In Sewing

Self Drafted Swing Skirt

Today I finished my self drafted 1940’s inspired swing skirt. Prepare for a bunch of twirly photos! After seeing all the amazing self drafted skirts in the Sew Mama Sew challenge, I had to try it out for myself.


I purchased the Design and Sew an A-Line Skirt class on Craftsy (pssssst it’s on sale right now!) and watched all the videos before starting on my own flat pattern design. On my first attempt I had some trouble with my hip to waist ratio, which resulted in some head scratching as I had to curve out my line and then square up the corners (you’ll see what all that means when you take the class). I quickly found myself being the “Oh this usually doesn’t happen, but if it does, try this” example. It was great to work through those issues though, and after one base muslin and a wearable muslin attempt, I had a passable A-Line skirt with darts! Well, in all honesty it was a barely wearable muslin since I pinched out all of my wearing ease when trying to add the darts. So sure, it was “wearable” if I didn’t breathe…

It was slightly frustrating, but the amount of information I learned about flat pattern drafting opened up a whole new world for me. So worth it!


After deciding the A-Line wasn’t my favorite skirt shape anyway, I moved on to the next lesson and gave the “slash and spread” method a shot (heck yeah free hips and no darts!). I recently bought a WWII era mail order skirt pattern that was one size too small, so I used that as a reference for the amount of spread and then drafted the rest to fit my measurements. This skirt was a total “wing it and hope for the best” project so the waist band and button placket is a hot mess. Well, maybe not that bad but it’s certainly not my best work. That white trim at the waist is actually hiding the raw edges of the waistband that I sewed to the outside. I’m not sure what my thinking was with that, but rather than rip it out and do it again, I just covered up my mess with bias tape. It works, right?


This was my first time attempting an in-seam placket closure and it’s functional, but I need to make some changes for next time. (Note to self: in-seam placket goes in before the waistband. Duh!) The buttons look super cute though and the placket method is a great closure option when your seam allowance isn’t wide enough for a lapped zipper.


I really love, love, love the silhouette of this skirt and the fit is awesome! The one thing I do not love is how long it takes to do a 2 inch hem on a bias curve. I swear I was at my ironing board longer than I was at my sewing machine. Uhg!

Oh well. It was all worth it though because this skirt makes me feel so graceful. Even when I’m falling over…


Ha! I’m getting over an ear infection so my equilibrium is still a little skewed lol!

Now that I know what construction details I have to iron out for next time, I can see many more self drafted skirts in my future. I may never buy another ready-made skirt pattern again!!

Have you ever attempted drafting your own skirt pattern? What were the results?


Have a great weekend, everyone!




  • Hi from your newest follower on bloglovin’, google+, twitter and pinterest! Facebook is next, I just have to switch my account over 🙂 Anyway, I love this skirt, you did a GREAT job! You are so adorable! I have a love for all things vintage, and have a antique booth at an antique mall. I found you over on passionfruit, and look forward to following you through all your projects and posts! Stop by when you have time –

  • I made 4 self-drafted skirts. The first was at a sewing class and it had its flaws. The other 3 were after watching the same Craftsy class and it really opened my eyes. I had the same problem matching my edges and square angles due to my hip measurements, and after a bit of headache I made it work. I love your purple skirt and those white buttons. Well done!

  • Honestly, when we cover up our sewing mistakes, quite often we have little design features that make the “messed up” version nicer than if we had thought things through a little more (or at least I keep telling myself this haha). Love the skirt, love the buttons and bias tape details. Beautiful!

  • You make falling over look good! You look so graceful.

    I’m loving the color combination here too – the blue and white is so cute with the red (orange?) kerchief!

  • You make falling over look good!

    I love the color combination on this – blue and white are so cute with the red kerchief!

  • So fun! I’ve started drafting patterns as well lately. It opens a whole new world! I helped my sister make a circle skirt this weekend – her first sewing project. Skirts are a great first step into the drafting world. I love the little details on yours like the buttons 🙂

  • Stine

    This is lovely. And the white band is a nice detail even if it is just to hide something. I have a book about making patterns that I’ve been wanting to give a try. I’m just a little scared, lol.

  • Very clever!! What an accomplishment- it looks fab and fits wonderfully. Very swooshy!

  • I love the ‘wing it and hope for the best’ approach – sometimes we just have to trust. I think the white bias looks fab. I’ve made a skirt block accordingly to my measurements but I haven’t actually made up a wearable skirt yet – yet because I’ve been obsessed with sewing other things 🙂

  • kazzthespazz

    Fabulous job as always Rochelle. Love your photos x

  • This lovely number deserves some picnics and dancing! I would never had guessed that the white binding was anything but a deliberate design feature- very stealthy! 😀

  • Your skirt turned out great! I love the placket closure and white trim – it all looks very intentional and well designed. I have “drafted” a couple circle and pleated skirts, but I feel like they don’t totally count since the only real thing you need to worry about is the waist measurement. I’ve been so inspired by Adele Margolis’s “Make your own dress patterns” book, she makes slashing, spreading, moving darts, and all look possible! I haven’t actually ventured to try much yet, though. Someday there will be time!

  • Very cute, as always. Hems on A-line or circle skirts are much easier if you use a bias facing (as someone else already commented, I believe). I used synthetic horsehair on the most recent circle skirt I sewed and found it made hemming a breeze, but if you don’t want the extra stiffness (and don’t want to make your own bias tape), pre-packaged extra wide hem tape can really simplify the hemming process.

  • Oh Rochelle, it turned out great! I haven’t finished drafting my own skirt pattern (officially) yet. About the hem, I know exactly what you mean! But, you know, one person said that a good seamstress spends more time at the iron than at her sewing machine, which I have actually begun to discover is the truth, especially if you want your garments to turn out just right! Stitch, press, stitch, press, etc. 😛


  • swingy skirts are just the best! and well done you for tackling the pattern drafting!! i always feel like those projects take on a ‘wing and hope for the best’ attitude! and hey look!! your winging it looks pretty damn pro!

  • Lovely! swingy skirts are great! I’ve never drafted my own skirt pattern or anything for that matter – still getting through all the patterns I want to make without alterations!

  • Marvelous job! I love the side button closure – one doesn’t see that often enough on skirts these days (even repro, where jeans and trousers tend to get most of the side buttons). You look like you were having a total blast taking these snaps – I’m really happy to hear that you’re ear infection is beginning to lift. That’s wonderful news!

    Big hugs & the happiest of weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  • Once I learned how to flat pattern I could never go back. I still use patterns for some things but never for skirts. I just fell in love with making my own patterns.

  • I took this class some months ago and I draft my own a line skirt and I was pleased with the result. Your sewing skill is admirable, you made this wonderful skirt starting from a simple draft. You really rock! Can’t wait to see other sewing wonder from you! 🙂

  • The white details really lift it from being just a plain blue skirt. It’s great when these happy accidents happen! I can’t remember the last time I made just a skirt from a bought pattern. I have a stock of self drafted patterns including pencil, half circle, 3/4 circle and full circle, and an 8 gore that adds up to 3/4 circle. When I make dresses I often either swap the skirt pieces out for one of these or do gathered or pleated rectangles.

  • When I saw the first picture, I wanted to have the same skirt ! This say it all, no ?
    I really love the white bias and the buttons. I’ve never constructed a skirt all by myself but I’ll try soon, I think.

  • I think your skirt looks awesome! I have yet to try any kind of circle skirt. The hem I hear is hard too. I did thrift a vintage hemmer contraption which clamps around the bottom of a skirt equal distance from the floor and has a place to stick pins thru the clamp at 1,2, & 3 inch intervals. I hear they are invaluable for circle skirts – $2 🙂

    Here’s a pic –

  • I was looking at this thinking what a nice touch the white bias strip was – never would have guessed it was hiding something! Well done, it looks lovely!

  • What a fab job! Love the fit and shape…. it’s certainly a skirt made for twirling!

  • I am yet to sew anything with a pattern. I have a roll of white paper and I just fiddle and sketch until it works out. So far good. Next after skirts, and pjs, I am going to attempt a dress.

  • I find that sewing curved hems is easier when I have some sort of trim. Like I baste around the hem first, which makes pressing the first fold a lot easier. Then I sew on my trim to the right side (with the bottom of the trim facing up, towards the skirt body) and then use it to fold the hem under again. It makes it so much easier, kind of like the basting but better. Then I just top stitch it in place.

  • I’ve done the circle skirt and half circle skirt deal, and those hems seem never ending! I like your skirt a lot. The flare looks comparable to a half circle–is it more fitted through the hips tho? The white strip makes for a cute detail–nice save 🙂

  • Beth

    Oh! And your hem looks great and the placket too!

  • I had to revise my skirt sloper several times before perfecting it. I recommend(eventually) doing a snug (but wearable) basic skirt with darts and perfecting that. Then, you can slash and spread it to make literally any other kindofskirt you might desire. If you can make it to go along with a bodice basic sloper then you can make any dress you desire. The key is to have a solid base and expand from there. It does take a while!!

  • I’ve never drafted my own skirt..I’m scared! The buttons are so cute and I would of never guessed the bias tape was there to hide anything!

  • I draft my own circle skirts all of the time, but that shape is really simple so the actual drafting is easier for me than the sewing part!

  • It looks great! I’d never know the white trim was hiding a dark secret… 😛
    A friend just asked me to help her knock off a RTW skirt she likes… so I’d better start figuring out just how to make that work! Eeeek! I don’t want to throw her off sewing by making it seem to hard!
    (BTW, can’t remember if you have a serger? I always use mine to gather the curved edge before I hem a circle skirt…)

  • I recently bought that Craftsy class, but haven’t taken it yet. Seeing your finished skirt is inspiring, though. It looks lovely. I’m looking forward to designing and making my own.

  • Tina C.

    I drafted my own circle skirt once and it went amok and awry. The ratios and math–not my strong suit–were off. I also drafted my own bodice once and that turned out pretty nice. Took me like a week to get it just right but was totally worth it!