Alice Skirt (Tutorial)


I’ve noticed a lot of people arriving here from Pinterest, looking for my Alice Skirt tutorial! Because it got obliterated in the transition from one wordpress blog to the next, I have to rewrite it from scratch. Fortunately, I am now much wiser in the ways of skirt making; unfortunately I don’t remember the exact measurements I used for the skirt fabric pieces. The process is pretty simple though, and I hope it gets you interested in making your own fun skirts for summer!

The Alice Skirt has a self-lining, and fastens using the ties in the back. I will take some detail pics so that you can see how I finished certain things. If you have a question, leave it in the comments and I’ll try my best to help you out!

Alice Skirt Tutorial

1: Measurements

Putting it at the natural waist works alright if you are very slim, but I find that it looks best if the waistline of the skirt is 1-2″ below the natural waist, depending on how long your waist is. I discovered that having the extra fabric around your waist sometimes adds bulk to the smallest part of you. If you want to emphasize it, it’s best to put as little there as possible!

Also measure the fullest part of your hips/bum to figure out how wide an opening you need to slip the skirt on. This skirt does not have any elastic in it, as the ties are meant to cinch in your waist.

2: Choose some fabric!
This part is more important than you might think, because I have used a technique (machine gathering), that requires a lighter weight fabric. I chose 100% cotton voile, which is thin and a little bit sheer/see-through, but can still hold crisp folds (important for maintaining the poof of the skirt). Cotton is easy to sew and feels light and airy for the summertime. Try to stay away from anything that is stretchy (has spandex or lycra in it). The fabric had a beautiful border print on it, so the skirt is cross-grain* and used the full width. Putting it on the cross-grain also allows you to make the skirt and lining at the same time, as you will see later on.

How much fabric do you need? Well that depends on how full you want the skirt to be. I think I used a full 3 yards of fabric for this skirt, because I wanted something that was very poofy and would give volume to my non-existent hips. That is about 4.3x my waist measurement. It got pretty bulky and a little hard to work with, so I don’t really recommend this. 3x your waist measurement will give you a nice full skirt, and if you find you need more oomph, you can make a little crinoline for it (tutorial for that later). Fabric type will also affect how much fabric you need; you can use less with a stiff or crisp fabric and still get some volume, while a softer fabric needs all the help it can get.

I used a fabric that was 46″ wide, and it made a skirt that is just at the knee on me (I am 5’7). You could go wider than that and have a longer skirt, or just cut the excess off.

I also bought iron-on interfacing to go with my fabric, and no-sew hemming tape. If you aren’t sure what that is, ask someone at the store to help you pick some out. It’s important to get the right kind of iron-on interfacing for your fabric.

3: Fabric Prep
If you use 100% cotton like I did, it is a good idea to pre-shrink your fabric before you start sewing, so that you don’t get surprises the first time you wash your skirt. Pre-shrinking just means you throw the fabric in the wash and launder like you normally would. 100% cotton can be washed and dried on the hottest settings. After you pre-shrink, it is a good idea to iron out the fabric so you have a nice flat piece to work with. Pressing things properly makes them look sharp and professional! Sometimes the only difference between something that looks like a home-ec project and something that looks pro, is the amount of pressing that was done.

4: Waistband
Cut a 6″ wide strip. I just trimmed a 6″ strip off the long edge of my fabric (parallel to the selvedge). This is good if you want long ties like mine. Fold it in half lengthwise and tie it around your waist to see how you like the length, and trim to your liking. Remember to leave 1/2″ for seam allowance on each end!

Find the middle and mark it with some chalk. Then divide your waist measurement by half. Use the resulting measurement to mark a spot on either side of the middle mark. This shows where the skirt fabric will sit between.

Cut a rectangle of the iron-on interfacing that is the same length as your waist measurement, and 6″ wide. It can be a little bit wider than 6″ but not less; you want it to cover the whole width of the waistband. You will be ironing this onto the waistband in between your waist measurement marks, on the wrong side of your waistband. I recommend hand-basting it in place over using pins, since ironing over pins tends to have weird effects. I got interfacing in a package, and followed the directions on there. Usually with iron-on interfacing, you need to use the hottest setting on your iron.

With the wrong side out, fold the waistband in half lengthwise and sew along the long edge from end to end. Press open the seam allowance by folding it up against the “body” of the waistband, one side at a time. This will help give you a nice sharp edge. Turn the whole thing right side out, and press everything nice and flat.

5: Skirt
Sometimes when you get fabric from the store, they don’t cut the ends very straight. Try to get these ends as straight and square to the other edges as possible. Overlock or zig-zag stitch the edges after trimming.

I made a nice thick hem on my skirt by folding the selvedge end with a 3″ fold. The opposite side is going to be the hem of your lining. I chose to fold that 1″. You can press these folds in if you want, but I just folded them so I can check the length of the lining to the length of the skirt. You can pin a section with these folds, and then fold the fabric in half lengthwise so you get an idea of where the hems will fall. Adjust accordingly. I made my lining end about an inch higher than my skirt. Check that everything is even and flat. You can even iron the crease if you want, just to make sure it stays in the right place.

Remember your hip and waist measurements? Find the difference between them, add 2″, and then divide the result by 2. (Hip-waist+2″)/2=X
X is the length you need to make the slit that will let you slip the skirt on over your hips. You can make it longer than this, but X is the absolute minimum.

Fold the skirt along the crease so that the wrong side is outside. Now sew the short sides of the *lining only* together, leaving X distance from the creased edge. Do the same with the skirt. Press open your seams, and then turn everything right side out again.

To do the gather, you need to turn the tension settings on your machine way down, and your stitch length up slightly (4 or 5). This will cause loops to form on one side of your fabric, and a straight line of thread going through them. Do two rows of this kind of stitching, 3/4″ and 1/2″ from the folded edge, beginning with a backstitch but leaving the end with a long thread tail. Do the backstitch on the same end for both rows! Try to use matching thread, or clear thread so that it doesn’t show on your fabric.

Grab the thread tails and pull, so that your fabric scrunches up. Scrunch it until the length of your fabric is the same as your waist measurement +2″. The extra 2″ is for a tab to cover the slit opening of the skirt when you wear it. When you have the desired scrunchiness, tie secure knots in each of your thread tails so they stay put.

You can also gather by hand basting 3 rows of stitching instead of machine basting. The more uneven your stitch lengths are, the better! This method will help keep your scrunchiness in place much more effectively than with a machine, but takes a lot longer.

6: Attach the Skirt and Waistband
Grab your hemming tape, skirt, and waistband, and pin them all together. The scrunch is going on the outside of the waistband, and the hemming tape is sandwiched between the skirt and waistband because it is going to hold them in place for you while you stitch them. I used this because I had a lot of trouble keeping the scrunches in the right place. They tended to travel and get more scrunchy in some places and flat in others. You may want this effect (for example, a slightly flatter section over your tummy and more scrunch/volume over the sides of your hips), or you may want an even scrunch everywhere. It’s up to you. I went for even scrunch all around. Try to give at least 1/2″ of overlap with the skirt and waistband, and position the skirt within the marks on your waistband which indicate the length of your waist measurement if you can still see them. Make new ones if you can’t. Make sure you leave your 2″ extra tail outside of the marks; that is going to stay loose. I sewed a little rectangle scrap of fabric to this section to keep it clean looking. Iron!

When that is done, you can take out all the pins. I did two rows of stitching to secure the skirt to the waistband. You can stitch right over your machine basting if you want.

7: Finishing
Fold the raw edges of your waist tie inside the tube and stitch close to the edge.

If you have a dress form or someone who can wear your skirt for you, put it on them and check your hem so that it is nice and level with the floor. Hem the skirt and the lining. I did a double row of stitching on my skirt hem, just because.

Put on your skirt and do a twirl!

*Cross-grain means that the selvedge (finished edges) of the fabric are perpendicular to the up-and-down direction of your actual garment.

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