Before reading through these tips, I strongly recommend reading through the twirly skirt tutorial, or this will likely not make much sense...
1) MEASUREMENTS: You will need precise measurements for your waist, the widest part of your hips/rear, and the width of your hips 5” below your waist. You will also need to know how long you want the skirt to be.
2) Using the same method for designing the girl’s skirt, draw a diagram of your skirt, with these tips in mind:
If you want multiple layers, or “tiers” (meaning the skirt gradually gets wider and wider with many levels of gathers), you usually start out with tiers measuring about 8”, then 10”, then 14”(If you are tall, that is. If you are 5’5” or shorter, start out with 6”, then 8”, then 12”, etc).
The other consideration in designing is the circumference of the loops you will be sewing together. The waistband is going to be only slightly wider than your waist measurement, but you need to make sure it is wide enough to accommodate the measurement of your hips 5” below your waist. (I learned that the hard way - the waistband fit at my waist, but it was too tight 5" below the waist due to my, er, pear-shaped figure) Each succeeding loop needs to be at least 10” wider in circumference for it to look right.
For example, if your waist is 35”, then the waistband needs to be about 37” to 39” wide (not including seam allowances), making sure that it will fit 5” below waist. If not, make the waistband wider. The first tier (after the waistband) needs to be about 55” wide (make sure it’s wide enough for your hips/rear), the second tier about 70” wide, the third tier about 84”.
HINT: most fabric is only 42-44” wide, meaning that the maximum width you can end up with for the bottom tier of your skirt is 84-88” wide if you want to keep all the side seams matched up on the sides of your skirt. Here is an example of the finished dimensions and cutting dimensions:
I didn't write in the cutting dimension chart above that for every tier that has a circumference greater than the width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge (usually 42" to 44") you will need to divide the circumference measurement in half and cut two strips of fabric to those dimensions.
For example, in the diagram above, the waistband tier is cut in one piece. The second tier needs to be cut 8.5" wide by about 23" long (half of 55") but 2 separate pieces need to be cut. The third tier need to have 2 pieces cut 10.5" x 35" (half of 70"), and the fourth tier needs to have 2 pieces cut 14" x 42" (half of 84"). This way all the side seams will match up on both sides of skirt, and each tier has a circumference about 15" greater than the tier above it. I hope that's a little clearer than mud...
NOTE: this method works for waist sizes around 45” or smaller. If your waist measurement is larger than that, you will need to reduce the number of tiers so that the bottom tier is no greater than about 85”, or you will need to make it wider and not have all the side seams match up on the sides because you will have more than 2 strips of fabric to sew together on the bottom tier.
Sew skirt just like you did for the girl’s version, attaching and completing one tier at a time, starting at the waistband and working your way down.
As you can see, there are no set rules about determining the proportions of the tiers. This skirt only has 2 tiers (plus waistband) because I didn't want to interupt the gorgeous pattern of the fabric. This method of using white with just a small amount of designer fabric (it's about 17" wide) is a great way to stretch your budget too - it requires much less designer fabric than using the fancy stuff for the whole skirt.
Not every tier needs to be gathered, either. It's hard to see in the photo, but this red, black, and white skirt is only gathered 3 times. The rest of the fabric shifts are just sewn in strips to eachother.
Okay, this one was admittedly quite time-consuming. I loved the way these fabrics related to eachother (Taxi Trio by Timeless Treasures) and I was getting tired of doing skirts in horizontal strips. So I basically made a random quilt top (minus the quilting) and attached it to a skirt. To give it a more random look, I constructed it by making 3 separate "tiers" that were each 6" wide and about 80" long. I cut various widths of fabric and put them together so that the sum of them equaled 6" (4" + 2", 3" + 3", etc, plus 1/2" for seam allowances). When each of the 3 strips were pieced together, I sewed each of the separate 6" strips together to create 3 separate loops, which I then attached to eachother so that there wouldn't be any obvious side seams. Yeah, that took awhile. I'm happy with the results, though - it's my personal quilt-on-a-skirt!
These last two are from Heather Bailey's spectacular Pop Garden & Bijoux lines...and they do indeed pop! I love the colors and designs of the fabrics.
And just in case you were wondering, I did NOT make all of these recently. I finished the skirts with Heather's fabric in recent history, but the others have been gradually added to my wardrobe over the past 2 or 3 years. My body type necessitates long skirts (to hide my ugly legs!) but you may find that making shorter skirts is your preference (uses less fabric too). Just be sure to map out finished dimensions first, and calculate the cutting dimensions from there.
A long skirt like mine requires 2 yards, a shorter one probably 1.5 yards or less. Enjoy, and send me photos of your creations when you're done - I'd love to see them!