Today, let's look at some of what I'm going for with this first paper bag skirt: a slightly more formal look than a basic gathered or elastic waist, usually involving pleats, also including a belt and belt loops. Slightly tapered in at the thighs, usually a fairly short length (although you can make it whatever length you want).
Here are some images of the basic idea:
From Urban Outfitters:
So again, here's the tutorial, Part 1: The Classic Paper Bag Waist Skirt!
You'll need, depending on your size and the length you want, 1-2 yards of fabric. No lining needed (please don't make this of a super thin or lightweight fabric ;) ), but you do need a skirt zipper. I'm using one I took off of something else, I think a skirt that I turned into a pillow or something.
I also recommend a fabric marker, but you can use a pencil instead.
- 1. Divide your waist measurement by two. For example, if your waist is 26", your center back pieces will each be 13" wide from the center back seam at the top. Your center front piece will be 26", but it's cut on the fold, so will be the same shape as the center back piece but on the fold instead of the selvage.
- 2. For a modest mini-skirt length, I recommend making your skirt pieces about 23" long, but feel free to do longer. The fold line for the top edge is 3" down from the top of the pieces, and the waist is another 2.5" below that.
- 3. You'll taper the piece down to 3" smaller at the hem than at the waist. Do this gradually and with a curve rather than a straight line, starting a couple inches below the waist.
- Again using the example of a 26" waist, so 13" pieces (plus 1/2" seam allowance if you cut your back on the selvage), you should juuuust barely be able to fit two 23"-long pieces on one yard of 45" wide fabric, like I did. Cutting it close (literally!)! You can just barely see the lines...
- 4. You'll also need to cut a belt piece (I'm using the width of the fabric, but make sure it's close to twice your waist measurement at the very least) and a piece that will become your belt loops. If you want the belt 2" wide, cut the fabric piece 5"--you'll fold it twice and sew with a 1/2" seam. If your belt is 2" wide, you'll want your belt loops to be a little taller than that, and they'll be turned under 1/2" at top and bottom, so each belt loop should be just under 3.5" long. I recommend at least three belt loops, two in front and one in back, but you could also do four. For three belt loops, cut the piece 3" wide by 10.5" long.
- 5. Assemble the back (if you cut it on the selvage rather than fold), and sew the right side seam.
- 6. Put in the zipper. Make sure to start it at the fold of the skirt, rather than at the top. Sew the left side seam. Press flat, and press under 1/2" at the top few inches above the zipper.
- 7. Turn under your hem. Depending how long you want the skirt, give it a small or a large hem by pressing under 1/4-1/2" and then pressing under again, 1/2"-2". Sew with a straight stitch or with a hem stitch.
- 8. Press the top of the skirt down, first 1/2" under then an even 2.5" all the way around. Pin in place or baste (your row of stitches will be covered by the belt).
- 9. Fold your pleats in--there can be a science to this, but I just experiment until I get the right size. Again, if your waist is 26", you'll want to front piece to be 13", so each half to be 6.5". It's okay if it's a little big, since your belt will cinch it and you want some wearing ease. Pin the pleats in place, making sure they stay parallel all the way down.
- 10. Sew pleats in place and sew all around skirt, securing 2.5" fold-down (top "hem").
- 11. Finish belt loop piece and cut into evenly sized (3.5" if you followed my example in step 4) pieces. I did mine by turning under 1/2", then again 1/2", and meeting the edges in the center. Then I top-stitched (I did two rows, to make it look more like jeans belt loops!).
- 12. Press belt loops under 1/2" at top and bottom and pin in place. Top-stitch down.
- 13. Sew long seam of belt and finish ends however you choose (I made a long tube, then tucked both ends under and top-stitched). Be sure to press well.
Just put your belt through the loops, and you're done!
It's a pretty simple skirt really, but like I said, I think of this as the classic paper bag waist skirt, and tomorrow I'll show a tutorial for a super easy paper bag waist skirt. So don't fret if the zipper and pleats intimidate you--there's another option coming, just check back tomorrow!