Sewing 203 - Pattern Drafting: Basic Skirt

Updated: Apr 2

After many weeks of introductory lessons, we have finally arrived at drafting your first basic pattern! Congratulations on making it this far. Today we are starting with the basic skirt pattern or block. From this master pattern, you can add style options and make many different styles of skirts.


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Principles of pattern drafting

We shall be drafting Half of a Front piece and Half of a Back piece. This is because both sides are the same or symmetrical. You only need to draft a full piece if the two sides are different in some way. Since we are working in halves (half front/half back) or in quarters (Quarter of the whole skirt) depending on how you look at it, some measurements will be divided into 2, and some will be divided into 4. It will all make sense once we get into the work.

sewing pattern drafting tools

Tools you will need

1. Straight ruler

2. Set square

3. Curve ruler

4. Pencils / Eraser /Sharpener

5. Brown paper/ Drafting Paper – 1 sheet (30L x 30W inches) or (75cm x 75cm). It should be longer than your waist to knee measurement and wider than 1/2 hip measurement. You can always tape sheets of paper together to get the right size.

Measurements you will need (Feel free to work in Inches or Cm)

1. Waist

2. Hip

3. Hip depth

4. Length (Waist to Knee)

5. Apex

6. Across Back

IMPORTANT! Download Skirt Sloper Worksheet Here first

The Skirt Draft

1. Leaving a space of about 1 inch (2.5cm) from the top of the paper, draw a straight line across the top of the paper to create a guideline.

2. Starting about 1/2 inch (1.2cm) away from the edge of the paper, square another line down from the top left corner of the paper. This should be at 90 degrees from the first guideline.

3. Line A – B = Length Measurement

4. Line A – C = Half Hip Measurement

5. Line C – D = Same as A-B

6. Line B – D = Same as A-C

You should now have a Square/Rectangle that is Length by Half Hip measurement.

7. Line A – E = Hip depth measurement

8. Square across a line to Point F

9. Line A – G = Front Hip measurement. Square straight line down. Label as G, H and I.

10. Label as Centre Front and Centre Back as illustrated above.


Insert Darts

Now we will calculate the Darts to shape the waistline. Darts are triangular shapes that remove excess fabric from a part of the garment to create shape and contours. Darts will turn the flat drawing into a 3D shape when sewn.

Essentially the size of the darts for a skirt is the difference between the Hips and the Waist. The result is then distributed among the 4 darts (2 in front and 2 in back) and the sides of the skirt. See worksheet for detailed calculations.



11. A to J = Front waist measurement plus dart measurement

12. Square up a line from Point J, 3/8 inch long (1 cm). Mark as Point J1.

13. A to K = 1/2 apex measurement minus 3/8 inch (1cm)

13. K to L = Dart measurement

14. Make a mark halfway between points KL and square a line straight down. This line should equal 1/2 of the hip depth measurement. Mark dart point as M. Join points KML to form dart.


15. C to N = Back waist measurement plus dart measurement

16. Square up a line from Point N, 3/8inch long (1 cm). Mark as Point N1

17. C to O = 1/4 Across back measurement minus 3/8 inch (1cm)

18. O to P = Back dart measurement.

19. Make a mark halfway between points OP and square a line straight down. This line should equal 3/4 of the hip depth measurement. Mark dart point as Q. Join points PQO to form dart.

20. Join points L, J1 and H with curved lines to complete Front waist and side. Similarly, join points P, N1 and H with curved lines to complete the Back waist and side. 

21. Separate the Front and the Back piece by cutting down the middle. To test, add seam allowance to the sides, cut the front folded and the back in two pieces to allow for a zipper.

The skirt block is complete. Try testing it without adding ease to easily detect any errors and use non-stretch woven fabric. Please ask any questions and I’ll be sure to help. 

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