August 31, 2014

New skirt - with no-zip trick!

This is another garment which had to wait till the weekend to get a photoshoot (now with more bookshelves! And granny's sewing machine and some of my vintage magazines. That's what the thick book in my hands is: half a year of Libelle from 1956)  The pictures E takes just always end up looking a lot nicer than the self timer ones.
It's a very simple skirt which I've wanted to make for a while. Fairly full and long and made from a denim-like fabric (coarse cotton thread in off-white and indigo but in a plain rather than a twill weave).
I was afraid that 'just' a half-circle skirt might be a bit boring though. And I knew I wanted pockets, but not the stick-out ones of my pink skirt because with those, you can't really wear anything over your skirt.
After some brainstorming, I came up with something. Something which also eliminated the need for a zipper (I have set so many zippers, I never worry about them but it's just nice to do things differently now and then) and gave the skirt some extra fullness.

The pockets are simple and have nothing to do with the new detail: Something between slash and scoop, made without topstitching. 

The more unusual bit are those two big pleats at the front. With the buttons at the top. 

These pleats can be unbuttoned to allow me to get in and out of the skirt. 

I sewed small snaps on the underlaps to keep those from shifting around.

To make this, you simply cut the front pattern piece for a half circle (or otherwise flared and it would actually work for straight skirts as well) skirt. You don't have to cut in the middle, like in this drawing. Just determine how wide you want the center bit of your skirt to be. I think I cut at two thirds (so, with two thirds of the waistline going to the side piece). Make sure you draw the line down in line with the nature of the skirt though. So straight down for a straight skirt and as a circle section of a skirt which has a shape based on a circle. 

Add the pleat halves to both pattern pieces (you could also add the entire pleat to one of them, but this way the seam will be deep inside the pleat, and mostly stay hidden). I added 8 cm to each piece at the waistline (if you're unsure, just do the math: You need at least enough extra width to make up the difference between you waist and hip measurement. Divide that by four to find how much to add to each pattern piece).
You can experiment with the shape of the pleat. Mine flares out a bit, like in the drawing, but you could keep it straight or even let the wide pleat at the top disappear into nothing at the hemline. The effect will, of course, be quite different. 
I cut these pieces separately and with the skirt length I picked, I had to. If your skirt is shorter and/or narrower you could cut the front as one piece (and if you don't add width at the bottom, I would recommend that because the seam would be really visible). I cut the pieces with the straight grain running the way it would have it were a normal half circle skirt. 
And I made the center panel higher, so I didn't have to add a waistband there. It's a nice look but it kind of screws up your normal waistline calculation. Fortunately, it's really easy to adjust the fit at the waist with this kind of closure. 
Anyway, you should add a waistband (either drawn on or separate) to the center piece and its half of the pleat and of course to the rest of the skirt but not to the half of the pleat connected to the side piece. This way, you reduce bulk. Narrowly hem that section. 
When your skirt is finished, try it on to see what you prefer: Sides over center or center over sides. Make buttonholes in the waistband of the piece you want on top and snaps or smaller buttons and buttonholes to keep the underlying bits in place (if necessary).

I really like my new skirt. It's fun, it's comfortable and the fairly stiff fabric really shows off the flare.


  1. The deep pleats and buttons are genius, and such an interesting design detail!

  2. Nice trick! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Genius idea! Thanks for sharing. I've had a hard time deciding what to do with one gorgeous deep green fabric that I have but I think solves it!

  4. Genius and it makes a really fitted flare.

  5. Love it! Those pleats certainly add some nice flare to the shape of the skirt! I am going to have to try this out sometime.

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  6. Fabulous! We all want this pattern. Time for you to start selling your designs

  7. I have always liked skirts with the opening of the skirt in the pocket, yet most pattern companies never include that detail. Now with arthritis, ANYTHING to help get clothing on and off is welcome! I hate putting zippers in, not that I can't but I remember too well back in Home ec almost 50 years ago how many times I had to do it to please my teacher.

  8. Oh yes! I like this idea very much and think I might have just the fabric to try it out with. :)