Since the pandemic started, I have spend a lot of my time in T-shirts and comfy bottoms—leggings for exercising, shorts during the day, pajama pants at night. Sometimes, it is hard to conjure some sewjo when I spend all of my time at home. But this is also kinda liberating: If there is no clear purpose to what I sew (work clothes; happy hour outfits; holiday dresses), I can sew whatever I damn want. And what I damn wanted was a goth Lolita-ish skirt.
I have more sewing patterns than I will ever be able to sew… yet, I could not find anything that matched what I had envisioned—a fitted yoke with a couple of gathered panels. A quick online search took me to a few very useful tutorials, and I decided that drafting my own pattern was the best and easiest way to go.
These two tutorials worked as inspiration for my project. Even though I did not follow either one closely, I got some great ideas just by watching them.
The pattern has only four pieces: front yoke, back yoke, and two rectangular panels. All pieces were drafted based on my taste; you can adapt them to yours. I wanted the yoke to cover my lower belly, so I drafted it to be five inches wide, starting at my belly button. I measured my waist right below the belly button and my upper hip five inches down from my belly button. Because we draft for a 1/4 of the body, I divided the waist and upper hip measurements by four.
The front yoke is one piece; the back yoke is made up of two pieces for zipper insertion. I made two panels, both seven inches wide, one 16 inches long and the other 19 inches. Once all pieces had been drafted, I added 5/8″ allowances to create the final pattern pieces. You can add as much or as little seam allowance as you are comfortable with.
To help the yoke hug the body better, I raised the side seam by 1/2″ inch. Then, I used my French curve to draw a curved line connecting the front to the new side. I learned this design best practice from Deborah Moebes’ Craftsy/Bluprint class Design and Sew an A-line Skirt. It was also while taking this class that I learned about squaring up the corners of each pattern piece. I have to say, it is not always that I can get a nice 90 degree angle on each corner, but I try.
The best thing about drafting your own patterns is that they are based on your measurements, so your clothes will fit YOU better! Another great way to guarantee that your pattern—either self-drafted or commercial—is going to fit properly is to sew a muslin. A muslin gives you the chance to correct fit issues and try techniques that might be tricky. And even with self-drafted patterns, you can always refine the fit with a muslin. My muslin helped me see that the waist was not as snug as I would like it to be; I was able to correct it and create a pattern that fits exactly how I like it to fit.
I used a sateen cotton from Joann. I had purchased this fabric for another project (another gothic skirt), but it was not thick enough for the look I wanted. The fabric turned out to be perfect for this skirt. It has a discreet sheen, it is light, it has enough body, and it was really easy to work with.
For the lining, I used the same cotton sateen for the yoke and some black quilting cotton (also from Joann) for the panels. This is my go-to choice for lining when sewing skirts made of cotton fabric. It is affordable and durable, and it comes in a million colors.
I basically cut and sewed two skirts because I wanted a fully lined garment. For the skirt, I cut one front yoke piece on the fold, two back yoke pieces following the grainline, one 16-inch panel on the fold, and one 19-inch panel on the fold—all from the sateen cotton. For the lining, I cut the front yoke and the back yoke pieces from the sateen cotton and the panels from the quilting cotton. One set of yoke pieces has to be interfaced, so I cut the front and back yokes from fusible black Pellon SF101.
I chose to interface the skirt yoke. I have done a lot of research on which pieces should be interfaced—the skirt yoke or the yoke lining—and I have not found a conclusive answer. I read that the piece closet to the body should be interfaced (so, the lining). All the tutorials I found about sewing a yoke, however, have you interface the skirt yoke. One good argument for interfacing the lining is that if the interfacing starts to bubble, it will be hidden. I ended up interfacing the skirt yoke, and I hope there will be no bubbling in my future.
Usually, I omit any design element from a skirt or dress when drafting a lining. Here, I wanted this skirt to have some structure, so I chose to sew a lining with the same gathered panels as the skirt. The cotton I used for the lining helped give the skirt some puffiness without the help of a petticoat.
To get a really nice, strong zipper, I used SewkeysE black fusible knit stay tape to stabilize the zipper opening on the yoke lining. I highly recommend interfacing the zipper opening. It helps strengthen the fabric, so the zipper tape does not distort it. It is one extra step that definitely pays off. I used an invisible zipper, but any zipper will do.
Have I mentioned that I do not like gathering? I have always had trouble making the gathers even—and I think I finally realized why. I have been using two rows of gathering. After looking around for tips on how to get even gathers, I found a blog article on the old Colette blog that suggests three rows of basting for better control. I tried and can confirm: three rows are much better than two!
Once both the skirt and the lining were sewn, I had to put the two skirts together. With right sides facing each other, I sewed a line of stitching 5/8″ from the top edge. I turned the lining out and gave the edge a press. I graded the yoke seams, understitched the facing, and handstitched the lining to the zipper. If you prefer, you can sew the lining to the zipper using a sewing machine. Finally, the hems were finished by folding twice and stitching.
When trying the skirt on for these pictures, I wanted to see how it would look like gothed up and down. I love both looks. The lace sleeve top (super easy tutorial here) is perfect for a hot night at the goth club while the black and white top with the cute kitties is great for day frolicking. The completed skirt is exactly what I had in mind when I started this project.