Plus Girl Sews

Self Drafted Cotton Skirt – Part One

For the next part of my particular SWAKOP group (after making my 1950s repro shirt) I wanted to make an easy to wear cotton skirt. Something that wasn’t too drapey and had a bit of structure. I found a few skirts on ASOS that I really liked, I think the current tortoiseshell button trend is nice and gives a bit of a “vintage” flair to a garment.


I really liked this skirts for their simplicity. The pocket is a nice addition to the garment but not a must for me. I like the gentle a-line shape and the cool and comfortable cotton look.

My favourite of the bunch was the navy blue (and the red, which is basically the same). The front pleating gives a flat front which I think is really flattering. I wasn’t keen on the elasticated back only because I’m usually not a fan of adding gathering around my hips.

Dart Manipulation

My current sloper has eight darts in total – two on each side, front and back. I wanted to make the gentle a-line flare by closing one dart, opening out that side seam to give a flared look. I did this initially on both the outer darts, front and back, but realised that the length of the darts has impact on the resultant hem width. The longer the dart, the more gentle the flare.

I was happy enough with the flare for the back piece but realised that the front was too broad. So I had to bring the dart in a little bit to match the flare a bit better. This left me with 1cm of the dart that had not been taken up at the waist, which I was then able to transfer over to the second dart on the front. This gave a much better flare where the two felt more even.

Outer darts closed, giving the a-line flare (incorrectly on the front piece as it’s far too wide!)

After I evened out the darts I then converted the inner front dart to a pleat. I cut up towards the base of the dart, then cut the dart part out. I separated it by about 1.5cm at the top flaring out to… I don’t know how much! But a bit wider at the bottom. I then traced over this to get my front piece.

I also got this great little book, Forty Skirts to Cut and Sew. It’s only a tiny little book, with fairly simple but very useful instructions. I managed to pick up an original edition copy on Amazon for just a few quid. I thoroughly recommend it if you’re interested in flat pattern drafting – it is not a super detailed book but it really helped me see how some patterns look flat. I’m quite good with flat pattern drafting as long as I can see what the pattern is meant to look like. I actually loved this little book so much I immediately went onto Amazon and bought every book I could find my Brenda Redmile, which included a dressmaking one and a children’s wear one. I don’t have any children to sew for but I’m sure one day I’ll need to make something and it’s nice and quick to make children’s clothes, plus I hate to spend a lot on kids patterns. So hopefully both those books will be good too!

Forty Skirts to Cut and Sew by Brenda Redmile

First Toile

The first toile came out pretty good, I think! I love the fit at the back, though I do need a slight bit more room which I can easily add down the centre back. I think the pleats at the front work quite well but I think they are too wide and add too much imbalance between the back and front. I sewed them pretty haphazardly on this quick toile just to get an idea of how they sit. But I decided to go back a step and remove the extra fullness added, making the pleat only a small decorative piece really… just designed to take up the dart width (plus that extra centimetre from the smaller collapsed outer dart).

Self drafted skirt
First toile of skirt with pleats in front

I definitely feel I’m heading in the right direction with this one, but it’s time for me to move onto the next stage. I want to:

So check back for part two!

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