Don’t Buy Skirt Patterns! Tutorial

Hey everyone, I’ve got all kinds of goodies to share today!
I got a book called Sew What! Skirts and I wanted to share my take on it, but I didn’t want to just copy the information right out of the book because it’s Francesca Denhartog and Carole Ann Camp’s intellectual property, right?
Luckily, though, I’ve found a link that has the book’s exact instructions and pictures (legitimately!), so I can share how you make your own skirt pattern for a:

  • Straight skirt with fitted waist
  • A line skirt with fitted waist
  • A line skirt with elastic waist
Here’s a pink one I made for Savi
I put pink ricrac on the bottom; isn’t it cute?! She LOVES it!

     So today I’m showing you how to make a straight skirt with fitted waist, with a truly easy way to put in your zipper. This is the method my mum walked me through very patiently during a transatlantic phone call. It also, coincidentally, is the method used in the book. So here goes:
    You need:

    • 1 yard of fabric if your waist is less that 40 inches and you’re making a short skirt.
    • 2 yards if your waist is bigger than 40, like me.
    • Optional but recommended: a bit of woven interfacing, or regular interfacing will do, too
    • Any decorations you want
    • Thread
    • 7 to 9 inch zipper
    • Sewing kit 
    • Seam Allowance 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted
    The skirt is one I already made for me – check out that maroon stitching along the bottom! Subtle but sweet!

      1. Make up your pattern as described in this link. Also make a pattern for a facing. Basically you just duplicate the first 3 inches of your skirt pattern. (NB- the first patterns I made using this method produced skirts that were MILES too big. I checked my measurements and still can’t figure out what I did wrong – so when I say to try it on later, PLEASE do try it on!)

      Mark centre of fabric, then fold selvaged ends in to the centre to cut your 2 skirt pieces out.

      2. Cut 2 skirt pieces and 2 facings.(NB: I also cut 2 facing pieces of woven interfacing and fused it to my skirt facings for extra ‘structure’ which I prefer.) If your waist is less than 40 inches, fold the fabric as above to cut your whole skirt from 1 yard of fabric. If it’s more than 40 use twice that.

      3. Staystitch the tops of all 4 pieces 1/4 inch from the top. You could also finish the skirt edges.
      4. Mark how high you want your slits to be plus about 1 inch for hem. Mine are 5 1/2, so it’s marked at 6 1/2. Also, on the left side of the skirt, you need to mark, starting 1/2 inch down, the length of your zipper.

      mark your slits
      mark where bottom of zip will be

      5. Between the slit marking and the zipper marking, SEW with regular stitch.  Then, between zipper bottom marking up to the top of the skirt, BASTE with long stitch length.

      6. Zipper Time: Follow the pictures and instructions.

      1. Steam or iron the seam open.

       Carefully centre the zip and pin, not forgetting to put the top of the zipper
      1/2 inch away from the top of the skirt.

      Using your zipper foot, sew about 1/4 inch away from the zip – you don’t want to sew
      too close to the actual zipper because if you do,
      you won’t be able to use the zip!

      It’s not perfect, but it’ll do…

      CAREFULLY, take your seam ripper and take out your basting stitches.


      7. Sew: (sorry, no pics because it just takes up space and what you do now is pretty easy.)
      • sew the other seam of the skirt, from your slit marking up to the top. Try your skirt on, and make adjustments if necessary – take it in more, etc. If you get stuck, email me and I’ll help you.
      • Right Sides Together, sew ONE short side of your facing to make one long piece. Iron seams open.
      8. Attach Facing to Skirt: Right Sides Together, start with the seam you just sewed.  Line it up with the sewed side seam of the skirt (not the zipper side).  Pin carefully, then pin all around the skirt. The ends will be at the zipper, and you can just fold them under. Make sure you leave room for the zip to go up and down!

      Now sew that with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Then clip little ‘V’ shaped notches all around, not clipping your stitches. Then iron that seam so you can fold it under and iron again. Then topstitch around the top of your skirt.  I topstitch again underneath because I find the facings try to ride up on me if I don’t, but you don’t have to:

      9. Hand-sew the ends of the facing to the zipper: You should be able to just slipstitch it. It doesn’t have to be perfect as it’s going on the inside, and it’s yours – no one else will know…
      10. Stitch the slits and hem: Using your iron, turn in the slit fabric by about 1/4 inch, or .5cm, then fold it under again and pin:

      Stitch close to the folded edge:

      11. Now hem the bottom, using a 1/2 inch double fold method.  I like to turn the corners in because it looks neater:

      Done! You now have a fitted waist straight skirt, and a free skirt pattern! I think I might add black ricrac to the bottom of mine: 


      © Copyright J C Excell, 2011
      All rights reserved

      Spread the love

      8 thoughts on “Don’t Buy Skirt Patterns! Tutorial

      1. Great tutorial! I have that book too, yet to use it, but you've inspired me to get on and make some skirts this year! 🙂 x

      2. found you through Totally Tutorials. Thanks for sharing…Makes the idea of a zipper in a skirt a whole lot less daunting.

      Leave a Reply to GERRI Cancel reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.