school marm skirt Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 runway

A school marm skirt on the Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 runway. Photo: Francois Durand, Getty Images

We already mentioned how to achieve the ladylike look that graced the runways of Louis Vuitton and Prada, but presuming you don't want to pay a pretty penny for full skirt, here's how to make it on your own. (FYI - skirts are among the easiest garments to sew!)
  • Full skirts 101: Full skirts include basic styles like the dirndl, circle and gore skirts. You can make the full dirndl without a pattern, as it's basically a tube that's gathered at the top and hemmed at the bottom. The circle skirt, which looks like a full circle with a smaller circle cut out for the waist, is also a patternless possibliity. The graceful gore skirt is composed of either six or eight triangle pieces sewn together. Keep proportion in mind when it comes to length, so that the skirt doesn't overpower you--for petite sizes, just-below-the-knee length can be just right.
  • Choice fabrics: For full skirts, you'll want to make sure that the fabric isn't too heavy, which will add bulk, or too light, which won't hang right. In the fall, light- and mid-weight wools, and similar weight fabrics, will drape nicely and wear well. Remember that plaids need matching up at the seams to look thier best, and consider the direction you want to lay out the plaid for the skirt (diagonal is the most flattering.) For lining, both China silk and rayon feel wonderful against the skin.
  • Tricky techniques: For some real designer swing to your skirt, try adding weight to your hem by drafting a hem facing. If you don't like the way that your skirt hangs, consider adjusting or moving the flare. Creating a scalloped hem or inserting godets, small triangles of fabric, are another way to add some kick to your skirt.
  • Pick of the patterns: If you head to any chain fabric store, they likely have a stack of pattern books from big commercial pattern companies like Vogue Patterns, Butterick, McCall's and Simplicity. Consider also the many vintage skirt patterns you can search out online (just check sizing and measurements carefully before purchasing.) You'll also find any number of indie sewing patterns online. carries a cool selection of both vintage and independent patterns.
It's easy to get hooked on making skirts, especially when quality fabric and basic skills add up to designer results!

For more DIY Design columns, click here. Next week, how to sew faux fur.