Monthly Archives: February 2012

Easy Drawstring Skirt with a Ruffle at the Hem

Here is how to make an easy drawstring skirt with a ruffle at the hem.  You only need a pattern if you’re going to make several or put them into production.  But for yourself or a friend, you need a piece of fabric that is the length you want minus how long you want the ruffle to be plus a few inches for the drawstring casing at the top and the hem and a piece for the ruffle, width of finished ruffle plus its hems, length of 2 times the skirt hem.  The width should be the measurement of your hips at the fullest part plus 4″ for ease.  So if I want a 37″ skirt with a 7″ ruffle, that makes the skirt length 30″ plus the casing of 1.5″ and the hem of 1″.  You need a piece of fabric 32.5″ long.  And if your hips are 36″, add 4″ makes 40″ wide.  The ruffle should be a piece (or a few pieces joined together) of 80″ long by 8.5″ wide.  Your drawstring can be made from the same fabric, or you can use ribbon or cord.  Length should be your hips plus a bit extra to tie it.  You can adjust it later if you have too much.

Here is my skirt, duppioni silk, from the front.

Same skirt from the back.

My demonstration is with a silver duppioni silk skirt made for my friend K.

The pieces for the skirt, the ruffle, and the drawstring have been cut.

Sew the center back seam so that the skirt is a tube. Finish it how you like. Here it is sewn and pressed open and the casing has been pressed under.

The ruffle has been sewn into a tube, the seams pressed open, and the ruffle hems pressed.

The upper edge of the casing has been edgestitched at 1/8" from the edge and the ruffles have been hemmed.

Buttonholes have been put into the inside center front of the casing. The drawstring will come out of them so it can be tied.

The drawstring has been pulled a bit through the buttonholes and a bit into the casing.

The drawstring is being sewn into the casing. Be careful to sew along the very edge of the casing and don't catch the drawstring in the stitching.

The finished casing.

Get some string like crochet cotton and zigzag over it, along the whole length of one of the ruffle hems. This will be how you gather the ruffle up.

Put pins at the center front, center back, and sides of the skirt. Divide the ruffle into 4 and put pins in those spots. Then match the ruffle to the skirt at the ends of the string and the opposite point. Pull along to gather starting at the point opposite the ends of the string until you reach the side pins. Pin the ruffle to the skirt and continue to the string ends. Pin so that the edge to be gathered of the ruffle overlaps enough of the bottom of the skirt (here it wasn't hemmed because the selvage was used) that the ruffle actually gets sewn on evenly.

Here the ruffle has been gathered and pinned to the skirt.

Stitch close to the gathering string, but not through it, along the length of the ruffle. Then pull the string out.

The finished skirt.

This skirt can be used for a fancy event or a Steampunk event or something like that, if you make it out of fancier fabric.  You can make it any length you want.  If you use a cotton print or denim, it will be more casual.  Thicker fabric will not gather up as nicely.


Leave a comment

Filed under Garments

(Neo-) Victorian/Steampunk-style Cravat/Ascot

Making that particular kind of neckwear I call a cravat, that some call an Ascot, which is perfect for Victorian, Neo-Victorian, Steampunk, etc. is actually quite simple.  You need a piece of fabric that is 60 inches long by 14 inches wide, a piece of fusible interfacing (preferably the knit/tricot kind not the non-woven fiber kind) that’s the same size, matching thread, scissors, something with which to turn the points, something with which you can mark on the fabric and interfacing, a space for cutting, and the pattern.  While you can sew it by hand, it’s demonstrated here on a sewing machine.

You probably want some sort of fabric that will press fairly easily and isn’t a pile that can get crushed by being pressed.  I used duppioni silk for this one, but I have used poly/nylon taffeta, and some slippery brocade.  A nifty cotton print will work nicely, too.  I think outright nothing really heavy and no velvet and nothing with a lot of stretch.

First, draft the pattern.  Don’t worry!  It’s easy!  It’s a rectangle with pointy ends.

Here is one end of the pattern. The other end looks the same. It's a bit skewed because of the angle of the camera. The end should be evenly pointed, not these weird angles.

On a piece of paper, make two parallel lines around 8″ apart and about 60″ long.  Use whatever you have, as long as it isn’t newspaper.  At the two ends, draw perpendicular lines connecting the two lines.  Then find the centers and extend out 3 or 4″ until you can make a nice point.  Make diagonal lines connecting so the shape looks like the one above.  Add 1/4″ all around for the seam allowance.  The sides of my pattern are 53 1/4″ long (incl. seam allowance), the center from point to point is 57 1/2″ long (incl. S.A.), and it’s 6″ wide (incl. S.A.).  See on the right end of the photo where there are notches and a sketch?  The sketch is how you fold the part of the cravat where it goes along the back of the neck.  The notches are for where the folding starts and stops.  On the long sides, I notched for folding 21″, 25″, and 29″ from one end.  When you cut out your fabric, don’t cut the notches.  They’re guides for when you’re ready to fold.  About the center of the photo above, it says Cravat (call it whatever you want), then the date I made the pattern, then cut 2 listed twice.  Black ink is for most patterns, the shell (outer) fabric.  The red ink is for interfacing.  Do it this way so you’ll remember you have to cut fabric and interfacing.

Once you have your pattern made, cut it out and lay out your fabric (folded in a double layer) and lay the pattern over it.  Weight the pattern with something so it doesn’t shift (don’t pin it), trace around it, and set it aside.  Cut out your fabric and move that and do the same for the interfacing (double layer, too).

Then fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.  (Usually wool setting with highest steam setting.)

A piece of fusible interfacing laid over the cravat fabric.

Fusible interfacing laid over the wrong side of the fabric and the pressing cloth laid over that.

Now the pieces are ready to sew together.  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.  If you’re used to 5/8″, try 1/4″ and go as slowly as you need to go.  It turns out much nicer and you don’t have to trim as much excess off (plus it does save a bit of fabric).

Sew all around the shape of the cravat, leaving about 6" open so you can turn it right side out. The opening should be near the center of one of the long sides. See the opening at the top of the photo? That's about 6". The seam pivots and goes to the edge, which makes it easier for the seam allowance to turn to the inside once it's right side out.

The corners are sewn.

If your machine doesn’t press very hard to meld the fabric and thread, press this flat as it is.  Then clip the corners to reduce bulk.

Clip fairly close to the stitching but be careful to not cut into the stitching.

Now, turn the cravat right side out, press it flat, and stitch the opening closed.

Here the cravat is turned right side out and the corners have been pushed out as far as they'll go from the inside with a chopstick.

Here, it's nicely pressed. Sometimes you have to manipulate the fabric closely and carefully so as much of it will turn out and press flat and pretty.

Here the opening has been sewn shut with matching thread.

Press that.  Now it’s time to fold where it will sit on the back of the neck, pin it, and stitch it.  This placement is near the center but off by a bit so that one end of the cravat will be longer than the other.

The basic amount of folding is 1/3 of it is left flat and the other 2/3 are folded into thirds or whatever matches the first 1/3. This is all stitched along the short way three times as shown. See how it's near the opening you just stitched shut? It's folded so one long side is down in the photo and the other long side is up. It ends up being a hair over an inch wide.

You can press that, too.

The finished cravat.

Here is a photo of my husband wearing it.

Rob with the cravat just demonstrated (and the vest from an earlier post) with me next to him.


Filed under Garments


Today’s topic is facings.

For those of you who don’t know what a facing is, go look in your closet for a shirt or a blouse or a skirt made from woven fabric, not knit.  The inside of the neckline or waist most likely will have a facing.  Facings give stability and a nice, finished edge on certain parts of a garment–such as a neckline, a waistline, an armhole on a sleeveless garment, and the part where the garment buttons up–where you need more stability and strength and where a simple hem or a bias edge won’t work.  Facings alro make a garment hang nicely and look pretty.

It doesn’t matter what shape the area needing a facing is.  The facing is the same shape as the garment area. Below are the patterns of the various fronts and backs and their appropriate facings and laid out and marked.  I used different cotton prints in different colors so you can see what’s going on.

Patterns laid out and traced around

Marked, ready to cut, cut the line off

Quarter circle patterns

More patterns

The rest of the patterns

Cut the fabric and cut fusible interfacing for the facings (not the shell pieces).  (The shell means the outer fabric of the garment.)  Fuse the interfacing to the facings.  I used some old stuff I had lying around for the purposes of the demonstration, but normally I use the interfacing that is sheer nylon tricot (knit).  One brand is French Fuse that is about 60″ wide (other kinds are only around 22″ wide).

Interfacing fused to the facings.

Interfacing fused to the other facings.

I’m demonstrating first a simple high round neckline called a jewel neckline, which is what you see when you draft a basic pattern.  The steps are pretty much the same for other shapes.

The shoulder seams of both the shell and the facing have been stitched with a 3/8" seam allowance.


The shoulder seems have been pressed open (also called butterflied, since a seam allowance is on each side of the seam).

The facing has been sewn to the shell and the curve has been clipped (clip to but not through the stitching). Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

Understitching: push the seam allowance toward the facing and stitch it down with 1/16" to 1/8" away from the seam.

The understitching finished.

Detail of the neckline seam allowances clipped to reduce bulk. Clip to but not through the stitching.

Turn the facing right side out, to the inside of the shell. You can see how the understitching pulls the facing a little to the inside, so it won't show on the outside.

With understitching, you can only see the shell from the outside.

Detail of the understitching from the facing side. You can see a bit of the shell.

I didn't finish the edge of the facing, finish whichever way is appropriate for your garment. But tack the edge of the facing to the seam allowances of the shell. This keeps it from flipping up to the outside.

Next is a scooped neckline.  It is also curved and almost the same as doing the jewel neckline.

Stitching the scooped neckline facing to the neckline.

Facing sewn to neckline.

Facing sewn to neckline.

The facing was clipped, understitched, turned, and pressed.

Finished scooped neckline.

Scooped neckline on the dress form.

Next up is a square neckline.  It requires less clipping but you pivot at the corners.

Stitch the facing to the shell. Clip at the corners, taking out a "V" to reduce bulk.

Detail of the corner clipped.


Facing understitched, turned, and pressed.

Square neckline from the shell side.

Square neckline finished.

Here are some others.  The square neckline has the corners going one way; occasionally you will have corners going the other way.  Use the same process.  Same for a curve going the other way.  Also shown are scallops and dagging such as you would find on a 15th Century houppelande.

Corners and curves going the other way, sewn the same way.

The corners and curves have been clipped.

Understitched, turned right side out and pressed.


Scallop pattern drawn onto fabric but not cut to the shape yet. Stitch on the line.

After stitching, cut out the excess fabric and clip the corners and the curves.

Then turn and press the scalloped edge, pulling the facing side a bit to the inside (you most likely won't be able to understitch it, but you can topstitch if necessary).

The dagging is similar to the scallops but takes more time and clipping.  Don’t worry!  It isn’t hard.  It just takes more time.

As with the scallops, draw the lines onto the fabric before cutting and stitching. Then stitch on the lines.

Now clip away the excess fabric, clip the curves and clip the corners. This is a short example for the demonstration; a sleeve or hem would have dagging along its entire length.

Don't understitch. Turn the dagging right side out. Press the facing side and pull a bit of it inwards so you can't see it from the shell side.

The other side of the dagging.

A detail showing how the facing side was pulled inwards so it doesn't show on the shell side.

There you go!  As usual, if you have comments, questions, and suggestions, let me know.  🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Parts