I got a bit of feedback on my last post asking for me to expand a bit on how to turn the A-line skirt block that we made last week into an actual pattern. Easily done and considering I used my A-line block to make a lining for the pleated skirt very relevant to to the draft along process. The steps are as follows:
Every time you have curved pattern pieces meeting each other, like at the hem or waist of a skirt, you want to make sure to square the edges. This is the process of taking a grading ruler to the seam and making sure the first 5 mm of your curve are perpendicular to your seam. Doing this will ensure that when you sew these seams together, the finished effect is a smooth curve from one panel to the next rather than two curves that meet and make a point:
Squaring applies to the hem and waist of our A-line skirt, but it can also apply to curves like arm holes and design lines on other patterns.
The standard seam allowance for the home sewer is 1.5 cm and this is standard over every sewing pattern that I had ever used (with the exception of Burda Style magazine where you can choose your own and add it yourself). At college we’ve been using industry standards of 1 cm, which can get larger or smaller depending on what sort of zip you are using or if you are sewing a collar. Fashion Incubator has an excellent summary on this – in fact Kathleen has excellent content on almost every subject you can think of, I’ve learnt so much from that site.
Once you’ve decided what you want to use we can add it to our block. There is a great explanation of how to do this with a grading ruler at the Cutting Class here.
Firstly you want to think about how long you want your skirt. When I sew a commercial skirt pattern, unless I sew a test muslin and work out my desired skirt length on that, I make up my skirt knowing that I will have to take off some off the length because I am shorter than average height. The bonus of deciding your skirt length ahead of time is that you can save on fabric if you are short (or want a shorter skirt) and you can plan for whatever sort of hem treatment you want to use. If you want a narrow hem then this only requires the addition of your hem allowance to the bottom of your pattern. If however you want a wider hem on a voluminous skirt then you can narrow your side seam to make your hem width mirror your skirt width negating the need to gather the hem before you sew it in place – although this method can give you a little bump in the hem at the sides.
The grainline on this skirt is parallel to the centre front or centre back. Take your grading ruler and draw in your grainline for the back of your skirt, using your CB as a reference. Your skirt front will be cut on the fold, mark your front pattern piece with the symbol for cut on the fold. Job done!
Last but not least, notches! These are the things we put in the pattern that communicate how the garment is constructed. If we are varying our seam allowances then we can use them to let us know what the seam allowance on any given seam will be. We can also use them to mark where our zip goes in and what edges get sewn to what.
Commercial patterns normally use a thick black dash or a triangle to communicate a notch. Industrial patterns have notches cut out of them with a pattern notcher. Pattern notchers aren’t cheap so I wouldn’t bother buying one for the sake of it, triangles will do.
Firstly decide how long your zip is going to be. You can check your local haberdashery to see what length zips come in, you generally want it to come down to about your hip as this is your fullest area your skirt has to reach around when you put it on. When you have decided that, mark that distance down on the centre back (or the side seam if that’s where you want it) and place a notch.
Then you can use notches to annotate which piece is sewn to which and also as a reference to help you line up your cut out skirt panels. Generally notches are single for the front, double for the side or back and trebled for the back seam if you have a lot of panels. We don’t though so a single side seam notch at the hip line and one at the back marking the zip placement will do.
We also want a notch that shows us where the hem allowance starts. This helps for hemming and alignment.
One last thing….
OK, maybe adding notches wasn’t the last step. Now you should really do a last check that your pattern pieces fit together nicely. Overlap the seams on your pattern pieces that are going to be sewn together. Align the top of the seams and using a pin to pivot like we did in last weeks post, check the length of each seam is the same by over lapping the seam all the way down to the hem rotating the top pattern piece as you go. Shave a bit off the longest if you are a couple of mm off, even out both pieces if you are a bit more off than that and check your calculations if you are way off!
Now you have your A-line skirt pattern pieces! When we draft that waistband you’ll have yourself a complete pattern. You can also do what I did and use this pattern as a lining for your pleated skirt.
See you next week!