DIY Spanish Style Skirt

So last time I showed how to draft a skirt pattern from your own measurements, in preparation to make a Spanish style skirt from the dress Nicole made on The Great British Sewing Bee. The post is here if you missed it.

If you don’t want to make your own pattern, you might have a pattern already that you can use.

To make a Spanish style skirt, we’ll need to make some modifications to the pattern we drafted, and the same modifications will apply to a commercial pattern. If you prefer to use a pattern you have already, just make sure that it’s for a straightish skirt.

We’ll need to adjust the length and the shape of the front hem and there are a couple more pattern pieces we need to make, then we can start sewing.

Modifying the Pattern

One of the things that makes a Spanish style skirt what it is are the ruffles. This skirt has 2 ruffles, each one made from a circle and joined onto the skirt with an extra section.

Because the ruffles are going to add to the length of the skirt, we’ll need to make the skirt shorter.

Each ruffle will be about 10 cm. There are going to be 2 of them and they will overlap by about 3 cm. They’ll be joined by an extra piece of fabric.

So you’ll need to make the skirt 17 cm shorter (unless you really want it to be longer, in which case leave it!).

The easiest way to do this is to cut 17 cm off the bottom edge of both pieces.

The other thing you’ll need to do is change the shape of the hemline at the front.

Find centre front on the pattern piece and measure up 14 cm from the bottom. Using a French curve (or another curved edge like a dinner plate if you don’t have one), draw a curved line from the centre downwards to the edge of the skirt pattern. It will look less weird if the line is straight for a little way, then curves to meet the bottom of the side.

Additional Pattern Pieces

There are 3 additional pattern pieces we need to make for the Spanish style skirt: facings (because I forgot when I was drafting the skirt!), the ruffles and the pieces to join the ruffles to the rest of the skirt.

To make the facings, take one of your pattern pieces. Pin the dart.

Take a new piece of pattern paper and trace from the waist line down to about 5 cm. Do this with your other pattern piece too. Make sure you label them!

To make the ruffles, we’re going to use a circle. As far as I remember, Nicole said that each of her ruffles were 2 circles joined together. I’m not going to do that here! 1 circle for each ruffle should be plenty. The pattern piece will be a quarter of a circle.

Cut a piece of pattern paper 60 cm square. From 1 corner, measure 60 cm across from one side of the paper to the other.

Now measure down 46 cm from the same corner. Measure across the paper in the same way. This will give you a chunk of a quarter circle 14 cm wide.

The third extra piece is the section that will go between the ruffles. Obviously we don’t want to loose the shape of the hem here.

For the back, draw a rectangle the same width as the skirt and 14 cm high.

For the front, trace the shape of the hem. Measure 14 cm down, then draw the hemline again.

Sewing the Skirt

We’re going to assemble the skirt first, then the ruffles, then join the ruffles to the skirt.

When assembling the skirt, my advice is to leave trimming the seams until you’ve checked that it fits! Even if you are using a pattern drafted from your own measurements, it’s best to be on the safe side.

Pin, then sew the darts on the front section and both the back pieces. Press the darts away from the centre.

Sew the centre back seam. You’ll need to put a zip in, and if you have a preferred way to do this then by all means do that! My way involves sewing the seam completely, then dealing with the zip afterwards. Trim the seam and press it open.

Sew in the zip. The way I do this works best with invisible zips, although I have done this with ordinary zips too. Pin the zip face down over the seam on the wrong side. Tack it in place, checking that the teeth of the zip are aligned with the seam. Sew the zip to the skirt. Now unpick the seam to expose the teeth. More detailed instructions can be found here.

Sew the side seams. Try the skirt on and check that the skirt fits. If it’s all ok, trim the seams and the darts and press.

If you haven’t cut out your facings, do that now. The front one can be cut on the fold, and the back ones need to be cut out on folded fabric so that you have 2.

Use some fusible interfacing to prevent them from fraying. Join the facings at the side seams.

With the wrong sides together, sew the facings to the waist of the skirt.

Understitch the facings.

Find where the darts are on the skirt and cut the facings in the same place. You might also like to hand stitch them to the side seams and the dart seams, just into the seam allowance to stop them from popping up and being annoying!

Making the Ruffles

Nicole used 2 circles for each ruffle on her Spanish dress. I decided to use one circle because I wasn’t sure whether I had enough fabric and 4 circles would require a lot of hemming!

Cut 8 quarter circles. I used odds and ends of things that I had in my fabric hoard. If you’re doing this too, you’ll need to piece them together to make the quarter circles.

To do this, take your pattern piece and pin bits of fabric to it until the pattern piece is covered. Make sure that the pieces of fabric overlap.

Turn the pattern piece over and cut away the extra fabric.

Turn it back over and trim down the overlapping areas, leaving enough for a seam.

Sew the quarter circles together so that you have 2 complete circles.

Hem the bottom edge of each circle with bias binding, or you might prefer to use a rolled hem foot if you have one. I used bias binding. If you need instructions for doing this, there’s a tutorial here.

To gather the ruffles, sew 2 rows of stitches along the top edge of each circles. Make sure that the lines of stitches don’t cross each other!

Gather the ruffles by pulling the stitches from one end. Usually when gathering you would knot the threads at one end and pull from the other. As you’ll have quite a lot of fabric to gather, you might like to get halfway along from one end, then gather the other half from the other end.

Keep going until the ruffles are the same size as the bottom of the skirt.

Assembling the Skirt

Take the extra skirt pieces that you drafted from the bottom of the skirt and sew them together at the side seams.

Take one of the ruffles. Pin, then sew it to the bottom edge.

Take the other ruffle and saandwich it between the bottom of the skirt and the top of the extra piece. Pin it, then sew.

Trim off all the stray threads and your Spanish style skirt is ready to wear!

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Anna | Tea and a Sewing Machine
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