How to build a skirt or a dress

This article could help those who have already ventured on the path of pattern-making. Creating a garment from A to Z is three or four times longer than following a commercial pattern: all the steps are longer and tedious: model choice (higher number of possibilities), estimation of the necessary fabric (unless you draw the pattern before, but most of the time I prefer to finalize my model once the fabric bought), pattern drawing (bilding a master pattern and then transforming it into desired shape) and the assembly of the garment (as there is no user manual). The last part is even more important car if done wrong, all the work done before is wasted. It it is essential to recall some general principles:

  • The pieces (with pleats, ruffles, tucks, darts and zippers) are constructed before being assembled together

  • The pieces are interfaced upstream to allow them time to cool down

  • The collar is attached before sewing the sides together

  • Finish the bottom of the sleeves and the sleeves before sewing them to the bust

  • start with the belt and finish with the hem

To take the example of a skirt, here are the steps:

1. Prepare the belt (cut it, interface it and mark the notches)

2. Finish the edges (interlock) of the front and back pieces

3. sew and iron the darts

4. Make the slot if there is one

5. Assemble the two back pieces and place the zipper

6. Sew the front and the back pieces togheter

7.If there is a lining, sew the darts, turn them in the opposite direction to step number 3, assemble the back with the front and finish the edges

8. sew the skirt over the top of the belt and the lining on the bottom

9. flip the whole, fold the waistband and stitch into the seam to keep the skirt and lining together

10. Adjust the edges of the liner at the zipper

11. work the slot and make the hem of the lining

12. sew the hem of the skirt

13. Finish with the belt buttonhole

If you want to make a dress, the steps are as follows:

1. interface the collar

2. sew the darts

3. sew the shoulder seam (and the shoulders of the armhole trim if there are no sleeves)

4. apply collar or neckline facing

5. install the zipper

6. If no sleeves, sew the armholes facing

7. If the dress has sleeves, sew the cuffs and the sleeve and prepare the sleeve cap

8. sew the sides of the dress

9. Insert sleeves

10. If there is a lining, sew the darts, stitch the lining on the facing, assemble the shoulders and sides, finish the edges, assemble the lining to the dress at the neckline and armholes

11. finish with hem of lining and dress

Having a precise idea of ​​the assembly order avoids errors and saves time. Obviously, each step must be well executed and the seams must be ironed between each step.

I hope you liked this post and do not hesitate to leave your questions or remarks in the comments, I will try to answer you as soon as I can.


2 thoughts on “How to build a skirt or a dress”

  1. Hello Cristina, thank you for this post, this is a very useful to have as a reference – I have many times scratched my head over the order of construction of some of my garments.
    I have two questions concerning the lining of a skirt:
    1. For lining a skirt I am familiar with the method where you baste skirt and lining at the waist and then you attach the belt. You seem to be using another method. Could you suggest a tutorial for it?
    2. You write “sew the skirt over the top of the belt and the lining on the bottom” – I try to figure this out and I don’t see a top and a bottom on the belt (unless it is a contour waistband), just two long sides, and you attach the skirt on the one side and the lining on the opposite. Is that so?

    • Hello Irene, thannk you for your message, you managed to figure out quite well; indeed, if you imagine your waistband open as a wide rectangle, you need to attached the skirt over the top line and the lining over the bottom line, and then fold the waistband and sew the 2 lines together,I hope that is clearer

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