This is a great project to use up some stash or get you hunting in your local remnant shop! Haberdashery stores almost always have a section for off-cuts, and as this skirt uses only 1.5m of fabric and lining, it'll be easy to find enough to make it up. You can use any medium-weight fabric for this project, even upholstery fabric, which tends to have a heavier weight and will lend the garment a luxurious look. Choose a brightly coloured lining and any trim that catches your eye.
- Fabric: wool tweed, 1.5m; polyester lining fabric, 1.5m
- Fusible interfacing: 1m
- Bias binding: 3m
- Decorative trim, one packet
- Hook and eye fastenings: three pairs
- Well-fitting A-line skirt to use as template
- Buttons: five
- This skirt is custom-sized to your measurements. Our guide is suitable for sizes 8-16.
Cut your waistband. Lay your main fabric out, and fold it in half widthways with right sides facing. Measure 20cm down from the top of the fabric all the way along, and mark with chalk. Join up these points to form a long strip and cut. Fold it in half lengthways (this allows it to self line), wrap it around your waist one and a half times, add an additional 3cm for seam allowance, then cut off any excess. Save the extra fabric for later use.
Create the interfacing. Using the folded waistband as a template, cut out your interfacing piece. Place the waistband on top of the interfacing, draw around it and cut out. Open out the folded waistband and place the interfacing piece inside, aligning the side and bottom edges. Iron to fuse into place.
Self-line the waistband. Pin and machine stitch a length of bias binding around three of the edges, starting at one short side, working across the long edge, and finishing at the end of the second short side. Leave the final long edge unfinished. Fold it in half again, right sides together, matching up the bias edging. With a straight machine stitch, sew the short sides closed, working through the centre of the bindings. Leave the long bottom edge open.
Finish the waistband. Trim any excess fabric from the seam allowance of the upper corners to remove bulk, and turn the work right sides out once more. Push the corners out and press. This piece is now the open-bottom waistband, which the skirt will be encased within later on in the project. Secure a small safety pin into the right hand edge of the panel, to ensure that the buttonhole is worked in the appropriate place. Set the waistband aside for later use.
Create the self-lined decorative panel. Lay out the off-cut from the creation of the waistband, and fold it in half as before with right sides facing outwards. Cover the fold of the fabric with a length of bias binding and machine stitch to secure. Making sure that the panel is positioned with the folded edge on the right-hand side, place a safety pin into the fabric to mark the right side of the panel.
Place the pieces together. Lay the waistband piece out on the floor, with the safety-pinned edge positioned to the right hand side. Place the decorative panel directly underneath it, aligning the righthand edges to creating a right angle, overlapping it by 1.5cm. Measure from the top of the waistband to the bottom of the decorative panel to check the length – but do not trim it yet.
Cut the front and back pieces. Fold the main fabric in half with right sides together (cutting from the folded fabric will create two identical pieces). Using dressmaker’s chalk, draw a rectangle onto the fabric, using your hip or waist measurements as the width (whichever is larger) and the desired length noted down above, minus 8.5cm (the length of the waistband). Cut it out. This forms the beginning of the front and back skirt pieces.
Shape the skirt piece. You may find it helpful to compare your work to an existing A-line skirt as you go. Fold the rectangle in half, with right sides together. On the fold line, measure down by 10cm and make a mark with dressmaker’s chalk. Smoothly draw an arched line from this point to the opposite top corner of the rectangle. This forms the waistline.
Measure 10cm up from the bottom side edge and mark, then draw an arc smoothly curving down to the bottom edge of the centre fold line. Cut along both arched lines and work around all edges with an overlocker or zig zag stitch to neaten.
Create the front flap. Fold one of the skirt pieces in half widthways to use as a template. Lay it on top of the main fabric, and draw around one half of it, either the left or right side. Cut out this ‘half’ skirt piece, and trim a further 8cm from the centre line of the piece so that the decorative panel can be positioned correctly. Overlock or zig zag stitch around the edge of the piece to prevent fraying.
Create the lining. Fold the lining fabric in half, with right sides together. Place one of the main skirt pieces onto it and use as a template. Cut two skirt shapes from the lining, reducing the length of the pieces by 3cm. Cut a third ‘half’ skirt using the front flap as a template. Ensure that the ‘centre’ line of the half skirt is positioned to the left-hand side of the piece.
Join the decorative panel and flap. With right sides together, place the decorative panel and flap pieces together, lining up along the right-hand edge. Pin, then sew along the edge using a straight machine stitch to secure. Press the seam open. Cut a bias binding strip to the same length as the panels and press it closed. With the skirt right side upwards, position the binding on top of the decorative panel, as close to the join as possible. Pin or tack into place, then machine top stitch to secure.
Attach the lining to the front flap. With right sides together, position the ‘half’ skirt lining section against the inner (self lined) part of the decorative panel, aligning the side edges. Pin and machine stitch along this edge, leaving the last 3cm of the seam unstitched in order to later turn the hem.
Attach the main front and back sections to the front flap. With right sides together, line up the right-hand side edge of the back piece with the raw edge of the front flap. Pin then machine stitch to secure. Join the back and front skirt pieces together in the same way, aligning the side edge of the front with the remaining side edge of the back. Starting at the top, repeat the process again, stitching the pieces together. Press all of the seams open.
Attach the front and back lining sections to the front flap in the same way. With the right sides of the lining together, pin and then sew the front flap lining to the back lining piece. Repeat the process to join the back lining and front lining pieces, aligning the side edges to ensure a neat finish.
Join the lining to the skirt. The skirt will now be a very long strip, made from one half main fabric and one half lining, joined at the seam between the decorative panel and front flap lining pieces. Fold the work in half, with right sides together. Pin into position, and stitch the open side seam closed, stopping 3cm from the bottom once again to allow for hem turning. Press the seams to the centre.
Tack the lining and skirt together. Working with a long straight stitch and a 7mm seam allowance, machine tack the two layers together along the top edge. Sandwich the top of the skirt 1.5cm within the waistband and check that the two pieces are of equal length. If the skirt appears to be slightly too wide for the waistband, gather the wide tacking stitches very slightly all the way round, pulling up the thread very gently.
Attach the waistband. Once pinned into place, machine stitch the outer side of the waistband to the skirt, working along the recess line between the fabric and the bias binding edging. For extra neatness, don’t machine stitch to the end; remove from the machine and finish off by hand. Secure the inner edge of the waistband to the skirt by folding it over and stitching it onto the lining using a hand slip stitch.
Work the hem. Press the lining hem to the wrong side by 1cm, then by another 2cm. Pin and machine stitch all the way around. Repeat for the main skirt, finishing with a hand stitch. Using dressmaker’s chalk, mark the position of the buttonholes to run down the front flap of the skirt, measuring them at equal distances. Our sample spaces the buttons 9cm apart.
Create buttonholes. Using the buttonhole function of your sewing machine, create the appropriate number of holes, opening them up with a seam ripper. Place a pin at either end of the buttonhole to ensure that you don’t rip too far. Mark the button placements using pins and stitch on your buttons by hand.
Stitch on the hook and eye fastenings. The first acts as an anchor to keep the skirt secure. Stitch on the ‘male’ part, then try the skirt and position the ‘female’ part. Mark the placement with a pin and stitch into place by hand, using a double length of thread in your needle. Stitch on two extra sets of hook and eyes along the waistband to improve the finish of the skirt fastenings. Embellish the decorative panel and hem. Sew lengths of wool or trimmings to the decorative panel, couching the trim with small hand stitches.
Before you begin: take the following measurements and note them down.
• Front waistline (from side to side across your front)___________________
• Waistline-to-hip distance (plus 3cm seam allowance)____________________
• Hips (plus 3cm seam allowance)_______
• Desired skirt length (plus 16cm for seam allowance and arched hem)_______