Thursday, August 30, 2012

How I Make a Simple Elastic Waist Skirt with a Scalloped Edge

Have you seen my simple elastic waist skirt tutorial? Ready to try something slightly different? This tutorial will show you how to make a simple skirt with a scalloped edge. Don't worry if you think you're reading the same instructions as my other skirt tutorial. I copied and pasted a lot of it because they are a lot alike.

You will need ...
main fabric, 1 yard or less depending on the size
contrast fabric, 1/2 yard or less depending on the size
measuring tape 
scissors (pinking shears will be helpful too)
rotary cutter and cutting mat (don't worry if you don't have them, it just makes things easier)
7/8 inch elastic although I often use 1/2 inch if that's what I have on hand
iron, sewing machine, you know, the typical stuff if you want to sew
a marking pen or chalk
a compass or something for drawing semi circles (I used my big Pyrex measuring bowl ... really!)

First, you will want to measure the waist of your child and decide what finished length you like. Right now my daughter is 6 years old. She has a 22" waist and I like her skirts to be about 14" long. 

Now, some simple math.

Main Fabric Subtract 1/2" from your desired length. For me that will be 13 1/2" (14 minus 1/2). We will call this your adjusted length.

Cut 2 pieces the width of the waist and the adjusted length. Again for me, that will be 22 x 13 1/2.

If you are working with a waist 20" or smaller just cut one piece on the fold.

Contrast Fabric

Cut 2 pieces the width of the waist x 7" long. This will ultimately yield a contrast band that is approximately 3 inches wide. 

Again, if you are making a skirt for a waist 20" or smaller you can cut 1 piece on the fold.

Now it's time to sew a few straight lines. For all seams the allowance is 3/8". 

Main fabric
With right sides together sew each side seam. I prefer to overcast mine when I am finished since I don't have a serger. If you are working with a smaller waist and previously cut 1 piece on the fold you only have 1 side seam to sew.

Contrast fabric
With right sides together sew each side seam. Do NOT overcast or serge these seams. They will need to lie flat in a few minutes. If you are working with a smaller waist you only have 1 side seam here too.

Press the seams open. Fold and iron the contrast fabric in half, right sides together. This is where we will work on the scallops. 

Now it's time to make a few marks so we can begin to draw the scallops. Using a straight edge and a marking pen or chalk mark a horizontal line along the middle of the band, adjusting the band to extend your mark completely around.

It's time for a little more math but nothing too complicated. I think it's harder for me to explain. Take the width of your original fabric pieces and double it. The width should be the waist measurement which for me was 22 so double that is 44. This is the combined length of the two pieces before seam allowances. Now, subtract 1 1/2 for the seam allowances. That leaves me with 42 1/2. Basically I'm trying to calculate how much "band" I have to divide into scallops. Now divide that number by 10. For me that is 42.5/10=4.25. This means that each of my 10 scallops should be 4 1/4 inches wide. I was very lucky and ended up with an easy measurement. Depending on the width of your waist you may not be. It's okay though. The skirt has a gathered waist so it is forgiving. Your scallops don't have to be perfectly even so do your best and be happy. Now, starting at a seam, measure and mark the width of your scallops along your horizontal line. You should have width marks to allow for 5 scallops on each side.

Mark your scallop width along the horizontal line.
Now that you have your marks you need the scallops. This is where the compass or other round item comes into place. I used my big Pyrex measuring bowl. Hey I said it was an easy pattern, not sophisticated. My bowl had a diameter of just about 4 1/4 inches so it was perfect for me and yes, I was standing in my kitchen with my measuring tape checking bowls and plates for something that was close enough.

Starting at the side seam place your round object between two marks. Be sure that it is almost at the fold of your fabric but not quite and trace the lower half. Repeat this step for each of the 10 scallops adjusting where you need. When you are finished you should have 10 scallops drawn on your fabric, 5 on each side.

See how the scallops come almost to the fold but not quite? That's what you're aiming for.
After you have drawn all of the scallops it's time to stitch them. Simply stitch over the lines that you've drawn being sure to lift your presser foot to turn at each point and really whenever you need to help your fabric around. This isn't a difficult stitch but you do need to be patient to be sure that you are staying on your marks reasonably well and that you're guiding the fabric around. If you try to go to fast you will end up with jagged scallops. Just take your time and work your way around.

Okay, you're getting there. No more math, no more curves to sew, just some trimming and ironing then putting the pieces together.

Now that your scallops are sewn you need to trim the excess fabric away. I prefer to use my pinking shears for this because it helps when it's time to turn the fabric out. Whether you use pinking shears or not be patient and trim reasonably close to the stitches. You'll want to make sure to cut away all of the folded edge at the bottom of your scallops. The points will need a little extra trimming to help them lie flat when they are turned. Be sure to trim away as much as possible on the side seams and cut a small slit as close to the point as possible for each one. After the trimming is done turn the scallops out and start ironing. I use the tip of a child's paint brush to push the fabric out. If you have points that aren't turning well you may need to go back and trim more fabric away. I had a few that I had to go back on and trim more away. 

You're in the home stretch. Now, pin the contrast band to the main band, right sides together, starting with matching the side seams. Sew, serge or overcast.

Next, iron open with the seam up. On the right side, using the seam as a guide, sew along to tack the seam up. If you wanted to add ric rac this is a great place to do so. 

In order to keep a straight line I keep the side of the foot lined up to the seam. 
The only thing left is to create the elastic casing and insert the elastic.

When creating a casing I always like to overcast the raw edge before I start. I don't know why. I'm sure I saw it or read it somewhere. You don't have to. I doubt anything would really happen if you didn't but I do.

Next, I press under approximately 3/8" of the raw edge and then another 1 1/4" to create the casing. Sew close to the lower edge of the casing leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Using a safety pin (because that's how my mom taught me) I then insert the elastic through the casing. I typically start with my waist measurement plus 1" for the length. Once the elastic is through I pin the elastic ends together (maybe this is why I start with a safety pin) and try the skirt on. Of course the elastic always needs to be adjusted but that is simple. After adjusting the fit I sew the elastic together, distribute the fullness, and stitch the opening close. I also make a habit of stitching in the ditch on the side seams to try to keep the elastic from shifting or twisting.

Guess what's next. Nothing! You're finished. The only thing to do now is make another one now that you have the hang of it.

Truthfully I have rewritten the "scallop" directions at least 5 times. It is so much easier to just show someone than it is to put it in writing. If you have a question or a better way of saying something please feel free to comment. 

For those of you who applique here is a free design. This little bird is one of my very first designs. I actually used some of the same fabric as this skirt to test it more than a year ago. You can find the rest of my designs on my website as well as a 30% off Labor Day sale through 09/03/12.