#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Constructing the Skirt (McCall's 7684)

We finished constructing the bodice last week, let's move on to the skirt!

I've mentioned before that my fabric is semi sheer, so you may be wondering why I'm not lining my skirt. A few reasons: First, I almost always wear a slip; I have a nude half-slip that I love and wear under basically all skirts, and I find wearing a slip to just be more convenient than putting linings in everything. Second, I want this sheer skirt to be a free-floating overlay, which is hard to do with a lining. Third, the pattern isn't written with a lined skirt, so I feel like it's just easier to show you this way, as written, and then deal with the issue of a sheer skirt myself. The only change I'm making--and I'm so sorry, y'all, I know, I know--is I'm leaving out the pockets! Sacrilege! I'm sorry, but formal dresses don't need pockets, and putting them in a sheer chiffon skirt is a bad idea. Carry a dang clutch like Princess Kate does and allow your skirt hang properly. So there.

A few notes before we begin--if you made adjustments to the bodice that will affect your skirt (like taking a bit off the side seams!) you have a couple of options. The first is to take the same amount off of the side seams, tapering to nothing at about a foot down the skirt. The second, and what I usually do, is to fudge it. Since I'm only taking an inch out of my waistband total (remember, I took 1/4" off of each side seam front and back for a total of 1"), I will just add a smidge to each of the side pleats to work in the extra fabric. What you want to do is up to you, just know that if you do the fudge way your pleats may not be perfectly determined by the pleat marks you have dutifully traced.

First things first--if you didn't mark all the dots on your skirt during fabric prep week, do so now! These will help you create the pleats. My gorgeous multi-color fabric is great to look at and sew with, but it was awful to try and mark. I have three different marking pencils: blue, white, and pink. Of course, that's not super helpful when your fabric is also blue pink and white! It took a lot of "where's waldo"-style searching and I finally resorted to pinning through all the markings, which is why you see tons of pins everywhere!

You'll also notice that the top of your skirt pattern pieces aren't straight across, they have little waves on top. 

When your pleats are all folded, your skirt will have a slight shaping to the waistband: it will be a slight U, rather than straight across, and these little waves help create that shape. If you cut accurately, you can sort of "check your work" against these waves, they should create a smooth line across the waist of the skirt panel when everything is all pleated correctly.

The first step after marking all your pleats is to build the front panel, consisting of the center front and side front pieces. Pin them right sides together, matching the notches on the side!

Before you start making the pleats, now is the time to finish your side seams however you want--serger, zig zag, etc. Then we'll start the pleats. I like to do this from the front side of the fabric (since I have pins through all my markings, it's easier this way). Each pleat is comprised of a set of three pairs of two dots, three dots along the waist seam allowance and their pairs about 6" down your skirt. What we are doing when we make each pleat is bringing in the outer pairs of dots and putting them right on top of the center pair of dots, like this:

On the right hand side, I've brought the right pair of dots in to meet the center dots, and on the left hand side I've done the same for the seamline dot and left the bottom left dot free.
Do the same for the right part of the dot; pinch the upper right dot:

and bring it in towards the center dot.

Ensure the fold touch right at the 5/8" seam allowance and the top of the skirt is smooth (all those waves you cut should be forming a smooth line across the top of the dart now).

And pin:

Your pleat is com-pleat! ;) Now for the next one! Repeat the same process:

And continue on along the entire front. You'll end up with a big panel that looks like this from the right side:

And from the back:

Do the same for the back panels. These are done individually so there's no need to sew the side or back seams yet. When you're done pleating your whole skirt, you'll have three separate pleated skirt panels: 1 front panel and 2 back panels.

Once all your pleats are pinned, go ahead and baste them down. The pattern suggests you sew them closed vertically, but what I prefer is to baste across the top of the skirt, it's just simpler I think. Using the longest stitch length on my machine, I basted across the whole front panel, side seam to side seam, at a 3/4" seam allowance and at a 1/2" seam allowance. This will fall on either side of your 5/8" seam allowance when you attach the skirt and bodice later!

Here's a close-up so you can see the stitches!

Do the same for the back panels!

Next I'm sewing up the side seams. Right sides together, match the side seams of the back and side front panels. 

Finish your side seams however you'd like (serger, zig zag, etc.).

Lay your bodice out flat, separating the fabric from the lining--we only want to attach the skirt to the outer fabric, and we'll deal with the lining after we install do our zipper next week.

Pin the skirt right sides together with the bodice waistband, matching the side seams of the waistband with the side seams of the skirt (the seams that connect the back and side front panel).

Sew along the seam at a 5/8" seam allowance. Remember, don't sew through the lining just yet! From the inside, it should look like this:

And from the outside:

On the left side of this photo you can see that the side seams of the bodice, waistband, and skirt are all aligned.  Since you did such a great job basting your pleats, they should be perfectly joined at the waistband seam. You can see here that the second row of basting is still visible on the skirt; go ahead and pick that out allowing your pleats to fall open. That's it!

Next week we tackle the thing you've all been waiting for: the zipper!


ps: i mentioned in my bodice post that i prefer to sew the waistband to the front and back bodice separately before joining the sides to make it easier to alter. the same can actually apply to the skirt panels as well, simply join the front and front side panels, pleat, and sew to the front waistband BEFORE you sew up the sides of the bodice, and do the same on the back panels. you'll have a complete dress with unsewn side seams from armpit to hem. then you can sew the whole side seam at one go. if you think you'll have to take the dress in or out (i.e. your weight fluctuates a lot, you're making it for someone else who you don't have exact measurements for, etc.) you may want to consider doing this! it doesn't work well for a sewalong unfortunately, i think it's hard to break it into chunks if you are sewing this way.

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1 comment:

  1. I would sew the one side seam and put in the zipper, then sew the other side seam. Easier to put the zipper in that way!



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