Skirts for Short Girls?

Tourbeau

Active member
I was actually wondering about that issue myself. I found something that might work for me on a website, so we shall see. I do want to learn to sew well though.
I assume you found a skirt, not a pattern for a skirt?

I don't have a lot of experience with small pattern houses, having been somewhat scared away by a less than optimal experience early in my dancing with a independent artist who made patterns for belly dancers. Big, mass-market pattern companies tend to use consistent sizing, and professionally written and tested instructions. Folk dancers, renfaire performers, cosplayers, Etsy-ists, etc. with a sewing side hustle sometimes don't, although bless them for their efforts. Their patterns are a mixed bag. Some of them are well made, easy to understand, and true to the sizing you'd expect, and some of them...are not.

To piggyback on Shanazel's comment about not getting discouraged when learning to sew, yeah, be prepared for an occasionally heartbreaking clash of fantasy and reality when you start. Even aside from the obvious (learning to operate a sewing machine and make good seams), over two decades into my occasional hobbyist sewing experience, I rarely nail a zipper or every gore in a multi-gore skirt on my first try, and I still get tripped up on fitting alterations. Commercial patterns almost always run large compared to store-bought clothes, so one of the first skills you have to master is learning how to translate the measurements of the flat, paper pattern into what the 3D final garment will fit like.

The worst is that, you know how when you go to a store, and you get to the changing room with your handful of shirts or whatever, you're like, "This style makes me look stupid" and "This one isn't comfortable." and "I don't like this color on me as much as I thought I would" and "This one is the right length, but it's too small at the top" and "This looks okay, but I can tell I'd be adjusting it all day to keep it right," so you put them all back? Imagine that feeling after you just invested a bunch of money and a weekend sewing a shirt...

True, there's a lot of disappointment in sewing as a beginner, but when you nail a project and make something wonderful and unique and exactly what you wanted, it's worth the frustrating flubs and mistakes in the earlier parts of the journey.
 

Tourbeau

Active member
Years ago I bought a tiered skirt and matching harem pants [...]The skirt had a nice wide band (3") with several smaller strips of elastic running through it. Having several pieces of elastic made for a better fit at the hips than a narrower single piece of elastic does.
Something similar to Simplicity 9145 (https://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-storefront-catalog/patterns/brands/simplicity-sewing-pattern-s9145-misses-skirt/)?

Every time I get the urge to buy this pattern I remember that I have a bottoms pattern that has three casings of elastic at the waist and I hate it. I was never able to get the tension right on the three pieces of elastic so that it was even, comfortable, and well fitting. I ended up redoing it so there was only one piece of wider elastic. It seems like it should be so straightforward, but between my sewing skills and my body, I just could not make it work for some reason. Sigh.

On the other hand S9145 isn't one casing right on top of another (the pattern I had was supposed to give the look of stabilizing rows sewn into a wider strip of elastic, like the commercially made waistbands in pull-on bottoms), so maybe this skirt wouldn't have the same problem as my pattern...or maybe it would be a crunchy disaster if the gathered rows in between the elastic migrated upward as you sat or bent over, since it's not evenly distributed like traditional shirring.

When you adjust the length and/or hang of the skirt, I suggest doing it from the waist rather than the bottom hem, if at all possible.
Shortening a skirt is a trade off between "convenience" and "whatever wrecks the design less," isn't it? A narrow top tier can pass for a yoke or a drop waist, but a narrow bottom tier looks butchered if the skirt has multiple wide tiers between the waist and the hem.

The other advantage of starting at the top is that if you can figure out a way to roll it and camouflage the bulk under a belt or hip scarf, you may be able to save the original design and size so another dancer could restore it after buying it secondhand. A huge hem is not only a lot of sewing--it's going to look bulky and hang wonky, and shortening can't be easily and inconspicuously reversed by the next owner.

The worst case would be if the skirt had some design elements at the top and bottom that you couldn't easily disrupt, and you'd have to disassemble and shorten it from multiple middle-tier seams.
 

Cobra Hips

New member
I assume you found a skirt, not a pattern for a skirt?

I don't have a lot of experience with small pattern houses, having been somewhat scared away by a less than optimal experience early in my dancing with a independent artist who made patterns for belly dancers. Big, mass-market pattern companies tend to use consistent sizing, and professionally written and tested instructions. Folk dancers, renfaire performers, cosplayers, Etsy-ists, etc. with a sewing side hustle sometimes don't, although bless them for their efforts. Their patterns are a mixed bag. Some of them are well made, easy to understand, and true to the sizing you'd expect, and some of them...are not.

To piggyback on Shanazel's comment about not getting discouraged when learning to sew, yeah, be prepared for an occasionally heartbreaking clash of fantasy and reality when you start. Even aside from the obvious (learning to operate a sewing machine and make good seams), over two decades into my occasional hobbyist sewing experience, I rarely nail a zipper or every gore in a multi-gore skirt on my first try, and I still get tripped up on fitting alterations. Commercial patterns almost always run large compared to store-bought clothes, so one of the first skills you have to master is learning how to translate the measurements of the flat, paper pattern into what the 3D final garment will fit like.

The worst is that, you know how when you go to a store, and you get to the changing room with your handful of shirts or whatever, you're like, "This style makes me look stupid" and "This one isn't comfortable." and "I don't like this color on me as much as I thought I would" and "This one is the right length, but it's too small at the top" and "This looks okay, but I can tell I'd be adjusting it all day to keep it right," so you put them all back? Imagine that feeling after you just invested a bunch of money and a weekend sewing a shirt...

True, there's a lot of disappointment in sewing as a beginner, but when you nail a project and make something wonderful and unique and exactly what you wanted, it's worth the frustrating flubs and mistakes in the earlier parts of the journey.
Yes, I found a skirt that might work for me.
And yes, all the fitting problems you just described are maddening. I have wanted to learn to sew for a while now. It looks like it's going to be a quieter summer than usual so this might be the perfect time. Making my own clothes has always seemed fun. But, I do fully expect the usual beginner's disasters, LOL. I'm a writer too, and first drafts of any project are always a grand mess!

Thanks for letting me know about the sizing issue with patterns. I will keep that in mind, too!
 

Cobra Hips

New member
Something similar to Simplicity 9145 (https://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-storefront-catalog/patterns/brands/simplicity-sewing-pattern-s9145-misses-skirt/)?

Something similar to Simplicity 9145 (https://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-storefront- catalog/patterns/brands/simplicity-sewing-pattern-s9145-misses-skirt/)?

Every time I get the urge to buy this pattern I remember that I have a bottoms pattern that has three casings of elastic at the waist and I hate it. I was never able to get the tension right on the three pieces of elastic so that it was even, comfortable, and well fitting. I ended up redoing it so there was only one piece of wider elastic. It seems like it should be so straightforward, but between my sewing skills and my body, I just could not make it work for some reason. Sigh.

On the other hand S9145 isn't one casing right on top of another (the pattern I had was supposed to give the look of stabilizing rows sewn into a wider strip of elastic, like the commercially made waistbands in pull-on bottoms), so maybe this skirt wouldn't have the same problem as my pattern...or maybe it would be a crunchy disaster if the gathered rows in between the elastic migrated upward as you sat or bent over, since it's not evenly distributed like traditional shirring.



Shortening a skirt is a trade off between "convenience" and "whatever wrecks the design less," isn't it? A narrow top tier can pass for a yoke or a drop waist, but a narrow bottom tier looks butchered if the skirt has multiple wide tiers between the waist and the hem.

The other advantage of starting at the top is that if you can figure out a way to roll it and camouflage the bulk under a belt or hip scarf, you may be able to save the original design and size so another dancer could restore it after buying it secondhand. A huge hem is not only a lot of sewing--it's going to look bulky and hang wonky, and shortening can't be easily and inconspicuously reversed by the next owner.

The worst case would be if the skirt had some design elements at the top and bottom that you couldn't easily disrupt, and you'd have to disassemble and shorten it from multiple middle-tier seams.

Every time I get the urge to buy this pattern I remember that I have a bottoms pattern that has three casings of elastic at the waist and I hate it. I was never able to get the tension right on the three pieces of elastic so that it was even, comfortable, and well fitting. I ended up redoing it so there was only one piece of wider elastic. It seems like it should be so straightforward, but between my sewing skills and my body, I just could not make it work for some reason. Sigh.

On the other hand S9145 isn't one casing right on top of another (the pattern I had was supposed to give the look of stabilizing rows sewn into a wider strip of elastic, like the commercially made waistbands in pull-on bottoms), so maybe this skirt wouldn't have the same problem as my pattern...or maybe it would be a crunchy disaster if the gathered rows in between the elastic migrated upward as you sat or bent over, since it's not evenly distributed like traditional shirring.



Shortening a skirt is a trade off between "convenience" and "whatever wrecks the design less," isn't it? A narrow top tier can pass for a yoke or a drop waist, but a narrow bottom tier looks butchered if the skirt has multiple wide tiers between the waist and the hem.

The other advantage of starting at the top is that if you can figure out a way to roll it and camouflage the bulk under a belt or hip scarf, you may be able to save the original design and size so another dancer could restore it after buying it secondhand. A huge hem is not only a lot of sewing--it's going to look bulky and hang wonky, and shortening can't be easily and inconspicuously reversed by the next owner.

The worst case would be if the skirt had some design elements at the top and bottom that you couldn't easily disrupt, and you'd have to disassemble and shorten it from multiple middle-tier seams.
Funny I was wondering about just rolling the skirts at the waist. I've done that with some floor length skirts I have for every day wear before. Oh, the struggles of being a short girl! LOL.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Funny I was wondering about just rolling the skirts at the waist. I've done that with some floor length skirts I have for every day wear before. Oh, the struggles of being a short girl! LOL.
Lots of dancers do this - even I did with that skirt I was talking about earlier before I shortened it.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
A narrow top tier can pass for a yoke or a drop waist, but a narrow bottom tier looks butchered if the skirt has multiple wide tiers between the waist and the hem.
In that case, "sometimes" you can delete the entire bottom tier, then add a flounce to extend it back where you want it to be. Flouncing is my favorite method for extending skirts, its pretty easy although it can take some time if the skirt is big. You can also alter the entire feel of the skirt by what kind of flounce you put on.
 

Tourbeau

Active member
In that case, "sometimes" you can delete the entire bottom tier, then add a flounce to extend it back where you want it to be. Flouncing is my favorite method for extending skirts, its pretty easy although it can take some time if the skirt is big. You can also alter the entire feel of the skirt by what kind of flounce you put on.
Sure. It's all about balancing the proportions of the tiers and making a cohesive design. If you had a skirt with four tiers, and each one got progressively larger, it would probably look weird to cut tier #4 by 75%, but you might be able to replace tier #4 with a tier-#1-sized accent strip that looked like wide hem trim or a fancy ruffle something. And sometimes these skirts will flip the seam on the bottom tier so it is attached from the top (both edges of bottom tier finished+wrong side of lower tier topstitched to right side of next-higher tier, instead of right sides together with a seam on the inside) to call attention to the bottom tier.

There are a lot of different possibilities, depending on the look you want--elegant in simplicity and color to crazy-quilt funky and casual.
 
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