent the



Tri m the excess fabric from the darts so there aren't too many l ayers of fabric at the waistl i ne (3). Press the seam flat, then press the seam al lowances toward the fac i ng. On the right side of the garment, with the faci ng extended away from the skirt, u nderstitch the fac ing next to the seam (4). The u nderstitc h i ng helps the facing rol l toward the i nside of the skirt. Press, favoring the facing to the wrong side.


Trim the excess fabric at the waistline so there aren 't too many layers.

Tack the fac i ngs to the garment at the seams and darts by hand or by machi ne-stitc h i ng i n the d itch on the right side of the garment (5). Tu rn u nder the ends of the fac ing next to the z ipper and p i n them . S l i pstitch the fac ing to the z i pper tape. Press the fi n ished waistband over a ham to shape the contour.

Converting to a Fitted Waist


Understitch the facing next to the seam. This helps the facing roll toward

the inside of the skirt.


Tack the facings to the garmet at the seams and darts by hand or by

machine-stitching in the ditch on the right side of the garment.


Construction Guidelines

You can convert the waist treatment of any fitted, darted skirt to a conto u red waistban d by e l i m i nating the fitted waistband and making fac i ng patterns. P i n the darts on the front and back ski rt-pattern pieces. Mark the pattern 3 i n . from and para l l e l to the wai stline edge. (With 5f8-i n . seam a l l owances, the fin ished fac ing w i l l be 2% i n . wide.) Extend the skirt gra i n l i ne on the fac ing areas and trace two separate facing pieces. Apply the contou red waistband faci ngs as described.

Raised Waistband Amount of Ease: Waistband length: Waist

1 in. at bottom 1 //2 in. larger than midriff at top (plus 1 //4 in. for two

measurement plus of waistband;

%-in. seam allowances).

A raised, or extended, waistband may extend from 1 1/4 i n . to 3 i n . h igher than the natu ral waistl ine. I t isn't separate from the garment, as are other kinds of waistbands; rather, it i s cut as part of the skirt panels, then shaped with cu rves and darts and fin i shed with a separate fac i ng. This style is best for long-waisted figures without much waistl ine defi n ition or a large bust. One of the secrets to a crisp raised waistband is to i nterface the faci ng as wel l as the garment. Cut the skirt i nterfaci ng u s i ng the front and back ski rt-pattern pieces, and fol low the shaping at the top of the skirt. Cut the interfaci ng so it is 112 i n . wider than the skirt faci ng. Fuse and position the pieces before marking and sew i ng darts and tucks. U se a heavier weight of fusible or sew-i n i nterfac i ng for the faci ng than for the skirt. It isn't necessary to trim interfacing in seam a l l owances.

Boning Keep the waistband from crush i n g or rol l i ng down the waist l i n e by add i ng bon i ng. Boni ng, ava i lable u nder the brand name Rigi l i ne, i s sold by the foot. It is pl iable, soft, easy to stitch through, and comfortable to wear, and it is ava i lable in black and wh i te.

Cut boning so that it fits just inside the seam lines on the facing, and stitch around each strip.

Cut a piece of bon i ng for each seam and dart to the height of the fi n i shed waistband, without seam a l l owances. Sew the bon i ng to the wrong side of the faci ng at center front and back, at the side seams, and halfway between the centers and side seams. Stitch around a l l sides of the bon i ng strips (above). Construct the faci ngs, tape the edges, and attach the faci ngs as you wou ld for the contou red waistband (pp. 98-99 ) . C losures are optional for a high raised waistband or a contoured, faced waistband. Frequently c losures for these waistband styles are omitted i n ready-to-wear, but the c l assic recom mendation i s a fine metal hook and eye positioned u nder the z i pper to add a bit of extra secu rity.



Hooks and Eyes You can c lose a skirt with buttons, snaps, or hooks and eyes. B uttons are appropriate only if you've u sed a l ightweight interfacing i n the waistband-it's d ifficu lt to make a good buttonhole th rough the many l ayers and u neven th ickness at the ends of most waistbands. Snaps have a tendency to pop open u nder pressure, so they aren't a good choice either. Large hooks and eyes are the most practical h idden fasteners for the overlapping edges on waistbands. They' re flat enough to avoid bu l k and strong enough to hold u p to the firm i nterfac i ngs and beefy e lastics that most waistbands requ i re. You ' l l need two sets of hooks and eyes designed for waistbands. Use black metal with dark fabric colors, s i l ver with l ight.

Hand-sew the fi rst hook 1/4 i n . from t h e edge of the wa istband overlap (1 ) . With two strands of waxed th read, make sma l l , short stitches next to each other, or use a blanket stitch to form a series of knots to cover the meta l . The stitch i ng shou l d not show on the right side of the waistband. Make two sma l l knots in the last stitch to secure the stitc h i ng. F i n ish by making a tai lor's knot, or q u i lter's knot, i n the th read 112 i n . from the su rface of the fabric. Take a l -i n . stitch next to the hook, between the layers, and tug the th read to bury the knot. Tri m the th read end where it emerges from the fabric. The positon of the fi rst hook determ i nes the position of the correspond i ng eye. Eyes may be sewn on by hand or mac h ine. To sew eyes by m ac h i ne, drop the feed dogs and attach a buttonhole foot (2). Adjust the width of the z igzag to c lear the metal and make about 1 0 stitches th rough the eye. F i n ish by position i ng the need le i n the hole, adjust the stitch, and take th ree to fou r stitches in p lace. C lose the first hook and eye so the waistband is c u rved, as it wi l l be when worn . Mark and sew the second hook about 112 i n . from the edge of the u nderlap (depend i ng on the length of the u nderlap) and position the second eye (3). Th is i nnermost closure bears most of the stress. Al low a sl ight bit of s lack in the wa i stband between the first and second sets of c l osures.


Attach the first hook with a series of stitches made with waxed thread.


Construction Guidelines


Attach the eyes with zigzag stitches, using a buttonhole foot.


Install two sets of hooks and eyes in the waistband for extra strength. The innermost closure bears most of the





min g the S


The hem adds the finishing touch to a skirt. The type oj hem you make, its width, and whether you sew it by hand or machine depends upon thejabric, style, and overall design oj the skirt. The overa l l effect of the fin ished hem shou ld be smooth and fl u i d . T h e edge needs to b e even and para l lel to the floor. You can sew a hem by hand or mac h i ne, but hand-stitc h i ng should be invisible and machi ne-stitc h i ng and topstitc h i ng m u st be stra ight.

Hem Width The hem width on the pattern piece provides a guide l i ne, but always consider the style of the skirt and the fabric when dec i d i ng on hem width . The fabric is real l y t h e dec i d i ng factor. Some soft fabrics ease wel l ; some fi rm fabrics may not. A straight skirt genera l ly req u i res a 2 - i n . to 2 1h- i n . hem . Patterns often recommend S/8-i n . m ac h i ne­ topstitched hems for fl ared skirts. However, a narrow hem may rol l to the outside. A sl ightly wider hem (3f4 in. to 7/8 i n . ) may hang better and i s just as easy to make. I prefer flared skirts with hems as wide as 1 1h i n . to 1 % i n . T h e wider the flare of the skirt, however, the smaller you shou ld make the hem. A smal ler hem has less fabric to ease.


Construction Guidelines

Easing in the raw edge on a flared or shaped skirt prevents the formation of l ittle tucks or p leats that may show through on the right side. Staystitch-plus (p. 60) with a standard straight stitch or use a serger with d ifferential feed to ease and fi n ish the raw edge in one operation.

Marking For accu racy, it's best to have tanother person mark the hem. The helper shou ld move around the person being measured so the garment won't sh ift. Determ i ne the length you want the fin ished garment to be (p. 28). Mark the fin ished length with a hem marker or a yardstick that has been marked with a piece of maski ng tape as a guide. Place p i ns para l lel to the floor every 2 i n . to 3 i n . Pin the front section o f the hem to make sure the length is right and double-check the p i n positions. Remove the skirt. Press the hem u nder, a long the p i ns, removing them as you come to them. Don't try to press to the exact placement of the pi ns-simply use them to determ ine a smooth, straight l i ne. Then pin the hem up and try on

the skirt aga i n . Adjust the hem as needed. Measu re with a seam gauge, mark the hem to an even width with chalk, and trim evenly along the marked l i ne (1 ) . (Or you can s i m ply serge a long the marked l i ne). Tri m the seam a l l owances with i n the hem to '/4 i n . to e l i m i nate u n necessary b u l k (2). F i n ish the raw edge, as described on p. 1 07 . Press t h e h e m i n place b y carefu l l y pressi ng the bottom two-th i rds of the hem . This wi l l keep the hem from showing through on the right side of the garment.


Mark the hem and trim evenly

along the marked line.


Trim the seam allowances within

the hem to

1/4 in.


He g by Hand Hand-sewing hems creates softer, less obvious hems, which are particu l arly wel l su ited for d ressier skirts. Some fabrics, l i ke s i l k, tend to sh ift, stretch, or d istort when m ac h i ne-stitched, and they' re easier to control if they're hemmed by hand. S i l k th read or a long-staple polyester thread are both nearly i nvisible when stitched . Cotton thread is fine for m idweight garments. Use as fine a need le as you can see to th read and a short length of a si ngle strand. The end knot should be j ust to you r e l bow when the need le is th readed and ready to sew. Sec u re and bu ry the knot in a seam . Fold the edge of the hem back '/4 in. and stitch along th i s fol d . T h i s prevents t h e stitches from show i ng.


Hem by hand with loose stitches, catching just a fiber of the fabric, and

make knots every

4 in. to 6 in.

Catch j u st a fiber of the fabric as you stitch (don't worry, it w i l l hold). Make loose stitches '/4 i n . to % i n . long and form a knot every 4 i n . to 6 i n . (3). Loose stitches won't show through; the knots ensure that the hem w i l l stay u p even i f a few stitches shou ld get pu l led out d u ring normal wear-and-tear.

Hemming The Skirt


H EMMI N G RI PPLE-FREE Woven fabric is o n the cross grain around a hem (and to further compl icate th i ngs, sometimes it's off bias, too), so it can stretch, pucker, and ripple wh i le you're machi ne-stitch ing. To avoid these problems, try these tricks.

1 . Stitch with "stra ight assurance," that is, hold the fabric taut and firm as it feeds through the machine so that the fabric doesn't stretch or ripple. Don't pu l l the fabric or stop the normal stitching action. (Th is does not work on knits.) 2. With both hands, pull the fabric at right angles to the need le as it feeds th rough the mach i ne. This may also help reduce rippl ing and stretch i ng of the top layer of fabric.


He g by Machine F i ne ready-to-wear garments and commercial patterns are using mac h i ne-stitched and mac h i ne­ topstitched hems more frequently. I use them for casual or sporty skirts.

A Machine-Stitched Hem On s i l ky or sheer fabrics, you can get good resu lts with a m i n i m u m of frustration by m ac h i ne-stitc h i ng a n arrow h e m . (Many sewers refer to t h i s as a Calvin K l e i n hem because it shows u p so often in the designer's l i ne.) This hem featu res th ree l i nes of stitch i ng and ensures a c lean edge. It works on both the straight gra i n or bias and is a good choice for skirts i n s i l k c repe de c h i ne, georgette, and c h iffo n .

O n the right side o f the fabric, staystitch j ust with i n the m arked fin ished hem l i ne. Press along the stitched l i ne. Now switch to an edgestitch foot and two-ply m ac h i ne-embroidery thread, which is very fine and l ight. Position the need le to the left of center and, with the fabric fold aga i nst the gu ide, stitch a long the very edge of the u nderside of the hem. Tri m the fabric as c lose to the stitc h i ng as possible with appl ique scissors. Press the fold u nder s l ightly-ju st enough to enclose the raw edge and create as narrow a hem as possible-and edgestitch the hem agai n on the right side. A successful hem w i l l have one l i ne of stitch i ng on the right side of the garment and two paral lel l i nes of stitc h i ng on the hem . The l i ne of

A Peek Inside a Machine-Stitched Hem

Staystitch just within hemline on right side. Press along stitched line.

Apply slight tension to each side of the stitching line.


Construction Guidelines

Press the fold under and edgestitch

Edgestitch along the underside of the

again on the right side.

hem. Trim close to stitching.

staystitch i n g w i l l be enclosed with i n the fold. Press the garment on the right side.


Hemming Knits Kn its demand

prevents fraying, yet is so l ight

the d u rabi l ity of a topstitched hem, but the hem can be frustrat i n g to sew because kn its stretch more on the c ross gra i n .

that it does not add bulk or

The best hem finish is one that

Cut a lhi n . strip o f bi as-cut fusible tricot, such as Sof-Kn it. Stitch it to the raw hem edge, wrong side of fabric to right side of fusible (the smooth side is the right side; you ' l l b e sewing with the adhesive side up) ( 1 ) . On flared ski rts, o r if the knit i s u n stable or very stretchy, pu l l the i nterfaci n g strip to stretch it sl ightly as you stitc h . You can a l so sew in this strip as you serge.

show from the right side of the garment.

If you own a serger, the serged edge (p. 55) is a good finish for

both hand- and machi ne­ stitched hems. For a l ighter fi nish, serge with machi ne­


To stabilize a knit hem, stitch a

strip of bias-cut fusible tricot to the raw edge.

embroidery thread or woo l l y nylon. Make a pinked-and-stitched edge (p. 54) by stitching 3/8 i n . from the raw edge o f the hem and trim m i ng as l ittle as possi ble with p i nking shears or the pinking blade on a rotary cutter. You can also combine pinking with staystitch-plus (p. 60).

If you haven't serged them, p i n k t h e edges c lose t o t h e l i ne of stitch i n g (2). Fuse the hem i nto pl ace, positi o n i n g it carefu l ly. To secure and fi n i sh the hem, topstitch o n the right side of the garment u s i ng staystitch plus as needed (3).

The Hong Kong finish or rayon seam binding (p. 56) is best for

m idweight to heavyweight fabrics. These edge fi nishes add

bu l k and may show through to the right side of l i ghter fabrics.


Pink close to the line of stitching.

Final Pressing

Always test first. The turned-and-stitched edge is su itable for midweight fabrics and crisp sheers with deep

Working on the wrong side of the garment, press the entire skirt and hem . Press o n l y along the bottom edge of the hem, not across its fu l l width-otherwise the i mpression of the hem m ight show th rough to the right side. Touch-up press on the right side of the garment, u s i ng a press cloth if necessary.

topstitched hems. It's also durable and therefore good for skirts that w i l l be lau ndered. The zigzag edge (p. 55) is fast to make and prevents rave l i ng, but it can add b u l k and cause the fabric to tunnel or stretch . For best results, stitch

% i n . from

the raw edge and trim after stitching. It's good for m idweight to heavyweight fabrics, casual


Topstitch the fused edge to keep

wear, and c h i ldren's clothes.

it permanently in position.

Hemming Your Skirt


Test Your Skills : A Gored S kirt The gored skirt is a true classic-chic andjlattering and always in style. Now that you know the many tricks oj the trade, try out your professional skirtmaking skills with this easy-to-sew skirt. A gored skirt com b i nes the l i nes of a s l i m and flared skirt, may be fitted or fu l l , is flattering to a l most any size and shape, is comfortable to wear, and easy to fit and sew. Gored skirts can be shaped i n various ways (p. 1 2 ) . The fu l l ness may beg i n at the waist, the h igh h i p, the fu l l h ip, or below the h i p . Choose t h e fabric weight accord i ng to the fit. The most fitted gored skirts are best i n fabrics with weight and drape, such as gabard ine or wool crepe, or a stable, heavier kn it, such as wool dou ble knit or velour. The fu l lest gored skirts are best in very l ightweight fabrics, such as chal l i s a n d l ight, fine kn its. In many commercial patterns, the gores are often the same s ize-for example, you wou l d cut the same pattern piece eight times for an eight-gore skirt. In m u ltiple-size patterns, the extra amounts for the size i ncrements are added to the side panels. Both fitted and fu l l gored skirts can be seamed on the serger or on a standard sewing m ac h ine. Use a separate pul l-on waistband and


Construction Guidelines

hem by hand or m ac h i ne. Here are some tips for constructing a l ightly fitted, fitted, or fu l l gored skirt.

Tips for a Lightly Fitted Gored S


The s i l houette of a l ightly fitteed gored skirt is s i m i lar to a straight ski rt, but it a l l ows more ease i n movement. It's a l so s l i m m i ng and very flattering to a l arge-h i pped figure. Short to a n kle-graz ing lengths work wel l with this style. Use a commerc i a l pattern for a six­ or eight-gore skirt and a heavy, stable, knit fabric-wool double kn it, velour, panne velvet, or heavy cotton double kn it, for example. The trick i s to cut the pattern two to three sizes larger than you r body measurements (p. 28). The heavy knit drags and stretches, so you want extra width to give the i l l usion of fit, yet enough ease so that the skirt appears to float over the body.

Use standard seams with wool double knit (no other fi nish is necessary); serged or stitched and z igzag seams with velour or panne, which tends to curl . Stitch the front and back sections of the skirt together first and adjust the fit at the side seams. The skirt should pu l l on eas i l y over the h i ps, so use a pul l-on elasticized waistband (pp. 89-9 1 ) . Hand-stitch (p. 1 05) or m ac h i ne-topstitch (p. 1 06) the hem . Stitch the side seams last. Before you do, however, pin along the seam l i nes, wrong sides together. Try on the skirt and adjust the seam width as needed to get the best fit.

Tips for a Fitted Gored S


Making a fitted fored skirt is the most time-comsu m i ng and difficult of the th ree possible styles. It is fitted at both the waist and the h i p. You can find four-, six-, and eight­ gore patterns i n th i s style. The skirt works wel l i n both short and long lengths. Fit and alter the pattern carefu l ly, a l lowing the correct amount of ease (p. 32). Woo l crepe or gabard ine i s a good fabric choice. Sew a standard seam with the edges serged or pinked (p. 54).

This is the perfect opportu n ity to use an invisible z i pper at the center back or on a side seam (pp. 80-8 1 ). Apply a c l assic, fitted waistband (pp. 92-93) or a fitted e l asticized waistband (pp. 96-97).

Tips for a Full Gored S


A fu l l , ten-gore skirt is fast and foolproof to make, and very s l i m m i ng. Cut this style so it is long and dramatic : a 32-in. to 35-in. fi n ished length is average. The fi n ished skirt is fu l l , but not b u l ky at the waist and h i p . Use a l ightweight kn it, such as wool jersey, rayon, and Lycra blend ; th in, d rapey wovens; s i l k crepe; or the finest chall is. Use any eight-gore skirt pattern in your size. Cut ten gores i nstead of eight-five for the front and five for the back. (Buy one extra length of fabric to accom modate the two add itional gores.) Serge a l l the seams (p. 55) or straight-stitch and z igzag (p. 55) or pink (p. 54) the edges. No fitting is necessary. Apply a p u l l -on, e l asticized waistband (pp. 89-9 1 ) . Mark the hem, and stitch it by hand or by machine (pp. 1 05-1 06). Topstitch if you r skirt is made of a knit fabric.

Test Your Skills: A Gored Skirt




marking, 59


to shape back of skirt, 59

tricot, with zipper, 75

stitching, 59

woven, for linings and Waistbands,

tricot, for side-seam pockets,

pressing, 59

for round tummy, 27



for swayback, 27 transfening to pattern, 27 Armoflexx.

See Waistband


E Ease: additional, 1 2 checking fit of. in waistband, 88


in pattern,32

Bias cut, discussed, 1 1 Bias, pressing stretch out of, 50

walking, 35 Edgestitch, using, for sharp pleats, 63

Boning, used in raised waistband, 101

G Gathers: alternative stitching techniques for, 64 choosing right fabric for, 64 construction of, 64-65 discussed, 1 0- 1 1 fitting into waistband , 64-65

Buttons, discussed, 1 1 , 1 02


pinning securely, 64-65



steam-pressing, 65

stitching and seaming, 64 discussed, 6, 8

C-Thru ruler, 2 7 , 67 Calvin Klein: hem style, 1 06- 1 0 7 skirt collection, 6 Chalk, for marking fabric: chalk, 27 Clo-chalk, 27 Challis, discussed, 1 0 , 1 3 Clapper: to flatten seams, 49-50 to pound ends of waistband, 98 to press sharp pleats, 63 to smooth side-seam pocket edges, 67-68 Closures, in raised waistband, 101 Corner, mitered, in French vent, 72-73 Cotton, as skirt fabric: brushed, 1 9 chambray, 1 9 denim, 1 9 denim, brushed, 1 1 discussed, 1 0 knits, 1 1 lawn, 1 9 poplin, 1 9 Cutting: with rotary cutter, 47 with scissors, 47

adjusting, for skirt width, 3 1 construction of, 59 discussed, 1 0 , 58

1 10

fit front, 59

64 using, to create a slimming effect,

foolproof, 1 9


for interfacings, 2 1

Gauge, 6-in . , 27

for linings, 2 1

Grain, lengthwise:

for pockets, 2 1 incompatible, 1 8

additional fabric needed for, 37 in bias cut, 37

midweight, 1 0

discussed, 1 1

natural fiber, 1 9

in front and back panels, 37

preshrinking, 22

parallel to side seam, 37

See also specific types. Figure types, and skirt styles: A or pear, 9 chart of, 8 H or rectangular, 9 narrOW-hipped, 1 3 slim, 1 3

X o r hourglass, 9 Y or wedge, 9 Finishes: for hems, 56 for waistband seams, 56 Fit: fine-tuning, 83 getting the best possible, 24 Fitting: difficulty of. 24 classes in, 24 French vent: construction of, 72- 73 discussed, 1 0 , 70 in hemline, 30 Full hips, discussed, 6, 43



d ry cleaning, 22

lining for skirt with, 36


using bobbin thread to create,

drape of, 1 6

Fusible interfacing: discussed, 70 for pockets, 67 for raised waistband, 1 0 1

straightening the, 22, 23 Grain, "straight of the, " 22 Grainline: changes in, adjusting pattern for, 27 finding the bias of, 39 position of, 15

H Ham: to press open pocket seams, 67-68 to reinforce curve of waistband, 98 to steam-press soft pleats, 6 1 using, to shape contoured waistband, 1 00 Hems: finishes for, 1 0 7 for linings, 8 5 machine-sewn, 1 1 machine-topstitched, 1 2 marking, 1 04- 1 05 pressing, 1 07- 1 08 shaped, l l - 1 2, 30 width of. 1 04 Hemming: discussed, 1 04- 1 07 by hand, 1 05

knits. 1 0 7


b y machine. 1 06 - 1 07 High hip. discussed. 6

cotton for, 2 1 detailing, 1 1 discussed, 6, 1 0

Needle(s) :

Hip curve:

nylon organza for, 2 1

sizes of. discussed. 1 9

metal. 27

side, as skirt opening. 69

topstitching. 1 9

use of. to mark pattern

side-seam. constructing, 66-69

Notions. for making skirts:

adjustments. 33

silk for. 2 1

elastic. strips of. 27

Hooks and eyes. discussed. 1 02- 1 03

floss. embroidery. 27

Point turner, to turn pOints on waistband, 98

mirror. full-length. 27 mirror. hand. 27

Polyester "silkies," 13, 20

pencils. 27

Polyester thread . See Thread, types Press cloth. to press sharp pleats,

discussed. 46. 95 fabrics for. 2 1 in waistbands. 93-95

See also Fusible interfacing.

K Kick pleats.


pencils. dressmaker·s. 27

Interfacing. :

See Pleats. kick.

Knits. hemming. 1 07



Pressing: discussed, 50- 5 1

Patterns: adding a pocket to. 34

a s lifting and lowering iron, 49

adding walking ease to, 35

and marking. discussed, 48-49

adjustment of, 24

steam-, to "set" pleats. 6 1

checking silhouette of, 24

tools for, 49

customizing, 34

using press cloth for. 49

cutting out, 46

on wrong side of fabric, 49


details in, 14

Length. adjusting pattern for. 30

finished length of, 29



grainline of. 1 5

Rayon, as skirt fabriC:

envelope of. 1 4

cottonlike, 20

high hip-tummy, adjusting for.

blends. 1 9

discussed. 1 0 . 1 2- 1 3


discussed. 1 0

sand-washed, 20

Irish. 1 9

illustrations on. 1 4

Moygashel, 1 9

instruction sheet for. 1 5


pin-fitting, 40-4 1 . 43

Rotary cutter, with wavy blade, to


See Boning.

adjusting pattern for. 27

pinning together. 27

benefits of. 36

proofmg, 24, 27, 30, 3 1 -33

Round tummy, adjusting for, 42 Rulers, for adjusting patterns:

fmish seams, 54

construction of. 82. 83-85

selecting. 1 4

cutting checklist for.36

shortening, 3 1

discussed. 1 0 . 1 1 . 2 1

a s starting point, 44

right-angle, 27

for French vent. 36. 84

trying on. pinned-together, 27

yardstick, metal. 27

waist, adjusting for, 29

yardstick, wooden. 27

hems for. 85

Pattern tissue:

serging a hem for. 85 for skirts. 84

marking adjustments on, 33

around zipper. 84

using dots on, 33 Pinking shears. for finishing seams, 54


Pinking, to finish side-seam pocket,

Machine-embroidery thread .

C-Thru, 27


68 Pleats:

Thread. Marking. 46-47

all-around. 1 3


construction of, 6 1 -63

5 Seam bindings: China silk for, 56 Hong Kong. 56 polyester for, 56 rayon lining for, 56 silk for. 56 Seams:

adjusting pattern for. 24

discussed, 6. 58

construction of, 52-57

body. comparing to pattern.

kick, 30. 70-72

curved, 1 1

marking, with tailor's tacks. 6 1

needle size for, 52

four essential. 29

pressed-down. 1 3

ripping out. 52

of fmished length. 28

sharp. discussed, 62-63

sewing perfect. 52

of full hip. 1 5. 28

soft, 1 1 , 1 3 , 6 1

side, discussed, 46

of high hip. 8

soft front, 1 0

stitch length for. 52

stitched-down, 1 3

stitching, 5 1


of tummy. 28 of upper thigh. 1 5 of waist. 1 5. 28 Measuring tape.

See Tape measure.

Pockets: adjusting pattern for, 27

on straight of grain. 52 type of thread for, 52

colors for, 2 1 construction of. 66-69



Seams, finishing:

Tape measure, 8, 27

with machine overcasting, 55 with pinking shears, 54

Thread : machine-embroidery, 1 9

with rotary cutter, 54

polyester, 1 9

with serger, 55

with serger, 55

with zigzag stitches, 55

silk, 1 9 , 6 1 , 62-63

Shears, pinking.



shears. Silhouette:

used in hand hemming, 1 05 Tools, for sewing skirts: glue, 27

checking the, of pattern, 24

iron, 49

discussed, 6, 8

needle, chenille, 27

Silk, as skirt fabric:

marking with snips, 92-93 interfacing options for, 93-95 with sew-in waistbanding, 94 Waistbands, fitted elasticized: attaching, with zigzag stitch, 97 construction of, 96-97 cutting for, 96 measurements for, 96 using fUSible web to seal, 97 Waistbands, raised:

press cloth, 49-50

construction of, 1 0 1 ,

broadcloth, 1 9

pressing ham, 49-50

discussed, 1 1

charmeuse, 1 9

scissors, 27

chiffon, 1 9

scissors, applique, 27

crepe d e chine, 1 1 , 1 2 , 1 9

tape, 27

discussed, 1 0- 1 1 , 1 3 georgette, 1 9

See also individual tools. Tucks. See Darts.

linen, 1 9 noil, 1 1 , 1 9


tissue faille, 1 1


tweed, 1 9

discussed, 6

twill, 1 3

fitting the, 88

See Polyester silkies.


27 Weights, using, instead of pins, 47 Width: adj usting pattern for, 30, 32

silk linen, 1 0- 1 1


interfacing techniques for, 1 0 1 Walking ease, adjusting pattern for,

Waistbands: checking ease in, 88

adj usting skirt for, 3 1 Wool, as skirt fabric: challis, 1 9 crepe, 1 0- 1 1 , 1 2 , 1 9 crepe, preshrinking, 22 double knits, 1 1 , 1 2 , 1 9 flannel, 1 0 , 1 2

design of, 46

closures, discussed, 1 0 1

gabardine, 1 0- 1 1 . 1 2 , 1 3 , 20

fabrics for, 6

construction of, 86- 1 03

jersey, 1 0- 1 1 , 12, 19

fit of, 46

deSCriptions of, 87

silk, 12

silhouettes of, 6, 8, 1 4

finishing ends of, 98

tweeds, 1 0- 1 1 , 1 2

Skirt styles: A-line, 8, 1 1 basic, 8 bias, 8 "dirndle, " 1 3

fitted, 1 1

twill, 1 0

fitted, classic, construction of,

velour, 1 2


worsteds, 1 2 - 1 3

frustration-free techniques for,

pull-on, construction of, 89-9 1

Santa Fe-style, 1 3

y z

sew-in interfacing for, 94

straight, 8 , 1 0

Zigzag stitch, to attach waistband, 90

styles of, 8

wrap, 8

Zipper foot, 75

turning ends of, 98



fitted, 1 2

lengths of, 8

flared, 8, 1 1

partially elastiCized, 1 1

gathered, 8, 1 3

pull-on elasticized, 1 0 , 1 1 , 1 2 , 1 3 ,

gored, 8 , 1 2 , 1 08- 1 09 pleated or tucked, 8, 1 3

Snaps, as skirt closures, 1 02

89-9 1

Yardsticks, discussed, 27

using staystitch plus in, 88

Staystitch plus:

basting in, 75

widths of, 8

to attach waistband to skirt, 93

centered, discussed, 78-79

woven fusible interfacing for,

discussed, 60 to fit waistband, 88 instead of darts, 59-60 Stitch in the ditch, to finish waistband, 98

21 Waistbands, contoured:

discussed, 1 1 , 74-8 1 flexible polyester, 75 hand-picked, 1 0 , 1 2 , 79

construction of, 99- 1 00

in contoured waistband, 1 00

converting from finished, 100

interfacing with, 75

interfacing for, 99

invisible, 1 2 , 80- 8 1

serged , 99

adj usting for, 40-4 1

lapped, discussed, 76-77

understitching in, 1 00

checking fit for, 83

machine-stitched, 10

with Hong Kong finish, 99

making longer opening for, 75


with rayon seam binding, 99


Waistband patterns: adj usting, 33

Tailor's tacks: discussed, 70

making, 92 Waistbands, fitted:

making, 48

converting to contoured, 1 00

for marking soft pleats, 6 1

with layered interfacing, 95

using embroidery floss for, 48

marking with chalk, 92-93

Tailor's tape, twill, 70

1 12


marking with pins, 92-93

sewing into flat garment, 75 using fusible tricot with, 75

Easy Guide to

Sewing Skirts How d o you sew a skirt that fits and flatters, a skirt that looks like fine ready-to-wear? Whatever your skill level, Easy Guide to

Sewing Skirts will gUide you-from pattern selection through final pressing. Begin by learning how to select the best style and fabric for you, then discover easy ways to

fit your pattern. With this

handy volume by your side, select the techniques that will work best with your pattern, including how to:

• make pockets that don't gap • shape darts to enhance the fit • make an easy pUll-on waistband • sew invisible hems • insert foolproof zippers • sew pleats that hang straight • make a comfortable fitted waistband • change the grainline for a flattering drape Get the results you want with the clear instructions and step-by-step photos in Easy Guide to Sewing Skirts.

ABOUT TH E AUTHOR Marcy Tilton i s the founder and former owner of The Sewing Workshop in San Francisco. She is a nationally known lecturer and instructor and a contributor to Threads magazine.

I SBN 1 -561 58-088-0 90000



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