Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Great PR Sewing Bee : A - Line skirt

Pattern Review has started "The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee".  The first challenge is to sew an A-line skirt that has the following:

1. Zipper
2. Lining
3. Button/hook or any other closure
4. Waistband
5. Hem

Rather than drafting an A-line skirt from scratch, I began with my trusty McCalls 3830 Pencil skirt pattern and turned it into an A line skirt with a waistband.  I used Winifred Aldrich's excellent reference book "Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear" to do this. 

I traced my pattern pieces for the pencil skirt and started making changes.  For the front piece, I cut a vertical line through the center of the front dart down to the hem.  I then rotated the piece closing up the dart.  This swings the hemline outward.  I then added 1" to the width of the lower edge of the pattern piece and drew a straight line from that point at the hem up to the hip.

For the back piece, there was one 1" wide back dart.  I am very curvy in the back and did not want to remove the back darts entirely.  Instead I turned the 1" dart into a 1/2" wide dart, using the same cut and rotate method as for the front piece.  I added 1" to the width of the lower edge of the pattern piece as well.

Contest or no, if I make something, I want to wear it, not have it languish in my closet.  This A-line skirt needed to be a staple that would get a lot of wear.  An A-line skirt can be a great item for a capsule wardrobe.  I decided on a brown corduroy that I purchased in India and have had for several years.  In fact, all of the fabric and notions for this project came from my stash.  The lining is a brown and pink houndstooth charmeuse satin from  I previously used this lining fabric on my second Simplicity 2057 jacket, and there is still some left. 

McCall's 3830 does not have a waistband, so I needed to make one myself.  I cut a straight waistband 3" wide and a few inches longer than my waist measurement.  I used 1/2" seam allowances so the finished waistband would be 1" wide.  I like to make my waistbands extra long so that I can sew them to the precise length after the skirt is assembled and fitted.  I shifted the original center back zipper to the left side an inserted a lapped zipper. 

The contest requires a lining for the skirt.  I used the front and back pattern pieces for the lining.  The original pattern used front and back facings which became unnecessary with a lining and waistband.  This was my first time lining a skirt and I must say that I love the result.  Smooth slippery fabric next to your skin is fantastic.  I attached the lining at the zipper by machine and after a few passes, it looked quite good. 

Machine sewn lining at zipper

The trickiest part of an A-line skirt is hemming it.  To eliminate bulk at the hem, I serged the raw edge rather than turning the raw edge over.  I put the skirt on my dressform, pulled out my handy laser level and marked the hem.

Marking the hem
Once the hem was folded up and pinned, I hand basted it in place along the fold.  Then I hand sewed the hem, easing in the fullness.
Hem: basted and hand sewn
I used a similar process for hemming the lining.  I pinned and pressed it to the correct length and basted it in place near the fold.  Since the lining fabric was very prone to fraying, I turned the raw edge under and basted the raw edge only using the longest machine stitch.  Before hemming, I pulled the bobbin thread on the basting stitch and eased in the fullness before sewing the hem by machine. 

Lining hem: Eased fullness prior to sewing
Then the lining was done:
Lining Complete!
The finished skirt on display with some new scenery:

Front View


I am very pleased with this finished skirt.  I really took my time to do a nice job finishing the lining and hem. This will be a great skirt to wear this winter with tights and boots.   


  1. *laser level* That's brilliant!!!

  2. Lovel! Have to agree with Cidell. Laser level for hemming would have never crossed my mind. It's a faboulous idea!

  3. Your skirt turned out great! Good luck in the contest...crossing my fingers for ya.

  4. Laser level! I love it! That's a step up from those chalk level machines.

    It's a lovely skirt on you, and so neatly finished.

  5. Lovely a-line shape with a little swish.


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