Ok, here we go! The Skirt Sew Along starts today and a recap of the schedule can be found at the bottom of this post.
As we go along I'll probably make some minor adjustments to what each post covers. For example, today originally included selecting your size, but we'll talk about that tomorrow because at this point size pertains mostly to buying your fabric (tomorrow's topic).
The general idea of doing this as a sew along is to go slow and make a "wearable muslin" that will be a basic skirt good enough to wear. After you've worn it some, you can decide whether to make further adjustments to the fit, or maybe construct it a little differently next time.
I'll break down the steps in detail and give you extra info a basic sewing pattern generally won't cover. You can just relax, absorb the info, and stitch along.
We'll start slowly and take 3 weeks to go through all the steps this first time. Your next skirt will only take a few hours. :0]
Let's get started!
Today all you need to do it take a couple measurements. You definitely need your waist and hip measurements, and then the skirt length measurements are optional/something to think about in preparation for making any adjustments to the pattern pieces (1/9/15).
What to Wear
Wear either close fitting clothes like yoga type pants and a tight knit shirt, or strip down to your underwear and bra (and maybe your socks--it's kind of cold).
What You Need
You'll need a tape measure and it really helps to have a full length mirror if you are taking your own measurements.
You need to be able to see where you are measuring, and that the tape isn't twisted and is parallel to the floor. This is kind of impossible when looking down at your body from above.
I have an inexpensive "over the door" mirror from Target and I like that it doesn't need to be mounted on the wall. If you have a wall mirror, make sure it is hung up flat and not just leaning against the wall. You want an accurate view from straight on.
If you don't have a full length mirror at the moment you can either ask someone else to take your measurements, or as a last resort, stand on a chair and look in the bathroom mirror for the waist/hip measurements. Please don't fall off!
Taking the Measurements
When you wrap the tape measure around it should be snug, but not digging in or making an indentation in your body.
Don't hold your breath while measuring. It's pretty common for people to hold their breath--especially if someone else is measuring--so remember to relax and breath naturally.
If don't have a lot of experience measuring yourself, you might need to feel around to figure out where your bones are located.
Take the following measurements and write them down for later reference:
Measure at your natural waistline. If it isn't obvious where your natural waistline is located, this is where your body bends. Bend side to side and look for the indent of where you fold--that's your natural waist. For most people this is going to be above the belly button.
Measure at the fullest part of your hips/buttocks. If you turn to the side and look for the spot where your butt protrudes the most, that's usually the fullest part.
Skirt Length Measurements
The finished skirt will be around 25", so if you are average height this will fall in the knee length skirt range.
I'm 5'4" (163cm) and this falls just below my knee. But I'm also short waisted, so if you have an average waist length, or are low waisted, this may be longer than you'd like, so we'll make some adjustments (1/9/15).
This is also brings up a side point about independent patterns--many are going to be designed/sized for the designer's body. Patterns from a large pattern company are probably sized for some kind of statistically average person. But for people like me doing this independently, what you have is your own body to use for design purposes.
If you aren't sure about your waist type (and want to know), hold your hand parallel under your bra band and see how many hands fit between your bra and waist:
1 hand = short waist (high waist)
2 hands = average
3 hands - long waist (low waist)
Slight adjustments to the length can be made during hemming (1/18/15), but if you already know you want your skirt more than 1" shorter/longer it will be better to adjust the pattern pieces up front. We'll cover how to shorten/lengthen the pieces along with other adjustments on 1/9/15.
If you don't already know where you want your hem, everyone also has an ideal place where the hem should fall to balance out their body proportions.
This is kind of nice to know, but of course, you can ignore it and make your skirts however long you want them! My ideal skirt length is 1" above my knee, but that feels a little short to me. There are only a few bare leg months here, so most of the time I need something on my legs and like to wear over the knee type socks more than tights/nylons. So while I know where my ideal hem falls, I usually make my skirts slightly longer to cover the top of my socks.
If you want to calculate your ideal hem, below is how to figure it out.
For these measurements, I use a yard stick instead of the tape measure. The flexible tape measure sometimes doesn't hang perfectly straight down the leg making it hard to read the measurement accurately. If you bend to try to hold it in place, it's hard to follow the curve of your bent body.
Stand up straight and hold the yard stick up in front of your leg and view the thigh measurement in the mirror. Then turn the yard stick over and measure upward from the ankle.
Your Ideal Hem
1. Measure from the top of your hip bone to your knee cap to get your thigh measurement. To find the top of your hip bone, push your pelvis forward, while leaning your upper body back slightly, and then feel around with your thumbs.
2. Measure from the knee cap to your ankle bone to get your shin measurement.
3. Determine the difference between the two measurements.
4. Divide the difference by 2.
If your thigh is longer than your shin, then the difference is how far above the knee you might want your skirt.
If your thigh is shorter than your shin, the difference is how far below the knee you might want your skirt.
If your thigh and shin are basically the same length, right at your knee cap is your ideal length.
Tomorrow we'll talk about fabric and a few other (optional) things you might want to consider picking up while you are shopping.
See you tomorrow!
Skirt Sew Along Schedule:
1/2/15 - taking measurements
1/3/15 - fabric shopping
1/9/15 - preparing the pattern pieces & making fit adjustments
1/10/15 - cut pieces
1/11/15 - seam finishes, sew skirt front & back
1/16/15 - install invisible zipper, sew front to back, fit adjustments
1/17/15 - finish waist
1/18/15 - hem
1/23/15 - bonus post - making a fully lined skirt