Copying a skirt with fabric from my trip to Laos

I’ve just come home from an amazing trip around Vietnam and Laos. In Laos you can’t fail to notice all the beautiful traditional sarongs. All the school girls wear sarongs as part of their school uniform, and a lot of women wear them as everyday clothes too. And then you spot the dazzling brides and grooms having their pre-wedding photos (apparently they are displayed at the door to the reception because so many people attend the wedding, you have to be sure you’re going into the right one!).

On every market stall you see the fabric for sale, so of course I had to come back with some! I bought this shiny blue fabric from a stall in Vientiane, and decided 20160222_131700straight away that I wanted to make a pencil skirt out of it. The trim at the bottom would look great at the bottom of the skirt, and because of the way the fabric is made, I wouldn’t even need to do a hem… bonus!

Now all I needed was a pattern. I have a very well worn pencil skirt that I know fits me well, so I decided to copy a pattern from that. 20160222_131940You can just about see on the photo that it has a waistband at the top, and a curvy yolk. I decided that I wanted to keep my new skirt simple, so I took the measurements, but didn’t add a yoke and just added a waistband to the inside of the skirt to provide some stiffening, so it doesn’t show on the front.

To make the pattern, I turned the skirt inside out (pulling the lining out of the way as much as possible) and measured the waist, hips and bottom edge, as well as the length. Where there were darts I measured the size, length and position of the dart from the centre seam, and then adjusted my measurements to account for that. So on the front there were 2 darts on each side. I measured the distance from the centre front to the darts (9.5cm and 13.5cm) the length of the dart (16cm each) and the width of the folded fabric inside the skirt (1cm wide). Note; for the width you have to add twice the measurement, so 2cm in my case, to account for both sides of the fold.

Once I had all these measurements I drafted up my skirt pattern on brown paper, making sure to add the extra centimeters to the waist measurement for the darts. Using the original skirt as a reference, I marked where there were darts, zips, flaps, etc. Then I started cutting out.

I thought through the logic of how to construct the skirt, and what order things had to go in…. which I later found out was wrong… but it’s good to think through the whole process before you start!

Most of the construction was pretty straight forward, but I found this Tilly & The Buttons tutorial really helpful when attaching the lining the waistband and the invisible zipper. The other slightly confusing part was the kick flap at the back of the skirt, but I just used my original skirt to work out which flap was supposed to go where.

I love my new skirt, and can’t wait to wear it to work on my first day back! It’s even better that it’s got a great story to go with it.

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