how to draft a basic skirt

thanks so much for all the lovely and flattering comments on my blog, burda and pattern review regarding my denim macaron dress! it’s always nice to hear other people being as excited as i am about something i made. but after finishing a project i always feel like yay that was awesome!! then, what do i do next??? well i have a few scraps of denim leftover and i have a daughter in need of some clothes… so i’ll make her a denim skirt.


also, i’ve been thinking a lot about fitting and drafting patterns and having a sloper handy for reference. i picked up a book from the library called “How To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns” by Donald H. McCunn. a quick look at reviews on amazon tells me that this is a staple book for pattern drafting and has been in continuous print since the 70s. okay. good enough for me! i’ll work on a bodice sloper for myself soon, but first i’ll use it to draft a basic skirt for my daughter. i have no problem conducting experiments on my children, plus they require less fabric yardage!



so here’s the skirt i have in mind: a straight pencil skirt to hit just above the knee with a straight 2-inch waistband and back zip. the front panel i will divide and put some front slant pockets, maybe with a topstitching detail. also, since this is for a 7 year old, i’m going to measure 1 inch extra for the waist and encase elastic in the waistband so she can still move around like a 7 year old requires. i suppose you could do this for an adult version too if you need or want the flexibility!


now, obviously fitting a stick thin 7 year old who can use a little elastic for shaping is much easier than fitting a woman’s curves. but, i’ll walk you through the process laid out in the book which you can definitely apply to a normal adult body.


take the following measurements:

  1. waist to above knee—16″
  2. waist to hip—5.5″
  3. hip—25.5″
  4. waist—22″

now that we have the basic measurements take a large piece of paper like tissue or tracing paper, tape some together if you have to. draw a line on the far right equaling the waist to hem measurement.



then mark the waist to hip measurement and draw horizontal lines at the waist, hip and knee marks.



next take 1/4th of the hip measurement plus 1″ and make a mark on the waist, hip and knee line. this is the side hip mark.



on the waistline mark off 1/4th of the waist measurement. this is the side waist mark.



measuring from the side waist mark, make a mark slightly less than halfway to the side hip mark.



draw in the side seam curving from the last mark made down to the side hip mark and straight down to the knee line.



at this point you have your starting point for a pattern. this would be cut in muslin (don’t forget to add the seam allowances!) and sewn. to establish the front and back darts, you pinch out the excess and mark it which you would then transfer to your pattern pieces.


for my purposes, i am going to continue with out a muslin fitting. my daughter is stick thin so i’m not worried about this not fitting! i am adding the dart and drawing a line straight down to mark off the side and center panels.



and next i am adding the pocket details.



from here i made my pattern pieces by tracing and adding seam allowances. i know the back piece will need to be slightly higher at the waist to cover her tiny derrière so i added about half an inch.


while i haven’t tried this on myself yet, you can see how simple it really is to make your own basic patterns. i’ll definitely be doing this for myself soon!


—lisa g

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