Sewing Skirts: Preparation

Sewing my own clothing is a goal of mine. I feel that it is part of my personal vocation and thus essential as an aspect of seeking God and seeking sanctity in this life.  Quicksilver to Gold is about this journey, this path of discovery in which I figure out what activities are meant to be included in my plan of life.  Sewing is one of those activities I feel strongly is important for ME.  It may not be something that belongs in your plan of life, but it does belong in mine.

Skirts are an easy sewing project.  Some easier than others and you can find books on many very easy styles of skirt.  I own a few of these sorts of books but sadly am not pleased enough with any of them to recommend them to my readers.


How much fabric I have will determine the length but all my skirts fall to below the knee. I decide yardage when I buy fabric because I know what fabrics I love, what colors look good on me, and thus can buy when I find something on sale.  This means I generally have NO idea what pattern I might use or even what sort of clothing I’m going to make.  I get around this by limiting what I buy to certain categories.

Color: each person has certain colors that are best with their hair, eye and skin colors.  By forcing myself to bypass that gorgeous pattern that I know would be bad on ME, I avoid adding fabrics for which I have no use.

Fiber: I use a lot of cotton because it is inexpensive and machine washable.  Every new skirt will be made first in cotton.  There is no point in cutting the expensive summer weight wool until I know the pattern suits my body type.  In this way I have cheaply eliminated a lot of skirt patterns.  Cotton, wool, silk, tencel, and linen are all fabrics I love.  A bit of polyester mixed with a majority of one of these is not a problem for me but I do prefer the natural fibers to dominate.

Yardage: how do I decide on yardage?  Cost mainly.  If the price is low enough, the color and fiber wonderful, then I will buy more.  If the color and fiber are wonderful but the price is higher, I will buy less of it.  I am plump and like long full skirts so my fabric purchases run from 6-10 yards. Left over fabric can become a matching vest, or join another similar fabric to make enough yardage to make a jacket that will go with more than one skirt.


I like gored skirts.  This is because with my particular shape I look best with minimal fabric gathered around the waist.  I also like full skirts and a gored skirt can flair from the widest point of the hip and provide all the swish I could wish for and still be slimming at the waist.  Nearly every pattern company makes every imaginable type of skirt pattern.  I tend to use Simplicity and McCalls patterns.   One of them has a pattern that requires a zipper and the other has nearly the exact same look with a draw-string option.  Most of the time my skirts are made with a draw string.


The major plus for the draw string skirt is that it does not require the insertion of a zipper.  That is NOT the ONLY benefit.  During pregnancy, my nice full draw string skirts carried me through the entire pregnancy.  As my belly grew, I simply tied the skirt higher and left my tops hang over the top. The result was hardly anyone noticed I was pregnant (which either means I look THAT FAT all the time or else the slimming effect of the skirts I choose works better than I thought!).

A draw string has advantages over elastic.  If you clip your cell phone to the waist of your skirt, elastic will droop far more than a tied draw-string.  If you step on your skirt, or someone else steps on your skirt it will not be pulled down because the drawstring will not stretch.

A last benefit of the drawstring skirt is that the waist fits on any particular day. There is no worry that a skirt ceases to be useful if you lose weight because you just tie the draw-string tighter. It also loosens if you gain weight.


My final step before I cut and begin to sew a skirt is to wash the fabric.  I don’t spend money on dry cleaning so all my fabric is chosen with the intent that it WILL be wash and wear.  This means some things will need to be washed so that they shrink before cutting.  Washing three times with a run through the dryer in between washings will pretty much settle the issue of shrinkage. I make a practice of upping the water temperature now so that later when a skirt is washed in cold water it is unlikely to change sizes on me.


Fabric and pattern are two of the most important elements for skirts at our house. Now that everything is washed, dried, and if needed ironed, you should be ready to cut and sew–have fun!

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