Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Straight Skirt to Pencil or A-Line

During the past year I've had a few requests for Pencil Skirts, so I thought I'd show you how easy it is to make it a pencil using any straight skirt pattern. Because both rely on a tiny paper hinge, I'll show you how to make one type of A-line style too.

Step 1: Start with any straight skirt pattern that you like. What's a straight Skirt? One that is the same width at the hem as it is at the hip.

I like the two/four dart front because it fits the body much better than the one/two dart front.

Step 2a: Using a ruler, draw a line at the seam allowance (red line). The seam allowance will become your pivot point, so you need to know where that is.

Step 2b: Draw a cut line that angles from the hip and pivots to parallel the seam line (blue line).

Now we are ready to make our pattern into an A-line or a Pencil skirt.


First, the A-line style. An A-line skirt is wider at the hem than it is at the hip.

Starting at the hem (bottom), cut into your pattern, following your cut line, up to, but not through the seam line. From the other side, cut into the seam allowance to the seam line leaving a tiny paper hinge.

Put paper under the pattern and pivot the side seam outward, up to 2 1/2". Tape in place on both sides of the cut line.

Repeat this same procedure for the back pattern.

 Next, the Pencil style. A Pencil skirt, sometimes called a "Pegged" skirt, is narrower at the hem than it is at the hip.

Instead of outward, pivot the side seam inward, overlapping the cut edges. How much to taper or overlap is a matter of preference, but just remember that you still need to be able to walk!

Remember the Hobble skirt from before WWI?  Well, tape your pattern in place, and of course repeat this procedure for the back pattern, then you can watch how these lovely ladies manage a narrow skirt with tiny dainty steps!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Take a Sewing Pattern Tour

What will you get when you buy a Sew Chic Pattern? This week we've been up to our eyeballs in pattern parts, so let me take you on the tour!

Your printed material is:
  • Front Cover
  • Back Cover
  • Pattern
  • Instruction Booklet
The Front Cover is the first thing to see. All patterns come with a photograph of the style we made being modeled either on a mannequin or a person, not usually a professional model, but by someone that we know. My daughter, Elise Rodemack happens to be my favorite model choice. Does anyone know: How many covers can you find her on? (If you make a comment about it, I will share some trivia! - ah! Good topic for next time!) 

Annie Jones does the cover art for most patterns, though I did this one. The illustration will either be the same or alternative pattern view. You'll also find the important identifying information of  Style number, Design name, and the size range. A few patterns are in sizes 6-18, with  most in sizes 2-18. All are included with every pattern.

 Next, take a look at the back, which has the size chart. Sizing is most often numbered, which is more specific and fits more closely than Small/Medium/Large. The chart does not follow the standard sewing company sizing, but reflects ready to wear charts.

For me, the next most valuable information is the technical drawing. I use it to see the shape and lines of the pattern without distraction. The style description also helps with this. From it we can find out things like where the zipper is, and does it flare or not. You'll also find the fabric and notion requirements for all sizes.

 Next, let me show you the pattern. We print on nice 8 lb bond that is still thin enough to see though, but heavy enough to last for many uses. All patterns have minimal notations, instructions, symbols, and placement lines printed right on it so that if you were to lose the instructions you could still make the pattern up.

Last, but not least is the all important instruction booklet. The first few pages are about general sewing and pattern information to prepare for sewing, and reminds you about things like preshrinking your fabrics, or not, and how to measure and choose a size. The last section of the booklet is a step by step outline of what to sew when and next. 
All this is wrapped up in a LARGE 9x12 size zip bag, so no more stuffing a pattern back into a tiny envelope!

I've enjoyed being your tour guide today, and thanks so much for joining me on this pattern tour!