“A penny saved is a penny earned.” The old adage has never been truer than in today’s economy. Costs for everything have skyrocketed, from gas to juice, food to furniture. Anywhere the average person can cut costs is a welcomed relief on his or her pocketbook. Because of the rising costs of clothing, many people have taken to constructing their own garments. The most basic and easiest of garments to sew is a skirt. Skirts are simple, elegant, and flexible, transforming easily from daily wear at the office to evening wear out on the town.
When making a skirt, the first thing to consider is the style of the skirt. This will influence which pattern is bought, as well as the type of fabric that is bought. Patterns can be acquired a variety of ways. They may be store bought, or they may be a replica of an existing piece of one’s wardrobe, or they may be home-made, designed from scratch by someone very familiar with the art of sewing.
The store bought pattern is often the best choice for the novice seamstress, as it contains detailed instructions, lists and quantities of all fabric and other notions required, sizing guides, as well as a guide indicating the complexity of the project. To ensure that the correct size is made, measurements should be taken of the wearer’s body. The waist, hips, and desired length of the finished garment will be the most common measurements needed to determine sizing. Desired finished length is obtained by measuring from the waist at the spine downward. There is typically a one and one half to two and one half inch grace in sizing. For example, if the wearer’s hips are 41 inches and the pattern says that the specific sizing corresponds to a 40 inch hip measurement, the garment will still fit the wearer. If the difference between pattern and wearer is greater than the allotted grace, it will be necessary to adjust the pattern. Detailed and comprehensive instructions for accomplishing this successfully are located in the instructions for the pattern. There is also usually a line drawn horizontally across the pattern. This is where length should be adjusted, if necessary. Lengthen the garment by adding more paper to the pattern piece, or shorten the garment by folding, pressing, and pinning the pattern piece along this line. It is important to note that the length shortened will be double the length of the fold. For example, if the desired length shortened is two inches, the folded piece of pattern should measure one inch.
If the seamstress has some experience, she may choose to make a pattern from something already in her wardrobe. To do this, she carefully removes all stitches from the garment, rendering it back to its original fabric state, being sure to label each piece as she goes. Then, muslin, tracing paper, or tissue paper is pinned to the pieces and cut out accordingly. These pieces then become the pattern from which the new garment is constructed. The original piece may be sewn back together as soon as all pattern pieces are made.
The number of pieces in a pattern for a skirt varies depending on the length, style, and complexity of the skirt. There may be as few as two pattern pieces, or as many as a dozen or more.