pattern hacking

Pattern hack : How to add a full skirt to the Acton dress

Hello, hello, I hope you enjoyed the Acton sew-along! Today I thought I'd show you a little pattern hack. A customer got in touch to tell me she was planning on using the Acton pattern to make her bridesmaids dresses (swoon!) and wanted to know how she could go about adding a full circle skirt, instead of the standard A-line skirt (view A). I thought it would be a good tutorial to share on the blog, as I'm sure many of you would love an Acton with a full skirt, while some of you may also be interested in how you add a full circle skirt to a pattern that doesn't have a straight waist seam - and this tutorial fits the bill for both!

Getting started

To start, trace a copy of the front skirt pattern piece with seam allowance - be sure to also trace the stitch line (the grey line on the pattern) and transfer the notches, grainline and drill hole. Cut out the pattern piece. 

Take a large piece of pattern paper and draw a vertical line down the right hand side. Label line as "Centre Front."

Take your pattern piece and line up the centre front of the skirt, with the line marked as Centre Front on the paper. Tape in place (only down the centre front).

Mark in your 'Cut and Spread' lines

We will be using the 'Cut and Spread' method to add the extra fullness to the skirt.

Draw two straight lines from the top of the skirt to the bottom - roughly splitting the skirt into thirds. 

Starting at the hem of the skirt, carefully cut up each of the lines. Cut up to the stitch line, but do not cut through the stitch line. 

Cut the remainder of each line from the top edge (cutting down towards the stitch line). Don't cut all the way through though, stop a few millimetres from the stitch line, leaving a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the pieces together (if they do accidentally come apart, just tape back in place). 

Cut and spread

Slowly open up the hemline of the skirt by swinging the section closest to the side seam out from the cut. You will see that the small hinge created will allow you to open (or close) the cut lines by the desired amount. 

Open up the second cut line (closest to the centre front) and then play around with the openings until you are happy with how much you are adding to the hemline overall (and both are opened evenly). 

When you are happy with the result, tape or glue the pieces in place on the backing paper. 

Re-draw the waistline

You will now notice that the waistline is looking a little scary! We will need to rectify that now. 

Re-draw the waistline with a smooth curve (on the stitch line). Be careful not to let the line stray too far from the original stitch line. The new line needs to be the same length as the original waistline so that the new skirt piece will still fit with the original bodice. 

Re-draw the hemline

Re-draw the hemline with a nice smooth curve. 

Trace the pattern

Take another large piece of pattern paper and trace a copy of the new pattern piece. Start by tracing the stitching line - centre front, new hemline, side seam and new waistline. 

Add seam allowance

Add seam allowance to the new pattern piece - either using the original cutting lines as a guide, or adding it yourself - 1.5cm at the side seam, 1.2cm at the hem and waistline. If you are wondering why the seam allowance sits at an angle on the side seam, check out this post

Add notches, grainline and drill hole

Transfer the notches from the original pattern, as well as the grainline and drillhole in the centre front. 

Finalise the pattern

Cut out your new pattern piece and add cutting instructions (i.e. "Cut 1 on fold"). Repeat process for the back pattern piece (opening up each cut and spread line by the same amount as you did on the front piece).

One last tip

Tip: Be sure to let your full skirt hang for a few days before you hem it. Due to the nature of a full skirt, some parts of the skirt are cut on the bias, which means they stretch (or "drop") more easily that other sections of the skirt, which means that if you hem it straight away, you are likely to end up with a wobbly hemline. Let your skirt hang and then re-cut the hemline before hemming. 

The Acton sew-along will continue tomorrow. Hope you are enjoying these posts and learning lots!

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How to : Draft a top with yoke


Recently I have been well and truly in summer sewing mode, as I have been working on another pattern for Peppermint magazine (see my first pattern for Peppermint here). As it's a quarterly publication, the next release will be in Spring, which makes me feel as though spring is just around the corner. And makes me very excited! I am not a winter person at all, so I have been very much enjoying pretending it's spring and using luscious linen to make the sample. 

So, to keep the dream alive, that it is actually spring (I know I shouldn't whinge as winter in Sydney is very mild) I thought I'd post a follow up post to the post I did a couple of weeks ago on drafting a summer top.

I thought a good place to start would be with a few simple adjustments you can make to your simple top pattern (or even an existing top pattern you have) to add a bit more interest, starting with adding a yoke. 

What is a yoke?

A yoke is a panel that is inserted in the top of a garment to add interest. For example, yokes are often used on the back shoulders of shirts, but can also be found on blouses, tops, skirts and trousers. 

Trace the pattern


To start, trace a copy of the pattern you would like to add a yoke too. I am using the simple sleeveless top pattern that I drafted from my basic bodice block

Style lines


Think about the shape of the yoke you would like to create, and draw the style line on the pattern. I have included a few examples, but there are countless options of what you could do. Be sure to bring the style line to a right angle at the centre front (more details about this can be found here). 


For the sake of the example, I decided to go with a simple straight yoke through the armhole.  Before going any further, put a notch on the style line. This will help match the two pieces back together once they become two separate pattern pieces. 


Cut along the style line (or trace each piece onto paper) to create two independent pattern pieces.

What next?


There are a number of things you could choose to do now. You could leave the pattern as is (just add seam allowance and pattern markings) for a simple tank with a yoke panel line (which you could choose to also repeat on the back pattern piece).


You could consider adding volume to the lower panel to create more of a trapeze silhouette. You can do this by cutting and spreading the pattern until you achieve the desired silhouette (look at this tutorial for more details about how to do this).


Or even consider adding a box pleat at the centre front (this is a personal favourite of mine).

Finish the pattern by adding seam allowance and cutting instructions.

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Pattern Hack : Rushcutter View A with Buttons


Original Technical Drawings

Recently, a customer got in touch and said that she wanted to make the Rushcutter View A (the version with sleeves), but would like to add buttons to the back, like View B, but wanted to check if it was an easy adjustment to make to the pattern. 


A Rushcutter with sleeves and buttons


It is a nice and easy adjustment to make, and it is a tutorial I have been meaning to create forever, so I thought this was a sign it was about time I got around to it, as I am sure she is not the only one who would like to make this adjustment!

A little bit about In the Folds patterns

If you have used the Rushcutter pattern, you will know that both stitching line and cutting lines are marked on the pattern.

Why is the stitching line marked?

When I first decided to start creating sewing patterns for home sewers, one of the first decisions I made, before I even started sketching, was that I wanted to create patterns that would help sewers develop their skills, in both sewing and pattern making.

By including the stitching lines on each pattern piece, it makes it much easier to understand how the pattern was originally made, but also allows for easy adjustments and 'hacking' to the pattern (as all pattern alterations should be done without seam allowance added to the pattern). 


In the image you can see that the stitching line is marked with a red line, while the cutting line (outside edge of the pattern) is marked with a thick black line. If you wanted to make changes to this particular pattern piece, you could simple cut along the stitch line to remove the seam allowance, and the piece would be ready to be altered.

Understand your pattern

Before making any adjustments to a pattern, I always suggest having a good idea of how the pattern works and fits in it's original design.

So, for this example, have a look at how the button placket works on View B, before adding it to View A.

The button placket


As you can see, the button placket is made up of three sections, that folded to create the button placket. The first (closest to the centre back) is 1cm from the centre back. This is the first fold line. The next line is 2cm from the first fold line and is the second fold line (the buttons and button holes will be placed between these two lines). And the third line is 1cm from the second fold line and is the edge of the pattern piece. 


When the piece is cut, the first fold line is folded and pressed towards the centre back.


The second fold line is folded and pressed, enclosing the raw edge inside, creating a button placket. 


To finish, the buttons and button holes are placed on the centre back line. To see how this looks in fabric, you can check out this step from the Rushcutter Sew-Along.

Make the adjustment


Take the 'UPPER BODICE' pattern piece from View B, and cut along the centre back line, removing the placket from the pattern. If you would like to keep the pattern intact, simply trace a copy of the placket section onto a seperate piece of paper. 


Now that you have removed the placket, you can get your sleeve pattern (from View A) ready.


You will be placing the right edge of the placket onto the centre back of the sleeve pattern (the stitch line).

Attach placket to sleeve


Line the placket up with the centre back of the sleeve pattern and tape or glue in place.

And that's it... Your Rushcutter is ready for buttons instead of a zip!

If you don't have the placket piece from View B

If you have already printed your pattern, and then decided to change from zip to buttons, and don't have the pattern pieces from View B, do not worry! It is super simple to create the placket piece, with the help of a pencil and a ruler.

Remove the seam allowance


Take your sleeve pattern and remove the seam allowance from the centre back seam (by cutting along the stitch line marked on the pattern).


Take a small piece of pattern paper, and tape it to the centre back of the pattern, creating space for your placket.


Create the placket by:

1. Drawing a line 1cm (3/8in) from the centre back, running parallel to the centre back. 

2. Drawing a second line, 2cm (3/4in) from the first

3. The final line will be drawn 1cm (3/8in) from the second line. 

Complete the placket shape


Extend the top and bottom edges of the sleeve pattern to complete the placket shape.



Complete the placket by adding button / buttonhole placement markings.

And you are ready to sew!

Over to you

Do you have a pattern hack for the Rushcutter in mind? I'd love to hear about it!

If you use this tutorial, I'd love to know! Simply tag your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #draftingwithinthefolds.

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