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Category: patternmaking

how to: draft a circle skirt pattern

One of the most popular pieces I sold when I was in business was a tulle skirt I’d named “Emma,” and it also happened to be a personal favorite of mine. I first designed it for myself, never thinking I would add it to my collection. I was looking for a tulle skirt, but I wanted something good quality and very, very big and fluffy. You can find tulle skirts that are okay quality but the fluffy and pretty part is lacking. I get it: every layer, every stitch costs money. I know how that goes. The good thing is that tulle is pretty inexpensive, and a little effort keeps the construction quality on the up and up. And, making one yourself really puts you in control. You can make it as full or as delicate as you like.

But before we can talk about how to make this skirt and where to get all the materials, we have to talk about drafting the pattern. Once you know how to draft a circle skirt pattern, you can use it for any number of other styles too, which is great. Quick note: this pattern is for woven fabrics only, and we’ll be adding a zipper.


pattern hack: the warehouse dress

Earlier this year Ty and I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam for a week. We went in March, so it wasn’t quite winter weather, nor was it warm enough that you could go without a coat. For the tourist-walking-around-all-day-taking-tons-of-pictures days, I went with skinny jeans, boots, sweaters, and my trench coat. Easy, comfortable, and I could get away with wearing everything two or three times. (I went to London for three days after, so I really had to make what I’d packed stretch to last.) We had a couple of dinner reservations at nice places, so I knew I also wanted something in my suitcase for those occasions. Enter, the search for the denim dress(es). Now, I’m not talking about a super fitted, uncomfortable dress here. I’m talking about something with a little give in it that would go effortlessly with my tights and boots, and that would also stand up to being worn a few times without missing a beat. (A cute little jersey dress would have been great too, for those of you thinking of that, but remember how chilly it was. Denim was better this time.) Finding something that wasn’t a mini dress or something that didn’t look frumpy was a challenge, but I found a couple great pieces. In the process, I  also discovered a great brand. There’s a company out of the UK called Warehouse and they have the best stuff, you guys. It’s a little more on the modest side (which I love, of course), but overall it’s very pretty and sophisticated. The quality is great too. I believe they recently hired a new creative director, so I hope the aesthetic doesn’t change too dramatically. Anyway, back to the dresses. Here’s what I ordered and wore (and have worn tons of times since the trip):


tools of the trade

Drafting and altering patterns is a big part of most of my projects. I truly enjoy this part of the process–it’s like working with a giant puzzle. It can be a big challenge and quite time consuming, but there is a feeling of satisfaction having figured out how to manipulate a piece of paper to become the vision you have in your mind. Also, getting things to fit properly is kind of a big deal. More on that later.

I have a set of slopers (or “blocks”, as they’re sometimes called in the industry) that I use to draft patterns from scratch, but I also use store bought patterns and adjust them to suit my needs. Either way, knowing how to do this will allow you to create pretty much anything you want. And that’s why we design and sew, right? Right.

In future posts, I’ll go into greater detail about how exactly to manipulate patterns, and I’ll include quick reference charts for things like circle skirt measurements, but today is all about the tools you need to adjust or draft patterns for your projects.