3 Easy Ways to Customize a Skirt Pattern!

Border Skirt by Beki Wilson
Border Skirt by Beki Wilson

Suede Appliqued Skirt by Carol Zentgraf

Suede Appliquéd Skirt by Carol Zentgraf

Pin Tuck Skirt by Beki Wilson

Pin Tuck Skirt by Beki Wilson


Sewing on the Border

In the summertime, what could be easier than whipping up a summer skirt? I'm not really a shorts kinda girl, so when the weather is hot I live in skirts and dresses to keep cool. Like many of you, I have a couple of go-to skirt patterns that I use over and over again. Once you know what type of skirt silhouette looks best on you and you have perfected the fit, you can sew up a great skirt wardrobe in no time.

But how do you take the same skirt pattern and make it unique each time? In addition to changing the fabric, I love to experiment with different hem treatments. Getting creative with your skirt border is an easy way to add a fun design detail, and it works with any basic skirt shape. You can even use them to refashion a skirt from your closet or a thrift-store find. So here are some simple yet stylish ideas for dressing up a skirt with a fun border treatment.

Play with Prints

Want to add design interest to a solid-color skirt? Try adding a print border. On the Border Skirt by Beki Wilson (Stitch Summer 2011), she takes a directional print and pieces it going in different directions for a twist on a simple border. This is a great way to use up small amounts of fabric, especially those one-of-a-kind fabrics you have been saving.

You can take this idea further by piecing multiple fabrics for a patchwork-border effect. And since it's a small amount of fabric, think about creating your own custom border "print" by stamping with fabric paint or using hand or machine embroidery for a custom look.

Play with Texture

My favorite trick is to combine two or more fabric textures together in the same garment. It makes the unique tactile quality of each fabric shine. The Suede Appliquéd Skirt by Carol Zentgraf (Stitch Spring 2011) is a perfect example of how much fun it can be to play with texture. Combining lightweight wool tweed with a faux-suede scalloped border gives you a skirt you can't help but want to touch. Since suede doesn't fray, the appliqué flowers are easy to add, and you have a straight skirt that's far from ordinary.

For other ideas to add textural interest on your skirt border, try mixing shiny with matte fabrics, pile fabrics (i.e., velvet, corduroy, etc.) with flat fabrics or use a small amount of a specialty fabric such as faux leather or an embellished fabric for a touch of luxury. And don't forget to play with appliqué for a one-of-a-kind look!

Play with Fabric

A little fabric manipulation can accent a basic skirt with an artistic 3-D design element. From tucks and pleating to ruching, folding, and gathering, with a little preplanning you can add these techniques to a basic skirt pattern. Any of these techniques can be done on a separate border piece and attached, or you can incorporate it into the main body of the skirt itself if you allow for needing a little extra fabric.

Designer Beki Wilson did the latter in her Pin Tuck skirt (Stitch Fall 2008). It's a basic A-line skirt with pin tucks added with contrast stitching. Made in bottom-weight cotton, the skirt has a bit of stretch, which is always nice to have. Fabric manipulation works best on simple skirt silhouettes such as a basic straight or A-line skirt so that the fancy fabric techniques are the focus. This is your opportunity to experiment and have fun with your fabric!

You can find all these skirt projects and more in Stitch back issues (they're on sale!), and I can't wait to see your personal twist on these patterns. Here in the Stitch office, we are all getting ready for National Sewing Month, which kicks off in September. So it's the perfect time to get inspired and sew something fabulous to celebrate our collective passion for sewing!

Happy sewing,


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