Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Lined, shirred skirt tutorial...with oddities of construction


I promised a tutorial for this skirt a long time ago...and time has run away with me, it's quarter of the way through August and I still haven't decided in which fabric I want to make up my next shirred skirt, so rather than keep you waiting until I've decided (which could be until next summer), I thought I'd go wild with the colouring pencils and draw a tutorial for you...it's not pretty, but it's hopefully vaguely comprehensible. I'm so sorry this is such a compromise...but voile is too precious to make rush decisions with. Please bear is mind that this is a very quick tutorial, based on a skirt that was salvaged from a dress - it is by no means the way that I like to create and write a pattern, but at the moment, I simply don't have time to do any more on it - but hopefully it will set you off in the right direction with making a lined shirred skirt.

You could make a shirred skirt in a heavier fabric and omit the lining and there would be no need for this tutorial. But for those who want a voile shirred skirt, a lining is fairly essential for reasons of decency.

This tutorial gives you two ways of creating the waistband. Now before we begin, I must say that neither ways is the professional and proper way of making a skirt, but both work for me. The first uses a doubled-inside wasitband - basically where you fold the waistband in half horizontally (below left). I stumbled upon this by accident, but after wearing it I think its merits are so great that, despite the fact that it's an insult to dressmaking standards, I like it. It's more comfortable than the band of elastic that I put in at the top of this shirred skirt and the double layer of material does something magic...IT HOLDS YOUR STOMACH IN...so that it is flat like a little pancake. The second method does not double the waistband in (therefore there is less shirring to be done and it uses less fabric) but bear in mind that the top edge of the waistband may have the tiniest amount of ruffling to it (below right), which may ruin the line of a close-fitting t-shirt. I haven't covered the method whereby you insert elastic to keep this bit flat...as it's not my favoured method of construction, even though it might be the most conventional (and regretfully, because I'm writing this late at night...and want to go to bed before 4am).

The second odd method of construction is that typically, one would shirr each side of the skirt before sewing the sides together - this way all the elastic ends are caught within the seams. That isn't the way that I've chosen to do it with this skirt, as I wanted the lines of shirring to match up exactly and I wanted to shirr through both layers of fabric as I didn't think a single layer of voile was substantial enough to withstand the shirring in the long-term. You can use the former method if you are happy to have the lining and the outer fabric sewn together in the lower part of the skirt...I chose not to do this as, below the lines of shirring, I wanted the lining to be separate from the outer fabric so that the voile would retain more of its flowing, wafty properties. I've explored other construction methods on scraps of fabrics, but they can cause odd little bumps on the side seam...so although it feels all wrong, this is the method that I use here.  

Please note: after several lines of shirring my fabric width is reduced by approximately half. All machines have slightly different tensions and different machines and makes of elastic may give a different results. Unfortunately my tutorial can't take all of these differences into account, so you may want to experiment on some scraps first - but remember don't be misled by only looking at your first few lines of shirring, the more rows of shirring you do, the more tightly gathered the fabric becomes.

Right, explanations as to why this skirt is so oddly constructed and warnings over. Let the fun begin.

All seam allowances are 1/2" and included in measurements.


1. I wear my skirts below my waist, so when taking measurements for this skirt I will always take the measurement from about 3" below my natural waist (the point at which your wasit goes in the most)- think about where you prefer your skirt to rest before measuring.


  • To calculate the width of the outer fabric pieces, measure around your waist, double this measurement, then add 1" to cover seam allowances. Yes, this seems like a huge waistband, but the shirring reduces it hugely.

  • To calculate the length of the outer fabric pieces, measure from where the top of the skirt will rest to where you want the finished hem of the skirt to fall on your leg. Now add 1.5" to cover hem and seam allowance and if you're going to be having the folded-in waist like I have on my skirt, then add a further 3".
  • Now that you have established the length and width of your fabric pieces cut two of these rectangles from outer fabric.

  • The lining should be a little shorter than the outer fabric, so use the same width measurement, but decrease the final length measurement by 2". Cut 2.

2. Take one outer fabric piece and one lining piece. Place face to face and sew across the width of the fabric (this is along the side that was determined by your waist measurement) using a 1/2" seam (as above). Now repeat for the remaining pieces of fabric.


3. Lie fabrics out completely flat, face-to-face, with the two lining pieces together and the two outer fabric pieces together, as shown in the picture above. Start pinning at the centre so that you can perfectly align the top edges of the outer fabric pieces. Pin outward in both directions away from the centre. Sew along both sides using a 1/2" seam allowance, as indicated by the sew lines in the picture (sew all the way to the ends - the fabrics in the picture are turned back for illustration purposes).

4. Turn right side out, so that the lining sits inside the outer fabric, with wrong sides facing one another. You should have a fairly shapeless rectangle for a skirt now...a potato sack if you will. Don't worry...it's all about to change.


Roll in the top edge (the side with your outer fabric on ) by about 1/4", so that if you're not using the doubled-in waistband method, you don't risk seeing any of the lining at the top of the finished skirt (if you're using this method, you'll want your finished skirt to look like the picture below at the top). For both methods, press the top edge and side seams firmly with an iron - this is essential to have a nice straight edge against which to begin your shirring.



5. Now, if you look closely at the picture above, you'll see that there are some stitches on each side at the top of the skirt. Before you begin shirring you'll want to top-stitch down the seam line here so that the seam lines of the lining and outer fabric stay perfectly aligned. If you don't do this they will inevitably go out of alignment and your shirring will look really, really horrid. With your fingers inside the lining feel to perfectly align the lining side seams with the outer fabric side seams. Place pins going along the seam of the outer fabric and check that they sit perfectly on the lining seam line on the inside. You just need to do this for 6" at the top of the skirt, as this will be the depth of your shirring (3" if you're not using the folded-in waist that I use).


6. With the right side of the skirt facing you, create 6" deep of shirring, aligning your presser foot with the top edge of the skirt for the first line and then aligning the edge of the presser foot with the stitching of the previous line of the stitching for all subsequent lines of stitching. You must be very sure to secure the beginning and end stitches of each row - these will keep your elastic in place. I always pull up too much thread at the beginning and end, so as well as securing the stitches with the machine, I can tie a tiny knot with the ends of the elastic before cutting off the excess. Do this as you go at the end of each row or you risk things becoming untidy inside. You are shirring through both layers of fabric and should shirr a complete circle round both sides of the skirt, before starting on the next row. With each line of shirring the skirt will become tighter, so don't worry about your first couple of rows, when the waist will still look very large and floppy. If you don't know exactly how to shirr then refer to my tutorial here

7. Once finished, double the waistband in half inwards so that 3" of shirring is on the inside and 3" remains on the outside, press just the very top of this edge lightly with a dry iron. Try the skirt on...if the waist is too big, then it can always be reduced by pressing lightly with a steam iron (if the waist is just right, avoid pressing with a steam iron...unless you want to create your very own corset-style skirt).


8. You will need to hem both the outer skirt and the lining. My measurements give you 1" for hemming, however, do try it on and alter accordingly...you may find you want it shorter! For a quick and easy way to hem accurately, refer to my tip in this post.

I do hope that you love any skirts that you make! I would so love to see any finished skirts, so please do drop them into my Flickr pool here or email them to me if you have a moment.

Florence x

8 comments:

  1. That's a lovely tutorial - thank you very much - I will definitely be making one :-) xx

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  2. That is beautiful! And your stitching is absolute perfection!

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  3. That looks like something I'll be able to handle! Thanks!

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  4. this is great florence! you have so much great knowledge. :)

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  5. Hi Florence

    I love this pattern the tutorial is very easy to follow too. I like the idea of the shirring being quite firm, not only for a flatter tummy but also for the fit

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  6. Hi, I Just had to visit your lovely blog when I saw the title as both my late mother and my little grand-daughter are called Florence, and sometimes little Florence get called Flossie or Florrie.
    I'm glad I did visit your blog as I love making things and you have lots of great tutorials.
    Maureen x

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  7. Hi Florence - thanks so much for your lovely tutorial! Sending e-bouquets your way!

    ReplyDelete
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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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