Monday, 3 January 2011

Seven-panel skirt

Fabric: Daisy Janie's Geo Grand Crystal Ball.
Pattern: make your own!

What better way to start the new year than with a tutorial? And an easy one, too.

This pattern is based on the traditional shweshwe panel skirt: shweshwe fabric is often sold as pre-printed panels, and you buy as many as you need to make a skirt or dress. What I love about this method is that it's minutely adjustable to your perfect fit.

I found that 7 panels made a good skirt for someone who measures 'medium-medium-medium'; if you add more, you'll have a more flared skirt. And presumably if you're really really thin, you might be able to get away with 6.

This is the size of the usual panel, measured without seam or hem allowances. Draw it up as is to get the shape of the panel correct. Measure your hips at the widest part, divide by 7 (or the number of panels), and mark where the panel is that width.

Work out roughly the length you'll want above and below the hip line. 73cm makes a calf-length skirt on me; my final pattern was 58cm long - but I'm quite short. Add seam allowances, and hem allowances at top and bottom. (I added 1cm at the top and 4cm at the bottom.)

Cut 7 pieces; cut notches to mark the hip line.

Sew all the pieces together, leaving a gap at the back for the zip. (Oh, yes ... sorry, you'll need a zip.) Try it on, and adjust the waist fit. Leaving the front 2 seams fairly flat, take in the other seams all round. You might need to take in more at the sides than the back, or the same amount on all the seams; however you adjust, make sure that the adjustments are symmetrical. The zip seam can be taken in, but try not to end up with too much of a curve there - rather spread the adjustment to the adjacent seams.

Sew the adjustments from waist to hip line, smoothing the angle to a curve.

Try it on again, insert zip, turn over hem at the top, and hem the bottom.


Jo said...

Lovely skirt! The design looks very flattering and I love the fabric.

I just wanted to say how useful I've enjoyed your printmaking tutorials. I'm just starting to experiment and you've really helped. I blogged on it today and linked to you - hope you don't mind. Thanks again!

Jan said...

Jesse -
Your skirt looks wonderful! I've never heard of this type of panel sewing for a skirt, so this is a double bonus post for me!! Thank you so much for posting this! I'm anxious to try it now as the look is very simple and flattering!

Out of context: I love the image of you standing on the table with your hands on your hips in your Mary Jane's - "Hey Mom, look at me! I'm standing on the table! I can tap dance, too!"

And So I Whisper said...

Great tutorial!
happy new year! Hope 2011 comes full of health, love, peace and work for you and your family :-)

Sonya Philip said...

Looks fantastic. A tutorial is a great way to start the New Year, thank you!

Danya Ristić said...

Happy new year! That's a really pretty skirt.

Anonymous said...

ooh thanks for the tutorial. one of my to do's for this year is to make either a skirt or dress for myself - this looks just about doable - but I've never heard of shweshwe fabric (great name) before, does it have other names?

Jesse said...

Shweshwe is a traditional Southern African fabric; it's cotton, stiffly starched, and has amazingly intricate prints. There's some info about it here:

Jacqui Dodds said...

Jesse this skirt looks great. I am always on the lookout for skirt patterns like this so must try it out before the summer.
Now I have an excuse to find some lovely fabric!

Michelle Engel Bencsko said...

Excellent! I will try it out come (our) spring.

vlijtig said...

I think this will be my first adult size piece of clothing! Thanks for your tutorial.

Billy said...

The skirt looks great and the tutorial is clear enough for me to face my fears and sew myself a skirt. Let´s see... :)

Michelle said...

I want to make a panel skirt but am unsure of how to cut out the pieces. Should they each be cut out along the same grain line or next to each other? Thanks. Great skirt pattern.

Jesse said...

You can cut the pieces out next to each other if you flip every second piece upside down - that's the way the pre-printed panels are arranged on shwe-shwe fabric. You'll get maximum use out of the fabric, and the panels will be aligned to the grain. (Hope I've explained that properly.)