Sewing for women: Seven-panel skirt tutorial

   Sewing for women: Seven-panel skirt tutorial
 Fabric: Daisy Janie's Geo Grand Crystal Ball.
Pattern: make your own!

What better way to start the new year than with a tutorial? And an easy one, too.

This pattern is based on the traditional shweshwe panel skirt: shweshwe fabric is often sold as pre-printed panels, and you buy as many as you need to make a skirt or dress. What I love about this method is that it's minutely adjustable to your perfect fit.

I found that 7 panels made a good skirt for someone who measures 'medium-medium-medium'; if you add more, you'll have a more flared skirt. And presumably if you're really really thin, you might be able to get away with 6.

This is the size of the usual panel, measured without seam or hem allowances. Draw it up as is to get the shape of the panel correct. Measure your hips at the widest part, divide by 7 (or the number of panels), and mark where the panel is that width.

Work out roughly the length you'll want above and below the hip line. 73cm makes a calf-length skirt on me; my final pattern was 58cm long - but I'm quite short. Add seam allowances, and hem allowances at top and bottom. (I added 1cm at the top and 4cm at the bottom.)

Cut 7 pieces; cut notches to mark the hip line.

Sew all the pieces together, leaving a gap at the back for the zip. (Oh, yes ... sorry, you'll need a zip.) Try it on, and adjust the waist fit. Leaving the front 2 seams fairly flat, take in the other seams all round. You might need to take in more at the sides than the back, or the same amount on all the seams; however you adjust, make sure that the adjustments are symmetrical. The zip seam can be taken in, but try not to end up with too much of a curve there - rather spread the adjustment to the adjacent seams.

Sew the adjustments from waist to hip line, smoothing the angle to a curve.

Try it on again, insert zip, turn over hem at the top, and hem the bottom