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Tutorial 1. Doing Calculations. Adding a Train to the Skirt Pattern.

Tutorial 1. Doing Calculations. Adding a Train to the Skirt Pattern.

So I am about to start doing calculations required to build the skirt pattern.

Please remember that the front half of the skirt will be bell-shaped (or trapeze-shaped) while the back will be cut as a gored skirt with train.

The basic patterns given in this course are all tried and true. Skirts sewn after them are known for exceptionally beautiful smooth princess seam lines (especially in the flared part of the skirt) and absolutely perfect fit!

So, for the sake of sparing time, I will use the existing bell-shaped skirt and gored skirt patterns.

My current task is to make a custom skirt pattern for my client using these two basic patterns.

You can see a sketch of the skirt on the writing board in the picture below. You can also see a draft of the sewing pattern. In other words, I have drawn 0.5 of the bell-shaped front and 1.5 of the gored back. These pieces will be sewn together by the side seam.

As you can see, the skirt sits a little lower than the natural waistline.

The distance from the waistline to the top edge of the skirt will be 4cm.

This means I need to measure my client’s Stomach Circumference 4cm below the waistline.

The second measurement I need is Hip Circumference taken 25cm below the waistline.

Finally, I will need two more measurements: Front Skirt Length and Train Length. These will be measured down from the waistline.

I use the classic method of taking measurements when you tie cords around the waistline and other relevant circumference lines.

Here is what I got and put in the table:

- Stomach Circumference (4cm below waistline) – 80cm;

- Hip Circumference (25cm below waistline) – 99cm;

- Front Skirt Length – 110cm;

- Train Length – 140cm.

Client’s measurements are to be compared with the measurements of the initial skirt pattern so I can adjust it accordingly.

If the whole skirt were cut as a bell-shaped skirt or a gored skirt (after a single pattern), then the measurements would be as follows:

- Stomach Circumference (4cm below waistline) – 88cm;

- Hip Circumference (25cm below waistline) – 103cm;

- Front Skirt Length (from waistline down) – 100cm.

But I am combining two absolutely different patterns. And so I need to measure the front and the back along the circumference lines, i.e. find their half-circumferences before getting down to the calculations.

Bell-shaped front piece:

- ½ Stomach Circumference (4cm below waistline) – 21.5cm;

- ½ Hip Circumference (25cm below waistline) – 22.5cm;

Gored back piece (1.5 gores):

- ½ Stomach Circumference (4cm below waistline) – 25.5cm;

- ½ Hip Circumference (25cm below waistline) – 26cm;

Let us suppose the skirt will be sewn after a single pattern and not two combined patterns and compare the bride’s measurements with the pattern measurements.

The bride’s ½ Stomach Circumference is 4cm smaller than on the pattern:

(80cm – 88cm) / 2 = -4cm

Her ½ Hip Circumference is 2cm smaller than on the pattern:

(103cm – 99cm) / 2 = -2cm

Both the front and the back of the skirt must be adjusted down by these values.

I narrow the front and the back by 2cm in the stomach (4cm below waistline).

And I narrow the front and the back by 1cm in the hips (25cm below waistline).

In order to preserve the beautiful shape of the back princess seam and the side seam, I shift the central fold line of the front 1cm inwards along the full length and do the same for the back.

By doing so, I narrow the front and the back of the skirt simultaneously.

I have thereby accounted for the 2cm change in the hips. The excess of 2cm in the stomach area is removed by shifting inwards the side seam. I smoothly re-draw the part of the side seam between the stomach line and the hip line, i.e. customize it after the bride’s natural curve.

And now let me address a very important issue.

The gored skirt pattern used for the back of our skirt is basically represented by a half of a gore.

The whole back will be made of three full gores, two of which are cut as a single piece with a fold line.

When I start assembling the back of the skirt, the full gore will be positioned between the central back seam and the princess seam and the half-gore – between the back princess seam and the side seam.

What you see on the pattern draft is a half of the back made of 1.5 gores.

I have already adjusted the back piece by shifting the side seam and I don’t need to shift the princess seam on the other side of the gore. It will be cut right after the basic pattern.

Please be very attentive when cutting the gored part of the skirt! If you don’t feel confident enough, simply make another pattern of a half of the back, only without the 1cm shift of the princess seam at the stomach level.

All circumferences have been adjusted and now I need to adjust the length of the pattern. I will do all calculations without including seam allowances. I will mark them directly on the fabric later.

According to the bride’s measurements, the skirt should be 110cm long at the front and 140cm long along the train. I prolong the centre front line of the initial pattern by 10cm and the centre back line by 40cm.

The side seam length is the mean value between the front length and the back (train) length.

In other words, the side seam length of the skirt is:

110cm + (140cm – 110cm) / 2 = 115cm

The back princess seam length is the mean value between the side seam length and the back (train) length.

And, therefore, the length of the skirt along the back princess seam is:

115cm + (140cm – 115cm) / 2 = 128cm

Since our skirt will have a fancy train, I draw the bottom edge of the back as a scalloped line connecting the calculated length points.

The skirt will also have a lining.

The lining will be cut based on the length of the initial basic pattern (100cm) with account for all adjustments made. The hem will be plain smooth and parallel to the floor. There will be no train on the lining.

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