Blueprints for Sewing A-Frame Skirt

Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

You guys!!! I think I found my new favorite pattern…

My apologies for the high number of photographs. What can I say? I love this skirt so much and it looks so good in every single picture that it’s difficult to choose which to show.

This is the A-Frame skirt from Blueprints for Sewing, view A – the pencil skirt version.
Blueprints A-Frame SkirtThe fabric is red corduroy from The Cloth Pocket (beware, the fabric is a more muted color in real life than in these photos). It’s a great medium weight – not too thick, which is important when seam allowances get bulky. I used a thin leftover cotton for the pocket lining which also helped reduce bulk.
Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

The skirt came together fast and the instructions were clear. The pattern also includes several fitting tips, which is always nice. And I generally liked the techniques, order of assembly, and little details included in the instructions which helped to create a professional finished project. You get the feeling that the drafter knows what she’s doing.
Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

I cut a size B in the waist and graded to a D in the hips. It fit great! The only change I made was to slice off about 1/2″ at the center back grading to nothing at the side seams. I maybe could have cut a bit more. This need was likely due to my sway back which made the skirt sit higher on my back waist than in the front.Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

One thing that is interesting about this design is that the kickpleat isn’t “open.” It’s stitched together then folded over. It’s more like a real pleat and less like a slit.

This might be ok on a different fabric but looking at these pictures, I think unless I press the kickpleat down quite well, it has a tendency to flop out slightly. It’s not a big deal. What I can do next time is just leave it open and fold under my seam allowances for a smooth finish.

Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

I appreciated that the pattern included instruction for a lapped zip, invisible zip, as well as a handpicked zip. I chose a lapped as I worried the corduroy wouldn’t handle an invisible very well and lapped zips always look extra professional.

Blueprints A-Frame skirt

I used a button from my stash. I always like opportunities to show off a unique button.

Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

I love the angular style lines and the seams curve really well over my back half which gives it more of a “pencil” shape than a standard straight skirt.

The pockets are just the right depth to hold a cellphone without it falling out.

Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

I can’t wait to sew this skirt again! Just gotta get the right fabric. I think I even want to shorten it to above the knee and make it mini-length. That way I can ditch the need for the kickpleat, too.

Blueprints A-Frame Skirt

BTW, if you’re in Austin I’m teaching a couple classes on this skirt so if you want to make one for yourself, learn new techniques, and sew with some new friends check out the schedule!

 

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

I made this skirt for another class I’m teaching at The Cloth Pocket. I’ve been looking for a good new skirt pattern lately because I prefer wearing skirts/dresses to pants/shorts in the summer.

This is the Made by Rae Cleo Skirt. I sewed the shorter View A.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

This is a basic skirt design the contrast hem band gives it a bit more style. I also prefer these types of pockets to side seam pockets and I like the flat front waistband combined with a gathered back waistband as opposed to elastic all the way around.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

The main fabric is a Japanese linen/cotton blend and the hem band is a textured cotton, both from The Cloth Pocket.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

The pattern instructions are thorough but I do have one complaint – the pattern pieces come in two sheets, one of which (the sheet with the largest pieces) is printed on BOTH SIDES. This means you have to trace those pieces.

Now, you might say “well, I always trace my pieces anyway” and I hear you but these pieces are 95% rectangles. Meaning on a normal pattern you could just cut out the largest size and fold down the excess to your size, thereby keeping the pattern intact without needing to trace.

I understand that this is likely just a printing issue. The printers are only capable of printing certain size paper and another giant sheet won’t fit in the envelope. I get it. But I’m still grumpy about it.

Made by Rae Cleo Skirt

As a comparison, Made by Rae’s Washi dress has you tape two sheets together to get a full pattern piece, this is just a problem with her printer company.

Made by Rae Cleo SkirtMy only problem with this actual skirt itself is the elastic I chose. I specifically bought thick “non-roll” elastic, yet, it rolls. It simply refuses to stand straight no matter what I do. Oh well, live and learn — and then sew it again!!

Vintage 70s Skirt – Simplicity 8019

Simplicity 8019

I’ve seen these little button-down, a-line, mini skirts all over the place lately so when I saw Simplicity 8019, a 1970s re-print skirt pattern in four lengths, I bought it to make my own version.

This skirt is a bit of a wearable muslin, I don’t love the fit but it’s good enough for now.

Simplicity 8019

I used a black cotton velvetteen from a now defunct local store paired with some matte black buttons from Joann.

One note about the pattern – I cut the shortest view, which on the pattern drawing comes above the knee, like I wanted, but the pattern pieces easily came to my knee (plus a 2″ deep hem). I shortened the skirt by about 3″ and sewed a narrower hem.

Simplicity 8019

The fit isn’t terrible. Originally the skirt pieces were too big in the waist but with so many vertical seams that problem was easy to fix. But when I went to attach the waistband it was too small. I made it work but I wonder if I made an error in cutting the waistband? Maybe I cut the wrong size or the pattern paper got folded while cutting? In the end, that made the waistband a little small.

Simplicity 8019

Also my attempt at quickly fixing a sway back issue resulted in some pulling at the center back waist that I don’t like. Next time I’ll pay better attention to my adjustment process.

Simplicity 8019

The only other aspect I don’t love is due to fabric. This velveteen has so much body and combined with the a-shaped skirt panels the skirt swings out at the hem, particularly in the back. It’s only noticeable at certain angles and I’m hoping in a different fabric the skirt will lay better. If not, I’ll use those handy vertical seams to take some bulk out at the side bottom of the back panels.

Simplicity 8019

I guess I’m just disappointed because this was such a simple pattern that I expected it to work easily and not require much alteration. Oh, well. They can’t all be winners and I have worn this skirt several times so I guess that counts as a success.

I have this pattern cut out of some demin ready to be assembled and hopefully I can remedy the fit issues this time.

Crinoline Petticoat Tutorial

crinoline_petticoat

Ooooh look, I made a petticoat! Ruffly petticoats aren’t something we see much of these days.  They’re usually only worn with special occasion dresses. Sometimes a pretty party dress will come with a layer of tulle attached to the skirt lining but not much else.

Large Crinoline Petticoat

I talked about the current popularity of the Fit and Flare dress in my last post, but those dresses don’t often get the kind of “flare” in the skirt like they did in the 50s and 60s. Why not give the flare some extra oomph with a crinoline petticoat!??

Skirt with large Crinoline Petticoat

I’m wearing this petticoat with my floral circle skirt. It also works well under other types of full skirts.

I originally followed this great tutorial but I made my petticoat a little different. Firstly, I didn’t use ribbon trim. Spools tend to come in something like 3yd lengths and I didn’t want to buy 5 spools for one petticoat. Also, that tutorial uses quite a bit of fray check for the raw edges, but since I used cotton crinoline rather than nylon I didn’t need the fray check and simply finished my seams with a zig-zag stitch.

Skirt with large Crinoline Petticoat

I tried to make this tutorial beginner friendly so first let’s talk about:

What is Crinoline?

Crinoline is a stiff but flexible fabric with a very open, plain weave. You can find 100% cotton as well as poly and nylon versions. It is most often white but you might be able to find it in black.

How is Crinoline different than tulle?

Tulle typically is made of nylon and has a diamond weave so it doesn’t fray. The size of the net can vary but it doesn’t have as much stiffness or body as crinoline. My petticoat made of crinoline will stand up on its own, tulle won’t do that. Crinoline is mainly for structure so it isn’t “pretty” like tulle. Those fancy colorful petticoats that are made to peek out from under skirts are tulle.

You can use tulle with this tutorial but your petticoat won’t be nearly as poofy. You’ll need several more layers of tulle to achieve a similar effect.

You will need:

4-5 yards of cotton crinoline (I bought mine from Fabric.com, some Joann Fabric stores sell it in the utility section)
1″ wide Twill Tape the length of your waist measurement plus an extra 5 inches
Hooks and eyes
Measuring tape, ruler, marking implement
Sewing Machine, thread, pins, needles, scissors, etc.

Tip: For this tutorial I’ll refer to Crinoline as the fabric and Petticoat as the garment.

1. Measure the Length of the Petticoat

Use your tape measure to measure from your waist to the hem of the petticoat.

Tip: The petticoat should be 1″-2″ shorter than the skirt you will wear it with.

My petticoat length is 20″.

Divide that measurement by 3 for a 3 tiered petticoat. I made my tiers 6″ (top), 7″ (middle), and 7″ (bottom).

2. Cut the Tiers

2016-04-06 18.55.40(I used a rotary cutter and mat and folded the fabric in half twice so I sliced through four layers of fabric at a time. You can also simply measure, mark, and cut with scissors.)

My tiers:

Top: 6.5″ (6″ plus .5″ seam allowance at the lower edge) x 2yds

Middle: 8″ (7″ plus .5″ seam allowance at upper and lower edges) x 4yds

Bottom: 7.5″ (7″ plus .5″ seam allowance at the upper edge) x 8yds (two 4yd pieces).

Tip: I cut my bottom tier along the selvage so I wouldn’t have to hem the lower edge.

Tip: My waist measurement is ~26″. If your waist is ~40″ or larger, consider cutting longer tier lengths like 3yds for the top, 5yds for the middle, and 9yds for the bottom tier.

3. Stitch the Short Sides Together

For the bottom tier, stitch the two 4yd pieces together along the short sides using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Finish the seam allowance with a zig-zag or overlock stitch.

Repeat with the middle tier.

For the top tier, hem both of the short ends by folding the raw edge inward 1/4″, then fold it over again 1/4″ and top stitch. This part will be open so you can get in an out of the petticoat.

4. Sew the Gathering Stitches

Lower your machine tension slightly and use a long machine stitch. Sew two lines of stitching on each tier, one at 3/8″ from the upper edge and again 5/8″ from the upper edge.

Tip: For the bottom tier, start and stop your gathering stitches at the short side seams rather than stitching all around in one continuous loop. It’s easier to gather 4yds than a huge 8yd piece all at once.

5. Divide Each Tier into Fourths

Divide the length of each tier into four equal parts and mark with pins. You could also lightly iron vertical folds into the crinoline to mark each section.

6. Sew the Tiers

Starting with the bottom tier, pull the two thread tails on the right side of the fabric to gather the crinoline.

2016-04-07 17.38.07(Look how well it stands up on its own! Also, the bottom tier is so long!)

Once gathered, pin the upper edge of the bottom tier to the lower edge of the middle tier, right sides together. Match up each pin/fold in the fabric so the gathers will be evenly distributed.

2016-04-07 17.38.48(If you’re struggling with gathering stitches that don’t like to stay gathered, you can secure your thread tails by wrapping them around a pin in a figure-8 pattern)

Stitch all the way around with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance toward the upper tier and topstitch with a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying.

Repeat with the middle tier, then top tier.

2016-04-07 18.48.17(That’s a huge mess of fabric right there! This is sewing the top tier to the middle tier. Notice how the top tier has gathering stitches but isn’t gathered yet.)

7. Sew the waistband.

Cut a length of twill tape that matches your waist measurement + a few inches extra. My waist measurement is about 26″ so my tape is about 29″ long.

Mark the length of your waist measurement with a pin on the tape. Those extra few inches will be overlap for the hooks and eyes.

Gather up the top tier to fit the waist measurement area of the twill tape. Fold the short sides of the twill tape under 1/4″.

Wrap the twill tape over the raw gathered edge of the top tier leaving the overlap hanging off one side. Pin.

Stitch close to the edge of the twill tape and be sure to catch all three layers as you sew. Continue stitching all the way until to reach the end of the overlap, backstitch.

8. Sew the Hook and Eyes

Sew a “hook” to the inside end of the overlap.

On the opposite side of the waistband, sew on corresponding “eyes” each about an inch apart.

Crinoline Petticoat(I ran out of the flat style “eyes” but these loop style eyes work just the same.)

Tip: sewing on extra “eyes” allows you to wear the petticoat lower on your hips when wearing longer skirts.

Yay! You made a petticoat! No go wear your skirts extra poofy!

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My crinoline was only 38″ wide but I had enough fabric left over to eek out a smaller petticoat.

Small Crinoline Petticoat

This one used 4yds of 8″ wide crinoline for the bottom tier, 2yds of 6.5″ wide crinoline for the middle tier, and 45″ x 7″ of cotton muslin for the top tier. I didn’t have enough twill tape left so I just cut another strip of muslin for the waistband.

Here’s an example of my Breathless dress with no petticoat, small petticoat, and large petticoat.

breathless_petticoat

I didn’t take a pic of me wearing both petticoats together but, man, it makes for a huge skirt!

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I was talking to my Aunt about her experience wearing petticoats in the 50s. She said girls would compete to see how many petticoats they could pile up under their skirts. She’d also dip her petticoats in liquid starch to make them extra stiff. If you were around in the hey-day of petticoat-wearing I’d love to hear your stories!