One Hour Sewing – Part Two: Measuring and Cutting

Hopefully there aren’t too many things that are hard to understand here. Let me know if you need any clarifications.

Here’s what you need to get started on your skirt:

1 metre of fabric, your choice – try something that isn’t too heavy – no heavy jean or canvas for this pattern, instead use something like cotton poplin, jersey, crepe, silk…there’s a lot of gathering to be done.

1/2 metre secondary fabric – possibly something that you’d like to line the skirt with, and that can be used decoratively on the inside of the belt, and some interfacing (not shown here 4″x 55″).


A fabric/plastic tape measure, mine is about 20 years old, some of the numbers have rubbed off, but my mom let me have it, and well, that makes it the best one that I’ve got.
A massive spool of thread (much smaller in person than appears in photo), I try to go slightly darker
than the material colour if I can’t find an exact match.
A Ruler and a Zipper (20+ cm), I like to use a ruler for the hem and waistband, instead of the fabric tape measure.
A small piece of elastic (two 10 cm pieces, might not need them, so don’t cut them yet)
An Iron
Scissors – If you are as fortunate as I, you’ll be left-handed, but awkwardly okay with right-handed scissors, as long as no one is watching, everything ends-up being fine.

This one is important – A Sewing Machine (I have a second pair of scissors for cutting the thread on the machine). My sewing machine is old. It doesn’t do anything too fancy, but it is a good machine, made from metal parts, weighs a ton and is very reliable. It is also loud. So I sew in the back room/office, by myself. Where no one else is bothered by the incessant chugging of the machine’s needle hitting the fabric over and over again.

Next up – measuring. Are you excited? I can tell.
Grab a piece of paper and a pencil (or pen, if you are daring and used to living on the edge). Take the cloth measuring tape and measure a little lower than your natural waist (this is just below the skinniest part of your torso), measure against the skin, don’t let a t-shirt or other article of clothing get in the way of you getting an accurate measurement. Add an inch, and write it down on the paper as your ‘waist measurement’.
Do you know how long you want the skirt? Above the knee, on the knee, below the knee, mid-calf? I use a skirt that I really like the length of, and go by that for a measurement. Take the measurement from below the waistband. If you don’t have a favourite skirt to measure from. Try standing in front of a mirror and hold onto one end of the fabric tape measure and let the other end fall to the floor. Are you standing close enough to the mirror to see the digits on the tape? Stand closer. My preferred length is 24″. I’m short. I like it below the knee. Add six inches to your preferred length. Write it down on the sheet of paper.
That’s it. Simple so far.
Okay, we’re getting close to cutting things, take our your scissors. Turn on your iron. I use my ironing board to cut the fabric on. If you’ve got a lot of space, you’ll probably do this differently.
STEP 1 of cutting: Your hope is to create a nice even 8″ wide by double your waist measurement long piece of material, that you can use as a waistband.
Take your metre of fabric, it is probably folded in half, with the right sides together (if not, do this make sure it is folded so that the selvaged edges* are together). Measure down 8″. You want the fabric to be even, so if your fabric was cut really unevenly, you’ll need to try something different. Instead of taking a straight measurement, take the top edge and fold it over so that the salvaged edges meet, making sure that the folded edge is 4″ at its narrowest part.
STEP 2: Then take your ruler and make marks six-ten inches apart 4″ down all the way along the length of the fabric. Then take the ruler  and join the marks to make a nice long 4″ band (8″ unfolded). Before you cut, is there a fold there? You want the finished piece to be 8″ wide, by around 55″ (or whatever the width of your fabric is from selvage to selvage- it is always easier to cut something smaller, then try to make it bigger, remembering to be around double the length of your waist measurement). Iron a nice fold line in there, and then cut along the line you’ve made.
If you want a stiff waistband, then you’ll need some sort of interfacing. I’m going to use an iron on one, because it promotes laziness and is quick, and there’s nothing I like better than those two things combined. Cut out and iron on 4″ wide band onto the inside of half  of your waistband (the wrong side of the fabric) – so that the stiffening agent is on half of the waistband and you’ve got a full 4″ without any stiffing agent on it.
Repeat this with the secondary fabric.
STEP 3: Do basically nothing to the rest of the fabric – it is going to serve as the back and front of  your skirt.
Time to start sewing. I’m going to leave you hanging here. Tomorrow, we’ll sew the skirt, and you’ll get to see the finished product, with some photos of the step by step – which might help the more visual folks out there.
*According to the online dictionary selvaged edges are the woven edges that do not fray or ravel

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