Tutorial for drafting a mini-skirt

I promised a tutorial for the skirt I made, so here it is.

Let me show you my original diagram.

Yes, this is in Dutch.

I fine-tuned this and applied colour-coding and registered every step to give you a nice tutorial. So here you go, for all of you who want to make a skirt like mine, follow along! 

For all you crazy people out there that are not using the metric system , 1 inch is 2.54 cm.

And here is the explanation, but once you get the right order, it’s really not that difficult, I promise. You’ll see.

Now to do this, I taped brown craft-paper to my sewing table and used the lines as a guideline, but the most important thing is to pay attention to your right angles, and from there on out, everything comes together rather nice.

The only three measurements you need are your hips, waist and distance between hip and waist.

Here you have a very professional drawing of a body with the directions for the measurements…

My model is slightly imperfect, to be more true to reality 😉

As an example, I will use my own measurements which are 106 cm hip and 78 cm waist. Hm, pear shaped much?
Distance between the two +/- 26 cm.
I used 1 cm ease because I wanted a close fitting skirt, but you can use whatever ease you want…
I’ve put my calculations in green below.

First you draw your base-line: A

A = 1/2 x hip + ease (note, in the final skirt, the amount of ease will be double of this amount, because we are only drawing half of the skirt).
A = 1/2 x 106 cm + 1 cm = 54 cm

Next up is the length of the skirt, line B

Decide how long you want the skirt to be (starting at the waistline) and add your hem-allowance. Here are a few options:

  • seam allowance (1.5 cm) if you add a hem facing
  • 3 – 5 cm if you just turn the hem, finished invisible or not
  • none, if you decide to leave the raw edge exposed

B = 45 cm + 3 cm = 48 cm 

Complete your rectangle.

On to side C, here I just divided A in 2, but you can change it how you want, giving more width to the back than to the front, I suggest that you measure your body and make a muslin. For example, my hip measurement is 106 cm, but my front (stopping at where my side seam would ideally be) hip is 51 cm, making my back hip measurement 55 cm. So here are two suggestions for calculations.

C = 1/4 x  hip + 1/2 ease
C front = 1/2 x front hip + 1/2 ease
C back = 1/2 x back hip + 1/2 ease

C = 1/4 x 106 + 0.5 = 27 cm
C front = 1/2 x 51 + 0.5 = 26 cm
C back = 1/2 x 55 + 0.5 = 28 cm


Now we move to the top of our rectangle. First of all, add 1.5 cm to the top of the dividing line between front and back and draw a line from the top of the sides to this point. On this line we will calculate the length of our waist.

D = 1/4 x waist + width of darts/pleats + 1/2 ease
You can use whatever you want here, I used 2 pleats of 3 cm each, you can just as easily make this into a single dart of 3 cm, or you can add 3 darts of 2 cm or 5 of 1 cm, or whatever you prefer. Just make sure that D < C

D = 1/4 x 78 + 2 x 3 + 0.5 = 26 cm

E follows the same logic as D, but goes at the back. I added 2 darts, one long dart and one short dart. The first 4 cm wide and the latter 2 cm wide. Again, you can use whatever you want here!

E = 1/4 + 78 + 4 + 2 + 0.5 = 26 cm

Mark your waist-hip distance on your pattern, from the top down and also mark half of the distance. Small caps a and b in gray on the diagram. Connect the end of D and E with the bottom marking you just made in the centre of your diagram.
a = distance between hip and waist
b = 1/2 x a

a = 26 cm
b = 1/2 x 26 = 13 cm

Next up, divide your front and back panel in 3 sections. 1/3 x C (front and back)

Next the darts. The widest dart goes where the butt goes, so closest to the center back seam. Left on the diagram. The narrowest dart goes more towards the side seam, right on the diagram. I let the largest dart end in halfway between a and b.

On to the pleats on the front panel. Make sure you spread the pleats evenly. I used the 1/3 mark as the center between my pleats. If you decide to add a dart to the front, make the center of the dart the 1/3 mark you drew in the previous step. Pleats or darts on the front should go up to line b.

Now we are almost there! Just decide how far below your waist you want your skirt to start. I went with 5 cm.

Draw a line parallel to lines D and E, 5 cm lower (or distance chosen).

Now all that is left, is to finish the markings on our pattern. The tips of all the darts need to go straight up from the last drawn line (parallel to the center back line) up to line E and D, if not, our facing will become to narrow.

Blue lines = where to cut out your pattern piece
Gray lines = will help you draw your pattern
Brown lines = markings to transfer onto you fabric

Now just cut your pattern on the blue lines and you’re ready to cut your fabric and sew your skirt!
When you cut your fabric, don’t forget to add seam allowance (usually 1.5 cm) to the side seams and center back seam. The center front seam is cut on the fold so you only have 1 frontpiece!
Hem is already included and for the waist there is no extra allowance necessary.

To sew this skirt, the instructions are standard and simple

1. Sew darts and pleats following your markings. Darts are pressed towards the side seam, pleats can be pressed to your liking, and if you swing that way, you can even stitch them down…

2. Insert the zipper. If you’re looking for a great tutorial on inserting different types of zippers,  I highly recommend the free Craftsy class ‘Mastering Zipper Techniques’. It is a bit boring, but covers all the basics! Make sure your zipper is long enough to go beyond your butt, or you’ll have trouble getting in and out of your skirt.
The zipper should start where you will turn under the waist-facing. (the brown sloping line you drew near the end). All that goes above this point is left as open.

3. Sew the side seams. Make sure to line up the notches (the little brown lines in the center of the diagram).

4. Press your seams.

5. Finish your raw edges by zigzagging, pinking, serging, binding with bias tape,…

6. Finish your hem by turning it under (3 cm) and stitching it down in/visibly, add a hem facing,…

7. Turn under the waist-facing, press thoroughly in place.

8. Invisibly tack your facing in place.

9. Wear with pride and joy! And send me a picture of your skirt, I would love to see it!

If you have any questions about drawing your skirt or putting it together, give me a shout-out in the comments below and I promise I will get back to you!

If you want to share this tutorial, please go ahead. But mention where you got it!


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