Tutorial: Perfectly flared skirt

I first posted this tutorial on my writing blog years ago when I was actively updating it (turns out that although I like writing, writing about writing was sort of boring for me). It’s such a good skirt for cycling, though, that I wanted to repost it here for your viewing pleasure.

I’ve taken versions of this skirt on at least 3 different trips (including to Venezuela, where I practically lived in it for 6 months). It’s got just the right amount of flare, and the odd seaming will definitely get you compliments.

The version I made for this tutorial was made from a selection of prints from the “Marty Goes to Mars” fabric line from Camelot Cottons. I always laugh when I wear this skirt.

This could be the easiest pattern you ever draft. It’s just one pattern piece, repeated six times. The basic piece looks like this (click for bigness):

Flared skirt pattern

(Step 0: You’re using 100% cotton–don’t forget to wash, dry, and iron it before you begin. You always do that, right? Yes, I know it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s not as big a pain as when you’ve spent a couple of hours on a beautiful skirt that shrinks on you.)

Step 0.1: Take your measurements. You’ll need:

  • Waist
  • Hips
  • Hip Depth (distance from waistline to hips)
  • Skirt Length (mine falls just below my knees).

Step 1: Waist. Add 2″ to your waist measurement to allow for fitting the skirt. Add 7.5″ (twelve seam allowances at 5/8″ a piece), then divide that number by 6. That number is the top width of the pattern piece (for me it’s 6.5″).

Step 2: Repeat step 1 with your hips. (I got 7.5″).

Step 3: Decide on a length. My skirt measures 25″.

Step 4: Decide how much flare you want to add. Here you can get crazy–I like just a bit of flare, so I added 3.5″ per piece, for a total of 11″.

Step 5: Use these measurements to sketch out your pattern piece. I’ll use the numbers for my own measurements, but of course you’ll substitute yours.

Starting on the top left corner of your paper (Point A), measure 6.5″ across for your waist.

flare skirt drafting

Measure down 8″ from Point A to mark your hip depth (Point B). Square a line out from that point and mark it at 7.5″ for your hip circumference (Point C).

Flare skirt drafting

Measure down 25″ from Point A to mark your hemline. Square a long line across.

Measure in 6″ from the edge of the paper along the hemline (Point D). Measure 11″ farther and mark it (Point E).

Flare skirt drafting tutorial

Sketch in the side seams by joining Points B to D and Points C to E, making a pleasing curve. Make it nice and smooth through the hip line. I couldn’t get any good photos of that, so please refer to the pattern piece above.

NOTE: My pattern ended up with the right, concave curve being longer than the left, convex curve, because I’m sometimes (often) not too worried about precision in my own projects. That means when I join the pieces up, the hemline was jagged (there’s a photo coming up). I think it’s cool, but if you want a smooth hemline, then measure your curves to make the two sides exact (or just cut off the excess).

Step 6: Cut out your six pattern pieces. Be sure to cut them all facing the same direction. Don’t do like I did a few years back and just fold your fabric in half to cut three. It will make you cry. Or make you come up with a different sort of skirt, like I eventually did.

Step 7: Finish the lower edge. Or don’t. I like the raw look, so I opted just to serge my lower hem with white thread.

Step 8: Hunt all over your sewing room for the fourth cone of white serger thread. Vow to be more organized in the future. Make tea. Look some more. Give up and set up your serger with a standard spool of thread. Immediately find the cone on the windowsill, right where it should be. Swear. Continue with step 9.

Step 9: Attach all 6 panels, leaving 6″ open at the top of the back seam. Iron all seams toward the curve of the seam.

Step 10: Try the skirt on, pinning the back seam fully closed. At this point I needed to add a few darts to make it fit correctly. To do this, I just pinched out the excess fabric and pinned the darts. When I took off the skirt, I measured the darts to make sure they were even (see, sometimes I do things the right way!)

Step 11: Finish the top hem. Be fancy and do a facing if you like, or just make a simple folded hem if you’re impatient like me.

Step 12: Attach your zipper, snaps, buttons, or however else you intend to close your skirt.

Step 13: Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of a skirt made out of martians (or whatever fabric you choose). Bet your friends can’t say that. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Tutorial: Perfectly flared skirt

  1. Do you think this design might work for a girl’s dress made from recycled t-shirts? I’ve not designed any patterns, but I love the design of your skirt.


    • I think that would work great. The main difference you’d have using knit fabric is that instead of *adding* ease to your waist and hip measurements, you’d want to subtract about an inch, because you want the knit fabric to fit snugly. I might even put elastic in the waist to make sure it stay up well.

      Let me know if you try it, I’d love to see photos!

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