Tutorial 32. Introduction to the Tables for Automatic Calculation of Skirt Parameters.
Included in this course along with the tutorials are several automatic calculation tables. I would like to make a short foreword before demonstrating you how to use them by certain examples.
It took me several months to develop these automatic calculation tables. I was using a large scope of statistical data and practical experience accumulated throughout decades of working with clients.
Let me explain why you need these tables in the first place.
Here is the simplest example: suppose a client comes to your atelier, shows you a picture, and instantly asks “How much will this dress cost?”
It is great if she gives you some time to think it over, but you know it very well that she will be expecting an immediate answer. You see garment for the first time in your life, but there is no time to think. You need to answer immediately and give your rationale for the named price.
What does the price consist of anyway? Normally, there are two key components: cost of materials and time invested in the making. But both these components have direct or indirect relation to fabric consumption.
You can more or less estimate the cost of materials and the cost of work related to the top part of the dress (a corset or a top, etc.) after a quick look at the picture, but the same things regarding the skirt will, in most cases, remain a question until you do certain calculations.
And the skirt usually implies some serious calculations. A fancy wedding skirt is made of many separate parts. The petticoat, the fabric casing, the face of the skirt with all its elements, etc. It is sometimes hard to tell how the skirt was cut just from looking at a picture: is it a full circle, a half-circle, three quarters of a circle, or a trapeze? How am I supposed to cut this skirt? Should I divide it in gores or cut it as certain segments of a circle? And you start wondering about the petticoat as well: how to cut it if you need to sew it yourself? How long should the hoops be? What is the bottom circumference? And if you already have a ready-made petticoat with hoops, you will start wondering how to make a fabric casing for it, how many ruffles to put on it, and how much fabric it will take. And, of course, you need to decide whether the face of your skirt will feature flounces and ruffles, or whether it will be a plain elastic waist skirt.
Just remember how many times you named the wrong price to your own disadvantage, mistaken about the expected fabric consumption and the pre-calculated number of work hours. But from now on, you will be able to determine fabric consumption for your skirt within an instant by putting the usual key parameters in the automatic calculation table.
Imagine how impressed the client will be when she hears a well-reasoned price grounded on certain parameters and when you offer her to sit down together and choose the best option by playing with some variables, such as gathering ratio, degree of fullness, number of ruffles, etc. After getting it clear with fabric consumption and number of pattern pieces, you will easily calculate how much time it will take to cut the ruffles, finish them, and put them on the garment, make a fabric casing for the inner construction, and make all other parts of the garment. In other words, you will be able to choose the best possible dress with regard to your client’s budget and to your mutual benefit.
So, what can you calculate using these tables? By putting the initial parameters in the table (they are Waist Circumference, Skirt Length, and Fabric Width), you will get an instant estimate of fabric consumption for any skirt (full circle, half-circle, with or without train, etc.), as well as a correct and fabric-efficient pattern layout. You will get all necessary radii for cutting your skirt, i.e. the waist opening and the bottom edge. The table will also suggest the best side seam length if your skirt features a train. Moreover, you will be offered complete calculations for dividing the skirt in gores if the width of your fabric or the style of the skirt suggests that you cut it as gores and not as circle-based pieces. You will be given the full hem length, which means you will know exactly how many meters of trimmings or other finishing materials you need to buy for the hem and, if applicable, for the train. If you have no idea how to cut a particular skirt (for example, a fabric casing for a particular petticoat) and all you know is the hem length, then you will be able to obtain all other necessary parameters by using the corresponding table. By putting the number of horizontal ruffles in the table, you will calculate the intervals between them and get the initial width of the fabric strip with seam allowances and the width of the finished ruffle. You can also determine total fabric consumption for the ruffles with regard to the gathering ratio and, if necessary, separate fabric consumption for the ruffles of the skirt and of the train. The table will also calculate the aggregate sewing edge length of all ruffles. This value can be useful when you want to replace the ruffles with some other decorative elements.
In addition, the tables allow you to determine fabric consumption per certain number of ruffles, for example, for a fabric petticoat casing, even if the ruffles are not supposed to go along its full length. If the chosen style calls for vertical flounces or ruffles, the table will help you determine the intervals between them along the waistline and along the hem of the skirt, as well as the number and the length of the main long ruffles and the shorter ruffles for putting between them. You will be able to calculate the number of ruffles required for the skirt and related fabric consumption based on initial ruffle parameters. The tables also allow you to calculate the number and the lengths of petticoat hoops. There is a separate automatic calculation table for the elastic waist skirt. My tables can also be used for calculating skirts for little girls and mock-ups in any required scale. Calculated values help you estimate the general scope of work more precisely.
I have made these tables quite flexible: you can do all calculations for the petticoat, for its fabric casing, and for the face of the skirt based on your client’s measurements, or you can calculate different versions for separate parts of the skirt, such as ruffles or flounces put at different intervals or having different widths. There are nearly countless ways you can use my automatic calculation tables. See it for yourself by using them for all kinds of skirts. And now let us move to working with certain examples in practice.