We made it! This is the final draftalong post. Today we are going to add some pleats and create a pattern from our block. Above are the pattern pieces you should have from last time: centre front (CFP) and back (CBP) panels as well as front side (FSP) and back side (BSP) panel pattern pieces.
Planning your pleats
Next we want to decide on the size of our pleats. I used Winifred Aldrich’s recommendation of 24 cm total at the waist and 36 cm total at the hem as my pleat size. I almost came a cropper as there was only just enough space to fit the pleat in either side of the centre back zipper! So firstly I would recommend measuring the top of your panel pieces to see how much room you have to play with before committing to a pleat size. The diagram below should help you visualise where the pleats will fall on your finished pattern if we were to flatten out our skirt.
Drafting your pleats
Once you have planned the size of your pleats we can add them to the pattern pieces from the last post. Using a ruler extend the seam line on the centre back panel so that it continues straight up to the waist past the dart shaping. From this line extend out the waist by 1/4 of the total pleat size for the waist (lets call this a). Then extend out the hem by 1/4 of the hem pleat value (lets call this b) – as noted above the pleat can be larger at the hem than at the waist. On my pattern this was 6 cm at the waist and 9 cm at the hem. Don’t cut out at this stage as we need to true the waist and hem shaping first. Repeat for the back side panel (BSP) as shown below.
Next, on a separate piece of paper, draw a vertical line and mark the waist at the top and measure the skirt length down to find the hem, mark that too. At the waist square out 1/4 of your pleat at waist (a) either side of the line. Do the same at the hem with the measurement b from the step above. Connect these new points at waist to hem with a straight line, this is your pleat backing panel (PBP).
Now repeat the process for the front of the skirt, you obviously shouldn’t have any darts to worry about there so just draft straight out of the waist. Your pattern pieces should look like this:
Truing Your Pleats
Now you have all your pleats drafted we need to true the hem and waist edges before we can add seam and hem allowances. This is so that when we sew our skirt together we have an even hem and waist edge. To do this fold your paper along the pleat line and place on the table with the pleat at the bottom and the skirt panel on top. Using a tracing wheel (or if you don’t have one, you can just use a pin to make holes) carefully trace the hem edge where it overlaps with the pleat. Do the same to the waist edge and unfold the paper. When you connect the perforations this will be your new hem and waist line.
Next we need to true the pleat panel. It is essentially the same process, lay the newly shaped pleat over it’s corresponding pleat backing and trace off the new lines. Our front pattern pieces should now look like:
When truing the back pieces you need to trim the dart value off the pleat seam in order to prevent having to ease in the extra fabric of the dart into the pleat while you are sewing. When I made my skirt I tried sewing a small dart either side of the pleat, before sewing the pleat in-between the two darts and that was a big bulky mess, so I recommend just eliminating it from the pattern.
Drafting a Waistband
This is the last pattern piece to draft and my favourite because once you have a good straight waistband pattern you can rip it off for all your skirt patterns that sit on your natural waist. You may need to move some of the notches around if you want to move the opening to the side or the front instead of the back but it is otherwise the same pattern piece.
First measure the waistline of your skirt pattern pieces to double check they still measure the same as your block (don’t include pleat or dart value in the measurements). Once you are happy with the measurements draw a straight line the length of your waist measurement. Then add 4 cm for an underlapping tab so you can fasten the waistband with a button or hook and eye.
Decide on the width of your waistband. My waistbands are normally drafted 3 cm wide but any measurement between 2.5 and 6cm is fine. Double your waistband width (you’re going to fold the waistband in half) and square out this amount to give you a rectangle that is essentially twice waistband width x waist measurement plus 4 cm. Add notches to mark the fold line on the waistband and along both edges to mark the 4cm tab and the CF, CB and side seams.
Seam Allowances, Hem, Checks and Balances
Now you have your pattern! All the rest of the instructions for finishing off your pattern are in my previous post here. In my next post I’ll go over the construction process and then you’ll have everything you need to get going and draft your own. Bon voyage!