Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's the Best Beginner Skirt?

Today I'm contemplating the best possible combination of attributes for a beginning sewer's first skirt. The skirt should be simple to fit, cut and sew while also incorporating a number of different skills and producing a final result that will be fun to wear.

Not up for consideration are patterns with panels or gores, or straight skirts.

The simplest option is Kwik Sew 2805, a flared skirt with an elastic waist casing. 

Skills: cutting, sewing side seams, constructing an elastic waist casing, blind hem or other hemming method. Could incorporate two buttonholes at the center front for a faux or functional drawstring in addition to the elastic.

Not too exciting, though!

 Kwik Sew 3003 is a bias cut design with the option for center front and center back seams.

Skills: same as 2805, but adds cutting on the bias. Since the fabrics will be stable quilting cottons, cutting and sewing on the bias should not be too much of an issue for the beginners.
Indigo Junction's Best Bias Skirt is a similar option that adds a little design interest in the form of side slits, a pocket and a contrast waist casing and hem binding.

Skills: same as Kwik Sew 3003, but adds more pieces. The pocket could incorporate a zipper as a design feature and to incorporate that skill into the lesson. If the contrasting hem binding is used, blindhemming will not be appropriate.

Kwik Sew 3794 is a gathered, pull on skirt with an elastic casing in the back only.

While this is a cute skirt, it's not a flattering style for everyone (not me, that's for sure).

Kwik Sew 3877 is an A-line skirt with a waistband, darts and a center back zipper. While a bit more challenging to fit, it does incorporate more skills in its construction and is a very versatile pattern. Students would not learn an elastic casing, however.

Amy Butler's Barcelona Skirts is another A-line pattern. Although not the newest in Amy's line, it has lots of cute variations. Maybe too many! I worry that the different versions presented in this pattern (with an apron, with tiers) might be a bit confusing for beginners. Having not made this one up, I'm also not familiar with the sizing.

A final A-line contender, Colette Patterns' Ginger. This is an A-line with center front and center back seams. The panels can be cut on the bias or on the straight grain. Waistband choices include a shaped raised waist or a straight waistband. I have been very happy with the Colette Patterns designs I have made.
Kwik Sew 3032 is a type of skirt I've taught to beginners in the past. It is a slight A-line with a flounce. The skirt is easy to fit and can be very cute made up in two coordinating fabrics. It has an elastic casing at the waist. No possibility for a zipper insertion here and blind hemming isn't a good choice for the curved lower edge.

This pattern is written for stretch knits but can be used with wovens by making one size up.

Favorite Things Belle Skirts is another pattern with hem interest.


  1. So many choices! The Lisette pattern with the paneled A line skirt (Simplicity, can't remember the number) has become my new TNT and might be nice for beginners. Because it has princess seams, it doesn't have darts but the fit is good and easy to adjust with all those seams. There is no waistband and the waist is faced with a ribbon.

    That said, when I teach someone to sew, I make them start with a skirt that is a rectangle with an elastic waist. That is challenging enough for a first project.

    1. Trena, thanks for the suggestion. I am not sure it's still in print, because I'm not finding it on the Simplicity website. I'll check out your blog to find the number. I should have said in my post that one parameter is to stay away from the Big 4, as these students will be coming to me through an independent quilt shop that doesn't carry those lines. Otherwise I would be looking at Simplicity (because I love them) and New Look.

      You are so right that a gathered waist rectangle would be plenty complex as a first project, but in a class offering there is an expectation of receiving "more"--more skills taught and a more exciting finished product.

  2. Maureen, excellent suggestion! The prospective students will be coming to me through a quilting shop, though, so I need to find options that use quilting cotton rather than knits. I have taught beginner skirt classes using a nice stable double knit (Sophia) and that works out great.