Saturday, January 22, 2011

Draft a Twirly Skirt Pattern--It's Easy!

Joy-Joy has been telling me how she admires her sister W-R's fabulous velvety dress--it seems it has the ultimate twirly skirt. So, by special request, I have set out to duplicate the dress in J-J's size. This necessitates creating a pattern for that ultimate twirlyness, so we will draft a simple pattern that creates plenty of fullness and eliminates the bulk of gathers at the top.

First, the fabric--my favorite option being the thrift store, I was lucky enough to find just the item to transform, first try--and only$2.00!

I found a nice-quality velour girls' dress in a larger size, wide enough and long enough to fit my pattern pieces, and I picked apart the seams--only $2.00!

Now for the pattern--this is an easily adapted style, so I have used a basic pattern from my t-shirt pattern collection. ( I keep every size up to size 12 together in a zip-loc bag, size chart included--pajama pants handy in another bag. Let me just say that I found many of these at the thrift store!)

I folded up the lower edge of the bodice pattern to the desired length, plus seam allowance.

Now to draft the twirly skirt--the fullness is all in the flare of the pattern:

l. Make a simple rectangle (above) representing the width of the bodice pattern piece by the desired length of the skirt. Add a seam allowance for the top seam (I'm using 3/8") and the desired hem depth (3/4" here).

2. Slash the skirt pattern lengthwise every inch or so, leaving a tiny 'hinge' at the top edge of each slash--don't worry too much about making even slashes!

3. Spread the slashes apart at the hem edge to create the flare. For my pattern, the original center front edge remains on the fold, and the flare spreads out from there. (If you were to treat the center front as a seam, you could spread out the flare in both directions and really get some twirl-- you would then have four skirt panels.)

Note how the profile of the upper seamline changes as the width of the hemline increases. Spread the slashes evenly to your desired hemline width--you could trace this on another piece of paper for a finished pattern piece if you wish. In this case, front and back will be the same. Pattern complete!

4. The bodice is assembled just like a t-shirt, except that I bound the neckline and made a faced slit at the center back, with a hook and eye closure. To assemble the skirt, stitch the side seams and match the lower bodice seam to the upper skirt seam and stitch--they should be just the same size. I used a straight-stitch, visible hem.

5. Hemming a flared skirt: this can be a little tricky, since the cut edge is significantly wider than the line where it will be stitched. Two thoughts:

--the hem of W-R's dress was finished with a satin stitch, eliminating the problem. It would be easy to give the hem a lettuce edge by stretching slightly as you overcast--best to practice on a scrap first!

--the narrower the hem the better, since a wider hem creates a bigger problem--3/4" deep would be plenty.

--For a stitched hem, pin it up carefully, about every 3". Stitch with the hem edge up and the right side against the feed dogs, easing the hem to the dress by putting a little drag on the bottom layer with your finger as you stitch--this helps the extra fullness work itself in. A little practice helps!

Happy dancing and twirling, girls!


  1. You are BRILLIANT!!!! I can not wait to try this. Holy cow AWESOME.

  2. Absolutely GENIUS. I MUST try it!!!


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