Constructing Skirt Pieces

Hello! I’ve got a photo tutorial for you today. I’ll go through the steps to construct lined skirt pieces, such as those used in Skirts II, IV, V, VI, and VII in the 3rd Edition of the pattern.

Each piece of the skirt is made of 3 layers:
1. Fashion fabric – Our top layer, the main visible fabric of the dress.
2. Skirt base or stiffener – Stiff panels would have a layer of stiffener such as (Pellon 70 or Vilene S80). Soft panels still need some support; I like Pellon 40 Mid-weight Sew-in (Vilene M12/312 is supposed to be similar).
3. Lining fabric – Usually satin, often in a contrasting color.

1.  The first photo (left) is my fashion fabric.  It’s a black microvelvet, and it was very flimsy, so I fused it with Pellon Shape-Flex.  This isn’t necessary for most fabrics, so you’d just have the fabric.  For all intents and purposes, this Velvet/Shapeflex combo is 1 layer.

2.  In the second photo (right), I’ve added the Base layer, which in this case is Pellon 70.  The piece I am photographing is skirt front piece C from the 3-panel skirt.  If you are creating a soft skirt panel, you’d use a softer base material, as I stated above.  I’ll note that the 3 dots near the center of the base layer are only references for embroidery placement.  Baste the two layers (fabric and base) together around the edges.  You can see this done in the next photo.

3.  The next step is to do your decoration, whether it be embroidery, topstitching on appliqués, pre-made trim, or any number of things.  You can see I’ve added some machine embroidery here (left photo).

4. Trim the seam allowance off of the bottom edge of the Base layer. As you can see from the photo (right), I’m doing a shaped hemline so I trimmed to that shape. If you’re keeping it straight, you would just trim straight across. For soft panels, this isn’t necessary. You can leave it in, as you’ll see in the next photos.

***This tutorial will use a seamed edge sewn with right sides together. Another option, as stated in the Pattern Instructions, is to stack fabric, base, and lining, trim away bottom seam allowance from all, and satin stitch the edge. If you do that, you can skip to step 7***

5. Pin the lining fabric to the fashion fabric with right sides together. Stitch together along the hemline.

The left photo shows the piece I have been working with in the previous steps. The right photo is a soft panel from the back of the skirt. You can see that on that one, I didn’t trim the base layer out of the seam first.

6. If you have a shaped edge like me, trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and clip curves as necessary. If your hem is straight/normal, this is not necessary.

7. For a straight hemline, you want to under-stitch by pressing the seam allowance towards the lining, and stitching it down 1/16″ from the seam (top photo). To clarify, the stitching will go through the lining fabric plus the seam allowance of all 3 layers, but not the base or fashion fabric. This does two things. It keeps the shape of the hem edge smooth by reinforcing it with a second line of stitching. Secondly and most importantly, it keeps the lining fabric from scootching around to the outside of the dress, which would look horrible.

Now for a shaped hemline like mine (middle photo), it’s difficult to under-stitch because of the angles and corners (OK mine’s pretty mild so I probably could have, but I wanted to show you this other option). Instead, turn the skirt piece right side out and pin the hem edge flat, as I’ve done in the right-hand photo. Be sure the fashion fabric is showing just a tad on the edge, as my black velvet is doing. You don’t want that lining making an appearance! Finish the edge with a line of top-stitching 1/4″ away from the hem (bottom photo). It doesn’t have to be exactly 1/4″, and if you have embroidery right near the edge, it’s best to run it along the edge of the embroidery, which will disguise it. Now this velvet of mine pretty much hides anything (evidence by how much I had to over-expose this photo to even show it), but if you’re worried about how it looks you can always use clear quilting thread.

8. Whichever method you used, give your hem edge (now turned right-side out) a nice press! If you used the under-stitching method, make sure your fashion fabric is rolling around the edge, like in the middle photo. You don’t want the lining peaking around to the outside.

9. Get your lining fabric laying all flat and nice, and baste around the side and top edges of the piece (left photo).

10. Usually my lining ends up with some extra at the edges. If this happened to you, trim it off now, so the edges are clean and even.

That’s it! After constructing all your panels, consider checking out this post on stitching them to the under-skirts and sewing the side-pleat. Coming soon, a tutorial for constructing the 3-panel skirt.

Happy sewing!

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