Friday, November 18, 2011

Self Drafted - TableCloth Skirt (with Tutorial)

The outfit I'm planning to wear for Thanksgiving.

More than a year ago a cyber friend, ReAnn, sent me a link to this dress and asked if I knew how it might have been drafted.

I didn't.

Over time, this dress has shown up in various incarnations - with sleeves, without sleeves, with different fabrics. I have only seen it online, never in person, so I did not have a chance to study it. Then, a month or so ago I was looking again at the web page when, bam, I realized how it was drafted.

Gotta love that!

I quickly did some math, and whipped up a version using a worn out flannel duvet cover with rosebuds that my daughter had decided was no longer cool. I was happy to see that my idea did, indeed, work. Then I hung the muslin in a closet and forgot about it.

I needed to sew a quick skirt for a meeting this week and I decided that it was time to make a real version of this garment. I made it in one evening - it is so simple.


  • A very lightweight, crisp fabric from Fabrix. I believe it's a nylon taffeta. It is two-sided, but I used the autumn-colored side. The other side is cream/black.
  • 1-1/2" Fantastic Elastic from Pamela's Patterns.

This skirt is made entirely from rectangles. It is basically a circle skirt, except it uses a square instead of a circle. I did not even cut out the fabric. I just measured and ripped. The only time I used scissors was to cut the circle for the waist.

The "TableCloth Skirt" name came from one of my sewing pals, Sarah. I was holding it out, showing the shape, similar to the following photo, and she declared, "It's like a tablecloth!"

Yes, indeed, if you need a quick Halloween costume, just wear a board underneath this skirt to hold it out and, voila, a table with a tablecloth.

The following layout shows the essential shape of the pattern.

There is a square piece of fabric (blue), with a waist hole cut out (yellow). Then there are four rectangles (green). There is also a rectangular waistband (not shown). (I made this with a elastic waistband, but you can put in a zipper if you want.)


  • Cut, or tear, a rectangle that is 44" by 44". (Note, I am 5'5". If you are taller or shorter, you may want to adjust the proportions.)

  • Calculate the circle you want to cut out for the waist. The math is not hard, but you can use a calculator. I googled "circle circumference calculator" and ended up using this one. I decided to add 2" to my waist measurement and plugged in the number. I needed a circle with a 6.5" radius. I created a quarter-circle template using printer paper.
    NOTE:: If your hips are larger than your waist, use that as your base so you can pull this on over your hips!

  • Fold the square of cloth into quarters. Pin the quarter-circle template to the center corner. (Make sure you pin it to the correct corner!) Cut out the waist.

  • Sew the waistband to the waist opening in whatever way you prefer. (I ripped a waistband piece that was 4.5" by 45" because I was using very wide elastic.) I stay-stitched the waist, clipped, and attached the waistband.
    NOTE: The waistband should be the length of the waist hole at the seam line (not at the cutting line), plus two seam allowances. I cut it longer by a few extra inches, just to be safe. After I stay stitch the waist and clip, the seam always seems to grow another inch or two. I don't sew the short edges of the waistband together until the waistband is mostly attached to the skirt. I leave a couple inches unsewn at the beginning, and the end, of the seam. I then mark where the waistband should be sewn closed. I sew it, press it open, and then stitch the last few inches to the skirt. I am also too lazy to leave an opening in the short seam for the elastic. After the waistband is completely sewn and topstitched to the skirt, I use my seam ripper to open the short seam, on the inside, for the elastic. I insert the elastic, fit it to myself, and sew the edges of the elastic together. I don't even stitch up the little opening. Now you know. :)

  • Cut, or tear, four more pieces of fabric that are 44" (or whatever size square you used) by 15" (again, modify as needed).

  • Hem the long edge of each of the four rectangles. (I like to hem it first, but you can wait if you want to see about the length.)

  • Sew the unhemmed long edge of each rectangle to one of the edges of the central square. (If you look at my crude diagram, you are sewing the green pieces to the blue center square.) I used 1/2" seam allowances. You want to start sewing 1/2" in from the edge and stop 1/2" from the other edge. If you are using a different width for the seam allowances, start and stop the seam by that amount.

  • The final step is to sew the four short edges of the rectangles together. (As shown by the arrows in the diagram.) This creates four corners.

That's it! Not counting the waistband or the hem, that is a mere EIGHT seams! If you want to recreate the inspiration dress exactly, sew the skirt to a cropped bodice. I'm not really a "dress" person, so I decided to make it as a skirt, but it would not be hard to do.

A few more pictures:

A little twirling action

A closeup of two of the corners