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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Elastic Waist A-Line Skirt Tutorial

I've been wanting a chambray skirt for my capsule wardrobe this summer. I can see so many times when it would be the perfect component to an outfit. Like a great pair of jeans, a chambray skirt could go with almost any top, casual or dressier. I found some great looking skirts, but they cost more than I'd like to spend. I already had some chambray fabric, so I decided to make the skirt myself.  

This simple A-line skirt could be made in an afternoon. It took me a couple of afternoons, since my daughter needed me about every 3 minutes while I was sewing. 

Here's how you can make a quick A-Line skirt of your own:

1. First, make the pattern piece. If you have an A-Line skirt that fits you well, you can use it to make the pattern. Just turn it inside out, fold it in half, and lay it on the paper you're using. I like to use Swedish tracing paper, which comes on a big roll. You can buy it through or other retailers. You could use any big sheet of paper.

If you don't already have a well-fitting A-Line skirt, you can easily make a pattern with a few measurements: your hips, waist, and desired skirt length. 

First measure your hips (or the widest part of your lower body - the skirt has to be pulled up over your hips, so it has to be wide enough to fit). Now divide by 4. The pattern piece will be 1/4 of the skirt. You'll cut it on a double layer of fabric, and cut two pieces to make the whole skirt. 

Start next to a straight edge of the paper and make a mark (A). Then measure your hip measurement divided by 4. Mark the paper (B). Now measure up 3/4 inch above mark B, and mark the paper (C). Connect marks A and C, making a curved waistline. 

Measure how long you want the skirt to be. Add 3 inches for the waistband and hem. Mark the paper D. Now to make the hemline flare out, use a measuring tape and marker. Using the distance between A and D, measure several times from the waistline, marking the paper. Follow the curve of the waistline to make a curved hem. On my pattern piece, the hem is about 5" wider than the waistline. Complete the line from the waistline down to the hemline. 

Cut out the pattern piece, making any notes that you might want the next time you use this pattern.

Fold the fabric in half, the long way. Place the pattern piece along the fold of the fabric. Cut out one piece of fabric, adding 1/2 inch seam allowance. Then repeat this step to cut out the second piece. 

Now sew together the side seams. I used a straight stitch, leaving about 1/2 inch of seam allowance. Backstitch at the top and the bottom of the seam. Do this on both sides of the skirt. I have a serger, so I also serged the seam edges to reinforce them. That step is totally optional! If you don't have a serger, it is not a problem. 


Now for the waistband, make a casing to hold the elastic. Fold down the top of the skirt 1/2 inch, toward the inside of the skirt, and press all the way around. 

Now fold it over again, toward the inside, wide enough to fit the elastic inside. Leave 1/4 inch - 1/2 inch of extra room, to make sure the elastic will fit inside. My elastic is 3/4" wide and I folded my fabric over 1 and 1/4 inches, so I had 1/2 inch of extra space for my casing. Measure often as you press all the way around. 

You can pin the casing down or sew it without pinning, depending on your comfort level with sewing. Since an A-line skirt is wider at the bottom, you will probably end up with a few gathers as you sew. That's no problem! This skirt is going to be a little gathered anyway, once you put in the elastic. 

Sew the casing, stitching close to the fold line. Sew carefully so the stitches will be straight - you'll be able to see them on the outside of the skirt. Leave an inch or two unsewn, so you can insert the elastic into the casing. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitching. 

Now measure the elastic. Place it around your waist - or wherever you want the skirt to sit - and measure how long it should be. Cut the elastic an inch longer than you want it to be, so you can overlap and sew the ends together. Now insert the elastic into the casing. An easy way to pull it through is to attach a safety pin to one end. You'll be able to feel the safety pin through the fabric and pull on it. Hold on to the other end of the elastic so it doesn't get pulled inside the casing. 

Once both ends are out, pin them together with the safety pin, overlapping 1 inch. Now try on the skirt (you can leave it inside out) and make sure the elastic is the right length. Is the waist sitting at the right point on your body? Now is the time to cut the elastic shorter or start over with a longer piece! 

When you're happy with the length, overlap the elastic 1 inch and sew the ends of the elastic together. Backstitch and sew a few lines of stitching to make sure the elastic won't pull loose. Now sew up the last inch or two of the casing, backstitching at the beginning and end. 

The next thing to do is to hem the skirt. Try it on and see how long you want it to be. Remember that we added an extra inch for the hem. If you want to cut it shorter, mark the length with pins. 

If your front and back pieces aren't the same length, get out your cutting mat and trim them to be the same length. This will really help you get a straight hem! 

Now you can fold up the hem 1/2 inch, toward the inside of the skirt, and press all the way around. Then fold it another 1/2 inch and press all the way around. Pin the hem and sew it down, top of the folded-over fabric. 

I used a double needle to sew my hem, so I sewed both these lines of stitching at the same time. If you don't have a double needle, you can sew two lines with a regular needle, or just sew one line. 

This is what the back looks like when you use a double needle:

Trim all your loose threads, press the skirt, and it's ready to wear! 

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