How to Make a Basic Skirt

Added Dec 31, 2010

by Jamie Lau

Brooklyn, New Yo...

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Step 1 Get help taking your measurements

I learned the ins and outs of skirt making at Apparel Arts, a San Francisco-based fashion design and patternmaking school. This tutorial is based on extensive notes that I took throughout the program. (More detailed information can be found in Building Patterns, a book on the architecture of women’s clothing written by Suzy Furrer, the school’s founder and director.)

To ensure the most accuracy, wear undergarments or tights and enlist the help of someone to take your waist, high hip (HH), and low hip (LH) measurements. Tie one-quarter inch wide elastic around your natural waistline and stand with your bare or stockinged feet four inches apart. Looking straight ahead, maintain your natural posture without holding your breath in.

Measure around the elastic with the tape measure level and snug for your true waist measurement (28 inches). For the high hip, measure down 4 1/2 inches from the base of the elastic tied around your waist and take the full measurement around your hip at this depth. For the low hip, measure down 4 inches from the high hip and take the full measurement around your hip at a depth of 8 1/2 inches. If your height is 5 feet 2 inches or shorter, you may use high and low hip depths of 4 inches and 8 inches respectively, as in this example where we have a full high hip measurement of 34 inches and a full low hip measurement of 36 1/2 inches. If your high hip measurement is greater than your low hip measurement, use your high hip measurement for both.

To determine your skirt length, measure down from the base of the elastic tied around your waist to a desired point slightly above or to the middle of your knee (18 inches).

14 Comments on Step 1 Sign in to add a post

  • Missing

    Mar 5, 2014, 11.32 PMby joanne22

    Hello Jamie,

    Firs let me say that you did a wonderful job on your skirt . It’s absolutely lovely and fits you real well.

    Second, i too like artsypops (above question), am doing a lowered skirt – near my high himpeas. In your comments you said to add 1/4 inch to both front and back panels. Then to follow step 2 and step 8. Yet on step 8 it says to subtract a 1/4 inch. This got me a little confused. What am I missing here? Thirdly can you explain what this 1/4 inch in front and back is for please? Hope this isn’t too inconvenient for you. Thank you kindly

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Mar 7, 2014, 07.50 PMby Jamie Lau

      Hi Joanne22,

      The 1/4-inch is added (to the front) and subtracted (from the back) to redistribute the waist measurement, and so your side seam lines up nicely.

      I hope this helps!
      Jamie

  • Missing

    Mar 5, 2014, 10.59 PMby joanne22

    Hello Jamie,

    Firs let me say that you did a wonderful job on your skirt . It’s absolutely lovely and fits you real well.

    Second, i too like artsypops (above question), am doing a lowered skirt – near my high himpeas. In your comments you said to add 1/4 inch to both front and back panels. Then to follow step 2 and step 8. Yet on step 8 it says to subtract a 1/4 inch. This got me a little confused. What am I missing here? Thirdly can you explain what this 1/4 inch in front and back is for please? Hope this isn’t too inconvenient for you. Thank you kindly

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    Jan 17, 2013, 03.28 PMby Meldbombs

    Can this be done in a knit? Minus the darts? And zipper?

  • Missing

    Sep 16, 2012, 07.57 PMby kate61

    Great tutorial! Just wondering if there is a way to tweak the pattern for a very round bottom? I hate when the back of a skirt is several inches shorter than the front.

    1 Reply
  • Missing

    Jul 9, 2012, 10.49 PMby Baby Diva81

    Thanks for the fast reply! When you are doing the darts 3 1/2 inches down L to M do you do the whole 3 1/2 inches from the dropped line of N to K or do you start the 3 1/2 inches from line A because if you start from line A that means you won’t use all of the 3 1/2 inches because you drop the waistline correct?

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jul 12, 2012, 05.50 PMby Jamie Lau

      Hi,

      To answer your question, the dart length is the distance from L to M.

      Jamie

  • Missing

    Jul 9, 2012, 03.43 PMby Baby Diva81

    Hello I am going to attempt to make this amazing skirt but I have a question I want to make this into a skin tight pencil skirt I know I have to taper it at the bottom up to the hip but my question is do I need to take out any of the ease from the hip so it will have a tighter fit?

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jul 9, 2012, 03.51 PMby Jamie Lau

      Hi there! I highly recommend making a muslin first and then making the necessary adjustments once you fit yourself, particularly for the hip area.

  • Ghetto_girl_goes_to_colo__large

    Feb 9, 2011, 02.09 AMby turtlegirl00

    this is fantastic!!! I just ordered some fabric last night that I was planning on making a skirt! Thanks so much!

  • Missing

    Jan 8, 2011, 04.34 PMby Sara Ufret

    I can’t live without pockets. I usually make inseam pockets. Should I add extra ease to the hip measuerment to allow for this and if so, how much?

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 9, 2011, 06.39 PMby Jamie Lau

      I love pockets, too! If I were doing an inseam pocket, I would actually just sketch out where I wanted them placed on the front of the skirt sloper and how wide I wanted the opening to be, then create the front and back pattern pieces from there. From my experience, I do not add ease for this process.

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    Jan 6, 2011, 05.58 AMby artsypops

    What if I don’t want the skirt to sit on my waist (belly button latitude)? but lower, right on the hips, like a pair of jeans. How would the measurements changed? Thanks in advance!

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 07.21 AMby Jamie Lau

      Hi! I recommend doing a lowered waistline and you can go anywhere between a depth of 1/2 inch to 4 1/2 inches. You would still start with your basic skirt sloper as a foundation, following the directions in this tutorial. Then, take your waistline measurement at your desired depth, and follow Steps 2 and 8 to get your new front and back waist calcs. The only difference is that you are NOT adding ease when calculating these measurements. Just divide by 4 and add 1/4 inch for the front and 1/4 inch for the back quarter panels.

      You will then lower your waistline on the sloper, dropping to your desired depth at both center front and your side seam. Connect these two points in a curve to form your new lowered waistline.

      Then you’ll need to figure out the remainder of your front and back darts. If a dart is now 3/8 inch wide or less, eliminate it. You will then subtract this same amount from the side seam.

      Lastly, you need to make sure that the new waistline you drew in equals the quarter panel amounts calculated for both the front and the back. If an adjustment needs to be made, add or subtract at the side seam and draw in your new side seam.

      I hope this helps!

  • Missing

    Jan 5, 2011, 01.54 AMby ducati

    Hello Jamie, Thank you for the wonderful instructions for the petite size, like myself. My quest has been to be able to make the right skirt pattern. I will make my skirt sloper and perhaps a new skirt! Thank you

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 5, 2011, 02.26 AMby Jamie Lau

      I’m glad you find this project helpful. As a fellow petite gal, it’s always a challenge to find things that are the right length and fit.

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    Jan 5, 2011, 01.11 AMby tamelbee

    Thanks for the tip. I have just purchased the book you referenced direct from the link provided. It has rave reviews on Amazon too.

  • Missing

    Jan 4, 2011, 10.07 PMby daisya

    Any suggestions for catering for a pot belly?

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 07.23 AMby Jamie Lau

      Hello! See my response above to artsypots. I recommend doing a lowered waistline, but you would still proceed with this tutorial first to get your record of measurements down in a basic skirt sloper.

  • Cali_large

    Jan 4, 2011, 02.16 PMby threadsquare

    I dream of going to Apparel Arts! Thanks for the answer to wzrdreams…my build is similar.

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 4, 2011, 03.31 PMby Jamie Lau

      Apparel Arts is amazing!

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    Jan 3, 2011, 10.41 PMby wzrdreams

    This are really well written instructions, but may I ask for clarification for those of us who are much taller than your example?

    I am 5’10" and the fullest part of my hips is actually 11" below my natural waist. I think that if I follow these instructions to the letter that 8" below my natural waist will be a low hip measurement that is too small.

    2 Replies
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 3, 2011, 11.56 PMby Jamie Lau

      Absolutely! Firstly, you would draft at a longer skirt length. The standard that I was taught was 20 inches, but since I am petite, I measure at 18 inches. (The numbers here are for the purposes of a concrete example – you would still use the same formulas for calculating your front waist measurement, etc.)

      Second, the standard is usually 4 1/2 and 8 1/2 inches for high hip (HH) and low hip (LH) respectively. But since you are a taller individual, try drafting at 5 inches for your HH and 4 inches down (so 9 inches) for your LH. As stated in the tutorial, use the HH measurement for both if your HH is greater than your LH. Another option (if you have fullness below the LH depth) is to take the measurement here and use this If this amount is greater than your LH measurement.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!
      Jamie

    • 6e3656aa7036783b3e4bbc29f34d1029385afafe_large

      Jan 4, 2011, 03.12 AMby wzrdreams

      Thanks Jamie!

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