I sew things. And I particularly love to sew quick and easy things. My google searches for new patterns are usually along the lines of ,” easy girls skirt pattern”, or similar.
My go to pattern for girls (age 3-6), is essentially one large rectangle. It was adapted after trying the Oliver + S Lazy Days pattern, but you can find similar skirts and tutorials by the bucket load.
Which begs the question…. why am I also making a tutorial? The answer is fairly simple. If I am going to have a blog, I have to make posts, right? And right now I can’t think of another topic.
I started by cutting a pattern out of some interfacing. For some unexplained reason, I can’t just cut square corners with a rotary cutter, and so I find it easier to use a pattern. Note that on the above pattern, there are lines at the bottom. These are guidelines for cutting the appropriate length depending on the size. The fabric above is folded, with the fold on the left and the selvage on the right. Therefore, with any 44 inch fabric, you can see that the width of the rectangle was designed to be cut on the fold, and remove the selvage. This width is the same for all sizes. This means that the smaller sizes will be more gathered than the larger sizes.
First step after cutting the rectangle is to sew the back seam. Bring the short sides together, with right sides of the fabric facing, and stitch it up. I use a 1cm seam because I like it. Though sometimes I just use my overlocker- this way I sew and finish the seam all at once. I love saving time. The next part involves the iron.
You will use the iron to form the hem at the bottom of the skirt, and the elastic casing at the top of the skirt. I generally don’t use irons unless it is for sewing. It is the only reason they exist as far as I am concerned.
I usually do the bottom hem first. I turn up about 5mm (or a quarter inch) towards the wrong side of the fabric. Press well. Then turn up again, and this will hide the raw edge of the fabric. I usually aim for about 1-1.5cm this time. Whatever I choose, I try to make it even around the whole skirt. I don’t measure it though (this is probably naughty). It is easiest to stitch the hem before putting the elastic in. In the above picture you may have noticed a row of stitches in the fabric- this is because I added some trim- which will be the topic of a future blog. Yay!
Next is the elastic casing. I press over 5mm. The next step requires a little, itty bitty bit of brain power. When you turn over and press this time, you need to make sure that you turn over enough to accommodate the elastic (whatever width you have chosen) and also be able to have room to sew down the casing. If you making the casing too narrow, you can’t thread the elastic and you either have to unpick the casing, or do what I would do… find narrower elastic, because I just hate unpicking.
If you want it exact, measure it as you turn and press. Again, I don’t strictly measure, but in the case of the casing (chuckles), I will check with the ruler a couple of times to may sure I am not stuffing it up. Once it is all pressed, straight stitch at whatever allowance you have chosen. For me, I had 25mm folded over, so I stitched at about 22mm. This didn’t leave much slack for the elastic and I probably should have turned over a little more. Live and learn. When stitching you need to leave a gap through which to insert the elastic.
It is a little hard to see in the picture, but I left about a 3cm gap in the casing. It is at this point that I pull out my very expensive elastic threading tool. I attach a nappy pin to each end of the elastic. This way you can’t lose either end in the casing, no matter how bad your day is going. The elastic length you use will depend on the size you are making, or the size of your child. I use lengths based on a shorts pattern I bought. The elastic will need to be shorter than the length of the casing in order to gather the skirt. This is why I stop at about a size 6… once the elastic gets too long, the pattern just doesn’t provide enough gather to make a skirt that looks good.
You need to end up with both ends of the elastic sticking out. You then need to join them. Please check that the elastic has not twisted. Then, check again that the elastic is not twisted. It can be a bit of a pain in the backside to stitich (especially the smaller sizes), and to stitch/unpick/stitch the elastic is just brutal. Of course, I don’t unpick when I stuff up the elastic. I just cut off the stitched bit and re-stitch.
Once the elastic it stitched, poke it back inside the casing. Next, close the casing by pulling the open portion straight (it might be gathered from the elastic), and stitch it closed, along the same stitch line you made the casing with. Then the absolute last step it to stitch the hem closed at the bottom if you haven’t already. I like to use a zigzag for this, as I find that if you don’t have a perfect thread match, it looks ornamental. However, there is a downside to the zigzag.
As you can see from the above picture, I ended up with tunneling from using my zigzag stitch. This happens with twin needles as well. It is considered a bad thing, as the fabric doesn’t lay flat. I forgot to reduce my thread tension, which normally stops it from happening. So you could unpick it and try again with the zigzag, or use a straight stitch. Instead, if anyone points it out, I will insist it was deliberate, and is a design feature- problem solved, no unpicking. And the finished object…
- Ironing of the fabric should happen prior to any sewing. I don’t do it, but I should. The seams should also be ironed flat.
- The rectangle ‘pattern’ I use is 21 inches x 15.5 inches for a 6 year old, and I just deduct length for smaller sizes.
- For a much better tutorial, you should visit Oliver and S (see below)