21 April 2015

Fitting the Arielle Skirt

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Got your Arielle sewing pattern? Chosen your fabric? Let’s talk about how to sew a skirt that fits you.

The good news is that Arielle is an easy style to fit – the skirt has only three main pieces, and is shaped with darts that are simple to adjust. The skirt is designed without a separate waistband to give a sexy, streamlined shape. Some of our curvier pattern testers said they were pleasantly surprised at how flattering the skirt is on their waist and booty (that booty booty!).

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Taking your measurements
The first step to a great-fitting skirt is to take accurate measurements. Wrap a flexible tape measure around your natural waist and then around the widest part of your hips, breathing normally (no cheating!) and keeping the tape measure level to the floor. Compare these measurements to the Body Measurements chart in the pattern instructions to pick out your pattern size. If a measurement lands between two sizes, go for the larger one – you can always take the skirt in later at the pinning stage.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Grading between sizes
If your waist is a different pattern size to your hips, you can redraw the side seams on the pattern pieces from your waist size (marked on the pattern by the waist notch) to your hip size (marked by the hip notch). On the back skirt piece, redraw the side seam between your waist and hip size – in this example you can see I’ve drawn between a size 4 waist and size 5 hip.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Now lay the right front skirt piece over the back skirt piece, matching both pieces at the original side seam lines of your waist size. Trace your new side seam onto the right front skirt piece. Repeat on the left front skirt piece. (Don't worry that your new lines on the right front and left front pieces don't touch your hip size line - the size lines on the left front and right front skirt pieces are nested differently to make the button and overlap lines clear to see. As long as you've traced the line from the back skirt, you should be sorted.)

For the darts, simply go with the darts in your waist size.

For the facings, simply pick the same size as your waist – you don’t need to change the facings to match your hips, as they really only cover your waist and the front opening of the skirt.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

If you're making the lining, you will need to alter the lining pieces to match the skirt. Lay the back lining piece over the back skirt, matching up the hip notches. Trace your new skirt side seam onto the back lining. Then trace this line from the back lining onto the left front and right front lining side seams. For the outer edge of the left front and right front lining (marked on the pattern), choose the same size as your waist. The outer edges of the lining will match up with the inner edges of the facing, so again they should be unaffected.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Lengthening or shortening
The long version of the skirt is 62.5cm (24½in) from (high) waist to hem; the short version 45.5cm (18in). Since the lower part of the skirt is straight, you can easily redraw the hemline without the “lengthen/shorten” lines that you might see on other patterns. If you want to make the skirt longer or shorter, redraw the hemline at the level you want it on the three skirt pieces.

Lengthen or shorten the front facing pieces - and the lining if you’re making it – by the same amount you lengthened or shortened the skirt. If you’re making the lining, you’ll also need to raise or lower the “end of lining” notches on the front facings by the same amount.

Toiling, pinning or baste fitting
T&TB patterns are dressmaking templates designed for average UK body proportions - yet not many of us are “average”! Taking accurate measurements and making any changes you need to the pattern are a good start to sewing a garment to fit your body, yet since we’re all different shapes, you might need to make some other changes to how the fabric fits your curves. (This is one of the reasons why asking someone else how a pattern fits them is unlikely to be helpful when it comes to fitting yourself, even if you have the same bust, waist and hip measurements.)

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

It’s generally a good idea to make a toile (or “muslin”) – a mock up of a garment in cheap fabric – so you can tweak the shape before cutting into your nice fabric. Choose fabric that is similar in weight and body or drape to the fabric that you’re going to use on the “real” garment – read more about making a toile. For the Arielle skirt, since it’s relatively simple to fit, you can probably get away with doing a pin fitting or baste fitting on the main skirt pieces cut in your real fabric.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Cut out the right front skirt, left front skirt and back skirt, and pin or baste (tack) the darts and side seams (see the pattern instructions). Try the toile or skirt on inside out, pinning the right front skirt over the left front skirt along the button lines (marked on the pattern). If you’re planning on wearing the skirt with a t-shirt or sweater tucked in, put that on too.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Do the side seams feel too loose or too tight at the waist or hips? Do the darts look like they’re in the right place? How does the skirt feel to wear? Can you walk comfortably? Can you sit down comfortably? Adjust the pins or the baste stitching on the darts and the side seams to a fit that feels good for you. For example, if you have a small lower back and curvaceous booty, you may need to take the top of the darts in; or if you are finding it hard to walk, you could let the side seams out at the bottom of the skirt.

Arielle sewing pattern - How to fit the skirt

Once you’re happy with how it’s fitting you, draw your new darts and stitching lines onto the wrong side of the skirt or toile in chalk pencil or washable pen - or simply follow the pin lines when stitching it together. Transfer any changes back to the pattern pieces so you’ve got them for next time you make it. You’ll also need to make the same adjustments to the facing and lining. For example, if you took each side seam in by 1cm at the waist, redraw the facing side seams 1cm in at the waist too.

Arielle sewing pattern
Arielle sewing pattern

And that's it! In the next post I'll walk you through attaching the lining to the facing...

16 April 2015

Fabric Shopping for the Arielle Sewing Pattern

Arielle skirt sewing pattern - Fabric ideas


Hello everybody, it’s Vanessa here. Thanks for all the love for our new sewing pattern, the Arielle skirt. We’re so glad that you’re excited about it as we are! Today I want to share some thoughts on designing and choosing fabric for your skirt.

First, a note about the design. When Tilly first developed the sewing pattern, she was inspired by - and I quote - "Edwardian skirts and sexy sailors". Bien sur! ;) Crazy inspiration sources aside, the side-button skirt is a classic style that looks decidedly modern - take a look at our Arielle board for some Pinspiration.

One of the beautiful things about Arielle is her versatility - you can make the skirt for any season, from a wide range of fabrics. We recommend medium-weight woven fabrics that hold the shape of the skirt, but not so thick that they risk making the darts chunky. The kinds of fabric types you might pick include denim, sateen, gabardine, brocade, suiting, pincord, lighter weight canvas or wools. Medium-weight cottons – the kinds that are often used to make quilts and other homewares – would work too, but avoid lighter weight, drapey cottons such as lawn and voile. Arielle is a close-fitting skirt so if you find a denim, cotton or sateen with a touch of stretch (but still woven, not knit fabric) then you’re onto a winner! Fortunately all these kinds of fabrics are usually a pleasure to handle. They do what they’re told, press beautifully and don’t fray like mad. Nothing daunting :)

I’ve had lots of fun window shopping on the internet for suggestions. Here are a few lovely things that I’ve found. Please bear in mind that we haven’t seen or handled these fabrics in person, so we recommend you order a sample to get a feel for the material before purchasing. Okay, on to my picks!

Arielle skirt sewing pattern - Fabric ideas

Love spots as much as we do? Indulge in your pixelated passions with either of these beautiful fabrics – a lovely medium weight stretch cotton and a delicious pincord.

Arielle skirt sewing pattern - Fabric ideas

Medium weight cotton or lighter weight cotton canvas are also great choices, particularly for those who like a bold pattern as they take dye very well. We’re swooning over the idea of wearing this print with a black turtleneck! This Kokka canvas is an interesting one too. Definitely check out Monaluna for canvas too, such as this Jacks canvas (there may also be llamas...).

Arielle skirt sewing pattern - Fabric ideas

Take our fashion tip for Summer 2015 - the 1970s denim skirt is coming back, big time! We used a plain stretch denim for our pattern photos, or how about this beautiful Japanese cross-hatch denim? Add some bright brass buttons and you’ve got this chic revival nailed (we recommend anchor buttons, naturally). This striped chambray denim also looks really lovely.


Arielle skirt sewing pattern - Fabric ideas

While prints are tempting, never underestimate solid colour fabrics! We’ve found this great variety of stretch cotton in various shades. Or channel your inner Clueless and go for this yummy lightweight tweed wool.

Here’s the full list of supplies that you need, including how much fabric to get.

If you feel like making your skirt a bit more fancy, you can add the optional lining. Choose lining fabric and buttons that compliment, contrast or highlight your main fabric and I promise you will smile every time you see your skirt, inside or out. How about placing the buttonholes and buttons in pairs to make your skirt a bit different? Or stitching ribbon to the outside of the skirt like this one? Going the extra mile with these little touches is part of what makes homemade clothes such a pleasure, both to make and to wear. Take a look at the Arielle Pinterest board for some more ideas.

We are so excited to see what you come up with and hope you enjoy making the Arielle sewing pattern as much as we have. You can order your pattern here. Don’t forget to send us a picture of your finished skirt! What fabric are you thinking of making it in?