A paneled skirt is a very versatile type of skirt. By choosing more or fewer panels and widening or narrowing those panels toward the bottom, you can make a skirt that is almost straight or an incredibly twirly full skirt. Because the fullness comes from tapered panels, this skirt has no gathers or bulk around the waist (unlike the dinrdl skirt). This makes it ideal for women wanting to minimise their waists – on the other hand, it means you’ll need a zipper to get in and out of the skirt!
How To Measure Up Your Skirt Pattern Piece
Measure your waist (or hips, if you want a low-riding skirt). Divide this number by the number of panels you want. Add half an inch of seam allowance to either side. The resulting number will be the length of the top of your panel.
On a long sheet of newspaper or brown butcher paper, rule this line horizontally at the top and centre. Then draw a line down the paper (perpendicular the first line), as long as you want the skirt plus a few inches for hemming.
The next measurement determines how much each panel flares. A panel three times as wide at the bottom than at the top will make a very full skirt, especially if you have a lot of panels; a panel with a bottom measurement only 1 ½ times as long as the top measurement will make a fairly straight skirt, unless you have a lot of panels.
Draw this line as long as you like, making sure the pattern piece is symmetrical. Rule a line from the top to bottom corners on each side. You will now have an A-line pattern piece.
The last step is to draw a gentle curve from one bottom corner to the other. This helps eliminate wonkiness at the hemline, particularly if your panels are very wide. Don’t stress about it too much – you’ll fix the hemline later.
You should end up with a pattern piece that looks like a slice of pie with the tip neatly chopped off. Cut out the number of pieces you require.
You’ll also need to cut out a strip of fabric as long as your waist measurement (plus seam allowance) and twice as high as you want your waistband (plus seam allowance).
Sewing the Paneled Skirt
With right sides together, sew your panels together into a long skirt – do not sew the first panel to the last yet. With right sides together, sew one edge of the waistband along the top of the skirt.
At this point you’ll need to insert a zip. I prefer invisible zips; if they terrify you, follow a YouTube tutorial step-by-step and you can’t go wrong. The zip will need to end halfway up the waistband, so you can fold the rest down afterwards.
Insert the zip and sew up the rest of your final side. Press a seam allowance under at the top of the waistband, fold it in half (reinforcing with interfacing if necessary) and stitch in the ditch around the top of the skirt, catching all the raw edges.
At this point, you’ll need to let the skirt hang for a day or two. Hang it evenly on a skirt hanger, or use pegs on a regular clothes hanger, and simply let it chill out for a while. This allows the fabric to settle and droop, which is particularly important if you cut the fabrics on the bias.
Once the fabric has settled as much as it plans to, enlist the aid of a hubby or reliable child. Stand on a chair wearing the skirt, and make your helper measure with a long ruler up from the ground and mark the hem placement with pins. This helps to ensure your skirt won’t be shorter at the back. Trim an inch or two down from the pins, turn the raw edges under and press, then turn the fabric under again until the pins are at the bottom, press and topstitch.
Your skirt is done! As with any skirt, you can make endless variations. I added a ruffle to mine and some lace at the bottom; you could also add belt loops, finish the bottom hem with bias binding instead of hemming, sew the skirt with French seams, add a lining, leave off the waistband or add pockets.