Tuesday, September 8, 2015

~DIY: Denim A-line Skirt~

Hi everyone!! How long has it been since I did an actual DIY post? Was it my Shrinky Dink adventure? Wow so I guess it really has been awhile!! If you have been craving a DIY post on my blog I have one today that I'm super excited about!

Image/skirt via Primark. I love the shape and fit of this on other people, when I try skirts like this on I feel like I'm squished in a tube of denim hahaha~

Image/skirt via Aliexpress. This is what I was going for in my tutorial!

I have been wanting an a-line skirt for FOREVER. And I know I like to avoid jeans and pants in general, but I will make an exception for denim skirts and jackets. They just seem to go with everything, ya know? SO I finally decided that I should just give in and learn how to make a-line skirts myself ^.^

A set I made on my Poly using an a-line denim skirt ^.^

Another one of my sets with an a-line skirt.

If you follow me on Polyvore you will see that I make quite a few sets with a line skirts. But I could never find ones that fit me the way I want them to? Or fit me at all for that matter! The larger sizes fit my waist but tend to fit me like a loose tube around everywhere else. And the non plus size sizes fit my curves nicely but either pinch at my stomach and give me muffin top or don't close altogether. This is the struggle I have found with a-line skirts hahaha. Things not fitting me or aren't designed exactly how I want them is usually how I end up making my own clothes and pins and stuff.

So let's get started, shall we? :D


Not all materials shown ^>^ Also my template is already made here.

-LARGE piece of paper for your pattern(think old newspaper large, big old paper bag cut open, actual sewing pattern making paper etc. I used one piece of large drawing paper plus one regular notebook sized piece of paper for my pattern)
-scissors: I have a pair I use exclusively for fabric and one that we use around the house for crafting and things.
-sewing machine, needle, and thread that matches or looks good with your fabric! I'm working with denim in today's tutorial so on the darker skirt I used basic black fabric and on the lighter one I used a tan/brown color that you often see with denim and stitching on jeans. I also used a jeans/denim needle for my sewing machine which is sturdier and larger than the universal sewing needle, even though my denim wasn't super thick or anything ^.^
-elastic for the waist band: I recommend at least an inch or larger for skirts with thicker fabric or else it looks kinda weird? You could make this skirt with or without elastic, I'll explain later!
-fabric pen/pencil for tracing on your pattern
-measuring tape
-buttons: I used the ones that are usually for jeans closures and overalls and things
-medium weight denim fabric (although you could technically use this tutorial for non denim a-line skirts as well!!) I bought a yard and used less than a yard for this tutorial.
-zipper (if you aren't doing elastic!)

Before we start cutting away on our fabric, the first thing to do is take a few measurements and make a pattern for your a-line skirt. Personally, the easiest way I've found to do this was to use what is called the split and spread method! It gave me the right shape that I wanted for my skirts and allowed me to control my measurements easier.

Measure the largest part of your lower body: you need to be able to pull your skirt on! If you're making an elasticized skirt like I did, this means you have to measure enough fabric so you can put it on. If you just use your waist measurement you might not be able to do that. For me my largest area was around my bum to the front like so:

If you aren't doing the elasticized waist then just measure the area where you want your skirt to sit like your waist:

Add maybe an inch or inch and a half for extra seam allowance (especially if you're just beginning and sew weird like I used to hahaha) and room for a zipper!

The circumference of my bum and around was about 44 inches according to my tape. Take this measurement and divide it by 4=11 inches. This is the waist measurement of the QUARTER pattern you will be making with your large piece of paper. And for non elasticized do the same thing, take your waist measurement and divide it by 4. Mine was 40 inches/4=10 inches. If your waist is the largest part add maybe three more inches to your waist measurement for breathing room~

Now take your piece of paper and draw a line across the short end of the paper (if you have a rectangular sheet, if not it doesn't matter) with the quarter of your measurement:

This piece of paper is just being used as an example, pretend that's 11 inches for me, ok? lol Now you need to decide how long you want your skirt to be. Here is where I measured:

For the waist band I used the fold over method so you want to take the width of your elastic ( I used 1.5 inch elastic) and double that, plus maybe half and inch of seam allowance and wiggle room for when you put the band through. This method of creating a waist band also applies for the non-elasticized version as well! So I just took the length of the skirt I wanted (about 15 inches) and added 1.5*2=3 inches plus two extra inches for seam allowance and taking into account that the bottom of the skirt needs to be hemmed! I always say making the garment too big or long on accident is much better than finding out it's too small or short! So be free with your seam allowances people! :D My total length ended up being about 20 inches so make sure your paper is this length. If the paper is short then add extra paper at the bottom to make it long enough!

Now fold your paper in half as straight as you can, length wise:

And cut ALMOST all the way to the top. DON'T CUT ALL THE WAY UP!!

See how it splits and makes a nice triangle down the middle but the paper is still connected? Yup! That's what you want! Now it's all up to your preference! The wider your make the triangle, the more flared your a-line skirt will be!

Skinnier triangle means less flared like the first a-line skirt at the top of this post.

Wider triangle will make a more flared a-line like in the second picture and is like the one I made!

On the right side of my pattern I made a note "ON CLOSED FOLD" meaning that edge of the pattern will be on the fold when you are tracing your pattern onto your folded fabric. You will see what I mean down below~

Now you just want to fill in your pattern with more paper and some tape to complete your template now that you've got how flared you want your skirt to be! And once you have it all filled in we can start attacking the fabric! Woo hoo!

All filled in!

Make sure your fabric is pre-washed so you know how much it shrinks before sewing with it! I always forget to mention this step hahaha.

Fold your fabric lengthwise or "hot dog style" with right sides together so the inside of the denim fabric is facing outwards like so:

On the right of this pic is the closed/folded edge.

Now place your quarter template so the side that you marked "ON CLOSED FOLD" is on the folded end of the fabric:

Trace and cut!

With my actual pattern ^.^

In the process of being cut.

Yay now you've got a front piece of your skirt!

What I've learned has worked best is to have a slightly bigger piece for the front of the skirt and a slightly smaller piece for the back side of the skirt. It just balances nicer I guess? Since you will be cutting up the front of the skirt for the button up area later on!

So for the back piece I set my pattern slightly off the fabric to make it a tad smaller. This is why adding those few extra inches when making your pattern is important! Trace and cut again! Now you should have two pretty much identical pieces of denim skirt looking things, one slightly bigger.

Top one is slightly bigger!

Fold the larger piece in half as straight and carefully as possible and cut up! If your cutting skills aren't so great, it might be a good idea to use a ruler and measure to the middle of the fabric and draw a line and follow it with scissors instead of folding it and winging it hahaha. Just in case! I also marked the side I cut up (the middle) on the inside of the fabric so I knew where the middle was, like so:

Marked the middle.

You should now have three pieces of fabric to work with! And now most of the hard stuff is done!! You're doing great!!

After zig-zag stitching the edges.
In the past I've learned a lot about different stitching techniques, what works best and what doesn't work so well. I have also worked a bit with different fabric types. Denim is a fabric that doesn't fray  TONNN but still frays a bit, especially when put through the wash. And it can get annoying to have loose ends. So I highly recommend you zig-zag stitch around all your cut edges so your fabric frays less as you work with it and wear it eventually! Make sure you read your manual to get the settings on your machine just right! And don't forget to use your zig-zag foot! Or you might break your needle :O

Ok now all the edges are taken care of! Yay! Now let's work on the waistband:

The best method I've found so far (although it can be a bit tedious!) is to set the elastic at the waist, fold the fabric overtop of it (on the inside of the skirt), and pin. I also pull the elastic through while I'm doing this to make sure I didn't pin through the elastic or make the waist casing too small on accident! Knowing the elastic has made it through the tube at least once since I'm continually pinning it through this way, makes it easier to actually thread through later. When folding your waistband over make sure you leave enough edge space to sew on without difficulty of sewing too close to the edge or the waistband! Just do this on all three pieces, straight stitch from the inside so you can see where you're going ^>^ This is also a good time to hem the bottom of the skirt. Fold your hem up twice and straight stitch! You should measure the current length of your skirt before hemming since you have the waist casing done at this point so you know how much room you have to work with when hemming.

Now let's see how well it fits! Get your pins out and pin the edges of the skirt together, right faces together, and try it on. If you aren't using elastic it should fit your waist nicely with maybe an extra inch for sewing the buttons up the front! The length of the skirt should also be where you want it at this point because the waist and hem should be done! If you are using elastic it should be quite loose still, a couple inches loose actually! This is good! Once you are satisfied with the fit of your skirt, straight stitch up the edges of the inside of the skirt (right sides together and pinned together like you want it) STOP BEFORE YOU GET TO THE WAIST BAND IF YOU ARE DOING ELASTIC!!

Pin right sides together.

ALMOST all the way up, stop pins at waistband and don't sew past it or you won't be able to get your elastic through!

If you are doing the zipper method decide whether you want it up the front like on regular denim skirts (advanced method) or on the side (easier/beginner method). You can sew up the waist band if you are adding the zipper up the middle, if on the side leave one side of the skirt un-sewn but sew up the other side all the way to the waistband.

More than halfway done! Doesn't it look great? Now that you have the waist casing sewn it's time to put the elastic through! I don't really actually measure my elastic, I just put it around my waist and cut as much as is comfortable! Then I attached a safety pin to the end that I'm threading through the casing and just push the elastic through!

Have one safety pin on the end you're threading through the waist casing, and one on the other end attached to the opening of the casing where you started so the elastic doesn't pull through the skirt with the rest of the elastic!

One tip is to take the lagging or following end of the elastic and attach another safety pin to that as well and pin it to the opening of the waist casing where you first started threading the elastic through. This ensures the elastic winds up on both ends of the skirt and you don't accidentally pull it all the way through! To keep the elastic in place while finishing up the rest of the skirt I just sew the ends of the elastic inside the casing.

If you are doing a zipper here is a link that will help you with inserting zippers.

Now it's time to add the buttons and finish up your skirt! I used these hammer in buttons from the fabric store that are usually used with denim projects like jeans and overalls. To get the right spacing I measured from about where my waistband ended where I wanted my buttons to start, to the bottom of the skirt. The length was about 16 inches and I divided that by the number of buttons I wanted down the front of my skirt which was six. 16/6=about 2.6 so I did 2.5 marked spacing about an inch from the edge of the inside of the skirt. Then I hammered in my buttons!

The finished product!

All that's left is to straight stitch both sides of the skirt together!

I think the first one I made (a darker denim) is cuter but oh well~

A bit lighter in person but this is a weird angled picture anyways haha~
I may or may not be standing on the counter. Shh don't tell LOL 

Cute right? I love the flare of these! It isn't frumpy or tube-y looking and it FITS!! WITH SPACE! Because, ya know, elastic is the best lol. Sorry I talk too much ahhaha~

Hope you try out this tutorial! I'd say this is a medium-mid advanced project because some of the concepts can get a little confusing along the way. I even got frustrated a few times when I made the first a-line skirt, but even if you're a beginner you should definitely try it out!! Thanks for reading, lovelies!! <3

xoxo Abby

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