A basic skirt block is the basis from which you can create any skirt pattern you like.
Why would you want to create your own customised basic-skirt-block? Well, why wouldn’t you? By measuring your body correctly (and honestly!) you will be able to draw up a basic skirt block TO FIT YOU and it really doesn’t take that long at all. It will save you money coz you won’t need to buy commercial skirt patterns anymore plus you’ll get the satisfaction of being able to say “I drafted the pattern myself!” and smile coz people will go WOW!
You will basically end up with something that looks like this and it may have one or two darts at the front and one or two darts at the back, depending on your measurements and body shape.
In order to make up an accurate skirt block we need to take some measurements and to start with we are going to go with our TRUE WAIST measurement, even though you may not like wearing your actual skirts this high. The reason we make skirt blocks all the way up to the true waist line is so that they can join on to a customised bodice block (I will maybe share this with one with you down the track but there are way more fit issues and I’m not sure if I can cover those confidently at this stage). By joining a skirt block onto a bodice block you can design and create dresses, etc. and you could also use your blocks to alter commercial patterns more easily.
If you’re not interested in ever trying to make a bodice block and don’t want to make a skirt block right up to your true waist line, then feel free to take your measurements from your DESIRED waist line height although I will be talking about true waist lines throughout this tutorial.
It is best if you can find a friend to take your measurements as this will be more accurate.
Wear lightweight clothing like a fitted t-shirt and leggings (or strip down to your undies, if you’re comfortable doing so!)
Gently tie a piece of 12mm (1/2”) elastic around your true waist line (not too tight!). With your arms in the air, I want you to wiggle around and move your body until the elastic finds a spot that it is happiest… that’s where your true waist really is and don’t worry if it seems a bit high… wait and see; we can make any alterations later. We also need another piece of elastic around the FULLEST part of your hips. You may find many sites that tell you to measure down 20cm from your waist and this is “meant” to be where your hips are! HELLLOOOOO!!! We are all individual and we should never draw an “average” measurement because this exercise is all about US and we want it to fit our own bodies EXACTLY!!! To find your fullest hip: wrap a tape measure around your bottom area and slide it up and down until you see which part is the largest (mine is 5cm lower than the “average”). In the photo above you can see that I have marked my actual hip but we are not at all concerned with this line so ignore it completely. The two pieces of elastic are there to help you get a correct measurement of your Full Hip DEPTH.
The four measurements we want are (write them down!):
- Waist circumference
- Fullest part of the hip
- Full Hip Depth (from your chosen waist height)
- Finished skirt length (from your chosen waist height)
We also need to consider the desired ease and write this down as our calculations require this information too. My recommendation is to start with these:
- Waist ease: 1cm (3/8”) – remember we want the skirt to sit firm in our waists.
- Hip ease: 3cm (1 3/8”) – don’t go lower than 3cm (1 3/8”) as you need to be able to sit!
Is everybody with me so far?
Over the next couple of weeks I will post the instructions on how to draft your own basic skirt block giving you all the calculations you require to work it out yourself but to make it even easier, I have set up an Excel spreadsheet that does ALL the calculations for you. All you need to do is enter your measurements (metric or imperial) and the rest is done for you! What could be easier than that? Does that interest any of you?
The spreadsheet is just being tested out on a few different body types so that I can iron out any minor details. I’m really hoping to inspire people to give it a go so stay tuned to see how easy this really is. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain and if you’re anything like me you’ll enjoy learning about the construction of a skirt (at a different level) and gain a better understanding of how the commercial pattern companies create garments. I’m only going to tackle basic skirt making but feel free to ask any questions and if I don’t know the answer myself, then I’ll research it and find out for you. I am not a professional at all… just a self taught drafty (learnt by attending the University of the Internet! haha!) I’m really interested in your thoughts throughout this whole process so please feel free to comment. Your comments let me know what you’re interested in and how I can help you more.
Enjoy the rest of your day!