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