DIY and Recipes

Adventures in Nerdy Skirt Making: a sort-of DIY Marvel A-Line Skirt

So a little while ago, I made my husband a superhero blanket (which you can sort of see in these posts of Asa), and while I was at Joann’s I noticed they had several really awesome fabrics with Marvel or DC superheroes, Star Trek, or Star Wars printed all over them. (And also, Dr. Seuss.) I was sad at the time because they weren’t flannel, so I couldn’t use them for the blanket I made. But then I had a great idea: why not make nerdy clothes? So here we are.

Originally I meant to have this be a DIY post, but um… I ran into a few slight problems, and unless you have moderate experience with sewing, you might not want to try this particular skirt making process.

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However, if you want to make yourself a skirt that looks more polished than the ever-so-popular DIY Circle skirt (which you can Google and find a million tutorials for), you don’t have a pattern, and you’re pretty confident with your sewing skills, you can try this!

You will need: newspapers (or tissue paper), tape, a pen, pins, a needle, sewing thread to match your fabric (I used black), about 2-1/4 yards of fabric, a seamripper, scissors, a measuring tape, chalk to mark your fabric, and 8-10 buttons.Collage 1 Take your natural waist measurement (where your waist bends when you lean side to side) and the length from your waist to where you’d like your hem to hit (for me, it was just above my knee at 23″).

Now, this part was the part that I had to fudge around with quite a bit. I ended up drawing a semi-circle that was half the width of my waist measurement plus one inch, laying that piece at the top and against the fold of my fabric, and figuring out how much the skirt could flare by holding the  top of the measuring tape at the top of the waistline piece edge, and measuring 25″ out to the edge of the fabric. Then, I drew another semicircle to the other edge of the fabric, and that was my skirt piece. (I added 2″ to the hem for seams and any possible adjustments I might need to make.)  I also cut a waistband piece that was my waist measurement + 2″ in length, and and however wide I wanted it to be. This also was cut from the fold of the fabric.

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After I finally figured out the general shape the skirt needed to be, I pinned it to the fabric, cut out two skirt pieces — one of which I then cut down the middle for buttony purposes — and pinned it all together, right sides facing each other. Collage 2 And then, of course, I sewed the side seams together. However, I made the hem and the waist of my pattern piece way too swooped (in retrospect, I could have done straight edges, I think), so when I sewed it all together, the hem and waistline were all swoopy. Thankfully, easy to fix!  Next, I gathered the top of the skirt, using a wide stitch with the machine and tugging at the thread until the gathers were sufficient and the waistline fit my own.

If you’re doing buttons, you’ll need to leave an overlap of about 2″ on both sides that is not gathered. Fold that over, making sure to fold a little bit of the edge under as well so that it doesn’t ravel, pin, and sew down the inside edge. You’ll want to fold up the hem as well as you sew down, so that it looks nice later.10 11

Next is the hardest bit of sewing, in my opinion. This part was the most confusing to me, until my mom showed me what I needed to do. Taking the waistband, pin it right-sides-together with the top of the skirt and make sure your gathering is sufficient, leaving about 5/8″ of waistband overlap at both edges. Collage 3 Sew together. Don’t worry about the thread you used to gather the skirt. You can take that out as soon as you’ve sewn down your waistband. 15 Then, fold the waistband backwards so that it is right sides together with itself, and sew up both ends, leaving only a teeny tiny bit of space between the waistband and the edge of the skirt. Turn the waistband outsides-in.

Iron, to make it easier to tack down. Now, you can hand-sew the inside of the waistband down, if you’re a perfectionist, or you can be lazy like me and machine-sew it down, sewing into the seam on the outside of the skirt where the waistband meets the skirt. If you’re careful, it won’t be very visible, if at all. It’s up to you!

I completely forgot to photograph the hemming process, but, you know. Fold up your hem, iron it, pin it in place, and enlist the help of someone to be sure it’s straight all around before you sew it in place. (mine was not. Because I cut it wrong. Oops.)

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Last but not least, add your buttons! I spaced mine out about three inches from the top of one button to the bottom of the next. You’ll want to draw a line on either side of the button so that you know how wide your button holes should be. Hopefully your machine has a buttonholing option — it’s relatively easy on most sewing machines. Once you’ve done the stitching (which I am not going to explain, because… Google it), you can rip open the fabric in the middle with a seamripper. Then, sew your buttons where they need to be, and you’re done!24Collage 620

I am definitely a free spirit when it comes to sewing. I never really like following patterns, and this was much more fun for me to sew than previous projects have been! I bought enough extra fabric to make Asa a little bow tie, and my husband a possible vest (or tie).

The total time for this skirt was probably about six hours, given that I had to figure out the pattern piece and sew on the buttons, and the difficulty was… I’d say three out of five stars. If you’re a fairly okay sewer, you can probably do this. Or, you know, Google some DIY circle skirts that just require two seams and a piece of elastic. Hehe.

So now I have a question for you: I already have one person who is actually going to pay me to make her a skirt like this (with a zipper, and pockets), and since I liked making it more than I had thought I would, I am thinking about making a few more to sell. However, given the time it takes to make one, plus the fabric costs — and if I made more to sell, I’d line them to make them even better… and I wouldn’t do buttons, hah! Zippers are way easier — I would have to charge at least $50-$70 per skirt. Depending on the amount of fabric used, and the time it took to make.

Being the cheapskate I am, I need you to tell me: would you buy a skirt like this for that price? I always feel bad charging a lot, even though I know the time and material costs. But I also know that I am way too used to Goodwill prices, hah!

Anyway. I hope you enjoyed the semi-tutorial, and good luck if you decide to try this for yourself!

Happy Tuesday!

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