My adjustable-waist skirt – Deer and Doe Chardon

How to make an adjustable-waist skirt by modifying the Chardon Skirt pattern by Deer and Doe

Hi! I’ve made four skirts using the Chardon skirt pattern by French company Deer and Doe: two with a contrast bottom band (a black-and-white Chardon, a linen version) as well as a maxi and knee-length version. This high-waisted skirt has inverted box pleats, which are great for wide hips. You can just cut the size for your waist and not worry about sizing up in the hips. However, I’ve gained weight since the last time I made a Chardon so I wanted to see if I could make an adjustable waist version – in the hopes that I’ll lose some of the weight and still be able to wear the skirt. 😉

I got the idea from this photo on Pinterest, an A-line denim skirt that tied together at the top with two pieces of twill tape sewn to the front. You create an inverted pleat by tying the ends together. I discovered that it was originally posted in 2008 on Flickr by Martha McQuade, who designed the adjustable-waist skirt and is a co-founder of design firm MAD. (See the Flickr post “denim tie skirt” here.)

Here’s my adjustable-waist Chardon, which has many other changes, which I’ve described below, along with some construction details.

Deer and Doe Chardon - modified by removing two front pleats and adding a ribbon to give it an adjustable waistband

The original Chardon skirt pattern has five inverted box pleats in the front. (You can see construction details about my first Chardon skirt here.) I sewed only three of the pleats – the center pleat and the two on my left – and attached two ribbons in place of the two right pleats.

I also made these adjustments to the pattern:

  • Moved the center back zipper to the left side
  • Used an invisible zipper instead of a regular one
  • Removed the left side pocket because zipper is now on that side
  • Lengthened skirt by 1 inch
  • Underlined the skirt with silk organza
  • Used bias tape at the waist instead of a facing to reduce bulk at the waist because of the pleat created by tying the ribbon.

I guess you could say that I used the Chardon pattern as a jumping off point. I improvised as I went along because I was making this in a bit of a hurry. I started working on it the day before I intended to wear it to the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event on February 11.

I got this home dec fabric remnant from Britex Fabrics last year with the intension of making it into a Chardon skirt. This is mostly a medium-weight fabric but it is thick where the flowers are because of all the extra threads used to create the flowers. So I paid particular attention to where the front center pleat fell on the fabric. I pinned the pleats to see what it would look like and adjusted them until I liked the way it looked. It looked best when the pleats fell in between the flowers, which meant the fabric wouldn’t be too thick where the pleats were.

Deer and Doe Chardon skirt - pinned front pleats

There are all these threads on the wrong side of the fabric where the flowers are because it was meant for furniture and no one sees the other side. So I decided to underline it with silk organza that I bought a few years ago to use as lining for a jacket I have yet to make. Organza has crispness to it that matched the fabric.

Organza is a bit slippery so I decided to pin it to my fashion fabric and cut both fabrics at the same time. See all the threads on the wrong side of the fabric? I could see catching it on something and pulling it by accident – another reason to underline.

Silk organza as underlining for Chardon skirt

Here’s my front pattern piece placement place on the fabric and organza. I lengthened the skirt 1 inch. I would have liked a longer skirt but I was limited by the remnant length. Because I was in a rush, I just sliced across the bottom, measured an inch down and pinned the bottom piece in place. If I wasn’t rushing, I would have taped the bottom piece to another piece of pattern paper.

Deer and Doe Chardon skirt - front pattern piece

After I cut the pattern piece, I machine basted the organza to the fabric using a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. But you should really hand baste because the fabric could pucker. I didn’t have any problems because this was home dec fabric.

When I cut the back, I decided not to worry about matching the pattern at the side seams but to line it up horizontally. So I placed my front pattern piece next to the back piece to line up the design. You can see the side seam where my hand is in the pocket. Maybe if I had more time, I would have tried to see if I could match the pattern. But I don’t mind that it doesn’t match. It’s not as if I’m going to stare at my side seams when I’m wearing it!

Chardon skirt - side seam

I centered the back piece on the fold so it fell in between the flowers, forgetting that the back doesn’t have a center pleat because of the center back zipper. I moved the zipper from the center back to the left but I didn’t add a pleat. Instead, I removed the seam allowance. However, my pattern placement meant the four back pleats would fall on the flowers, making really thick pleats at the waist. I had already cut my fabric before I realized this. Oops. See how the flowers at the waist are cut off?

Chardon - adjustable-waist skirt variation- Deer and Doe

The Chardon skirt has two pockets, but I only added one because I moved the center back zipper to the left side and used an invisible zipper instead of a regular one. I had a scrap of red Bemberg lining so I used that for my pocket.

Chardon skirt - pocket

I had a red 14-inch invisible zipper on hand so I used that for my side zip. The pattern calls for a 10-inch regular zipper. I like using a longer zipper, especially when using an invisible zipper. You can’t sew all the way down the zipper because the zipper tab is in the way so using a longer zipper gives you a bigger opening to slide on your skirt.

Here’s my invisible zipper installed (before pressing).

Invisible zipper installed

Once my skirt pieces were attached and the zipper installed, I used my pinking scissors on my seam allowances. Then I used bias tape at the waist. I just used this pre-made blue bias tape that was in my stash. Hey, there’s blue in the fabric and I was going to use my red bias tape for the hem. The line of stitches near the pinked edged is my machine basting.

Bias tape at the waist

I hand stitched the bias tape down, using red thread that doesn’t quite match my fabric, but I just used what I had in my stash – no time to run to the store. I was stitching in a rush. The good thing about underlining is that you can stitch into your underlining instead of  your fashion fabric. This is one of the back pleats – see how thick it is?

Hand stitching bias tape at waist

I had some lovely double-faced green silk ribbon that perfectly matched the green in the skirt. I bought this expensive ribbon ($11/yard!) at Lacis in Berkeley to match a vintage silk scarf I think I was planning on turning the scarf into some sort of top. I decided to use it for my adjustable-waist skirt.

Because it’s silk, I worried that it might not be strong enough to be a waist tie so I fused the ends with strips of fusible bias tape. I also used Fray Block on the raw edges (affiliate link here for 1.5 ounce (44 ml) tube, and here for .5 ounce (14.8 ml) brush-on version).  It isn’t stiff when it dries, unlike Fray Check.

Silk ribbon reinforced with fusible bias tape

Then I folded and pressed the edged and hand-stitched it to the waist. To figure out placement of the ribbon, I tried on the skirt and folded the excess fabric trying to find two places that would work. Then I used pins to mark the placement. If I make this version again, I would reinforce the fabric with interfacing around the ribbon.

Hand stitching ribbon in place

Here’s what it looks like tied. You can see the waist fold just above the bow. You can made the fold as big or as small as you need it to be. No worries about indulging your desire for dessert, you can easily expand the waist. Have you ever made an adjustable-waist skirt?

Adjustable waist skirt - ribbon

The Chardon skirt pattern calls for hemming with bias tape. I didn’t have enough hem bias tape on hand so I used some red 7/8-inch (22 mm) bias tape. (Wright’s makes black hem bias tape that’s 1 7/8 inches wide (48 mm), which I’ve used on three of my other Chardon skirts.)

Chardon skirt hemmed with bias tape

See my hem?

Bias tape hem of Chardon Skirt

And here are a few more photos of the finished skirt. The sun was going in and out of the clouds on Saturday so it was a challenge taking photos. We’re in the midst of a big rain storm in California – an atmospheric river, in fact – so I was grateful for just a brief moment of sun on Saturday.

Adjustable-waist skirt - made by modifying the Deer and Doe Chardon pattern

Chardon skirt - side seam

Chardon skirt - back view - Deer and Doe sewing pattern

I was sewing on the ribbons on Saturday and then I was ready to go to Frocktails.

And here I am at Frocktails with Pauline who blogs at Sew You Think You Can Knock Off. She does a fantastic job making her versions of RTW garments she likes.

Enjoying Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February

Here’s a group photo – not everyone fit in this photo but you get the idea. We all had a great time.

Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February - group photo


How to make an adjustable waist skirt - using the Chardon skirt sewing patterns by Deer and Doe

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

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