Welcome to the Alder Skirt Walkthrough – Day One

Fit is very important, and this is what we are going to talk about today for your Alder skirt, but this may work for other skirts you’re planning on sewing too, so I hope you find this useful.

Measure yourself – you need to do waist and hips and importantly, you need to be honest. Your waist is at the narrowest part near your belly button and the hips is the widest part around your bum and probably lower than you expect as it’s not necessarily the tops of the hip bones themselves (not “hands on your hips” kind of placement!). Men would measure on the hip bones but us ladies are more curvy and this needs accounting for!

My measurements are 33″ waist and 36 1/2″ hips, which puts me at size 12 waist and just under size 6 hips! While this may seem outrageous for someone who is a UK size 10 (US size 6 I think), dressmaking sizes vary quite a lot from off the shelf. I therefore need about 1 3/4″ of fabric according to the pattern, however it’s important to consider directional prints when making clothes!

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The fabrics above illustrate what I mean. From the left, the daisy and the ditsy print work in four directions- you can use either way round from the selvedge or from the cut edge and no matter how you position the fabric pieces (as long as they are cut on the grain) you can position them wherever you want, meaning you’ll be fine for the amount of fabric shown on the pattern.

The triangly one in the middle is a bit different, it could possibly pass as a four way directional print, however if you were wanting the points of the larger triangles to always point up or down, then this is two directional, just like the zig zag I am using next to it. With two way fabrics you’ll either use the direction set from the selvedge or the cut edge. So I can either have horizontal zigzags or vertical zigzags, but both would look messy so I need to make sure my pattern pieces are all facing up or down on the fabric on its side.

Lastly you have one dimensional prints like the owls. You neither want upside down owls or sidewards owls, you want them always the right way up. With this sort of print you are likely to need a little more fabric to compensate.

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Because the pattern is designed to sit lower, I’m going to go with the hip measurement for all but the waistband (which I’ll cut at size 12) and if I need to adjust it later, I will and I’ll show you how I did that too.

You can also chose to shorten or lengthen your pattern at this point. I don’t want to change the length of mine but essentially you need to fold it up on this line if you’re shortening it, or cut along the line and add extra paper and draw the lines over the extension to join up at each side for extending it.

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Cut out your pattern pieces. I’m cutting out the 6- blue line.

You should have: Back, Front Side Panel, Center Front, Pocket, Pocket Lining, Front Waistband and Back Waistband. You don’t need both pocket linings and both front side panels if you cut two facing, but you could use both if you needed to cut out the panels individually.

You need to prewash your fabric too. Wovens may not shrink too much in the wash but it could make a huge difference when you do wash your skirt for the first time, especially if you’ve gone to the effort of measuring yourself properly, which would be really disappointing. I lost a full three inches after it was washed which just illustrates how important it is.

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As it happens, as long as I don’t want the pockets to be the same colour, I can get away with 1 1/2 yards of fabric and that is with treating it like a one dimensional print too. If I had lengthened my skirt pattern I’d have struggled though, and also if I had wanted horizontal zigzags.

I’m just going to pin the pattern pieces to the fabric and then cut it out…

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Don’t cut out darts, they need to stay as they are, however you will want to cut a little notch out of the fabric where they start and finish for ease later, and the same goes for where there is a triangle mark elsewhere on the pattern, such as the two on the front side piece.

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On the back piece I have cut notches for size 12 as this is the size of the waistband that attaches there. Time will tell to see if that was a good idea!

Leave the paper attached to the fabric.

Lets do some sewing (and tailor’s tacks) the next post! See you Sunday!

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