Over the last 3 years I’ve sewn a lot of things for Miss E. While she happily wears pretty much anything I make her, there is one pattern that gets worn more than any other. It’s not really a pattern, it’s Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial. Her skirt tutorial is one of my all-time favorites!
I’ve made nine simple skirts for Miss E over the last few years. She loves them. They’re comfy, colorful, easy to put on, and given the choice they are what she will wear on any given day. In the summer she wears them with t-shirts and Salt Water sandals. In the winter she wears them with leggings, sweaters, or long-sleeved shirts.
They are so easy to make, easy to embellish, and they require very little fabric.
The simplicity of the pattern allows you to add little details and make variations to the basic pattern.
This patchwork version of the Simple Skirt is Miss E’s favorite among favorites. I made it on a lark at the beginning of the summer. I had a bunch of scraps leftover from some projects I had completed and I decided to patch them together to make her a skirt. It ended up being a little shorter than I wanted, so I finished the hem with bias tape. It was a happy accident because I like the bias tape even better than a plain hemline.
This skirt was washed and worn every week for the entire summer. It seemed like a good time to make her another. While I was at it, I thought I would write up a quick tutorial for turning a Simple Skirt into a Patchwork Simple Skirt.
Start by reading Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial. She does and excellent job of explaining how to draft a pattern and construct the skirt. Before you begin, use Dana’s formula to figure out the length and the width of your skirt. This tutorial will simply show you how to assemble the patchwork part of the skirt.
Next, go through your scrap fabric and choose a handful of fabrics that look good together. I’m using 14 different fabrics but you can use as few as 7. Using 7 fabrics will mean that you will have to use each type of fabric twice, maybe more depending on the size of the skirt. As you can see, I chose a wide variety of patterns in green, orange, and purple hues. With one pop of turquoise, because turquoise is always a good idea.
In addition to the fabric you will need a sewing machine (obviously), a cutting mat, with a cutting ruler, a rotary cutter, 3/4 inch elastic, bias tape, and pins.
Start by ironing all of your fabric. While this might seem obvious, it’s actually an important step. When cutting with a mat and rotary blade, it’s important to have smooth, crisp fabric. Otherwise your lines will be wobbly. Wobble lines = not good.
Lay the fold of your fabric along one of the horizontal lines on your mat. Using your ruler and rotary blade, trim the edge of the fabric so that it is straight and perpendicular to the folded edge. You’re just getting a straight edge so you can begin to cut your fabric into 3.5 inch strips. After you’ve trimmed the vertical edge of your fabric, move your ruler 3.5 inches to the left (line you ruler grid up with the grid of the mat) and cut. Continue to cut 3.5 inch strips with the rest of your fabric. We aren’t going to worry about cutting the length of each strip at this point. Just be sure that each individual strip is several inches longer than you want your skirt length to be.
If you want to know how many pieces you need to cut, just take the waist measurement, double it, then divide that number by 3. That will give you approximately the number of strips needed for your skirt.
Miss E’s waist is 19 inches, double that and I get 38 inches. Divide 38 by 3 which (when I round up) means I need to cut 13 strips.
This is what your fabric will look like once you are done cutting.
Next I lay them out in the order I want them to be sewn. Right now we are only working on making the width of the skirt. I’m not going to cut the length of the skirt, until all of the strips are sewn together. By waiting to cut the top and bottom edges of the skirt, it will give me a more accurate rectangle.
I begin by sewing the strips from left to right. I take the two strips that are on the far left, I pin them right sides together, and sew along one edge of the strips using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
I use my serger to sew the fabric together. A regular sewing machine works just fine but be sure to zig-zag the edges of the fabric before you sew them together, to prevent fraying when the skirt is washed.
Once the fabric strips are sewn together, press them gently open. Don’t be too aggressive with your pressing or you will warp you strips.
Continue to take the next strip to the right and pin (right sides together) to the raw edge of the last strip you sewed. Be sure to press each strip as it is added before adding another. Keep adding strips until you have reached the length you need for your skirt. As you can see from the picture, when I pin the strips together I try to keep the top edges of the strips sort of even.
This is what it will look like.
From the picture above you can see that the top edge of the strips are sort of even but the bottom edge is very uneven. That’s okay. We’re going to straighten out the top and bottom edges next.
Now you want to fold your skirt in half right along one of the seam lines. Line that seam up with one of the horizontal lines on the cutting mat as shown (at the back) below.
Lining up your cutting ruler edge with one of the vertical lines on the mat, trim up the edges, making them even. Be sure to get all of the edges.
Now your ready to cut the length of the skirt. Cut the left side of the rectangle to the length of your skirt. Using Dana’s formula, I know that I want Miss E’s finished skirt to be 13 inches long. So I add 1.5 inches for the elastic waist band which means that the width of my skirt will be 14.5 inches. So I measure 14.5 inches to the left, line up my ruler and cut.
This is what the finished rectangle will look like. Use the rest of Dana’s tutorial to assemble the skirt. Last, add the bias tape around the bottom of the hem.
And here’s the finished product.
Making the patchwork version is more work, but I think it’s worth it. Miss E certainly thinks it’s worth the work
Of course you could always turn a polka dot into a daisy. Miss E thought it was a pretty neat addition.