Here’s a tutorial for those of you that are interested in learning to draft their own patterns. As you might already know, the starting point of drafting patterns is the basic pattern block. You should create the basic pattern for each type of garment using your own measurements: skirt, pants, bodice/dress with darts, bodice/dress without darts, etc. Afterwards you can modify that pattern to make all sorts of different garments.

I’ll show you how to draft the basic skirt pattern as skirt is the most easiest piece of clothing to start with. Later I’ll write some posts about how to turn that pattern into different types of skirts. In the meantime, take a look at my panel skirt -tutorial.


To draft this pattern, you’ll need these measurements:

  • waist
  • hip
  • distance from waist to hip
  • total length of the skirt

Divide the first two measurements (waist and hip circumference) in half. Then add 1cm/ 0,39in of ease to the hip measurement.

In my example I’m using the size 10 measurements and going for knee-length skirt, so

waist: 72cm: 2 =36cm OR 28,34in: 2 =14,17in

hip: 96cm: 2 =48cm +1cm of ease= 49cm

OR 37,8in: 2= 18,9in +0,39in =19,29in

waist to hip: 20cm OR 7,87in

total length of the skirt: 58cm OR 22,8in

Drafting the basic skirt pattern

Now that you have all the numbers, you can start by drafting a rectangle like this

how to draft basic skirt block

Divide the rectangle vertically in half, right in the middle. That would be the side seam. Continue the line 1,5cm / 0,59in above the rectangle.

Now it’s time to do some more calculations as we need to get to the waist measurement. First calculation would be this:

1/2 hip measurement+ease minus 1/2 waist measurement

In my example 49cm – 36cm = 13cm OR 19,29in – 14,17in = 5,12in

That’s the quantity you have to get rid of to have the right measurement at the waist. You have some alternatives depending on how much the difference is. This would be the most basic way:

basic skirt pattern

First of all, draw lines from the side seam to centre front and -back. The idea would be to take off 2/3 of the difference on both sides of the side seam line. In my case 4cm OR 1,57in.

The remaining amount will go into the darts, which I placed in the middle of both the front- and the back piece. The back dart will be larger than the front dart. The wider the dart is, the longer it will be also. In the drawing you can see how I divided the remaining cm/in between the darts.

If it looks like your darts will become too wide, you can also put two darts in the back.

Here’s an alternative way to divide the volume. It’s a bit more advanced.

basic skirt tutorial

I wanted to make the back dart a bit smaller and the side seam of the back piece a bit more straight (which looks better). So I took that 1cm/ 0,39in off from the centre back instead. That’s usually a hollow area, so it’s a good idea to take in some volume from that point anyways. Of course if you don’t want a back-seam, you can’t do this. Personally I prefer the zipper at the back, so there has to be a seam.

Finishing touches

Which ever way you choose, the final step is to add some roundness to the pattern. Meaning the area of the hips at the side seam and also the waist line. You should cut the waist line with the darts closed.

Now your basic skirt pattern block is ready. Make a toile to check the fit and correct the pattern accordingly. You can add a straight belt using your waist measurement.

Stay tuned for skirt pattern alterations!

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  1. Wow great write up here. Weldone madam. But couldn’t really see the figure on the diagram of this basic skirt pattern would really appreciate a clearer pics pls

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      Thank you. 🙂 Drafting the basic patterns is one of the most difficult parts of patternmaking. More calculations involved. If you let me know which part you find most difficult, I can try to add some additional instructions. 🙂

  2. I just made yet another skirt that gaps all over my waist, so I’m going to spend this weekend drafting a pattern as you laid out here. However, these sentences are confusing.

    (1) the final step is to add some roundness to the pattern. Meaning the area of the hips at the side seam and also the waist line. (2) You should cut the waist line with the darts closed.

    (1) I don’t see roundness added in your example and I can’t visualize what that means.

    (2) What does it mean to cut the waistline with the darts closed? Do you just mean to not cut the V of the dart out?

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      I hope you’ll get your skirt pattern right. The roundness at the upper hip-area is minimum, that’s why you might not see it. The highest point of the curve should be in the middle, between your waist- and hip lines. However, you can always reduce the curve when you’re doing the fitting of the toile, so don’t worry. The waistline is slightly curved inwards. Cutting the pattern with the darts closed means that you close the dart of your pattern the same way you’ll do in fabric. Then correct the waistline if it’s uneven around the dart, and cut. This way you will have the right amount of fabric for your dart.

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