Today I thought I would share how to draft the basic A-line skirt using your own measurements. Prepare yourself to be amazed how utterly easy this is.
First you’ll need some measurements. I’ve included some hypothetical measurements for your reading pleasure.
Or are they hypothetical?
Perhaps I’ve plastering the Internet with my measurements.
Or Cordelia’s measurements.
Or Oprah’s measurements.
But you’ll never know for sure so:
That’s my evil laugh in case you were wondering. Speaking of evil laughs, if you had an evil villain identity, what would it be? I would go with Countessa Dark Hart. Cordelia’s still working on her evil minion identity, and most people think Oadie is already pure evil so I guess he’s already got that covered. But I degrees. Back to the skirt.
Here are the measurements you will need:
Waist-measure this where you want the waist of the skirt to hit—on some of us that’s not at the actual waist—although the high waisted skirt is rocking this season and for good reasons!
Hip-Measure the fullest part of the hip
Waist to hip-measure the vertical distance from where you measured the waist to where you measured the hip. On most gals this is somewhere between 6 and 11 inches.
Waist to Hem- measure the vertical distance from where you measured the waist to where you want the hem of the skirt to hit. Aka, how long you want the skirt to be. I like to measure down the center front of the body. If you have an especially generous backside measure down the center back too. You may have to draft a slightly different pattern for the back.
For Clarity sake here are my hypothetical (or not) measurements:
Waist to hip: 10”
Waist to hem: 20”
Now you have to do a little math. But before you panic, don’t worry, it’s only a little basic math and you are allowed to use a calculator.
First we need to factor ease into the pattern. Ease is how much extra room you have in your clothes so you can do things like move and sit. I like to put about ¼ to ½ inch ease in the waist of my skirts (I find if I use much more the skirt sits too low on my waist) and about 2” in the hips.
So this is what the math looks like:
Waist 28” + ¼” ease = 28 ¼”
Hip 40” + 2” ease = 42”
Easy right? Have I lost anyone yet? Let’s hope not.
Now comes the tricky bit: When you draft a pattern you are only dealing with ¼ of the body at a time. Think of it this way, you cut the fronts and backs out separately so this divides the body in half and then we are going to draft the pattern on the fold which divides the body in half again. Make sense? Well let’s move on and hopefully it’ll clear things up a bit.
Because we are working with ¼ of the body we have to do a little more math and divide the waist and hip measurements by 4. It will look like this:
New Waist 28 ¼” ÷ 4 = 7 1/16”
New Hip 42” ÷ 4 = 10 1/2”
Waist to hip: 10”
Waist to hem 20”
This is a time when you should go ahead and use fractions no matter how much your fifth grade self may protest. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did, cause really, who knows what 0.23567 of an inch is?
Now we can start the drafting process. Grab a good sized piece of paper. I like to use butcher paper I picked up at my local restraint supplier, but you can also try to bum some off the newspaper printers, or “borrow” the onion paper you doctor uses to cover her exam chair. Or in a pinch, use the back side of wrapping paper, but I find this tears easily so be delicate with it.
Fold your paper in half.
Along the fold, near the top mark a spot for the waistline. Draw a line perpendicular from the fold to represent the waistline.
Measure down the distance from waist to hip and mark. Draw a line perpendicular from the fold at this point to represent the hip line.
Measure down the distance from waist to hem and mark. Draw a line perpendicular from the fold to represent the hem.
Go back to the waistline. Take your new waist measurement divided by 4 (7 1/16” in this case) and measure this distance from the center fold. Mark.
Mark ¼” to 5/8” above the first mark. This will give you the waist curve. If you are blessed with a pair shaped figure go higher. If you have an apple shape go lower for a less curvy waistline. I used 3/8” .
Use a curved ruler or French curve to connect this new mark to the fold.
Move down to the hipline. Take your new hip measurement divided by 4 (10 ½” in this case) and measure this distance from the center fold. Mark.
Move down to the hem. Figure out how much fullness you want in the skirt. For an A line skirt I usually make the hem about 8-16 inches wider than the hips. In this case I took the hip measurement divided by 4 and added 2” inches (12 ½” in this case). Measure this distance from the center fold. Mark.
Use a curved ruler to connect the waist and hip marks.
Use a straight edge to connect the hip and hem marks.
To mark the hem, use a yardstick to make sure the length from waist to hemline is consistent.
Why hello pajama pants. I strongly recommend wearing PJ's when you sew. Comfort is key!
Use a curved ruler to make the hem line nice and purty.
Add seam allowances to the waistline, side seam and hem.
I used 1/2" cause it's easy to measure.
The center fold becomes the grain line.
Mark the pattern with your name, a reminder to cut 2 and I like to add the date.
And there you have it: an A-line skirt that should fit you beautifully!
Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you how to draft a gored skirt. Or maybe I’ll show you a totally amazing vintage maternity suit. Or maybe I won’t do anything. That’s the Contessa Dark Hart using her evil teasing skills to keep you on your toes. Bwhahahahahaha.