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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The following are some directions for how to make your own pattern for a basic A-line skirt from a class I am teaching to some high school girls. Once you make this basic pattern you can make lots of other designs from this pattern. You should save your pattern as long as you stay the size you are when you made it.I hope you have fun and please disregard the wierd large numbers. I copied and pasted this from my textedit program and I couldn't erase them!
For our first project we are going to make an a-line skirt, which is a simple and classic shape that flatters everyone. You'll get to decide whether you want yours more straight or a lot more flared ; if you would like it to sit at your waistline or below your belly button; if the hem should fall below your knee or higher up or whether or not you want pockets . As far as fabric choices go you will want to use a stable woven. It could be corduroy , denim , cotton twill , or a fun cotton print. We will be taking our measurements and developing a paper pattern for the a-line skirt. This paper pattern is also referred to as a sloper in the design industry. Once we create a perfect fitting sloper and fit it in a muslin we will sew it up in our fabric choice. From this sloper which you should save as long as you stay the same size , you can create lots of individual and creative original designs of skirts based on the a-line style. Keep an eye open when looking at catalogs and magazines and when you are out and about in the shops and you will realize so many styles are based on this one simple sloper which you will learn how to make!

  1. Take your waist measurement and divide it by 4 To that number you calculated add 1/4 and write the number here _________
  2. Take your hip measurement and divide it by 4 .Add 1/4 and write the number here ________
  3. Take the length measurement from where you want your waist to fall to where you want the hem to be Write that number here _______
  4. Calculate the sweep of your skirt which is how much you want it to flare at the bottom. The minimum for an a-line skirt could be just an inch added to your hip measurement and the maximum can be about 4 inches more than your hip measurement you wrote above. Write that number here ______
  5. Calculate the distance between the widest point of your hip and where you would like to place your waistline . Write the number here ______
  7. The measurements you end up with will be one quarter of your actual waist and hip plus 1/4 inch added for ease which is ease. This will be a fitted skirt so if you would like it to fit looser you can make your adjustments later after we do our first muslin fitting.  
  8.  Patterns are usually made for only one quarter of the body. Even though the skirt covers the whole body the pattern is made for only half. We will be making the left front skirt pattern and the left back skirt pattern. The final front skirt will end up being one piece because you will cut the fabric out on the fold and the final back will also be one piece cut out on the fold. You will put the zipper into the side seam
    1. Cut a piece of the brown craft paper which is the length of the skirt you decided in number 3 of your plotted measurements plus 4 inches added for room to work on the paper. 
    Fold the the paper in half. The fold will represent the Center Front of the skirt. 
    2. About an inch down from the top of the paper draw your fist straight line bisecting the fold. This will be your waist measurement you figured out in 
    number one of the measurement section . Don't forget to include 1/4 inch for ease. Draw that line with your ruler. 
    3. From your drawn waistline measure down the length you came up with in number three, the distance between where your waistline will sit and where 

    the widest point of the hip is. Mark the spot on the fold. 
    4. From the marked spot for the hipline draw your hipline measurement straight across like you did for the waistline. 
    5. Now draw your hemline which you measure down from the waistline. That number you came up with in number three of the calculations.Mark where the hemline will be on the fold. 
    6. Take your ruler making sure you keep a right angle on the fold and draw the width of the sweep of the skirt from the hemline mark 
    7. Connect all the lines of the side seam of the pattern. We now have the basic skeleton of the pattern. Mark the waistline and side line A. Mark the hipline 
    and side line B and mark the side line and hem line C. 
    8. MAKING THE DARTS. Find the halfway point along your waistline and mark it. From this point draw a line perpendicular from your waist and parallel with 
    the center fold. Draw the line 3 " long. Then on the waistline mark 1/4 inch on either side of your center dart line. Connect the two points with your ruler to the bottom of the center dart line. It will look like an upside down triangle. 
    9. Now we need to add back the 1/2 inch we just pinched out with the dart back to the skirt or else it will be too tight. Extend point A of your waist by 1/2 inch. Connect that new point to the hipline with your ruler. 
    10. Now you need to square the waistline. As you may have noticed so far we have only been drawing straight lines. As you now we are not straight lines so now it's time to add some curves into our pattern so it will fit the curves we have! Take your ruler and continue your side seam line up 1/2 inch from point A. Now take your ruler and to connect that new waistmark to the waist line place it perpendicular to the side line and draw till it meets the waistline. 
    11. Blend and soften straight angles.

    For the Back:
    Use the front pattern piece . All you have to do is extend the back dart 2 inched down from the front dart. Mark your pattern piece. Put a little hole in the patern 1/2 inch above the end of the front dart on the center dart line and poke another little hole 1/2 inch above back dart. When you trace your pattern you will mark through the hole on your pattern onto the fabric to help you guide the folding and sewing of the darts.
    Detail of the front and back dart

    This is a skirt with one inch of ease added to the overall hip measurement.If you ever wonder why the fit of big 4 patterns is off for the measurement listed, it's often because they add 3 or 4 inches of ease which is often way too much, especially if you like your clothing to be fitted.t


  1. In the first steps where you add1/4 is that 1/4 of an inch ?

  2. Thanks for a great pattern. I was needing a great pattern for skirts for church. Thanks again!

  3. Thanks so much for this great pattern. I was looking for a great little pattern for some skirts for my girls for church. Thanks again!

  4. Thank you so much for this tutorial! You've done such a great job - It's so detailed for us beginners.

  5. I'm so excited to find this -- I scoured Jo Ann's today to try to find a basic pattern like this for my girls (for church, just like the posters above), but no luck. Looking forward to trying it.

  6. Very nice tutorial, thank you very much for this. I love that skirt you pictured. A-line skirt can look so frumpy, yours is the opposite of frumpy for sure!


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