Drafting a Skirt Block

The straight skirt block is the basic skirt pattern,  from which pretty much all other skirt patterns are made.  This tutorial is based on the method in Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting.  I have included the two size tables for your reference.  You do not need to take every measurement!!  For skirts take your waist and hip measurement (if you are not sure where or how to do this, check here).  Compare your measurements with the table and get your waist to hip measurement from the table.  If you have different sizes don’t stress too much, the waist to hip doesn’t vary that much, so go by the one for your hip measurement.


Measurement table
Measurement table for Mature figures and adjustments for tall or petite

So, armed with your waist, hip and waist to hip measurement you can begin.

Step 1.

You will be starting with a rectangle.  Draw a line roughly parallell to the top edge of your paper.  Put a small line and a #1 on the left of the line.

1 – 2:  Measure along the line 1/2 of your hip measurement, plus 1.5cm.  Make a mark and  lable it #2.

1 – 3:  This line MUST be 90 degrees to the line 1 – 2.  Finished shirt length.  For the purposes of a block, make this knee length, so make this line about 50cm long, and mark the end with a #3.

3 – 4:  Is the same as the measurement 1 – 2.  Again, make sure all your lines are straight and at right angles to each other.

2 – 4:  Close the rectangle.

Step 1 - The Rectangle

Step 2.

1 – 5:  Waist to hip measurement from the table.  Mark #5 and draw a line across the block to intersect 2-4.  Mark this point #6.

5 – 7:  1/4 of your hip measurement, plus 1.5cm.  Mark #7 and draw a line down to the hem for #8.

Step 2

Step 3:

1- 9:  1/4 of your waist measurement, plus 4.25cm.  Mark #9 and draw a short line up.  #10 is 1.25cm up this line.

Draw a dotted line from #1 to #10.  Divide this line into 3 equal parts and mark points # 11 and #12.  Draw lines from these points at right angles.  The line from #11 is 14cm long.  Mark point # 13 at the end.  The line from #12 is 12.5cm long.  Mark point # 14.

Step 3

Step 4:

Draw darts on the two lines from #11 and #12, 2cm wide.  (that’s 1cm on each side of the central line)

2 – 15:  1/4 your waist measurement plus 2.25cm.  Mark #15 and draw a line up.  #16 is 1.25cm up this line.

#17 is a third of the measurement 16 – 2.  Draw a line from #17, 10cm long.  Mark point # 18 at the end.

Step 4

Step 5:

Draw a dart 2cm wide on the line from #17.

Find the halfway point of the lines from #7 to #10 & 16.  Mark a point 0.5cm out from this point on each line.  Draw a curved line from #10 to #7, and #16 to #7.  Make sure these lines touch the point you just marked and that they flow easily to the straight line from #7 to #8.

Draw a slow curve from #1 to #10 and #2 to #16.

Add notations, Back, Front and centres.

Step 5

At this point, also add your name, the date, and the measurements you used, ie, hip and waist.  This will come in handy when you want to check whether or not the block still fits you later on!  So now you have a half skirt.  To do the next step, you need to ink in the outer lines, the line from 7-8 and the darts.  Then use tracing paper and trace out each skirt piece separately, so you have a front and a back.  Cut the front out on a fold and cut 2 back pieces.  Remember that the block has NO SEAM ALLOWANCE!!  So add to the side seams and the centre back.  Also remember to leave the centre back open from waist to hip so you can get it on!  Keep this pattern uncut.  If you need to make adjustments, use coloured pens to mark new lines, and DATE the adjustments.  Use the patterns you traced off this one to cut up, otherise you will have to make a block everytime you want a new pattern.  This is your template, keep it safe!

I will post the method I used to make the skater skirt next.

Happy drafting!  Any questions, just shout, and if I haven’t made anything clear enough, please let me know, and it will be fixed asap!

Getting Started

Boy has this taken some thinking about!  I wasn’t sure how to begin, so here I am, diving into the deep end.

Ok, here’s the thing. There is no way of doing this without some cash outlay in getting the right equipment. If you are going to make your own patterns you will need certain things. Morplan is pretty much a one-stop-shop.  You will need:

paper, good quality
a grader set square and flexicurve or a patternmaster
mechanical pencil – either a 0.5mm or 0.3mm
coloured fine-liners, these from Staedtler are pretty good
scissors for cutting PAPER
glue stick and magic tape – not sellotape.

Equipment for pattern cutting

Those are the basics, and we can add to them as we go along, but you will struggle to do things properly without those.

Of course the other requirement is instructions!  But that is where I come in.  I will be using a combination of 3 pattern cutting writers, Winifred Aldrich, Natalie Bray and Helen Joseph Armstrong.  Depending on how adventurous it gets, I might bring Tomoko Nakamichi into the mix!

The next step is to take measurements.  I do not take every body measurement.  There are size tables in the books, which are refered to as “standard” sizes.  Now, while everyone of us is different, there are certain uniformities.  I take 6 crucial measurements and compare those to the tables in the book to ascertain a “non-standard” size.  The measurements needed are:

bust measurement

Bust;  Measure around the fullest part of the bust, make sure the tape is level around the body.

underbust measurement

Underbust;  The tape needs to be right under the bust, along the bra-line.  Keep the tape taut.  Add 12cm to this measurement to get a “standard” bust size for your frame.

Waist; the narrowest part, usually, but not always in line with the elbows.

waist measurement
hip measurement

Hip;  This is the fullest part of the seat, so measure around your bum, not at the top of the hip bones.

Chest;  This one requires an extra pair of hands.  Measure across the chest, above the bust, from where the arms meet the body at the armpit area.

chest measurement

Back;  As for chest, across the shoulder blades from arm to arm.

Armed with this information you now need to get the remainder of the measurements from the size tables.

The size for the young lady I have measured is a Non-Standard UK size 8.  Armed with this information I can now start drafting the basic patterns from which everything else will be developed. These are called “blocks” and the test garments made from them are “toiles,” also known as “muslins”.

The next post will be how to draft the skirt block and make and fit the toile.  Please leave feedback, I can only improve the posts if you do! 😀