WIP – Basic Black A-Line Block Skirt

Japan Sew Along - A-line Block Skirt - csews.com

Hi, as you might know, some people (including me) are participating in the Japan Sew Along – hosted by Tanoshii (#2015jsa). It started towards the end of January and I’ve already seen some completed garments, which you can check on the sew along’s 16 February post. I’ve only gotten as far as making one muslin test garment. Over the past couple of weeks, my WIP  (work-in-progress) has been the A-line Block Skirt from the Japanese sewing pattern book Basic Black  by Sato Watanabe.

I do wear black a lot and I really need a longer black skirt. I only have one other black skirt – a knee-length RTW (ready-to-wear) circle skirt.

I traced size L – the largest size – the skirt (pattern T in the book). There is no XL in this book. (For more on sizing, see my post Japanese Pattern Book Sizing.)

For the A-line skirt, essentially a skirt that’s been divided into 16 rectangular panels (8 for the front and 8 for the back), I traced the 8 pattern pieces. When I measured the pattern pieces at the waist (not including the seam allowances), and added them up, I got about 31.5 inches (about 80 cm). So I knew the waist would fit but I wasn’t sure the hips would fit because I usually need to grade up a size in that area.

Basic Black’s Sizing vs. Indie Patterns

For comparison’s sake – I’d say size L for this skirt was similar to size 44 of my Deer and Doe Chardon skirt – but with less ease in the hips. The Chardon skirt has pleats so lots of ease there!

If you’ve made a By Hand London pattern, I’d say the skirt was similar to the first of the Anna Dress. I made US size 12/UK size 16. The Anna Dress has a seven-panel A-line skirt. (You can see the two I made here: Red Anna Dress and The Anna Dress.)

My Muslin of the A-Line Block Skirt

I folded my test fabric in half and pinned my pattern pieces to the fabric (a white cotton Ikea curtain I got at Goodwill, a charity shop, for $2). After I cut my fabric, I had a total of 16 pattern pieces. I used my erasable Pilot Frixion pen to label each pattern piece so I would remember which piece went where: top center front, top side front, top center back, bottom center back, etc. It erases via heat – so a hot iron will make my scribbles disappear.

A-Line Block Skirt - muslin - Japan Sew Along- csews.com

There are many pattern pieces so I recommend labeling them. Then you can sew them from top to bottom and left to right. I matched and pinned the top and bottom pieces together, following the numbered diagrams in the book.

Skirt instructions - Basic Black - A-line block skirt

Then I tried on my muslin. It fit at the waist but there was very little ease at the hips. This was not a surprise. I posted this image on Instagram.

Waist fits but a tad snug at hips. A-line skirt from Basic Black #2015jsa

A photo posted by C Sews (@csews) on

Then I needed to figure out how much ease to add. So I went to my closet and pulled out one of my favorite A-line bias cut skirts, a linen silk blend. Then I put my muslin on top of that skirt.

A-line skirt - ease at hips - csews.com

I decided to add a centimeter (3/8″) to the Top Side Front and Top Side Back pattern pieces. The skirt I’m making doesn’t get as wide as my RTW one. I wanted to keep the look of the Basic Black pattern.

Comparing hip widths - csews.com

To figure out where this 1 cm would begin and end, I put on my muslin and made two marks along the side seams: One mark about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) from the waist and then another mark (near the pen) where the skirt didn’t need more ease.

Skirt ease at hips - csews.com

Here’s one of the side pattern pieces I adjusted. I taped a piece of tracing paper to the side, then used my French curve to gradually add 1 cm to the hip area. The increase starts near the tomato. Once I got to 1 cm. I just extended the line straight down. I also added 1 cm to the Bottom Side pattern piece to preserve the  A-line design of the skirt. If I didn’t do then, then I would have had a side seam that just curved out at the hips and then got narrower, like a modified tulip skirt or something.

Pattern adjustment - Basic Black - csews.com

Add a Lining?
The pattern calls for finishing the waist with bias tape. I’m going to make the skirt from a medium-weight cotton pique and there are a lot of seams in the skirt. Maybe it will be more comfortable with a lining. Here’s what it looks like on the inside (all of these seams are supposed to be top stitched):

Muslin seams - A-line Block Skirt - Basic Black - csews.com

However, there is no lining pattern so I needed to draft one. I couldn’t use the skirt pattern pieces because there were too many pieces.

I took my muslin, folded it in half, traced it and added a seam allowance on the side. That sounds simple but it was a bit tricky because my muslin was a heavy-weight fabric and it turns out that folding it in half wasn’t too accurate.

Tracing lining for A-line Block Skirt - Basic Black - csews.com

I wasn’t sure if my seam allowance was correct so I put the skirt on top of the muslin and I could see that I needed to add more. Plus I needed to add more ease to the hips. I taped a long strip of tracing paper along the side, and added the ease (see hip area just below the tomato).

Adding ease to lining

I did the same thing for the other side. Then I cut my lining fabric, black bemberg. After I cut the lining, I put it on top of my muslin to see if it was the right size. Somehow I added too much seam allowance at the waist, so I made the lining a little smaller there. Then I had to add seam allowance at the hips and the rest of the side seam. I’m glad I checked or I would have had a problem like I did with the skirt lining I drafted for my maxi Chardon skirt.

It took me half of my Saturday afternoon to get it right. I didn’t think it would take that long. Maybe it would have been faster to draft part of it using the Top Side and Bottom Side pattern pieces. Then I could have used my French curve to draft the rest of the waist, etc.

Have you drafted a lining for anything you’ve made? What garment was it and how did it work out?

Hopefully I can start sewing my fashion fabric for this skirt! I decided not to make another muslin and just go ahead and cut my fabric – a medium-weight solid black cotton pique.  I’m really looking forward to finishing this skirt!

Happy Sewing!

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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.

10 thoughts on “WIP – Basic Black A-Line Block Skirt”

  1. This is so amazing seeing someone doing a proper muslin version. I haven’t done that since school and I am always to lazy and short in time to do so…

    1. Thank you, Monika! Doing a muslin sure does slow things down but I want it to fit. I’m impatient too and would rather skip this step but I really couldn’t tell what the fit would be without making a muslin. It will be quick to sew now that the pattern adjustments are done!

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