How to Make a Skirt With No Pattern

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Okiedokie, perhaps you're asking yourself, "Why would Morgan want us to NOT use a pattern? That is just crazy talk."

And I reply, "Not really, sometimes, it's quicker, easier and cheaper to skip the pattern entirely and just measure it up real nice."

So there. I have purchased two skirt patterns in my life, and afterward, asked myself, "Why did I buy this pattern? That was SOOOOO easy."

And you have to understand, the MATH and I are NOT FRIENDS. (Maybe sometime I'll tell you about how I did not survive college math...or not.)

But I declare unto you, if I can do it, and end up with a lovely, wear-able garment, YOU can do it too!

So, here we GO!

Buy 2 yards of fabric. Any kind you want, really. If you *WANT* a polar fleece skirt, who I am to argue?

I used a linen-look fabric. It was on sale. (Perhaps you're asking why one does not just BUY a skirt. BECAUSE maybe you can't find the skirt you want for the price you need. Buying a fabric on sale is almost ALWAYS cheaper than buying a skirt.)

Get a ZIPPER (if you want a zipper/wasteband) 
7 or 12 inches are plenty long. :) Match the color of your skirt. Unless you WANT to be color contrast-y. YOUR CALL.


If you want an elastic waist, get a yard of elastic.

Any kind is really fine, it just depends on how WIDE you want your waist band. I did a big ole "sports elastic" this time because I'm pregnant, and wide, and wanted something to carry me through until December.

Okay, now, decide on your length. Use either a skirt you own as a guide or have your husband/sister/mother/uncle/neighbor help you measure yourself.

Fold your fabric in half length-wise, so you're chopping length off the bottom (or top, depending on the pattern of your fabric.)

Add four inches to the length you ultimately want your skirt to be. This will allow for 1. Waist band and 2. Hemming.

Cut the fabric to the right length.

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Next you have to measure your waist and measure that out on the fabric.

1. Measure your waist.
2. Measure to the exact middle of your fabric (at the top, where the waist will be) Mark it with a pin.
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3. Take your waist measurement, cut it in half, and then in half again. So, let's say, for the ease of the math that your waist is 48 inches, add two inches for seam allowance. Now you're at  50 inches. Half is 25, half of that is 12.5. Pin 12.5 exactly at your fabric's half-way mark. Then pin at the 1 inch mark and the 25 inch mark.

Does that make sense? You've now successfully pinned out your waist. (Remember your fabric is in half, so you have the front AND the back. It will fit.
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Now you have to decide on the SHAPE of your shirt. Shape is partially determined by the length. A mini-skirt will have less freedom of shape than a long flowy or circle-type skirt.

Fold the fabric in half again. (So now you have four layers of fabric).

Measure from 1 inch pin down to the bottom of your skirt, using your tape measure to determine your angle. How much angle you put on the tape measure from your waist to the bottom will determine how much body your skirt has. So a tighter angle will result in a more A-line style, and a larger angle will result in more flow.

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Pin a nice straight line along that angle.

And CUT!
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(excuse the giant dog body under the table.)

Unfold so you're still dealing with the top and bottom of your skirt and you'll see you've got a nice skirt-like being.

Pin up the sides and sew. If you're using a zipper, decide which side to put it on, and leave the length you need unsewn at the top, including the two or so inches you left for your waist band. If you're using elastic, just leave the waist-band length (which is really decided by how wide of elastic you purchased) plus a quarter of an inch unsewn.
Like this:
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It looks like a skirt!

Now is the time to do the zipper and waist band. Follow the instructions on the zipper and sew that baby in.

Next the waist band. Regardless of whether you're using a zipper and waist band or just an elastic waist band, iron down a quarter-inch. Do not skip this step no matter how bad you want to. It will make your life so much happier in the long run.
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Then iron down the rest of your waist band. (Mine was like 1 1/2 inches.)
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This makes it so you don't need pins. Pins are GREAT but they bunch and when you want a nice smooth waist, they can cause bubbling. NO PINS!
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Sew your waist band.
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If you did a zipper, then you're waist is done.
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If you're doing elastic, sew the waist band down, but leave an inch on each seam so you can easily run your elastic through.

To run it through I use a safety pin which gives me a nice grip as it slides through the fabric. RUN IT!
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As you run it, bunch the fabric as evenly as you can.
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When you're done, sew the two ends of the elastic together. Sew off any open seams in the waist band. And that part is DONE!
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Now for the hem:

Just like the waist, turn a quarter edge up, iron, and turn up again to the desired length, iron and in this case, pin the hem down. And SEW!
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Now you've got a SKIRT! And you did it all by yourself. :)
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The only part of this whole process that really differs from patterned sewing is the measurements. You get to be fashion designer and choose how and where to cut and pin. You can choose your waist band style and then make it a reality. It's cool. It's easy. I swear. I realize this tutorial is long, but I promise, it's EASY.

Give it a whirl! I made my first unpatterned skirt when I was five, and while it was ugly, uneven and ridiculous, I loved it. It is fun. :)

2 comments:

Anonymous,  September 3, 2011 at 3:40 PM  

Your dog needs to diet :-)

Quinn,  January 3, 2013 at 12:24 PM  

Awesome-sauce! I also just wanted to leave a comment since the tutorial was well-thought-out and easy to follow (and the other person's comment was so snarky - yuck!).

Thanks for a great GREAT intro to sewing - now I'm gonna make me a skirt!

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