October 24, 2013

How to draft the flounce

Somehow, I never think about making a tutorial about any of my patterns until commenters start asking for it. In many cases, I can't really make one because that would basically require teaching pattern making in general.
In the case of the flounce however, I think I can show you how to do this. I've never seen tutorials for a detail like this, neither online nor in pattern making books but it isn't difficult. 

Before we get started though, I've called this skirt detail a flounce, but is it? 'skirt with flounce' or 'skirt with draped front' I would say. I'm asking this because my blog statistics tell me some people find this blog looking for particular tutorials (so far, mainly the culotte tutorial). I'd like people to be able to find this tutorial.

As said, creating a flounce like mine isn't particularly difficult. You could add one to any straight, tapered or A-line skirt. I don't recommend my version with the bloused section at the top for fuller skirts although you could make a version in which the skirt is slightly gathered and pulled up at the waistline. You know, like in the second skirt I used for inspiration.
All you need to draft the skirt is lots of paper in large sheets, paper scissors, a long ruler and a pencil.

Start with the front skirt pattern piece. It's easiest to work with if you don't include seam allowance. Mark the point at which you want the center point of the flounce to be. I'd recommend putting it either at the dart position or a little bit to the center from it. Mine was 10 cm from center front and 12 cm below the waistline.

Draw lines through the point you marked as shown.

Cut along the lines and spread the pieces, closing the darts. You want to create a gap of about 10 cm between the point of the top piece and those of the three bottom pieces. The pieces have to meet along the side seams. You will notice that, to create the vertical ease without opening the side seams, you have to create a wide skirt shape. Which is exactly what you want. This will create all that nice room for movement in the finished skirt.

Smooth out the sides (you don't have to make them completely straight, just get the sharp edges out) and draw a new hemline. Because I wanted the hem to come up a bit at the center of the flounce, I made it a little shorter than the center piece. If you're unsure about this, just stick to the length of the pieces and draw a smooth line through those.
If you are using a plain fabric, or one with a random print, your pattern is now finished. Just make sure to mark top and bottom of the flounce center and the bottom left and right.

If, like me, you are using a fabric with a regular design, you may want to match it at the side seams. To do this, you have to split the skirt. It should be something like you see in this picture, but I'd recommend making a skirt muslin, figuring out the exact position where you want the center of the flounce and drawing the lines on the muslin in places which you now know will mostly be covered by the pleats. Then, transfer the lines from your muslin to your pattern.

Either way, you will need one more pattern piece: the little underlay to which you attach the center of the flounce. To make it, start once more with the skirt pattern piece. Draw in the shape you need: mine was 16 cm below the waist at the position of the flounce, tapering to 5 cm at the sides. Of course, this depends on the position you've chosen for the center of the flounce. Cut along the line and close the darts. That's all.
I cut this piece from a plain black cotton. A fabric like that is a good choice: stable but thin.

When you're sewing the skirt or dress, just construct it like you would any other skirt. The only difference has to do with the underlay: Finish its bottom first, then layer it with the front skirt itself and sew them at sides and waistline as one layer.
When you've put the garment together (apart from hemming), put it on and arrange the flounce. I roughly gathered the width between those left and right points and sewed that section down on the underlay at the position of the top point. You can do it differently for a different look. Play around with it and go with what you like. Just remember to check the sides. If you've done the flounce correctly, those should be straight. 
You can also check the hemline at this point and adjust it if you feel that's necessary.
Sew down the flounce, hem the skirt and enjoy it.

As usual, I hope I've explained this properly. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and if you make a flounce skirt and post it somewhere online, please let me know, I'd love to see it.

P.S. If you like this type of pattern manipulation and would like to learn more about it (and you happen to be in the Netherlands next month), you should know that my Pattern Magic workshop at iFabrica will be all about this sort of thing. It's not too late to sign up and the good people at iFabrica have even made it an event on Facebook, which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/events/589526861097073/

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