Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Keeping the lace pure and undarted in a fitted skirt

My lace design has regular repeating rows of curlicues, scrolls and flower motifs that I felt would have been spoiled by waist shaping darts; also the lace fabric is quite thick and darts would not have sat nice and flat on the inside.  Plus, they would have been visible through the wide holes in the lace.  
SO, I aimed to eliminate the darts from my skirt and maintain the integrity of the rows of repeating motifs in the design.

Thank you so much to Robyn and Sharon who asked  :)
And I should mention straight off that I learnt this process from using Tomoko Nakamichi's Pattern Magic books of course...the point of which is to learn how to manipulate a sloper and fabrics in order to achieve a desired effect.  I probably say that each and every time I mention the books, so please forgive me for repeating myself.  I guess I just love this sort of thing since I am a bonafide maths and fashion and sewing nerd; three, not-irreconcilable passions that are wrapped up together and catered to in one neat package.  Working through the exercises has taught me loads about pattern manipulation.
Anyhow, without further ado...

I chose the skirt pattern Vogue 1247 as a starting point because:
a.  I have used it a few times already and am happy with the fit.
b.  It has only one shaping dart on each side of the front and the back, and obviously one dart is way easier to eliminate than two.
c.  It has a high straight waistband that I could transform into a yoke fairly easily.  A waistband or yoke was an essential component to stabilise the lace at the top of the skirt.
d.  It is a reasonably straight little skirt, enabling me to easily match up the lace motifs down each side seam as well.

I am showing the process using the front pattern piece only... exactly the same process applies to the back piece.
I usually use old newspaper to make up my pattern modifications, but just in honour of taking photos today I have used some nice plain brown paper instead.  Yah I know, so classy  ;)
Draw the pattern piece with the dart marked.
Mark a horizontal line from the point of the dart extending out to the side edge.
Cut along the outside edge of the dart.
Cut along the horizontal line from the side edge to the point of the dart.
Rotate the top side edge into the centre to close the dart, and tape it closed.
Just to visually simplify the next step I've traced off a new paper piece from this new, dartless skirt front piece....
Now, my lace had straight, horizontal straight rows of motifs.. to indicate how this appears on my paper pattern piece I have marked some horizontal straight rows in red.... Now, see how the sides of the skirt curve up quite dramatically from the centre front?    The visual effect of the curving row of lace, even though it is apparent curving and not actual curving; is rather unflattering imo and would look messy and chaotic.  So, I wanted the top of the skirt to be cut in a straight horizontal line, to preserve the straight line of the lace design.
Cut off that top side curve.
The lower skirt piece remaining is your new skirt front piece.  The curved piece cut off the top is used to create the waistband/yoke section as below...
The waistband of Vogue 1247 is a straight waistband; trace a new waistband including seam allowances.  
Transfer the top side curve markings to it.. this will be the new curved side seam of the waistband/yoke.
Extend the curve up to the top of the desired yoke/waistband height; then freehand draw it a bit higher and then curve it down to join onto the waistband top, to square off that top corner.
This process results in a dartless skirt with a straight top edge that preserves the horizontal rows in the lace... and with a straight waistband shaped into the side edges.


  1. Thank you! You make it look so simple and easy. Great explanation. I´ll keep it in mind, although knowing me I would have sewn the darts and never look back...So much to learn, yet!

  2. Thank you so much! I was curious how this worked :)

  3. I am amazed how you made this dartless lace skirt. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions.

  4. Thanks for explaining this! I took flat pattern design in college and this reminds me of that class. I have been focusing on quilting in my sewing lately but I want to start making clothes for myself again soon and your blog is great inspiration!

  5. Great explanations and the visuals are perfect! Thanks.

  6. Brilliant explanation with SUCH helpful photos! I'm glad I wasn't the only one wondering how you did that! I love your skirt!

  7. Thank you. Once I saw how it was done it made so much sense :)

  8. Of course! The contoured waist band! Now I HAVE to get those books too!

    Thank you!


  9. That looks so stunning!
    You make it look so easy.
    Can you tell me what you made the waistband out of?

  10. Thank you for this tut, Carolyn. So clear.

  11. great tutorial which I am sure will be put to good use in time. Thank you.

  12. And the end result is a perfect example of how well this works - it looks lovely! The repeat of the lace and it's colour mixed with the solid waistband is a really gorgeous, classic look - I love it.

  13. You are one stylish and clever lady, its interesting to see how that was done, something I never would of thought of. I have the vogue top, cut out but haven't sewn it together yet, I would never of thought to make the skirt as its too short for my taste. I'm leaning towards changing my mind thanks to you. :)

  14. You're a genius at tutorial writing, I've done a whole course in pattern cutting which was nowhere near as clear as this. I'd love to see more of these posts! And the skirt is beautiful.

  15. You are so gushed darned clever! The skirt is beautiful, and thank you for sharing how you did this.

  16. So simple, yet so clever. I agree with yesilikethat - straightforward instructions are nowhere near straightforward to write. The people who can do this are few and far between. Lovely!

  17. oh wow! I really thought you just cut out a straight pattern piece without the darts! Good grief.

    That is very very interesting and very helpful...thanks.

    Your skirt is just so beautiful. Everything you make is truly lovely to behold!

  18. This is timely! This came the day after my daughter and I finished struggling with a simple wide wale corduroy. I wanted the same thing: a simple skirt that kept the corduroy straight. I didn't want gathers because I didn't like the way the fabric sat in the back. The darts weren't working. We ended up after three days putting the darts back in and my daughter will have that skirt because it looks good on her. We are going to study your instructions and try again! Thank you!

  19. very nice! thanks for showing us how to do this. your lace skirt is just beautiful!

  20. Thank you very much I had a lot of aahs reading this and really appreciate you taking the time to share this great tip.

  21. Such an interesting post Carolyn. I'm very inspired and am more and more tempted to get these Pattern Magoc books - although I think I might need a week off work to wrap my head around them!!
    Thank you for sharing this information - much appreciated!

  22. Your skirt is beautiful. Thanks for your clear and detailed explaination of the dart removal process.

  23. Very useful explanation. Not sure if you made the skirt illustrated or if it is your inspiration piece. Either way it is gorgeous!

  24. Thanks for explaining me the dart removal process...You are my hero. I have been making an a-line skirt with the slash and spread method but I am not so happy with the result...I will give this one a try.

  25. Wonderful tutorial, as always, and beautiful skirt.

  26. I wish I were as cool as you. :)
    I knew there was a reason to love maths.