chebe: (Purple - DanceLikeNooneisWatching)
[personal profile] chebe
Fourth skirt from the 'Sew What! Skirts' book, Short and Sassy (page 73), a simple square (a.k.a. handkerchief) skirt with elasticated waist. ... Well, almost. I added a yoke. I've added yokes before, but this time I was following the 'very simple low-waist skirt block' (page 134) from Winifred Aldrich's 'Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear'. This particular block is good for easy-fits and fabrics with stretch/elastic waists. The only alteration made to the general instructions from 'Sew What! Skirts' (SWS) was that the circle was measured as my hips, and the waistband left out (as the yoke took care of that).

Construction is very straight forward; sew up the side-seams of the yoke, make the elastic casing, insert elastic. Add yoke to skirt (slight gathering may be needed). Hem.

Okay, ready for the maths? Really pretty simple, promise.

SWS says to take your waist measurement and divide by six. Aldrich's book explains this better. Remember how you took your measurements, by encircling your body with the measuring tape? We're going to approximate your body shape at that point as a circle, so now that measurement is actually the circumference of this circle. In order to draw a circle you need to know the radius (half the width). To get the radius from the circumference you divide by 2*pi, which Aldrich rounds to 6.28. (SWS rounds further to 6.) This value is your radius.

Take a large piece of fabric and cut it as long as it is wide. So if you have 60" wide fabric, cut it to a length of 60". Fold in half lengthwise, then fold in half again widthwise.

In the corner with no raw edges place a pin, and tie a piece of string to it. Measure down the string the length of the radius and tie a fabric pen or piece of chalk. Swivel around to draw a quarter-circle between both edges of the fabric. You cut this piece out (and will put the skirt on by stepping into this).

For a square-skirt, like this one, you leave the bottom edges of the fabric as the bottom of the skirt (well, you will hem them). The square-skirt hem is purposely uneven. The edges along the folds of fabric will be the shortest points of the skirt (make sure they're not too short for you). The point diagonally across from where you've placed the pin to mark the waist will be the longest points (make sure you won't trip over them). For shorter skirts start with a smaller square. For a more exact smaller skirt, get the radius of your waist or hip (whatever you're using) and measure down from that point to how short you are willing to have your skirt. Double this value is the width you want to cut your square. With this knowledge you are free to experiment with hems however you like. Asymmetrical, wavy, anything you can think of, remember you've no side-seams to get in the way, go for it.

Half-circle-skirts are made in a similar way, except that you start with a piece of fabric twice as long as it is wide, folded in half to make a square. And the hem is even (you'll have one seam, usually a back-seam). Make a second mark further down the string used to mark out the waist at the desired length of skirt. This makes a larger quarter-circle, and you cut it out to make a nice round hem. (For a full-circle-skirt you make two half-circle pieces and sew them together down two side-seams.)

Adding yokes or not is simply another variation you can try. There are also other waistband and closure methods that can be used. There are so many possibilities you can make, and all without buying a single pattern!

My Skirt;
I'm using black crushed velvet. Velvet is a tricky fabric to use. Crushed velvet is even more tricky. And cheap crushed velvet is worst of all. But this style of skirt is very straight forward so there's nothing too difficult to try and force the fabric to do. There are no stretch fibres in this fabric (i.e. lyrca, spandex) and one direction there is no stretch at all. However, the fabric was created in such a way that the other direction has a fair bit of stretch. We call this direction the 'direction of greatest stretch' or 'd.o.g.s.' This only matters for the yoke, just make sure to cut the fabric out with the d.o.g.s. going around the body (parallel to the elastic band).

I attempted to narrow hem the waistband before forming the casing, and found the fabric uncooperative. So when it came to the hem I just turned under the seam-allowance once and straight-stitched in place. I did hem two opposite sides of the square first. Then the other two, so that the points of the hem are nice and regular.

And instead of using my overlocker/serger for the seams I just ran two parallel lines of straight-stitch, then a zig-zag line, and finished the raw edges with pinking shears. It was oddly therapeutic.

My fabric was fairly wide, and when you include the yoke it actually turned out too long for me. To fix that I just measured up about 15cms around each of the edges, drew straight chalk lines, and cut them off. Finished by hemming.

There we are. A little light twirly skirt perfect for dancing in. And I've learned a lot about how square and circle skirts are made so I'll be able to make the next one perfectly first time. I'm also loving the yoke block based on Aldrich's block and am looking forward to trying the other blocks.
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