27 January 2020

Fitting the Bobbi skirt and pinafore

Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Bobbi skirt and pinafore and looking for some tips on how to get a great fit? Well, you're in exactly the right place. In this blog post, we're going to go through some of the most common fitting adjustments you might need for making a gorgeous skirt or pinafore.

One of the reasons we love Bobbi so much - apart from the fact that she's totally gorgeous - is that she's relatively easy to fit. You only have to fit the waist and the hips and then you're good to go!

In this post we're going to cover:
  • Making a toile and fitting as you sew
  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening and shortening
  • Combining sizes

Making a toile and fitting as you sew

A "toile" (or a muslin) is an initial mock-up of a garment made in cheap or scrap fabric. You might make a toile if you want to check the fit of the pattern, or practice any tricky techniques involved on some sacrificial fabric before you sew the garment for realsies. However, whilst I can be often found shouting from the rooftops about the virtues about making a toile, I don't think it's necessarily essential for making Bobbi.

The great news about Bobbi is that there are only a few places where you need to worry about the fit - hooray! The most important places to get the fit right are the waistband and the hips. If you're making the pinafore, the fit of the waistband is slightly less important as the straps will hold up the skirt, so it doesn't matter if it's a teeny bit roomy.

If you want to skip making a toile to save time and precious fabric, I'd recommend tacking (basting) the skirt seams together to check the fit and taking them in or letting them out as necessary. Tack (baste) the skirt together at the side seams and back panel seams, then tack on the interfaced waistband. Try the skirt on and overlap the centre front openings by 3cm (1 1/4in) if you've already added the front skirt facing (and 6.5cm (2 1/2in) if you haven't) and pin together at the front. Check to make sure it feels comfortable whilst standing as well as sitting down. Bear in mind it will feel a little more snug once the waistband facing is attached, especially if the fabric is on the thicker side.

Take in or let out the side seams and back panel seams and try on one more time to be sure.  Once you're happy with the fit at the side seams, remove the waistband and stitch the side seams in a regular stitch length.

Curved waistbands have a tendency to stretch a little bit as they're handled. You may find that the uninterfacing waistband facings grows a little bit and is a little bit longer than the interfaced waistband when you come to sew them together. If you find this is the case, ease the waistband facing to the waistband, or slightly stretch the waistband to make it fit.

If you alter the side seams, adjust the waistband side seams so they match the waistline of your skirt :)

If you want a bit more info about why you might make a toile, Tilly has written a brilliant blog post which I thoroughly recommend you check out.

Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Choosing your size

Using a flexible tape measure, and ensuring you hold it level to the floor, find the circumference of your:
  • Bust - take the measurement at the fullest point i.e. around your nipples (if you're making the pinafore version)
  • Waist - where you bend at the side 
  • Hips - fullest part
Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Circle your measurements on the ‘Body Measurements’ chart in the pattern instructions. If your measurement falls between sizes (for example, if your hip is 46in rather than 45in or 47in), it’s generally safer to go for the larger size - if it’s too big it’s easier to take the skirt in as you're sewing than to let it out if it’s too small.

If your waist and hip measurements fall into the same size, then happy days! Each size has a different style of cutting line - check which one is for your size and that’s the one to follow when you cut out your pattern.

If you are one of many of us who fall into different sizes (like every person in the Tilly office!), see 'Combining pattern sizes' below...

For the pinafore, choose the pattern size that best corresponds with your bust size for the bib. The bib design is clever (if we do say so ourselves) because it will join the waistband pieces perfectly without the need for altering, even if they are different sizes. This is because you line up the bibs with the skirt front opening when joining them to the waistband. With no back bib to worry about you can attach the bibs to the waistband without any fuss - yay!

Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Lengthening and shortening pattern pieces

If you often find that clothes come up too short or too long on you, or you'd like to alter the length of Bobbi to better fit your personal style, then you might want to lengthen or shorten the skirt and bib pattern pieces. As a reference point, the skirt is designed to fall around 7.5cm (3 inches) above the knee, and the bib is designed to sit slightly low on the chest.

For more info on how to lengthen and shorten any pattern piece, check out our informative blog post which takes you through the process step-by-step.

If you adjust the length of the bib or front skirt pieces, this will affect the spacing of the buttonhole markings down the centre front. Once you have lengthened or shortened your pattern pieces, re-draw the buttonhole markings so they're evenly spaced down the front.

If you lengthen or shorten the skirt and/or bib pattern pieces, you'll also need to adjust the length of the front skirt facing and bib interfacing pieces so they match. Adjust these pieces in the same way as you did for the skirt and/or bib pieces.

Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Combining sizes

One of the best things about sewing is you can make clothes fit your unique shape. Waist and hip measurements fall into different sizes? No problemo. You can redraw the side and back panel seams to span multiple sizes to better fit your shape.

As mentioned above, you don't need to alter the bib pattern pieces if you're making the pinafore and have bust and waist measurements that are different sizes. Cut the bib piece according to your bust size and you're good to go!

Check out our blog post which walks you through the steps of how to combine sizes on your pattern pieces. You'll need to redraw the side seams on the front skirt and side back skirt, and the back panel seam on the centre back skirt, drawing a new seam line from the waistline (top of the skirt piece) to the hip notch or hip point. As the skirt pattern pieces have curved side seams you can use a pattern master or french curve to help get a nice smooth line, although I often find it easier to do this by hand.

If you're adding the hip pockets and have combined sizes between the waist and hip, you'll need to make sure the hip pocket side seam match the new shape of your front skirt piece. After you've re-drawn the side seams on the front skirt pattern piece, pin the hip pocket piece to it, matching notches at the side seam and waistline. Redraw the hip pocket side seam to match the new side seam shape, cutting away any excess or adding more paper at the sides if necessary.

Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

And that's it! Remember, don't get too bogged down with fitting - worn and loved is much better than the pursuit of getting a "perfect" fit. Whatever you make, we know it will look absolutely beautiful :)

Don't forget to tag your finished makes and progress shots @TillyButtons with the hashtag #SewingBobbi.


Author: Nikki
Photography: Jane Looker
Models: Megan Valero and Jess Burrell