Oct 3, 2011

feeling a little (a lot) crafty

Ok, remember when I said I wanted to make a skirt because I couldn't find one I liked... well, I actually had found a skirt I liked and bought it from Banana Republic. But then I took it home and decided it was a little too short for me. So it's just been sitting in the bag in my closet. That's when I decided I wanted to recreate it, just make it a little longer. Well my friends, I made the skirt, and it actually fits, so now I can return the $60 skirt because I have a $10 homemade one.

I may have been a little too ambitious, because I had never done this before. But I am happy that I actually did it. You know, to tell my posterity... that I actually sewed my own clothes :) In the past, I have only made some pillows and curtains. I actually made two skirts, the first one was more of a practice.
skirt #1
{shirt: Forever 21, necklace: Target, skirt: me! shoes: Target}

skirt #2
{blouse: Banana Republic outlet, skirt: me!, shoes: Target}

I went to the fabric store and bought two fabrics because I liked the color, not because they are necessarily good skirt making material. As the lady was cutting my fabric, I mentioned I was going to make a skirt, and she said, “uh you know this is upholstery and curtain material?” I was like, “ok… and…?” I will probably have to wear a slip under the skirts so that the fabric moves easier… but remember I’m a newbie.

I remember seeing some cool skirts on this website, so I followed the tutorial for this skirt to make skirt #1. The good thing about this pattern is there is a lot of material so you don’t have to worry about being perfect… but that can also be hard to work with so much fabric. This was definitely my practice skirt. There is a list of things that aren't perfect with the skirt, one of them being that the waist is too big so it sits lower on my waist than I prefer. But once I did the waistband and the invisible zipper and the invisible hemline, I felt pretty confident I could try to make my own pattern and try another skirt.
The second skirt was more like the skirt I found at Banana Republic. I added pockets, a slit in the back and some pleats... all a new experience for me. At one point, I was working on this skirt at night and Danny was watching me and said, “So where’s your pattern?” And I was like, “well… I’m not using a pattern, I just made this up.” He said, “Well how are you measuring everything?” And I basically made that up too. I did take what I learned from the first skirt to help me with some basic measurements. Danny was pretty skeptical that I could pull it off. I did have to make the back panels a second time because they were too small because I didn’t take in to account the slits I would cut.

So here is what I did differently with the second skirt:

To Make Skirt #2:
first. Get about a yard and a half of fabric (you might be able to do it with less, but I needed some extra in case I messed up, since it was my first skirt... which I did, so I was glad to have the extra fabric). Also, get some matching thread, because you see some of the thread on the waistband, so it's important that it's the same color.

second. Measure the front panel how long and wide you need it (I measured mine 24 inches long and 20 inches wide at the bottom of the skirt) *make sure to leave the top of the skirt a few inches bigger to leave room for the pleats. So depending on how many pleats you want, just be sure to account for that extra fabric so that when the pleats are done, the top measures half of your waist measurement + and inch for seam allowance. Notice in the picture below there is extra fabric at the top of the skirt.
third. Create the pleats by gathering fabric and pining it. It doesn't matter how far apart they are, just as long as it's symmetrical. And you want to make sure that with the pleats, the top is half your waistline.
fourth. Fold over the edges to make the pocket line.
fifth. I cut some pockets. I just measured some pockets on a different dress I have.
sixth. Pin the pockets together and sew them, right side fabric to right side. Then iron over the edge that will attach to the skirt.
seventh. Attach the pockets by pinning the ironed fold of the pocket to the right side of the fabric of the front of the skirt. In the picture below, this is the back of the front panel of the skirt, so you can see how the little fold of the pockets is being sewn to the skirt.
eighth. Ok for the back, get ready for some math. You will need to cut two panels that look like the picture below. Just make sure that the back panel ends up being the same length and height as the front. And when measuring to get the length of the top of the two panels, here is the math: your waist size (divided) by two + 2 inches for the slits/pleats you will cut at the top + 1 inch seam allowance on the side seams + 1 inch seam allowance for the zipper = what the top panels should equal, so you would have to divide that in half to get the size for each panel. The bottom of the panels together should equal the same as the front of the skirt, which in this case is 20 inches. As you can see in the picture, there are a few inches of extra fabric there for the slit at the bottom.
ninth. Cut a slit at the top of each panel (make sure they are in the same spot on both panels, equal distance away from the center). I cut mine 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch across at the top in this triangle shape. Then sew the slit by folding over the panel on to itself, the right side of the fabric in.
This is what it looks like when the pleats on the back are done.
tenth. For the slit at the bottom, just fold over the fabric on to itself and you may need to do some hand stitching. I just looked at another skirt I have and did my best to re-create the slit.
For the waistband, invisible zipperinvisible hem, and how to attach the front and back panels together, follow this tutorial that I used to make skirt number 1.

Even though this was my first attempt at a skirt, I somehow managed to just "make it work." I think it's because I have been watching so much Project Runway lately and am inspired by it. But seriously, remember in math class in high school when your teachers try to convince you that what you are learning is important because you will use it later in life? Well this was one of those moments. I was amazed at how much geometry I used in making these.


  1. i am totally going to copy you on those skirts!! and i love that you used curtain fabric.. that is going to be such a nice thick durable skirt! u probably need that with the kids running around!

  2. Just stumbled on your blog through Pinterest and I think it's amazing! I just got a sewing machine for Christmas and I'm definatly pinning this skirt to my sewing board.

    I'm your newest follower and excited to see what other great stuff you come up with!

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year!

    Newlyweds on a Budget

  3. I found you on Pinterest as well and I loooove your second skirt! Definitely on my to do list now :)

    Thanks for the tips!



  4. So cute!!! Found this on Pinterest and re-pinned!

    you are so talented!


  5. This is right up my alley. I can't wait to try and make it!

  6. How cute! Love them both! I'm thankful everyday I somewhat paid attention in geometry class...comes in handy with sewing!

  7. So cute!! Love those fabrics! =)

  8. Those turned out great! Are you getting a lot of wear out of them? I think the upholstery fabric is a great choice for women's skirts - gives a little more coverage and weight to the skirt. You've inspired me!

  9. Great tutorials! I was a math phobe in high school and now think "if they'd told me I needed math for fun things like sewing and knitting, I TOTALLY would have tried harder!"

  10. Great work on the skirts. Please come share your talent at the Anything Goes linky Fri-Monday at Bacon Time.

  11. Featuring on Thursday at Bacon Time :)

  12. Honestly you make it look so easy! Have you sewn a lot? I am really creative but feel a little insecure behind a sewing machine. Time to roll up my sleeves and just jump in and see how it works out!

    Cable Car Couture

    1. These were my first skirts, but I had sewn other (more simple) things in the past. Just try it, I bet you will surprise yourself. Just be prepared that it might take a really long time and have some chocolate on hand when you get stressed and want to rip up your fabric :) And make sure you have extra fabric in case you mess up. And I would love to see it if you do attempt to make a skirt! Good luck!

  13. Both skirt are fabulous but in LOVE with that yellow skirt!


  14. That yellow one is so cute--I am such a sucker for anything with pockets. Question--did you really use a whole inch for seam allowance? I rarely go that big, so I'm wondering if I should adjust my measurements accordingly. I'm a newbie too, so I definitely don't want to end up with a too-small skirt!

    1. Yes, I did end up using an inch for the seam allowance. I just copied what she did at Elle Apparel (I link to her tutorial above). But you might not need that much, it's all about trial and error with me! :)

  15. I definitely cant sew but if you would buy the material and make it and mail it to me i would love to pay you hahha! (: I found it on pinterest and loved it.

  16. Hi,

    You said you used 1.5 yards of fabric, about what size skirt does that make. I'm a size 8/10 so I didn't want to be too short. Thanks!


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  18. I am leaving for a mission on October 10th and I love that yellow skirt. I was wondering if there was anyway I could hire you to make me one just an inch or two longer. My email is sierra.burton2@gmail.com. Thank you!

  19. super, je vais essayer dès que j'ai le temps, mais je sais pas si ça ressemblera à la même que toi! j'adore la couleur jaune/doré!

  20. I found your link party button on Erika's blog, Shine On. :) I'm so glad I came over to visit. I've been looking for a skirt like the yellow one for a long time, but I didn't like whatever they have in the stores. This is definitely going to my TO DO's list. Thanks a lot for sharing!!!!


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  22. do you know if and where i could get the shoes you are wearing with the yellow skirt? i love them so much. thank you and greetings from germany!

    1. I got them at Target... but that was a few years ago. Here is a link to a similar shoe from Target.


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