My daughter has an hourglass figure and finds it hard to get clothes which fit her. When she was in England she found a skirt which fit her hips, but was a little wide on the waist, so my mother-in-law adjusted the buttons so it would fit her and now it's her favourite and only skirt. She's been asking if we can make some more like it and I finally started getting to work on that in time for summer.
The skirt to be reverse engineered.
Reverse engineering clothing is never straight forward, especially if you want to make adjustments to the original pattern. It's hard to try and remember everything you need to add in.
Making the pattern
The first job was to measure the skirt and make a pattern. Measure twice, cut once is definitely a good rule to follow in these circumstances. I started by measuring the back panel along the base and the height. There were tucks at the top, so I thought that this was the only means of shaping it and I'd have a regular rectangle. That was my first mistake. I measured the width, adding in a centimetre either side for the seams. Then the height, adding in the width of the hems, top and bottom. It was as I was measuring the next panel that it finally sunk in that the top hem wasn't so much a hem as a separate waist band. Not to worry, she didn't mind a little more length.
Trying to speed things up led to my next mistake when I thought I'd remembered the height of the panel from the first one I measured. It turned out to be the length I remembered and it was way too long! I double checked my measurements after that. Too big is fixable, too small is not.
With the pattern done and all mistakes corrected it was time to cut the material. The material she chose is actually an upholstery material we had left over from a project around 20 years ago. It's a heavy fabric, but it works well for the style of the skirt.
Because it's not a very tight weave fabric, it benefited from the edges being overlocked to stop fraying. I overlocked the panels together, then added a straight stitch row for extra support.
At this point I should have checked the size against the original skirt, but I was over confident I'd gotten it right and wanted it finished.
Rather than doing the waistband in the rougher heavy material, I cut a length of a sateen type material for it. It's another easily frayed material, so it got overlocked again. I stitched the waistband to the top of the skirt with the good sides facing...
...then turned the band to the inside and stitched the top to secure it in place.
Then it was a case of hemming the bottom and sides.
My daughter selected some buttons she liked from the collection we've over the years. These ones were salvaged from an old pair of my husband's cargo pants.
I did the button holes one the sewing machine with a special foot which you put the button in and it's supposed to stitch to the right size.
I should have checked the first hole to make sure. They were too small. I did at least get it set up on a scrap piece of fabric before moving on to the skirt. The button holes are cut after sewing and I accidentally snipped some of the stitching on some, but as they all needed lengthening anyway, they all got finished by hand.
The first time I thought I'd finished, my daughter tried it on and it didn't fit. We realised I'd completely forgotten to put the tucks in the waist and the main body of the skirt was too tight at the hips. I couldn't reclaim anything from the hem with the button holes in, so I had to unpick nearly every other seam to get some width back. I also had to take most of the waist band off to make the tucks in the back of the skirt.
Even reclaiming something from the seams and hem wasn't quite enough, so the buttons had to be positioned closer to the edge of the skirt. Then the top one needed moving in a bit more again to pull it in at the waist more.
I got there eventually!
I may have taken a bit much from the edges when overlocking, so I should probably give a little extra when cutting the pattern out, particularly on the smallest panel. The skirt would benefit from a little more shaping in on the side seams to fit the waist better. I should measure her waist to get a better fit there, instead of just working off a skirt which doesn't quite fit right.