the acton

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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The Acton sew-along : How to lengthen the bodice

Welcome back to the Acton Sew-along.

In yesterday's tutorial, I gave you all the reasons why you should always make a toile (especially when you're making a fitted garment like the Acton) and showed you how to go about it. In the next few tutorials, I'm going to show you what to do if you have realised that you need to shorten or lengthen the bodice. This is probably one of the simplest pattern alterations you can make, so please don't be daunted by it if you've realised that you'll get a better fit by changing the length of your bodice. 

By referring to your toile, you will be able to know whether you need to remove length below the bust, or above the bust. The method is exactly the same, just the location of the cut is different. This tutorial will show you how to remove excess from below the bust, and later today I'll show you how to remove length from above the bust. 

Getting started

To start, trace a copy of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and SIDE FRONT BODIE of the Acton pattern (it's always a good idea to trace a copy of the pattern, rather than using the original, in case you make a mistake. Although with a digital pattern you can always print another copy if necessary!), including all pattern markings (in this case the stitch line, grainlines and notches). 

Normally I suggest removing the seam allowance when making pattern alterations, but when it's as simple as this alteration, there really is no need. 

Draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline) through each pattern piece between the lower notches (below the bust line). On the CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece, make sure the line is far enough up the piece that it intersects the centre front of the piece and not through the bottom edge.

Cut through the pattern pieces

Carefully cut through each line, separating each piece into two. 

lengthen the bodice

Take a piece of pattern paper (this is a great time to use up some of your paper scraps!) and draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. On the right hand side, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new pattern piece. 

Take the lower section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the centre front matching up with the vertical line and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

Add length to the pattern piece

By looking at your toile, work out how much extra length you need to add to the pattern. For the case of the example, I will be adding 2.5cm (1").

On the vertical line, mark a point 2.5cm / 1" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the cut edge. 

acton_dress_shorten_bodice_3_5.gif

Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step. 

Take the upper section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the centre front with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

Trace the new pattern piece

A : Take another piece of pattern paper and trace your new pattern piece. Start by tracing the original lines of the pattern which have not been affected by the changes.

B : Redraw the panel seam by drawing a line from the top of the pattern piece, down to the bottom - meeting the original line at each end. Do this for both the cutting line and the stitching line. 

Be sure to trace all pattern markings - notches, drill hole and grainline. Label the pattern for safe-keeping. You can now cut out your new pattern piece. 

Repeat Process for the side front bodice

For the SIDE FRONT BODICE you will need your piece of paper to be slightly wider than the one you used for the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Again, mark the horizontal and vertical lines on the paper - but this time, place the vertical line closer to the centre of the paper. 

Take the lower section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the grainline matching up with the vertical line (you can now see why this line had to be closer to the middle) and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

On the vertical line (the grainline in this case), mark a point 2.5cm / 1" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the pattern edge. This distance needs to be the same amount that you added to the CENTRE FRONT BODICE.

Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step. 

Take the upper section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the grainline with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

You will see that the changes are limited to area where the paper was added, so there is no need to trace the pattern. Simply re-draw the side seam and princess seam and cut the piece out.

Repeat process for the back panels and that's it!

Are you enjoying the Acton sew-along? There are still plenty of posts to come!


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