Mathless Draft to Skirt Block

You probably won’t finish this demo with an overwhelming sense of “Whoa!  *Mind*blown*,” but I thought I’d put this out there.  Also, I’m in the middle of writing a thing that requires a skirt block so it seems kinda rude to leave you hangin’ for one….

You will need the Center Back, Side Back, Side Front, and Center Front of your easeless torso draft.

You will need the Center Back, Side Back, Side Front, and Center Front of your easeless torso draft.

Trace off the waistlines and everything below. You won't need the top parts. Because, like, it's a skirt, right? Ok.

Trace off the waistlines and everything below. You won’t need the top parts. Because, like, it’s a skirt, right? Ok.

We need to set ourselves up to add a little ease into this block, so that things like walking and sitting are possible.  Well, I mean, possible in wovens, before the advent of spandex.  You know, back when our clothes told us when it was time to lay off the snackies?  I sometimes feel like what we teach in Flat Pattern is woefully out of date, but textile sciences have changed a lot in the last couple decades.

Mark a 1/4" guide at the inside of the Side Front and Side Back pieces.

Mark a 1/4″ guide at the inside of the Side Front and Side Back pieces.

Line the Center Front up with the Side Front, matching the Waist, High, and Full Hip lines straight across. Do the same in back.

Line the Center Front up with the Side Front, matching the Waist, High, and Full Hip lines straight across. Do the same in back.

We’re starting to look like the top of a skirt!  We need to finalize our darts.  Generally, the guideline for front darts is 3-3.5″, and back darts are 5-5.5″.  This depends entirely on what book you’re looking at (le sigh).  These guides aren’t ideal for all bodies, but they’re what those of us who notice darts are used to seeing.

The illustration you’re looking at is based on the mathless draft I worked up on a size 8 stand.  The High Hip line (sometimes called the Abdominal Arc) is 3″ below the waist on this stand.  If you’re working from personal measurements, your darts may have a different relationship with the High Hip line.  Don’t get all too worked up about it.

Find the middle of the gap between Side Front and Center front at the waistline. Draw a line through this point, square to the High Hip line. Do the same between the backs,

Find the middle of the gap between Side Front and Center front at the waistline. Draw a line through this point, square to the High Hip line. Do the same between the backs.

This is going to be the center of the new dart.  From here on out, we’re going to tackle the front and back separately.

We’ll start with the front:

Mark a point 3 -3.5" down from the waist on the center line of the dart.

Mark a point 3 -3.5″ down from the waist on the center line of the dart.

Caveat:  If the edges of your Side Front and Center Front come together before that, end your dart where they come together.  Never fight your shape because you’re following directions.  ;)

Connect the waist corners with the dart bottom guide, on the dart center line. Your lines should be straight.

Connect the waist corners with the dart bottom guide, on the dart center line. Your lines should be straight.

The front is basically done, but it’s reeeeeaaaaaaaalllllllly short.  We’re in the realm of is-that-technically-a-short-skirt-or-a-wide-belt?  Dunno about you, but that’s not really my look.  For blocks, mid-thigh seems to be a really common length.

Extend the block to the desired length.

Extend the block to the desired length.

For many bodies (especially the ones that don’t have baby bumps), the front is going to be the easy bit.  The back gets us into a few more conundrums and caveats, because there’s an amazing diversity within the realm of bums, butts, behinds, backsides, trunks, junks, lady lumps, and badonka-donks.  (Is badonka-donk still a word people use?)

Mark the back dart length (guide: 5-5.5") on the dart center line.

Mark the back dart length (guide: 5-5.5″) on the dart center line.

Mark in a dart, as before. The dart legs (aka, the lines you just drew) should be round abouts the same length.

Mark in a dart, as before. The dart legs (aka, the lines you just drew) should be round abouts the same length.

I mean, technically, they should be the exact same length.  Here’s the sitch: when you did up your mathless draft, you divided the body based on what was visually middle on the shoulder, then visually straight down from that.  In reality, the human form is three dimensional and rather unacquainted with the idea of “straight.”  (Side note: I actually did just freak and look up the rules of periods and quotation marks.  I think grad school is getting to me.)  It’s not a thing bodies do.  Here are some rear-view situations to be aware of:

You round out high in the backside.

You round out high in the backside.

Your dart might appear to have balanced legs, but look how it's shaving off area from the original draft! This skirt will ride up on your body, because it's taking room you need away from you.

Your dart might appear to have balanced legs, but look how it’s shaving off area from the original draft! This skirt will ride up on your body, because it’s taking room you need away from you.  It will probably also appear to pull towards the center of your body.

In this case, it's reasonable to experiment with tilting the dart center line so that it is midway between the Center and Side backs at the waist and at the bottom of the dart, and/or to rais the bottom of the dart. It is easier to take out a little extra fabric during a fitting than to create extra fabric.

In this case, it’s reasonable to experiment with tilting the dart center line so that it is midway between the Center and Side backs at the waist and at the bottom of the dart, and/or to raise the bottom of the dart. It is easier to take out a little extra fabric during a fitting than to create extra fabric.

Or….

You have narrow hips, but are wider from the side.

You have narrow hips, but are wider from the side.

You may need to slant your dart center the opposite way to make everything come out even and looking straight.

You may need to slant your dart center the opposite way and/or shorten your dart to make everything come out even and looking straight.

Or….

You have a low, wide bum. (I feel your pain.)

You have a low, wide bum. (I feel your pain.)

A dart at the normal length will appear right" on your body. A longer dart will make your behind look longer.

A dart at the normal length will appear “right” on your body. A longer dart will make your behind look longer.

Except that you will have a bit of extra fabric right over the fullest part of you. I would politely suggest that princess lines are amazing in skirts (and pants - I have a pair and I have loved them to death).

Except that you will have a bit of extra fabric right over the fullest part of you.  This can make skirts ride funny when you walk.   I would politely suggest that princess lines are amazing in skirts (and pants – I have a pair and I have loved them to death).

Regardless of your fitting, here is the next obvious next step:

Extend the back skirt by the sam amount as the front skirt.

Extend the back skirt length by the same amount as the front skirt length.

Ta-da!  You have a skirt block you are ready to fit.

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