skirt pattern

How to : Draft a fit and flare skirt


Over the last couple of weeks I have been writing blog posts about drafting skirts - from drafting a block to your own measurements, adding the correct markings to the pattern and adding seam allowance. Since the block was completed, I have been showing you ways that you can manipulate the pattern to create your own designs.

Last week I did a little round-up of all the posts so far, and asked if there was a specific style anyone wanted to learn how to make. 

Carol got in touch:

The skirt I would love to see as I fell in love with it when I first saw it, was from a blog post by Yoshimi. They call it a mermaid skirt. I think 6 gores with a flare at the bottom. I haven't seen a pattern like this and have a pic of it saved on my hard drive just to look at.

I was excited to get a suggestion, but also a little apprehensive about the skirt suggested. The term 'mermaid skirt' brought ball gowns to my mind... Which you may have noticed, is not really my style!

[ Image posted with permission from Yoshimi -

But it was a lovely surprise when I found the skirt in question. It's lovely - sleek and simply, and a perfect skirt for a beginner to draft. So thank you very much for the suggestion Carol!

Drafting a flared skirt with panels

It may be difficult to see in the images, but the skirt is made up of 3 panels in the front, and 4 in the back (as the centre back has a seam for the zip). You could use this method with as many panel lines as you like, as it is a matter of preference, but I will draft it the same way as the source image.

To start this pattern, you will first need to add panels to your skirt block - which is one of the tutorials already in the series

Trace the pattern

Trace a copy of each of the pieces, without seam allowance. For the example, I will only be using the two front pattern pieces, as the process is exactly the same for the back.


Mark flare point

1. Have a think about what point you would like the skirt to flare from. I wanted my pattern to be the same as the example from Yoshimi, so I measured down from my waist to the middle of my upper thigh, to find the right measurement for me (22cm [8 1/2in] down from the waist). Another way you could do this, is by putting on your skirt toile and marking the point you would like it to flare out. 

When you have the measurement, mark it on your pattern pieces, measuring down from the waistline. Draw perpendicular lines through each pattern piece at this point.



2. You will be cutting through the pattern pieces at the horizontal lines. Before cutting, label each pattern piece so that they don't get mixed up.

I chose to label my pieces as 'Upper panel - side front,' 'Lower panel - side front,' 'Upper panel - centre front' and 'Lower panel - centre front.' It doesn't really matter what you call each piece - as long as you can remember what's what!

Cut pattern into sections

3. Cut along the horizontal lines so that you have four seperate pattern pieces.

Cut and spread


4. We will be cutting an spreading to add volume (and create the flare) to the lower section of the skirt. Draw vertical lines through the the lower panels. It is up to you how many lines you would like to draw (and will depend on how many panels your skirt has), but I think 4 in the side panel and 2 in the centre front is a good place to start. Keep the spacing between the lines as consistent as possible. 

Have you cut and spread before? It is a really simple way to add volume (or remove) to a pattern. I wrote a tutorial here, if you would like a closer look at this technique



5. You now need to carefully cut along each of the lines, starting from the hemline, and cutting up towards the top edge. Don't cut all the way through the piece, leave 1-2mm (1/16in) at the top to act as a "hinge" (a small strip of paper that will hold the pieces together, but also allow movement).


6. Now it's time to spread! Carefully spread each cut line by the desired amount (this will depend on your preferences. I'd suggest 3-5cm [1 1/4 - 2in]). Be careful to spread each cut line by the same amount. You can play around until you are happy with the amount of fullness you have added. 


7. You can now stick the lower pieces back on to the upper pieces, to create single pattern pieces. As the top edges of the lower pieces have become curved, the pieces may need to overlap a little (as seen in the example).

Trace the pattern


8. Now take a piece of pattern paper and trace each pattern piece. Instead of the point that is created at the joint of the two pieces, draw a smooth curve. 

Add pattern markings


9. Be sure to mark the grainline on each pattern piece, as well as cutting instructions.

The final thing to do, is to check that the seams fit together correctly. But I'll leave that bit for tomorrow!

I want to finish up by saying a huge thank you to Yoshimi for allowing me to use her images for this post! You should definitely head over to her blog for a look around - she has made some beautiful stuff, and her instagram is very nice too. 

Once again, thank you Carol for suggesting today's blog topic. Is there a skirt you would like to know how to draft? Please let me know and maybe it will be your suggestion next!

You may also like:

Throwback Thursday: Adding volume to a pattern


Over the past weeks I have been showing you how to draft a skirt block, as part of The Skirt Series.

Now that it is complete, it is time to start making the pattern your own. 


Last week I showed you how to draft an A-line skirt, by relocating the fullness of the dart to the hemline, using the cut and spread technique.

Today I will show you how to add more volume to the skirt block, using this same technique. You can use this same method to add fullness to just about any pattern piece: sleeves, trousers, blouses and jackets, and many more. 

Mark the cut and spread lines


1. I am using my skirt block to demonstrate this tutorial. The darts have already been moved, as shown in this tutorial. As always, it is best to have a copy of your pattern, without seam allowance. It is much easier to make adjustments with seam allowance removed.

2. Draw three lines (this is only a suggestion, you could use more or less) down the length of your pattern, roughly parallel to the centre front. Space them out, with roughly even gaps between them.


3. You will be cutting these lines, to add volume to the pattern. Wherever there is a line, this is where more fabric will be added - that's why it is best that they are evenly spaced.

4. Take your scissors and cut along the first guideline, from the hemline up towards the waistline.


5. Do not cut all the way through the pattern. Stop a few millimeters (1/16 in) from the waistline, leaving a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the two pieces together.

How much volume to add?

Think about how much volume you are wanting to add to the pattern overall. You may want to do this by eye (just cut along the line and then spread until it looks as though enough volume has been added), or by an exact amount. If you are just opening up a hemline, I would say that doing it by eye is fine. But if, for example, the hip-line of a pattern is too tight and you are spreading the pattern to accommodate this, then I would suggest finding an exact amount so that you don't get any surprises.

If you have found an exact amount, you will need to divide this figure by four, as the volume will need to be distributed between the four pieces that make up the skirt pattern (front right, front left, back left and back right). Then divide the number again, by the number of guidelines you have on your pattern piece.

For example, if you would like to add an overall 30cm to the hemline, you will be adding 7.5cm to each pattern piece. If I was to add this to my pattern used as an example, I would divide this 7.5cm by my three guidelines, meaning I would open up each guideline by 2.5cm.

Cut and spread 


6. Slide a separate piece of pattern paper under your pattern, so that you will have something to stick the pattern to once you make the adjustments. Spread the hemline by the amount worked out in the previous step. Use tape or glue to secure in place.

7. Repeat process for the other lines, spreading each opening by the same amount as the first.

Check pattern


8. Redraw the waistline with a smooth curve.

9. Redraw the hemline with a smooth curve.


10. Check the the hemline meets the side seam and the centre front with a right angle. This will help you get a nice smooth hemline between front and back pattern pieces.

Complete the pattern

The pattern is done and you can now add seam allowance. If the pattern is a bit of a mess, with all that tape and extra paper, then simply trace a copy onto a seperate piece of paper.

You may also like:

A tutorial: How to add dart shaping


Welcome back to my latest addition to the blog: The Skirt Series. In yesterday's tutorial, I showed you how to draft a skirt block.


At this stage the pattern is drafted, but it is not yet complete. There are still two things to do before we can go ahead and make a toile - we need to add dart shaping and then add seam allowance. I will cover dart shaping in today's post and then next week I'll get to adding seam allowance.

What is a dart?

Essentially, pattern drafting is the act of making something two dimensional (the fabric) fit around something three dimensional (the body). Darts are a way of doing this and are most commonly used to create shape around areas of the body that are curved - the bust, shoulders, elbows and waist, but can be used pretty much anywhere - whether purely for fit, or also as a design detail.

What is dart shaping and why do I need to think about it?


You may have put a dart in something before and noticed that the dart has changed the shape of the seam that it lies on and is no longer the smooth line it once was. In the example, I have folded the dart, and it has caused the waistline to become very sharp and angular. This is because we have lost 3cm to the dart, which is what gave us our nice smooth curve.


To prevent this from happening, you need to add dart shaping. This will ensure that once your dart is sewn in your waistline (or which ever seam your dart is located) it will remain a smooth line.

Let's get drafting!

Take one piece of your skirt (I will be starting with the front), or any other pattern piece that you are working on, that has a dart. Your pattern should still be on a larger piece of paper (not yet cut out).


You will need to fold the dart, so you can predict what will happen when you sew the dart when you get to making it up in fabric. Think about which direction the fullness of your dart will be pressed once it is sewn, this will decide which dart arm you need to fold.

Generally vertical darts are pressed towards the centre front (in the case of front darts) and the centre back (in the case of back darts). It seems reviews can be mixed when it comes to more horizontal darts, but I tend to push mine up up.

Fold along Dart arm # 2, down to the dart point, being careful to fold right on the line, to make a crease.


Working with darts on a flat surface can be difficult so move over to the corner of your table (hopefully you have a square or rectangular table like me, otherwise a big book will do the trick), placing the point of your dart on top of the corner of the table.


Fold the dart, by placing Dart arm # 2 on top of Dart arm # 1 (this is when that crease comes in handy). You will quickly see that it is much easier to get the dart to sit flat when it is sitting on a corner.

You will see that your seam would look like if you were to sew it without adding dart shaping. Not great, right?


Use a weight to keep your pattern in place on the corner and then take a ruler and pencil and redraw the waistline with a nice smooth curve.


Take your tracing wheel and trace along your new seam line - particularly focusing on where the dart is folded (go over this area a couple of times to ensure the markings transfer through the fold).


Unfold the dart and you will see the markings transferred from the tracing wheel.


Take a ruler and join the dots to form a nice smooth line.

And there you have it, a dart with shaping!

I must say that this little tip is one of my favourites. Do you have a favourite pattern cutting technique?

You may also like: