Saturday, August 22, 2009

Building a Pattern Wardrobe, Part 2 -- Skirts

Having a good selection of skirt patterns is very helpful in building a wardrobe! I don't generally have trouble finding skirts second-hand or on clearance (as my closet can attest...*ahem*), but I still love sewing them myself! Sometimes it can be hard to find exactly what you're looking for in a store.

As with all of the "wardrobe" I talk about, the patterns I list are patterns I have chosen based on my body type. Each woman's shape and needs are different, and certain styles may be impractical or unflattering on her. But the concept remains the same, even if the pattern numbers or styles are different. With that said, here's my personal list of basic skirt patterns:

Skirt Patterns:
1. Simple A-line skirt (preferably not bias!)
2. Gored skirt (six to eight gores)
3. Flared skirt (may be included in the A-line pattern)
4. Tiered skirt (or similar "easy-to-wear" style)

~ Simple A-line: Butterick 3262 (out of print)

The A-line skirt is the most practical skirt I've come across -- comfortable, versatile, and very easy to assemble! I use the "medium" fullness view, view B (though I do want to try the fullest view, as well). The important thing for me is that it NOT be bias cut; I don't have the figure to get away with "clinging" cuts! Sadly, there are currently no A-line skirt patterns in the "Big 4" companies! But they can be found second-hand, and there may be some available from independent companies. An A-line skirt can easily go together in an afternoon, with just 2 or three seams (I usually add a center back seam to save yardage) and a simple hem and turned-over waistband. Here are my variations on the A-line skirt:

I'm quite a fan of variety, which is the only challenge that comes with using only a few patterns. However, choosing patterns that are easy to alter can fix that! With an A-line skirt, it's easy to change the length, add a ruffle, add pintucks, or add some type of adornment.

~ Gored Skirt

A gored skirt can be a good way to add some variety to a wardrobe. I don't currently have a favorite pattern, but there are plenty of options on the market! One of the benefits of a gored skirt is that you can customize it -- each seam can be let in or out for the best possible fit.

~ Flared skirt: McCalls 5431

A flared skirt is a great option to have in a wardrobe! My favorite pattern is McCalls 5431. The yoke on this skirt allows it to flare without bunching at the waist. There are a number of patterns available that would work, including vintage patterns (especially from the 50's!).

This skirt isn't as "customizable" as an A-line skirt, but you can change fabric, length (to some extent), and things like pockets or hem finishes. Here are my versions of it:

~ Tiered Skirt

A tiered skirt -- especially with an elastic waistband -- is comfy and easy to wear. I use my own pattern for this. Basically, this category is for whatever style you find most comfortable to wear!

So with a basic selection of patterns, it's possible to come up with a variety of skirts! Of course, I own more than just four patterns; sometimes I come across a unique design that I want to add to my closet. But having the flexibility to create almost any skirt from a handful of pattern styles gives you more control over your closet!

In Part 3, I'll take a look at blouses (can any of my regular readers guess what one of my basic patterns is? *wink*) and jackets.


  1. Lovely post...
    enjoyed looking at all of your
    beautiful skirts!

    Blessings in Christ~ Miss Jen

  2. Hi Shannon,
    Beautiful job on your skirts! I love all the material that you picked up. Especially the pink rose one.
    I too have the mccalls pattern. I love it. I've sewed five skirts with that already, and looking forward for fall material.
    Question, is there a good website on how to sew the hem on those flared skirts? I'am a beginner sewer and always putting binding on the hem to avoid hemming.

  3. Thank you, Miss Jen!

    Irene, Hurrah for another 5431 fan! ;-) As for the hems, I use a serger to bind the raw edge, then press it up about 1/4" and stitch. Here's a tutorial for curved hems on BurdaStyle: And I'm sure you could find more by Googling "curved hem."

    Yours in Christ,

  4. Shannon,

    Thanks for that post. I love you suggestions! I have been looking for some good skirt patterns. Where do you find most of you patterns? Do you like store or internet better?

    Mary Cecilia.


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