Even as a competent seamstress, UKer Rosie Martin found the pattern for a friend’s wedding dress to be complicated and daunting. It soon occurred to her how helpful a simple, visual set of instructions would be, giving her friend the confidence to sew her own outfit. And so, DIY Couture was born.
DIY Couture supports the slow revolution by helping people to produce garments that are precious, rather than disposable. This is the antithesis of “fast fashion.” Rosie’s books, which are available for download on her website, help all sorts of people make their own clothes from scratch. Once completed, the collection will consist of twelve simple, classic pieces that can be almost endlessly reinvented.
Rosie believes our humanity lies in our desire to make stuff, and it is her admiration for human hands that brought her to Etsy. Today she shares an exclusive gathered skirt How-Tuesday project with trademark easy-to-follow diagrams, photos and instructions. What a treat!
Supplies and Equipment You’ll Need:
A length of elastic (as wide or narrow as you like), slightly shorter than your waist
1. Take your tape measure and measure the full distance around your body, just under your hips, where your bum is at its biggest peak. Add six centimetres to the measurement and write that number down. You need to cut a rectangle of fabric that is this wide.
2. Lay your fabric out with the right side facing upwards towards you. Take your tape measure and lay it along the bottom horizontal edge of your fabric. Measure the number you have just written down along this bottom edge and put a pin into your fabric at this point.
3. Take the left, vertical edge of your fabric and fold it over to the right, so the corner meets the point where you have just placed the pin.
4. Now you need to decide how long you want your skirt to be. The skirt is suited to being almost any length, from very short, to above the knee, to very long. Stand in front of a mirror and hold the end of your tape measure at your waist (or wherever you want you skirt to sit) and let it dangle down. Decide where you want the edge of your skirt to hang and take a look at the measurement at that point. Write it down.
5. Measure the width of the elastic you have chosen and add this, plus an extra 3cm (1 1/4″), to the number you have written down.
6. Measure this final number up the vertical folded edge and put a pin there.
7. Cut a straight line into your fabric from this point until you meet the edge of your folded bit, then cut down along the edge of the folded piece.
8. You have now cut your rectangle, which is folded in two. Even up the vertical edges so that one lies directly on top of the other and pin them together…
…Next, sew the folded rectangle together up the pinned side, with a line of straight stitch running about 1cm (1/3″) away from the very edge of the fabric.
9. Lay your piece out flat so that you can see the seam you have just sewn. You need to iron the flaps you have just created so that they sit flat against your fabric, rather than sticking up…
…Iron them open like the pages of an open book.
10. Take your piece and zig-zag stitch along the edge of each flap to stop it from fraying.
11. Whilst you are at your machine, zig-zag stitch both the top and bottom edge, making sure you stitch the flaps of your seam open like a book.
12. Make a tunnel to thread your elastic through to form your pinched waistband. With your skirt still inside out, fold the top edge over towards you. Fold it the same width as the elastic you are going to use, plus an additional 2cm (3/4″). Pin the fold.
13. Sew the fold down with a line of straight stitch running close to the zig-zagged edge (a few centimetres away from the very top of your piece). Begin your line of stitching just below the hem you made…
…Stop your line of stitching about 6cm (2 1/2″) before you reach the point where you began — this leaves you an entrance hole to access your tunnel.
14. Now you need to push your elastic into the unsewn entrance to your tunnel. Attach a safety pin to the end of your piece of elastic and push it into the gap. Use your fingers to work your elastic into the tunnel you have made, wriggling the safety pin along.
15. Stop threading the elastic when the visible end of it is just about to disappear into the tunnel. Wriggle this end into position, so it is sitting flat, quite close to the vertical seam, then pin it down with a couple of pins…
…Run over the elastic with a short line of straight stitch, right next to the vertical line of your seam. Your stitches will go through both the front and back layers of the fabric and the elastic.
16. Now continue wriggling your safety pin along the tunnel. Your fabric will start to gather up as you do this. Keep pulling the elastic around until the safety pin emerges at the unsewn gap.
Remove the safety pin and, with a firm grip on your elastic, tug it so that the end lines up with the end you have sewn down. Put a couple of pins in to hold it in place then sew over this end with straight stitch too.
17. Finish this off by running over the entrance to your tunnel so that it is closed, completely encasing the elastic.
18. Try your skirt on and see if you are happy with the length. If it is too long, take it off and trim some fabric from the bottom edge. If you would prefer it to be longer, you can add an extension. Please see the DIY Couture website for advice on joining pieces of fabric together.
19. When your skirt is the length you would like it to be, finish off the bottom edge by hemming it. With your skirt inside out, simply fold the bottom edge up about 1cm and stitch the fold into place with a line of straight stitch. To finish off neatly, iron the hemmed edge. You have made a skirt!
Further Resources from Rosie:
Start Sewing — A really good website to get started with video tutorials and written tips.
The Sewing Forum — A brilliant forum for people at all levels of the sewing spectrum. Really well organised and monitored with prompt, helpful responses to any questions you might have.
Many thanks to Rosie for sharing this exclusive design with us! Be sure to visit DIY Couture for more of her fantastic handmade clothing projects. You can keep up with the latest from DIY Couture on Twitter and join the Facebook group.