These are the step-by-step instructions for drafting the 2-dart Skirt Blocks, starting with an image of what the final (standard) block will look like, and an example of my personal block and how it differs to the standard.
This first image is what the block looks like at the end of of the step-by-step instructions below, using the measurements specified on the Preliminary Tab. The shape of yours may end up looking a little different.
Comparison – My Skirt Block
This is what my block, using my personal measurements, looks like. This is to show you that if the shape of your block ends up looking different to the one I am making, it doesn’t matter (as long as you are using your correct measurements, of course!). This is the point of making your own block: it will reflect what your body looks like.
Note also that this is the end result of making a toile and making necessary changes.
Skirt Block Figure 1
Draw a rectangle:
- Width of rectangle: From A across to B = (Hip measurement ÷ 2) + (1 inch ease)
- Height of rectangle: From B down to C = Skirt Length measurement
- Complete the rectangle – making sure all angles are squared
- Mark A, B, C & D as shown
(For this example: Width = 19 inches, Height = 22.63 inches)
Skirt Block Figure 2
Work out the Skirt Back width measurement: Back Hip Arc + (0.5″ ease)
- Measure this from A, on the A~B line, mark this point D.
- Draw a line from D, down to the C~D line, mark this E. Make sure the D~E line is squared to the A~B line.
- Mark the Center Back (CB) and the Center Front (CF) lines as shown.
(For this example: Skirt Back width = 9.5″ )
Skirt Block Figure 3
- Hip-line Depth: Mark down from A, on the A~D line. Mark the depth line F.
- Draw a line from F across to the B~C line, mark the hip-line depth on the Center Front line with an H. Make sure the F~H line is squared to the A~D line.
- Mark where it crosses the D~E line (the Side Seam line) with a G.
(For this example: Hip-line Depth = 8.5″)
Skirt Block Figure 4
- Work out the CB to side seam measurement at the waist: Back Waist Arc + 0.25″ (for ease) + 1.75″ (for darts).
- Using this total, measure from A on the A~D line. Square up 0.25″ from this point and mark it I.
- Draw a back waist guide line from A to I.
- Work out the CF to side seam measurement at the waist: Front Waist Arc + 0.25″ (for ease) + 1.5″ (for darts)>
- Using this total, measure from B on the B~D line. Square up 0.25″ from this point and mark it J.
- Draw a front waist guide line from B to J.
(For this example: Back Skirt – 6.625″ + 0.25″ + 1.75″ = 8.625″ from point A toward D, Front Skirt – 6.625″ + 0.25″ + 1.5″ = 8.375″ from point B towards D )
Skirt Block Figure 5
Draw guidelines to help draw the side seam curve in the following step.
- Draw a straight line from I to G (the Back Skirt side seam guide), and mark the halfway point.
- At the half-way point, measure out 3/16″, towards the D line, at right angles to the I~G line and mark the point K.
- Draw a straight line from J to G (the Front Skirt side seam guide), and mark the halfway point.
- At the half-way point, measure out 3/16″, towards the D line, at right angles to the J~G line and mark the point L.
Skirt Block Figure 6
Draw the side seam curves, using a French Curve.
- Back side seam: Draw a line from I to G, touching the point K.
- Front side seam: Draw a line from J To G, touching the point L.
Note that this general curve may not suit your figure. As with all blocks, you need to make a toile, make any adjustments, then refine the block so that it reflects your figure.
Skirt Block Figure 7
BACK SKIRT DARTS
Mark the darts* on the Back Skirt. Measure and mark along the A~I guideline.
- The first dart on the Back is 2.88″ from the CB**, mark a dart 1″ wide, and mark the center. Draw a line down from this center point, 5″ long, at right angles to the A~I line.
- The second dart on the Back is 1.25″ from the first dart, mark the dart 0.75″ wide, and mark the center. Draw a line down from this center point, 4.5″ long, at right angles to the A~I line.
FRONT SKIRT DARTS
Mark the darts* on the Front Skirt. Measure and mark along the B~J guideline.
- The first dart on the Front is 2.93″ from the CF**, mark a dart 0.75″ wide, and mark the center. Draw a line down from this center point, 3.75″ long, at right angles to the B~J line.
- The second dart on the Front is 1.63″ from the first dart, mark the dart 0.75″ wide, and mark the center. Draw a line down from this center point, 3.75″ long, at right angles to the B~J line.
* These dart lengths and placements (for the Front & Back) are a general guide only. Refine these when fitting your toile.
** The first dart is placed to align with the Bodice Block dart so that the waist darts on the Bodice & Skirt align to make a Dress Block.
Skirt Block Figure 8
Draw the Waist Curve (using a French Curve) for both Front & Back, and draw the dart legs.
- Draw curved lines, as shown, from A to I (Back) and B to J (Front).
- Draw the dart legs. The two legs for each dart should be the same length. Measure them to make sure.
Your Skirt Blocks are Finished!
Your block is now finished. You can now:
- Label the block (e.g. Skirt Front/Back, Size, Name, etc..)
- Cut out the block shape from the cardboard.
- Mark the dart points by pushing an awl (or another sharp implement) through the cardboard.
- Notch the dart legs AND at the hip line (G) – on both F&B – as a balance point.
- Once you have cut out the Front & Back, you need to check that the side seam lengths and the hip curve match. You can do this by “walking” the block side seams.
- The dart placements and lengths will not suit everyone. These should be adjusted on the block, if necessary, after making a toile.
The download link for the 1-page outline actually linke to the step-by-step pdf.
Thanks for letting me know. I’ll look at that tomorrow.
That link has been fixed and now points to the 1-Page Outline.
For the skirt block, on how to take measurements for back waist arc & back hip arc you have mentioned “From side seam to side seam at waist level” & “From side seam to side seam at hip level”, respectively, however in the diagram, the back waist arc is shown from CB to SS and same is the case with back hip arc.
In Skirt Block Figure 2
Skirt Back width measurement: Back Hip Arc + (0.5″ ease) — what do we take?
My back hip arc is 21 1/4″ (SS to SS)
When taking an arc measurement (waist or hip), it’s best to wear to a close fitting garment with side seams – e.g. yoga pants, bike shorts, etc, and use that side seam as a guide. (If the side seam on the garment is in the wrong place – e.g. it’s distorted or you think it’s too far forward or too far back, then mark where you would prefer the side seam to be with chalk or fabric pen, and use that as your side seams.)
[b] Put the measurement tape right around your body[/b] but look at where the tape measure crosses the side seams and do the math. (For example you may want to put the 0 of the tape measure at the side seam, note where it crosses the other sides seam, and note the total measurement. Then do the math.
Hi, Thank you for that tip.
Although my question was that on your page “measuring-for-blocks” the back and hip arc are to be measured from side seam to side seam, however in the diagram its marked as center back to side seam.
As far as my understanding goes, it should me center back to side seam.
Sorry, I should be clearer.
You measure from side seam to side seam, but the block you draft is the half-block, so you to draft the block you use half the side-seam to side-seam measurement.
I am facing another issue.
In your block-figure #8
If we start creating the dart leg for CB dart 1 (refer to attached pdf) following the same dart leg (a) length for dart leg (b) and follow dart leg (c) length for dart leg (d), the dart leg end points towards the waist is where we are supposed to create the waist curve?
The problem is not so much in the back block but for me the front block is creating more confusion as dart legs (b) & (d) are going above the BJ line.
Could you please have a look at the pdf file and tell me if it looks ok ( as I’m using illustrator and am not very proficient at it as well).
Pls also help me as to where am I supposed to create the waist curve for both front & back.
Thank you so much for all your help.
That looks fine to me. When you are unsure whether curves are correct or not, the best thing to do is test them. If you are drafting directly onto paper just close the darts and see what the curve ends up like.
If you are drafting in Illustrator you can print it out to test it (you don’t have to print out the whole skirt, just the top part) and fold the darts to see what it looks like. (There are also ways in Illustrator you could test closing the dart but I’m not getting into giving instructions for Illustrator).
See images attached.
(1) I’ve printed out the top part of the skirt
(2) Drawing a line through the centre helps to fold it
(3) Fold the darts closed (use a sticky tape that comes off easily)
(4) Check the curve – redraw it if you want (with pencil, not thick texta like I’m using. I am using a sharpie so you can see it). Also use a tracing wheel and draw over the final line.
(5) When you remove the sticky tape and open it up, if you have used a tracing wheel you will see the lines you need to draw in.
The best way to learn waist shaping is to test it; you can use scraps of fabric instead of paper also.
Note that I could only attach 3 images, I’ll upload the other 2 in a separate response.
Here are the other 2 images…
Could you please tell us how to convert the 2 dart skirt block into a dart skirt block or how to draft a one dart skirt block?
The darts on the skirt waist can be moved easily – i.e. you can merge the two darts into one, or if that makes a very large dart, you can move half of the second dart into the first dart, and take the half off the side seam.
Usually you keep the dart closer to the CF, but that of course will depend on your figure – you can put it anywhere. I found that the best placement for me is towards the side seam rather than towards the CF. This is because I have a hollow under my stomach and a dart pointing to my stomach points to the hollow and looks puffy and silly. When I place it towards the side seam, it points towards my (forward thrusting athletic) thigh and that works better for me.
Quick question on the front and back waist darts measurements. Is the dart size the same for every body size? Are these instructions for universal sizes? Would size 14 for example use the same size of darts?
Thank you Maria. I will try that. Trying now to make a one dart skirt block will see how it turns out.
Most of the block making instructions I have seen – and certainly all the ones I had seen when I wrote this instructions – use the same dart size for all sizes.
I have since seen some instructions (Suzy Furrer) that suggests different size darts, but not for different ‘sizes.’
The issue is this… It’s not about size (Size 10, Size 12, Size 14). It’s about the difference in measurement between the waist and the hips. If you are talking about a Standard Figure then it doesn’t matter – the difference between the waist and hips is the same for all sizes (10 inch difference). With Standard Figures -the proportion stays the same.
With non-standard figure, you could have someone very small (‘size 10′ in their hips) but with different waist/hip proportion (e.g. 14 inch different between waist and hips), and have someone with a very large size (Size 22’ in their hips, say) with the same 14 inch difference between their waist and hips.
So … some people may need larger darts, but if they do, it’s not to do with their ‘size’, it’s to do with the difference in measurement between their waist and hips.
The difficulty if you have a really large difference between your waist and hips is that you can’t just have (for example) a 3-inch dart. At some point large darts become unworkable and start distorting. It is best to keep 2 darts rather than have one large one. A
Hello Maria, following on the question of waist darts on skirts, it is the case in my household, all three of us, my 2 daughters and I have little difference between waist and hips. My daugther, for example, has a 39” hip and 36 & 1/2” waist. I am baffled. Do I go with the 1.75” dart for the back and 1.5” for the front dart when creating a skirt block for her, or should I distribute those 2.5” between the side seams and, back darts and front darts?
Yes, if you have a large waist it is best to distribute the difference between the waist/hip difference between a dart and the side seams. The best way to do it really is to put on the toile without the waist darts sewn up and fold out the excess to see what looks best. This includes the placement of darts; the generally recommended placement of darts doesn’t work for me. My instructions for the skirt block are old; I have attempted in my newer (pants) instructions to give me detail regarding the waist dart. Unfortunately it will be a long time before I have the time to revisit the skirt instructions.
Sorry about the lateness of my reply – I only have the time to answer emails, comments and questions once every 2-3 weeks.
Hi Maria, thank you so very much for the explanation, and it wasn’t too long to wait at all. You do make clear on your website that responses to questions can take a few weeks. I am very grateful.
Hello Maria, first of all thank you for all the great resources! In your pant block tutorial you gave instructions for how to adjust, if the widest part of the body is at the crotch level. How would you adjust the skirt block for that kind of body shape?
The skirt block is not so complicated as the pants. The instructions are the same except you mark the ‘hip’ line at the crotch level. Which I think in the instructions anyway.
So…. he ‘hip’ is defined as the widest part of the waist, and then the waist-to-hip depth would be down to the crotch depth level. (The ‘crotch level’ isn’t used and is irrelevant as far as a skirt goes).