Fat Quarter Skirts: 1. Select FQs & Draft Your Pattern
This is Part 1 of a three-part tutorial. The Overview page is here.
CHOOSING YOUR FQS
We’re going to make this skirt from 6 FQs. Two for the skirt front and two for the back (although you can use more if you like), one for the band, and one for the waist casing and drawsting. If you are petite, one FQ (18×22″) might be big enough to cut the entire front or back of your main skirt piece, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s mix up some different prints for a unique look.
I’ve made a lot of these skirts, usually from a bunch of different stuff from my FQ and “large scraps” drawers. For this first example, though, I’m pulling from an FQ set of Joel Dewberry prints because I could not resist the purple/aqua/olive color scheme:
Choose a mix of different print densities and sizes. I like to use a mix of large and small prints, and medium and dark tones. Very light prints will be close to transparent in bright light, so I avoid those unless I’ve got a darker print behind it on the other half of the skirt.
BTW: I always pre-wash all my quilting fabric, as soon as it comes home from the store. If you are NOT a pre-washer, you might want to make an exception for your FQSkirt fabrics, especially if you are combining prints from different manufacturers, which might shrink at a different rate if you toss your skirt through the dryer. If you plan to wash your skirt in cold water only, and drip dry, shrinkage is probably not going to be an issue, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Try not to stress over picking the perfect combination of prints. Remember: this is about you having fun, playing with your stash. Pull a couple prints that catch your eye, then add few more in a different color and scale. Choose “mix” over “match”. Here’s a combination I put together of fabrics from three different designers (Anna Maria Horner, Jennifer Paganelli, and Kaffe Fassett) that look great together:
Got your fabrics picked out? Prewashed and pressed? Great, let’s get started.
Draft your pattern
I know, you want to jump right into playing with your pretty fabric. But first we’re going to draw up a super-simple skirt pattern. It’s easy; really, I promise! You only need 2 pattern pieces: the front/back, and a contrast band. In fact, the band is optional. Keep in mind, though, that without a band you’ll end up with a miniskirt. Some of us are too far into our middle years to get away with that, so I’m including adding a contrast band in the tute.
I use 18″ freezer paper to draft my pattern: it holds up to multiple uses, and you can draw easily on the paper-side. You can also use the backside of gift-wrapping paper, or tape some printer paper together, or use tracing paper if you’ve got it.
Here we go, just follow along, and use this diagram as your guide:
- Tear off a large piece of freezer paper (or whatever you’re using) and fold it in half with the width of the paper on the fold. The folded edge is at the left side of the diagram.
- Measure your hips at their widest point, and add 6″ (4″ for ease + 2″ for seam allowances). Divide by 4.
- Mark a point on the fold about 6″-8″ down from the top of your folded paper. If you are petite, or like to wear your skirt low, go with 6″. Tall or high-waisted, or like your skirt to ride at the waist, use 8″. This does NOT have to be exact, so don’t stress over it.
- Measure out from the fold to the measure you just came up with in Step 2, and make a mark there. See the RED DASHED line in the diagram. That’s the hip-point on your pattern piece.
- Now draw a vertical line through that point. Angle in (toward the fold) with a slight curve above the hip-point. Below the hip-point angle out a little, keeping that part of the line straight (not curved). That’s the side edge of your pattern piece.
- Draw the waist edge. Start a little down from the top of the paper at the fold. Make a straight horizontal line about 3/4 of the way across, then make a gentle curve up. Do the same at the bottom of the paper: keep your line straight across from the fold for most of the way, then curving gently up to meet the side.
- Your competed pattern piece should be no more than 18″ high, unless you know you will use your FQs vertically (i.e., the 22″ side going up/down).
NOTE: I’m 5’8″ and past mini-skirt age. When I make a FQS, a 17″ main skirt piece, plus a 5″ band piece, add up (by the time hem and seam allowances have done their part) to a skirt that hits just above the knee. You might want your skirt shorter, so adjust the length of your main skirt pattern and/or the contrast band piece accordingly.
To draw the skirt band piece, take another length of paper and fold it in half just like you did for the main piece.
1) Place your main pattern piece on top of the new paper, overlapping a few inches. Trace the lower edge onto the new paper.
2) Extend the line of the skirt side edge:
3) Add for seam allowance at the top edge. Keep in mind that line you just drew ( BLUE DASHES, below) copies the lower raw edge of your skirt piece, and you’ll be joining the skirt and band with a 1/2″ seam. That means the SEAMLINE will be 1/2″ up from that line (RED DASHES), and that you’ll need to add another 1/2″ for the band seam allowance. So now measure UP 1″ from the traced line and redraw the curve. That’s the TOP EDGE of your band piece:
I’m on the tall side, so for me a good height for the band pattern piece is between 5 and 5.5″. You may want a band that’s narrower than that if you’re aiming for a shorter skirt overall.
The BOTTOM EDGE of the band should echo the line of the top edge. Make sure your band SIDE edge matches the angle of the SKIRT (the bottom of the band will be slightly wider than the top).
Okay, cut out your pattern pieces along those edges you drew (take care that the two layers of paper don’t shift while cutting) and you’re good to go!
Part 2: Prepare Your Fabric is here.