Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Skirt Block - Part 2

I know just how The Coffee Lady feels ... Overwhelmed, and me too ..  I think I bit off more than I can chew with this skirt block project (and everything else), so I am biting the bullet and getting on with it, in order to be able to resume normal blogging service as soon as possible.  The trouble is, it's a lorralorra diagrams and fitting it into the right order in my brain is where the problem is .. there's not much room in there!

Anyway .. today we shall talk about DARTS on the skirt block.

Darts are there to shape the skirt - obviously - to your own contours preferably.  You can put any number of darts into your skirt, but for the basic block, there will be 2 at the back and one at the front.  This translates to a total of 6 darts in your skirt.  We're putting more darts into the back as there is more ease there, if you remember.

The waist is going to have 1cm ease which will be split equally between the back and the front of the skirt block - so 0.25cm either side of the block as each half of the block is a quarter of your skirt.

The darts will be 2cm wide each.

You can plot these lines now as follows:

click the image to enlarge

The front waist will be quarter of your waist measurement plus 2.25cm.  That is 2cm for the dart and 0.25cm for quarter of the ease.  Draw a line this length back towards the centre of the skirt and then connect this line to the hip line.  Extend that line by 1.25cm above the top line.   The front dart is usually placed about 7.5cm-10cm left of the CF line.  Draw a line straight downwards.

The back waist will be quarter of your waist measurement plus 4.25cm.  That is 2 x 2cm darts plus 0.25cm for quarter of the ease.  Draw a line this length from CB towards the centre of the skirt and join with a diagonal line towards the hip as shown.  Again, extend this line 1.25cm above the top.  The two back darts are placed at evenly spaced intervals at the back.  Draw these in vertically from the top line, extending them to meet the diagonal line you have just drawn.

Your darts should be the lengths indicated here:

click the image to enlarge

To draw the darts in, measure 1cm either side of each central dart line, and join each point to the bottom of the dart:

click the image to enlarge

Do this for all of the darts, and then, add some curve to all lines like SO:

click the image to enlarge

Now there is just one more thing to do before the basic block is finsihed, and that is to add your "flare lines".  You don't HAVE to add these, but I always do as it helps me define the line of my final skirt.  ie:  If you want a flared skirt with godets you would put the godets where the flare lines are.  Or if you wanted a panel skirt then you would cut where the flare lines are and these would then become seams.

Flare lines just extend from the bottom of the dart to the bottom of the block.  You can have more flare lines than this depending upon your design, but for this block we are sticking to the basic.

The basic skirt block, complete with flare lines, looks like this:

click the image to enlarge

NOW you are ready to make a toile (muslin).  What you have to do is trace your block onto some thinner paper - I use plain greaseproof paper (not baking parchment with silicone as that is too slippy).  Trace the two halfs - front and back - with the dart markings.  After tracing each half, you have to add a seam allowance of 1.5cm to the sides only.    The centre front of this pattern is cut on the fold of your fabric as is the centre back - so for the purpose of your toile for fitting, the opening to your skirt will be at the side.  Make the toile up in cheap fabric, and fit it to yourself.  It should already be quite a good fit, but may need a little adjustment at the waist and hip.  Mark where your adjustments are (if any), then transfer these to your block.

et Voila!  You have your own personal skirt block which can be customised in various ways to make virtually any skirt you can think of!

Future posts will include ways to do this.  

To preserve your block so that you can use it time and time again, it is a good idea to transfer it now to some thin card.  Make sure to transfer all of the basic markings too.  When you come to make patterns, you just trace around the block, marking where the darts, flare lines and hip line is, and then create a new pattern.

If you are new here, or if you have found these posts interesting, I would love to hear from you!  Please do say 'hi' in the comments.  I will upload a PDF of this post soon.


Karen said...

Wow! Thank you so much for this series. I'm new to fashion sewing (crossed over from quilting) and this is tremendously helpful.

Pipany said...

Brilliant Julia. Thank you so much for all the hard work you are putting in. It is really fascinating to learn this properly x

SewChristine said...

When I draft a pattern I want to keep I transfer lines and markings and any notes to self to drafting paper (Burda does some but there are others) its like slightly stronger tissue. Then I iron stiff vilene onto the back. This makes for a strong, light pattern that can be used over and over. Also I don't fold it, but hang it from a bulldog clip on the back of the door.
Excellent skirt pattern tutorial by the way :-)

Diane said...

I am transported back to 1973 Needlework lessons!!! I always found darts so tricky as they had to be in the exact right place.

Cecili said...

Thanks a lot for these explanations, I was thinking about drafting my own sheath dress and I'm certainly going to use your skirt for that. Now if you could publish something about drafting your own fitted bodice^^ Thanks again!

KLyons said...

this is super helpful! thank you so much for sharing this info. I'd be interested in learning how to draft a waistband to use with the skirt block, instead of just using a facing. Thanks!

parakeetpie said...

I just found your blog from Sew Retro. Thanks for the skirt block guide. I haven't been sewing for very long but just the other day I was reading about bodice slopers. The way my brain works, it would be great it if I could figure out how a pattern works and how it will fit from the tissue. I think slopers/blocks (and practice of course) are my sewing future.

I love the rest of your blog so you'll definitely see me back here!

Adelaide B said...

Thank you very much for posting this!

Lindsey said...

I new here via Sew Retro and I'm so glad I stopped by. This is super helpful and I can't wait to try it out. Thanks so much!

Stephanie said...

This is amazing. I found your blog via Casey's Elegant Musings, and I can't wait to get started on a skirt block of my own =D

JuliaB said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Deborah said...

Wow! You are sharing such great information. The more we can all learn from each other the better!

handbuiltwardrobe said...

Thanks for this! I used your tutorial together with another (in Imperial measurements) to draft a skirt that was very nearly perfect on the first try.

sanjeet said...

Excellent skirt pattern tutorial by the way :-)
data entry work from home

Rozemarijntje said...

Whow, what a detailed explanation! I was wondering: can you also make an A-line skirt with this tutorial? Thanks for the info!

audreyswardrobe said...

Thanks so much for these instructions! I have just found your blog via the UK sewing forum, and am in a hurry so forgive the fleeting comment, but I will be back for sure!

Elle Kaye said...

I finally had a chance to study your skirt block. THANK YOU so much for a simple, clear method to do this. It is much easier to understand than the industrial dressmaking ones. I'll be drafting my block this week.

MOT said...


Thanks for this wonderfull tutorial. I'm new in the sewing business and you make it sound hopefully affordable :-)

clare 'you don't need a blog' milne said...

This is great thanks - I see you did this last year so may not see my comment. My daughter is tall and curvy (size 12 waist & 14 hip) with fullest hip 26cm below waist. Should the darts be longer, because she doesn't,t curve out until lower?
She is desperate for a pencil skirt that really fits so I'm so much forward to making this.

JuliaB said...

Hi Claire .. yes if your daughter is tall you may need longer darts. Only an inch though maybe not that much ... When you fit the toile you can pinch out any extra needed.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to found you and your blog!
I'm totally a starter (I've only sewwd a cluch bag and a bat dress)and I'm looking forward for my next project, a high waist pencil skirt!
Now you can understand how glad am I founding these tutorials! Thank you so much for posting these because as long I searced Internet for something like, nothing was satisfying enough(until I found you!!).
I don't know if I ever manage to finish my project but I've already started with my pattern!!
I just like to ask something I didn't understand and it has to do with darts. You say: "The two back darts are placed at evenly spaced intervals at the back" but I stil can't understand where I should place the two back darts.
Any further explanation will be appreciated :)

Anonymous said...

This is amazing! Thank you so much. I am getting back into sewing and I can't wait to try this out. I am imagining a beautiful metallic tweed skirt for work.

Jennifer said...

Thanks so much for posting this great tutorial! The diagrams and instructions were so easy to follow. After I drafted my skirt block, I used it to create the skirt of an empire-waist sheath dress. It fits better than any similar dress I've made thus far! Thanks again!

Karuna said...

Hello Julia,
Thank you for providing this tutorial. You make pattern making sound so easy :)

Carla Thompson said...

Thanx so very much for this tutorial Julia! I love pencil skirts & have the hips to wear them but could never find a pattern that would work with my smaller & higher waistline (10cm difference). I'm anxious to get started on this & can already see this being one of my fav patterns to fill my closet <3

Raisin4Cookies said...

This is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to put all this together. I have recently started sewing my own clothes and am planning on taking the plunge into pencil skirts soon! Good work!!

melissa said...

Thanks for doing this! I am really excited to make one for myself!

Jimson-Jboxy said...

i really find your processes quite interesting. i had a different approach to this but your lessons and tips gave a clearer view. thanks.

Jessica said...

Thanks for this great tutorial! I do have a question: once you are ready to make the pattern, why do you not add a seam allowance for the waist, as well as extra material for the hem? Won't the skirt end up being too short? And does this skirt not sit at the natural waist, but a bit below it?

FittingIssues said...

Thank you for this tutorial. So disappointed with the fit and amount of time spent altering bought skirt patterns, I am inspired to try this.

Anonymous said...

this was a complete fail for me, inspired to go buy a patter. Your instructions were too hard to follow. You mentioned getting a piece of paper that would be half hip = 1.5 and length of the skirt, then making a box with those exact measurements? (which was the entire piece of paper) so then I could do anything about the waistline because you said I only needed the square to be that big. Unless you are talking about gluing stuff together? This was so confusing. Thanks anyway.

JuliaB said...

Annonymous: I'm sorry you couldn't follow my free set of instructions on how to make a skirt block. What I said in my first tutorial is " The piece of paper should be able to accommodate a square which is the width of half your hip measurement plus ease (50.5cm in the above example) and a few inches longer than your final length of skirt measurement." Ie: not the ACTUAL size of the block. :)

Anonymous said...

I found your blog via AllWrappedUp. I can only thank you for your explanations! Thanks from Italy