This is a pattern and construction tutorial for a high-
These skirts are particularly well-suited to corset-style details, either with a functional lace up back or a decorative faux lacing (back, front, two at the sides, etc).
This tutorial is meant for those with intermediate sewing/ pattern drafting skills.
Sewingwise: you should be familiar with panel or princess-seam designs, multi-layered construction, use of reinforcing materials/interfacings, and incorporating decorative features such as lacings.
Draftingwise: you should be familiar with drafting patterns for yourself and therefore know how to apply your measurements to a pattern, and how they translate into 2D. You should have some experience with tight-fitting and closely-shaped patterns, princess-seam designs, and different skirt shapes.
This style of skirt is a particular favourite for Classic Lolita. The high waistline makes it a more mature look, and the skirt itself is frequently less voluminous and more shaped to the body than your average Loli skirt.
Typically, the skirt will follow the waistline very closely, up as far as the actual underbust or as little as 2 inches above the waist.
The waistline edge can be shaped to point upwards at the centre front, be plain and straight across, or downwards in a 'sweetheart' shape.
The skirt is fitted to around hip-level, unlike the more usual Lolita skirt shape where the 'fluff' begins immediately at the waist.
The hem is usually not as wide (i.e. less volume) as in other styles. Unless you have an extraordinarily supportive petticoat, the excess fabric will fall in folds around the seams rather than standing out on its own. This can be an effective handkerchief-ish look if you plan for it and it's intended, but otherwise it may give an 'I forgot my petti' appearance.
So a maximum hem width of about 60-80" (excluding frills) depending on length and size of the wearer, is recommended. (Compare with the basic
Lolita skirt dimensions of: 90" hem width and above, for 20" length, on a 26" waist.)
Here are some suggestions (or, bad 2-minute Photoshoppings):
Basic style with straight waistline
Basic style with 'sweetheart' waistline
Decorative lace-up front
Functional lace-up (back view)
With a separately-made waistband (plus ribbon etc)
With added width on seams
Bustle style/ruched seams (back view, although you could
of course have this all the way round.)
You can even make it a pencil-skirt style, fitted right down to the hem.
No petticoat! (note, this is considered to come under the heading of
'classic Lolita'- at least, brand examples exist.)
This pattern can be derived from an existing one, by cutting down a princess-seam dress pattern to skirt length.
If the pattern has extra width in the centre back (i.e. for shirring to fit, or already has a corsetted back), you can leave it as it is and simply draw a suitable waistline.
Otherwise, you will either need to leave the corsetting out, make it just decorative, or add the necessary width.
(Conceivably you could also modify an actual dress into a high-waist skirt by the same method, but you'd be wasting a lot of dress.)
To draft your own pattern, you need the following measurements:
Hips (at 5 inches below the waist)
Length from waist up to where you want it to finish
Length from waist down to where you want the hem.
If you're adding frills, obviously take these into account
when determining the length of the hem. 5-6" frills are
a suggested length (so you would take 5-6" off the total
(Incorporate any necessary ease into your measurements. You'll want your waist and underbust widths to fit very close, otherwise how the skirt 'sits' will be off, but use whatever ease amount you are accustomed to.)
You may also want to note your hip measurement at its widest point, to make sure your skirt pattern *exceeds* it.
The pattern is a princess-seam (panelled) design, with 3 panels front and back (i.e. 6 in total): centre front, 2 side fronts, centre back and two
side back sections.
If you are using a zip fastening, it would be best placed on one of the side seams as there is no centre-back seam.
If you are adding a functional corsetted waist, the necessary extra width is added to the back seam.
If you are adding a decorative corset-lacing, you don't need to do any tweaking (but obviously, you'll need some form of fastening to get the skirt on and off.)
Personally I love corsetted backs and use them 90% of the time. Invisible zips are difficult unless you are experienced with them, visible zips often look out of place and/or ugly, and although buttons can be useful you'd have to make them a design feature or it would look a little random.
A further advantage is that you can adapt the fit with the adjustable lacing. This is of obviousl value if you tend to weight fluctuations, but even if you don't you can get an immaculate fit without any effort.
Anyway, enough proselytizing.
Note: pattern images are not to scale, and please overlook the wobbliness of the lines.
Sample measurements to be used in examples:
waist 26", underbust 30", hips 36" (at 5 inches below the waist), waist-upper 5", waist-lower 25".
On a large enough piece of paper, mark your waistline level.
The top of the paper should be equal to where you want your eventual skirt to finish.
If the waist of your skirt isn't to extend very high, it's a good idea to make the top edge your actual underbust level, so you have a definite measurement. You can then measure your top edge level accordingly.
One side of the paper will be your centre front.
On the waistline level, measure 1/2 inch down and re-draw the waistline with this slight curve. This is the line you will be actually using (it
is shaped in order to give a better rise).
Measure down to your hem.
Mark the paper into two separate sections, widthwise. Assuming a hem width of around 60", a decent measurement is 6" and 10" respectively (centre front and side section.)
Since this is a half-pattern, i.e. folded over, the centre front when finished will measure 12" at the hem, and each side section 10". That doesn't exactly add up to half of 60, but these sizes are tweakable
The centre section is meant to be wider than the others. A proportionally wider centre front gives a better look overall.
This is how it should look, to make things clearer:
Once this is all in place, divide your waist and hip measurements accordingly.
According to the example measurements:
Waist divided by 4= 6.5".
Underbust divided by 4= 7.5"
Hips divided by 2=18, adjust for width of backside=17, divide by 2= 8.5".
*Adjusting is up to individual discretion. The front and back hip measurements are rarely exactly equal, so an adjustment is advisable, but you can leave it out if you wish.
Sections would therefore measure as follows:
CF: 3" at underbust, 2.5" at waist, 3.5" at hips.
Side: 4.5" at underbust, 4" at waist, 5" at hips.
Draw in your pattern accordingly.
It should eventually look like this:
Draw in your desired top edge (or cut it out and draw in the top edge, if you find that easier).
For the back, the side sections are shaped in the same way of the front.
The centre back is also the same as the front UNLESS you are making a corsetted back. In that case, you will have to adjust the width.
A lacing has two things to adjust for: extra width, so that when the lacing is opent the skirt is as wide as you need it to be to get it on; and seam allowance, so you can insert the actual lacing mechanism.
It's easiest to make the lacing out of the body of the skirt. Whatever you're using- ribbon or rolleau loops, lacing tape etc.- it should be anchored into the seam.
An additional width of at least 6" is suggested for the centre back. It will appear like this:
That's it! pattern made. Snip it out, make a mockup if you're using one (recommended if it is a first attempt), and start on the finished item.
I'm assuming (hoping) that anyone attempting this is familiar with the basics of good dressmaking and clothing construction. So I'm not going to cover the fundamentals, but this style of skirt has some particular construction issues.
- A faux corset lacing is quite simple. Whether back or front, the lacing will be placed along the seams. Even a decorative lacing should be anchored into the seam, so it will not work loose or be subjected to undue wear.
- Finish the whole skirt, frills and decoration and all, before interlining/finishing the top edge.
- If you are using a separate waistband, make sure it is fully reinforced. Waistbands should always have some sort of interfacing, but the higher it is the more it will need in order to support its own weight.
Construct this as you would a normal waistband. If you use an elasticated/shirred back, this could even be made as an unshaped rectangle.
- For the high waist to keep its shape and not wrinkle, it does need reinforcing and lining. This may seem unecessary but it is essential in this case.
If you just use one layer then the skirt will crumple up around the waist due to simple gravity.
(Unless you have braces, but that's another story...)
Yes, you could use boning. I suggest you don't. (Please note, I am a practised corset-maker and thus familiar with many types of boning, how they function and how to fit them- this suggestion isn't baseless.)
Unless you are using steel boning, it *will* bend out of shape. No matter how thin you are. If you have an inch difference between your waist and hips, eventually any plastic bone or Rigilene-type material is going to succumb.
Steel boning is overkill for reinforcing a non-reducing skirt. It requires monumentally strong supporting fabric and casings, as well as practice in using it, so that's a nonstarter. (Unless you are going for an actual corset-skirt, which is beyond the scope of this tutorial.) Steel is about as useful in a normal skirt as plastic is in a 'corset'.
Mainly, boning is unnecessary. A properly-fitted skirt with suitable reinforcement will simply not need boning, and the boning itself would cause more problems than it solves.
- A layer of fairly heavy interfacing (sew-in, not iron-on) and either a full lining for the whole skirt, or a layer of the outer fabric to line the waist area, will be adequate.
'Heavy' interfacing... you'll have to use your discretion in deciding how heavy. Not inflexible, like buckram, but not the papery stuff either. It should be sew-able (since you will be shaping it) and able to support itself, without being too thick or bulky.
If you cannot get heavy interfacing, use one or two layers of cotton drill.
The interlining should extend from the very top of the skirt down to just below the waist. The fitted area of the skirt will therefore be shaped and supported.
Make the interlining and lining according to the skirt pattern.
The interlining seams should either be clipped very close to the stitching line, or sewn down.
Once they are sewn up, tack the interlining and outer skirt together at the top edge, *on the wrong side*. (i.e the right side of the skirt faces out, the wrong side is stitched to the 'right side' of the interlining, and the right side of the interlining- where the seam allowances are- faces inwards, towards the body.)
Very carefully, stitch in the seam so that the interlining and skirt are joined together there. If you're not confident about this, stitch by hand. Either way, the layers should match up *exactly.*
Now stitch the lining to the skirt (two layers, which from now can be treated as one), right sides together, along the top edge. Turn over, press/topstitch etc. or however you usually finish.
-For a ruched bustle-style back, you will need to gather the back seams and hold them in place. It can be either an adjustable back, which goes up and down like a window blind, or a fixed one. In either case, an effective method is to enlarge the seam allowances on the two back seams and sew them down to make channels. A ribbon or string can then be threaded through and used to gather the skirt.
This looks much neater than sewing the gathers in place.
Some finished examples:
One I made, with functional corset-back.
Victorian Maiden- frilled version, layered version with ruching, bustle back, bustle closeup, tight version.
Mary Magdalene- the skirt has extra decorative details, but the basic style is the same.