Tuesday, November 30, 2010

“Simple” A-line Skirt and “Fancy” French Seams

I wanted to make something for my girls out of Heather Ross’ Far Far Away II fabric.  The Rapunzel print is super cute and I thought that it was perfect for going to see the new movie Tangled.  Of course this fabric can be a bit pricey so I didn’t want to have to use too much.  I found some for $12 a yard a bought just one yard.  Hmmmm… what can I make for two girls out of just one yard of fabric.  I know, skirts! 
I originally planned to just sew it up the side by the selvedge, hem, and make a waist band.  Then I saw a couple of simple tutorials for A-line skirts.  Since I had never made one before, I thought that I would give it a try.  I also thought that the heavier weight of this fabric would work perfectly. 
First lets give credit to the two tutorials that gave me the most help.  The Train to Crazy and Sugar City.  (Just click on the names to go to the links.)  I used a combination of these two tutorials and then decided to add some “fancy” French Seams.  O.K. they’re not really that fancy but anything French just seams fancier doesn’t it?  O.K. more about French Seams later.  Let’s get to the tutorial.
1/2 yard of fabric (This was just the right amount for my girls who typically wear a size 8)
3/4’’ elastic
Safety pin
Sewing machine, thread, etc.
A rotary cutter, cutting mat and straight edge are also very helpful but not necessary.

Measuring and Cutting:
First you will need to take three measurements.  Your child’s waist, hips, and desired length of skirt.
Next, you will prepare the fabric for cutting.

Fold your piece of fabric in a half matching up the selvedges.  The selvedges will be on the left and the fold will be on the right.

IMG_6264 Now you will fold the piece of fabric in half again.  Bring the folded edge over from the right to the left.  You will now have 4 layers of fabric.

Now for the first measurement.  Take your child’s hip measurement.  Add 2 inches and divide by 4.  You are adding the 2 inches for the seam allowances and you are dividing by 4 because your skirt piece is currently folded into fourths.  So lets say your child’s hip measurement is 26”.  26” + 2” = 28”     28” divided by 4  equals 7”.  Mark this point with a water soluble pen.  (Note you will be measuring from the folded edge on the right towards the left edge.)

Next measure the desired length of the skirt and add 2” to allow for the waist band and the hem.  So if your desired skirt length is 15”  
15” + 2” = 17”.  Mark this point along the right folded edge.

Mark the length of the skirt again along the left folded edge.  If desired, you can use a water soluble pen to draw a cut line between these two points.  Alternatively you can use a straight edge and a rotary cutter to cut between these two points in the next step.

Remember the point that you marked for the waist up at the top?  Draw a line between this point at the top and the point marking the length of the skirt on the bottom left.  The angle of this line is up to you depending on how much you want the finished skirt to angle out.

Next, cut along the angled line as well as the horizontal line at the bottom.  Cut through all four layers of fabric. 
Unfold the fabric.  This is what your finished pieces should look like.  There are to layers of fabric here, front and back.

Lets start with some “fancy” French Seams.  They are actually super easy.  I promise!
Lay the front and back skirt pieces wrong sides together.  Yes, I said wrong sides together.  Trust me. :)

Using about a 1/8” seam allowance, sew up the two side seams.  Don’t forget to pin first.

Trim away some of the seam allowance being careful not to cut your stitching.

Turn the skirt wrong side out and press seams.

With the skirt inside out, sew up these same two seams again using a 1/4” seam allowance.  That’s it.!  You just made French Seams!  Aren’t they great?!  No unfinished edges.  I have found that French Seams work best when sewing straight edges rather than curves.

Turn the skirt right side out and press.

Turn the skirt back inside out.  Fold down the top edge of the skirt 1/4” and press.

 IMG_6295 IMG_6297
Fold the top edge down again about 1”.  You can also use the 3/4” elastic as a guide.  You just want to make sure that you have a bit of wiggle room because you will be sewing a seam along the bottom edge of this fold to make a casing for the elastic.

Sew along the bottom edge of the fold.  Leave about a 2” opening to feed in the elastic.

Cut a piece of 3/4” elastic to the length of your child’s waist measurement.  Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and feed it through the casing until it comes out the other side.  I like to use those big safety pins with the pink tops.  They feed through so much more quickly.

Overlap the two ends of the elastic by about 1/2” and sew together using a zig zag stitch.  I like to do a couple of rows.  Pull on the skirt waistband until the elastic is fed back inside the casing.  Sew the last two inches of the casing closed.  I highly recommend trying the skirt on your child before sewing the casing closed.  I never seem to get this exactly right and it is a pain to get out the seam ripper to reopen the casing and adjust the length of your elastic.  I have even been known to let my girls wear the skirts for a day before I sew up the casing.  That way I really know if the skirt is fitting comfortably.

 IMG_6299 IMG_6300 IMG_6301 
Yippee, last step!  Fold up the bottom edge of the skirt about 1/4”.  Fold up again another 1/4’.  Sew along the folded edge to hem.

Your done!  You’ve made a super cute a-line skirt.  Now just add a super cute girl or two and go do something girly together.
(For some reason, my girls call our mommy and daughter outings “girls day off”.)
 IMG_6317 IMG_6318
Apparently, this pose holding their hair is called the “Rapunzel pose”.

Since the girls were all decked out in their new Rapunzel skirts, we just had to go see the movie.
(Which by the way was a little scary for my sensitive five year olds.  They did feel better after the happy ending.)


  1. Too cute! That's too bad that they got scared. At least it wasn't one of the other new movies out this year, they are way scarier than Tangled.

  2. How fun. I'm sure that the girls love their new skirts. That fabric is fantastic.

    I'd love it if you linked up any holiday related apparel projects to my link party.


  3. The skirts are adorable! (as are the wearers!) :)


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