March 10, 2010

Gored skirt tutorial

I've just realised I should use clear titles, for the benefit of those following this blog through rss or google following (or any other gizmos I haven't heard of). Well, I don't think this one leaves much to the imagination...

As promised, this is a tutorial for the purple skirt pattern.
This is not that difficult to make and doesn't require any previous experience with pattern making (to some people, it is even simpler than fitting a commercial skirt pattern).

A bit of a disclaimer before I start: In some pictures, the pattern piece looks a bit distorted, this is due to the camera angle and it's very hard to avoid. In other pictures the lines are smudged, I didn't mean to do that, but I just bought new pencil leads and all they hard at the store were soft ones (very dark, nearly impossible to erase).

1. To draft this pattern you'll need three measurements, and one decision. You need your waist measurement (nr. 3 on the Burdastyle doll), hip measurement (nr. 4). These are both measure going around your body.
Then, you'll need the vertical distance between these two imaginary lines. The easiest way to do this is with help. Place your own hand at your waistline, and have your helper measure straight up to it from where (s)he just took hip measurement. If you don't have any help, or can't figure it out, 20 cm is about avarage for this.
The decision you need to make is your skirt length (waist to hem).
One more thing: of course finished skirt doesn't have to start at the natural waist but for pattern making purposes that is where we start. You can add or substract from the waistline of the finished pattern piece if desired.

2. Divide waist measurement + 1 cm by 10 (e.g. 69+1=70, 70/10=7) and draw a straight line with that length at the top of a large sheet of paper (not too close to the side, this narrowest bit of your pattern).
At a 90 degree angle to this, draw a line. The length of this line is your skirt length.

3. Measure along the vertical line and make a mark at the waist-to-hip measurement. At this mark, you draw a horizontal line the lenght of which is hip measurement + 1 cm divided by 10 (e.g. 93+1=94, 94/10=9,4). The line extends for a similar distance at both sides of the vertical line.

4. Draw lines between waist and hip line. Determine how wide you want your hem (my skirt was about 48 cm long, with 25 cm measured straight from point to point of the flare) and draw help lines.

5. Decide on the shape you want for your skirt. For a gentle bell shape, keep the flare lines straight, for a the twirly look of the purple skirt, curve them a little.

6. Measure along the side line of your pattern piece (use a tapemeasure on it's side for accuracy) and mark the point where it's 0,5 cm shorter than the middle line. Draw a curved hemline.

7. Add seam allowance if desired. Fold the pattern piece in half along the center line and cut it out (this way, you ensure both curves are the same). This is your finished pattern piece.
Now you can decide on the 'waist' line you want. My purple skirt sits 2 cm under the natural waist, but you could go down as far as 7 cm or go higher. If your want to make a high waisted skirt, you can go straight up for about 3 cm but if you go higher, you will have to make the pattern a little bit wider at the top (measure yourself where you want your skirt to end to find out how much).

8. To finish the skirt at the top, you can make a straight waistband ('waist' measurement + 1 cm + 3 cm overlap for closure), sew bais tape along the top edge or make a facing by tracing the top edges of pattern piece side by side, as shown.

Cutting and sewing:
Cut this pattern piece five times out of a double layer of fabric and sew all side seams together. Sew a zipper (of about 20 cm) between two of the gores. Finish the top of the skirt as described above. Hem the skirt, either by making a rolled hem or by sewing bais tape to the edge, pressing it to the inside and sewing it down (I'll show that if there are any questions).

- You are by no means restricted to 10 gores here. The same method can be used from 6 to any higher number you like. Just substitude '10' in the describtion by whatever number you are using. Just keep in mind that the number of gores has to be even (same amount on front and back) and determines the look and style of your skirt.
- In this pattern, the flare starts at the hip, but you can make a mermaid skirt using the same method. Mermaid skirts usually have 6 gores (sometimes 8) and go down in a straight line (or even a bit tapered, if you never need to take big steps) from the hip line to about 10 cm above the knee and flare out from there.
- Of course you could use different fabrics of similar weight. That would work best in a skirt with at least 10 gores and it would be a great way to use up leftovers.
- This pattern is for woven fabrics. If you are using a stretchy woven, you could do without the added centimeters (which are for wearing ease). If you are using jersey or something like that, you can do without the ease and the zipper. In that case, cut out about 3 cm extra at the top and fold that in to make a tunnel for elastic.

As ever, good luck sewing! Drop a comment if you have any questions, and of course, I would love to see your results.

P.S. several people asked me how I painted those boots. The answer is very simple. I used acrylic paint (the same kind you would use on paper) and a big brush. The boots are suede and I treated them with weather protection spray first. Then I painted them, let them dry, checked the paint and touched it up a couple of times and then used the spray again (acrylic paint is water based, that's why). Close up, it's not perfect and the material got a bit stiffer than before but I would never have worn them in the boring beige they were and love them now.


  1. Great tutorial! Thankyou for taking the time to do this..

  2. This is awesome. Thanks for posting it. I have to sort out which fabric I have on hand that is suitable.

    And cool about the no longer boring beige boots - I wish I still had my boring brown shoes to experiment on.

  3. Re your comment; no it wasn't you at all, it was another commenter who was quite blunt about it. I love getting your comments they really make my day!

  4. Thanks for this !
    But I allays, and still, pulzze about your bias cut skirt made in December 2008 : what pattern did youy use for it ?!

  5. This is quite amazing and seems fairly simple!! Would you mind if i linked in a few weeks to a weekly post I do called fashion forward Wednesday?

  6. Today was fashion forward Wednesday, and this week featured your skirt!! here is the link in case you want to check it out!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. I have a fabric in warm earthy green/brown tones, perfect for a fall skirt. However the fabric has stripes, each stripe about 1" wide.
    It would be some additional work to match the stripes as much as possible when sewing each piece together, (letting the stripes go vertically)Would you even recommend using a striped fabric for this pattern?

  9. Hi m, thanks for your comment.

    You would definately give yourself more work, but I think the result would be very interesting and quite nice. I'd say: go for it.

    (I tried to answer you directly, but couldn't because you don't have a public profile on Google)

  10. this is so great!! I am excited to try it, now to decide upon a fabric... I also want to see those boots!!! they sound great! :) Thanks for taking the time to post this. so great for newbies like me.

  11. I just finished an 8 gore skirt with light knit turquoise fabric and it turned out great! Thanx for the great tutorial it was really simple to do the pattern! Love it!

  12. I'm excited to try this - want to make a twirly -bottomed skirt. In your directions I keep reading "the purple skirt," but don't see a photo anywhere. Would love to see it - where would I go to find it?

  13. Fabulous clear instructions thank you