A few weeks ago I mentioned I had ordered some material, hoping to venture into making my own clothes… Well, it arrived! So, after some experimenting and that, I feel quite pleased my first attempt. And what better way to celebrate than by sharing my first tutorial.
Since I have never tried clothes before and there was every possibility this could have been a total disaster, I didn’t want to spend loads. I also think that if you’re going to make your own clothes, it has to be worth your while in terms of cost. So I bought a cheap but modern printed jersey fabric from ebay and only used about half a meter to make this skirt. What’s lovely about jersey is that it’s so forgiving! It stretches to your shape and looks great despite extremely minimal tailoring.
You will need:
- 1 x 1/2 meter Jersey/stretch fabric (wool also works)
- 1 meter elastic (for waistband)
- Sewing thread
- Pins, tape measure, sewing machine, fabric scissors, marking tool.
Step 1. Measure for your pattern.
Using a tape measure, measure:
Around your waist.
Around your hips (the widest part…!)
The distance from your waist to your hips.
The distance from your hips to the bottom of your skirt (you decide the length you want it to be).
Step 2. Draw up your pattern.
1. Using your measurements, draw up your basic pattern on a rectangle of strong paper.
(I used the inner from a roll or gift wrap)
2. Add the “rise” – the curved edge that will fit nicely over your hips. Do this by drawing a curve between your hips and a 5cm indent on your waistline. I used a close fitting skirt that I already had to get this curve just right.
3. Curve the edge of the pattern in at the bottom too by drawing a gradual curved line from your hip line to a 2cm indent on the hemline.
Your pattern should now look like this:
4. Once you are happy with your pattern, cut it out.
Step 3. Cut out your pattern from your material.
1. Fold your half a meter of material in half, right sides together. Make sure you fold in line with the grain of the material – think about it, you want your skirt to stretch side to side rather than up and down. If using a patterned fabric be careful to match up the pattern so that it will sit right on your skirt.
2. Pin the folded material together to keep it in place. (If you are using a larger piece of material, you can now cut this section away from what you are not using.)
3. Lay your pattern on top of the fabric with the straight edge against the fold.
4. Draw around your pattern with your marking tool. Move the pattern down onto the lower half of your folded material and draw around again. (Be sure to match up the pattern on the fabric once more, make sure that the pattern on the waistband is the same for both sections)
5. Pin along your skirt outline and cut out, leaving a 2.5cm margin all the way around.
(Keep the offcuts for other projects…. why not make a plaited headband?)
Step 4. Pin both sections together.
1. Take your two sections. unfold them and match them together, right sides facing. Make sure the patterns line up – this is very important.
Tip: You will find one half of each section does not have the pattern marked out on it. I used my paper pattern to draw on a seam line for the opposite side of the material to help me when it came to sewing – I like to have a definite line to follow. You may find that, once put together, the lines you have drawn on one piece don’t exactly match those on the other section. That’s ok, match up the pattern on the fabric, then, when you sew, just follow the lines you have drawn on one of the sections.
Step 4. Sew sides together.
1. Sew all the way along both sides, including the little extra 2.5cms at top and bottom. Straight stitch is fine here, don’t stretch the material as you sew.
2. Once you have sewn the seams, try on your skirt to check the fit. Make any necessary adjustments.
3. Trim the excess fabric on these two seams to 5mm.
Step 5. Sew the hem.
1. Fold over the bottom hem to about 1cm. You might want to press it here.
2. Pin it and sew it about 5mm in. Then fold again and sew your hem in a nice straight line about 1cm in. BUT, not so fast! Don’t do this until you’ve read the next bit.
VERY IMPORTANT!!! Don’t use straight stitch here. If you do, as I did at first, when you put it on, your material will stretch but your stitching will not, causing your seams to pop. Yes, very annoying.
Apparently the best thing is to use a double needle or a stretch stitch (it’s the one on your machine that looks like a lightning bolt)
Now I don’t have a double needle or a stretch stitch on my machine so, I used a zig zag stitch, on a low stitch length and width.
Can you see how the zig zag is allowing the material to stretch? That’s the idea.
To learn more about sewing jersey fabrics I recommend this article which was very helpful:
Step 5. Sew an elastic waistband.
1. Take your elastic and measure it against your skirt. You want double the width of your waistband and a little more for an overlap of about 1.5cm. Cut your required length.
2. Make sure your skirt is inside out. Line up your elastic with the waistline of your skirt with the overlap at the side seam. You should have a small flap of material which shows above the elastic. Fold this over, press and pin in place.
3. Using your stretch or zig zag stitch, sew the flap in place, beginning at one end of the elastic and sewing along the length. (If both ends of elastic are fixed in place from the start, there’s no room for the elastic to move as you sew and you risk puckering or a lumpy finish)
4. When you get to the end you should have a small overlap at the seam. Sew down the seam of the elastic to hold the two ends firmly in place.
5. Fold down the elastic and press and pin in place. Turn your skirt right way out. Using your stretch or zig zag stitch, sew the elastic waistband in place.
Hurray! You’ve finished! All that’s left is to wear with pride and wait for someone to ask, “Wow, where did you get your skirt…?”