Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KCWC Day 3: Charm Square Skirt Tutorial

Are you participating in Elsie Marley's Kids Clothes Week Challenge?  You should!  It's been good for me.  It's making me take time to sew for the girls every day and also blog about it!  We're members of the local twins club and I scored big time at their fall clothing resale this year.  For less than $100, I pretty much got the girls outfitted for winter, and it all matches!  (I may or may not have a minor obsession with matching their clothing).  Despite their already large wardrobe, there is something so rewarding in seeing your kids in an item of clothing that YOU created! 

I had some cute fall scraps just sitting around and I thought how fun would it be to make a little patchwork skirt for fall??  Plus with an elastic waist, hopefully they can even wear it next fall (fingers crossed!).  Want to make one?  Let's get started!

To make this skirt, you will need:

Charm squares
Coordinating fabric for lining
1/2" elastic
Coordinating thread
Sewing supplies (rotary cutter & mat or scissors, measuring tape, pins, etc)


For this skirt, you will be using charm squares.  What are charm squares?  They are cute little squares of fabric cut 5" x 5".  They are often sold in packs of coordinating material, or you can make your own by cutting fabric into 5 x 5 squares.  To figure out how many you need, it will just take some simple math.  There is nothing scientific about this because the elastic will gather the skirt in to the correct waist size.  I wanted my skirt to be more gathered, so I used a fairly big skirt to waist ratio.  My girls' waists are 19".  I simply multiplied that by 2 and came up with 38" for my main skirt piece.  Adding in seam allowance and such, I just rounded up to 40".  That means I need 8 charm squares for each row (8 squares x 5" = 40").  You will actually make two panels, a front and a back, so divide that in half so you have a front and back.  For my skirt, that means 2 rows of 4 squares for the front and the same for the back.  For the length, I knew I wanted it to be about 10" (just measure from your child's waist to hemline), so that was easy - 2 rows of charm squares (2 squares x 5" = 10"...following me here?  :)).

So, to recap all that, the width of each panel will be 2 x (your child's waist measurement) and then round up to make a number that is divisible by 5.  Then divide that in half to get your number of charm squares for the front and back panels.  The length will need to be your child's waist to hemline measurement, again round up to make a number divisible by 5.

Okay, tough math is over :)  Along with the charm squares, you will also need some coordinating fabric because we're going to line the skirt (it will be nice and warm for fall, plus it will cover all the quilting seams!) and that will also create the waistband.  We'll cut those pieces in a minute, but let's assemble the quilted front and back panels first.

Lay out your cut squares and arrange them until you like it.  You'll need a front panel and a back panel, so do it twice.  This will be the front panel of my skirt - 2 rows of 4 squares.



Start by placing your first two charm squares right sides together.  With a scant 1/4" seam allowance, stitch them together.


Unfold them, and place your next charm square on top of the 2nd charm square, right sides together.  Again, stitch with a scant 1/4" seam.  Do this until you have all the charm squares stitched together from your top row of your front skirt panel.  Repeat with remaining rows for both front and back panels.


When you are done, press all your seams open.  Even though they'll be hidden by the lining, the front will look much more polished if you press the seams.  It will look like this from the back.


Next, place two of your rows right sides together and carefully line up the seams between each square.  Even if you're not a big pinner, I recommend pinning this together to keep the seams lined up while you sew.



Stitch the rows together using the same 1/4" seam allowance as before.


Once again, press your seams open and you will have this from the back.





If you have more than two rows, repeat this for any remaining rows.  Do this for both the front and the back panels.  When you are done, you will have this.  Yay!  Two completed front and back panels!


Now place your front and back panels right sides together, carefully lining up your seams, and stitch together down the two short sides using the 1/4" seam allowance from before.


Okay, time to work on the the lining.  Now that you've quilted the squares together, your front and back panels are going to be a bit smaller than your original measurement.  With the skirt laid out so just the front panels are facing you, measure straight across the width of the front.  If you started with 20" of squares, you will find you are probably down to around 17" wide now.  Take this measurement, add 1/2" an inch for seam allowance, and this will be the width of your lining panel.  For the height, take the height of your stitched rows and then add 2" for the waistband.  For my skirt, it ended up being about 17" wide x 11 1/2" high.  Cut two pieces of your lining fabric with the dimensions you just figured out.




Take your lining pieces and lay them right sides together.  Stitch up the two short sides using the 1/4" seam allowance.




Now you will have two tubes of fabric that are the same width, with one a bit taller than the other.


Take your main (quilted) skirt piece and turn it inside out.  Tuck the lining down into the skirt, right sides together, until the bottom edges meet up.


Stitch the lining and main skirt together along the bottom edge using the 1/4" seam allowance.


Flip the lining up and you should have this.


Now tuck the lining down into the skirt, wrong sides together, and you should have this.



Press the bottom edge of the skirt so the lining is just slightly above the bottom edge of the main skirt piece.  You don't want to see the lining peeking out.  Press well.  Your skirt is essentially hemmed for you now, but there is one step that will make it look much more professional.  I really think the difference between and handmade item and a homemade item is topstitching.  It just gives garments that professional touch.  Take the bottom edge of the skirt and topstitch about 1/4" away from the edge.  You can do a wider "hem" if you prefer, but I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the charm squares by having stitching way up in the square.


Okay, time to get the waistband ready!  Take the top edge of your waistband and turn it under about a 1/2".  You're looking for about 1" of fabric between your the bottom of your folded piece and the top of the skirt.  It doesn't have to be exact.  Just make sure there is enough room to attach the band to the skirt and still fit your elastic in.


Now fold your waistband over the top edge of the skirt, overlapping by about 1/4" - just enough to stitch the band to the skirt.  Stitch it down close to the edge, making sure to leave about a 2" opening to insert your elastic.


Cut a piece of 1/2" elastic to your child's waist measurement, plus one inch.  For my girls' 19" waists, I cut a 20" piece of elastic.  Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic and thread it through the casing.


Once the elastic is threaded all the way through, overlap the two ends using your extra inch as seam allowance and stitch the ends of the elastic together.  Pop the ends of the elastic into the casing and stitch the casing closed.


And you're done!  Congratulations!  You just made an adorable skirt!  Now try it on your cutie!  If you make on, I'd love to see it!  You can send me an email or link to your blog in the comments!  Happy sewing!

1 comment:

I love reading your comments! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!