Saturday, March 2, 2013

Skirting the Issue

What is abundantly clear for both Spring and Fall 2013, most fashion silhouettes fall into two categories....lean and clean or fit and flare.

The basic skirt sloper will help you achieve many of the fashions we're seeing on the catwalks. Add 3/8" or 1/4" to the basic sloper (please consult Tutorials) and you're good to go. In the case of the Armani skirt and others that simply fold over the front in a straight and simple "sarong," you only need to extend the front over from the center front of the sloper like. Below is a pattern for the evening length skirt where I've added several inches in length. You can also use the 1-piece pattern in the same fashion.
Another important silhouette has also emerged: Fit and Flare. The top is a fitted bodice and the skirt or dress or coat flares out from the waist. We'll keep it simple right now by showing you how to manipulate the skirt in a couple different ways depending on the effect desired.
Flared skirts are back for spring. This means everything from a classic A-line skirt a la Jacqueline Kennedy (as seen in the Miu Miu outfit on the left) to a kicky, almost cheerleader style skirt (DKNY Spring '13, for example).
For the basic A-line skirt, it's very easy. We add the same amount of flare, angling out from the hip to the hem to both the front and back slopers. Trace your sloper onto a sheet of paper (graph paper helps you keep everything straight). Then hold the sloper down as you pivot it out from the hip and trace the side of the sloper down to the hem. In this case, I've added 1/2" flare to my skirt. Be sure to curve the hemline out. For these flared skirts, the length should be equal from the waist down at all given points.
Then add your seam allowance. Here, I've added 1/4". The one thing that is missing is the waistband. In most cases, the skirt falls under another garment, so I use ribbon or twill tape to keep the skirt snugly against the doll's body. It is cut slightly larger than the doll's waist. I put the skirt on the doll and hand stitch the ribbon on top of the outside of the skirt, leaving enough at the back so that the waistband will be able to fold over itself. OR...forget the waistband. Fold over the top and glue in place.
I decided to create an evening length version of the skirt in the DKNY photo. It's a little more complex, but easy, nonetheless. Begin by tracing your sloper onto a sheet of paper. Draw a line down from the front dart down to the hem. Tape this dart closed which result in the skirt opening up. What you have done is to close out the dart, putting all the fullness towards the hem.
Take this a step further and add more swing to the skirt at the side. I've added another 1 1/2 inch from the waist. Theoretically, you could stop there and repeat using the back sloper. (You would lay this out with the CF and the CB on the fold of the fabric. In other words, this pattern consists of 2 pieces--one for the front. One for the back. This will give you a nice swing on the sides, but your silhouette will be flat at the front and back as in the following picture:

For daywear, this is fine, but for eveningwear, I wanted the silhouette to flare away from the body equally. Thus, I continued on and added an additional flare to the other side of the front pattern.
Repeat the same procedure for the back and then create your pattern by adding seam allowance. Your pattern should resemble this:

This skirt has quite a bit of "bias" or diagonal direction. 1) Don't forget to label your patterns so you know what is what. 2) Notice I've put tiny cross lines at the front, back and sides. These are notches you know what lines up with what. 3) When you lay your patterns out on the fabric, respect the "grain" lines or the direction of the weave. You notice there are arrows on my patterns. Those arrows should line up with the vertical weave of the fabric. Using a ruler, I make sure the vertical of the arrow is parallel with the selvage edge of my fabric. 4) Notches are really important because you now have four pieces to this skirt. Again, I use twill tape for the waistband which closes with a tiny square of velcro or a tiny snap.
Voila! Here is how my skirt looks. Notice how the folds of the skirt move away from the doll both at the front and sides. By the way, the top was created using the 1-piece corset. I put the corset on the doll and wrapped the silk around her shoulders, pinning it in place against the corset.

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