I’m what you might call a “jeans and t-shirt” kind of girl. I don’t wear skirts, and DEFINITELY don’t wear dresses. I’ve told myself many lies as to why this is – mostly relating to my body and how it “looks weird” in skirts, I’m “too rectangle-shaped” or “too short” for skirts. All of which became very inconvenient when I started preaching custom tailoring and seeing the brave women of my Capsule Wardrobe Sewing Group tackle (and ROCK) styles they’d long written off.
But I’m downright stubborn, and I clung to those lies right up until I hit a challenge I couldn’t refuse: put my “how to find the perfect hem length for you” blog post to the test.
Rather than waste lots of fabric on skirts I swore I’d never wear anyway, I super imposed line drawings of several skirt patterns overtop a silhouette of my body at two lengths: 1. the given pattern length, 2. proportional lengths customized to my body. (Lots of details about this in the post, so I won’t repeat them all here.) One such pattern was the Colette Zinnia – which I decided to test out here because
I’d already made the graphics it was “free” with 3 Seamwork Credits it was really cute.
I’m thrilled to report that the experiment went well, and want to share my secrets to success! Petites will particularly love these tricks, but really – who doesn’t love a longer looking leg?? Without further ado…
Use Fabric with a Vertical Design
Vertical elements in clothes make an excellent way to emphasize whatever height/length you’ve got! This applies to structural things like color blocking and button plackets, and most certainly applies to fabric design itself. Stripes, like this voile you can find in the Cali Fabric shop in navy and black colorways, are an obvious choice! But don’t flip them horizontally unless you’ve got height to spare – it’ll visually “cut” you down into smaller visual chunks.
I have a strict “No Quilters Cotton for Apparel Use” policy – and this was a hard lesson learned early on in my sewing days. Full skirts, like this Zinnia pleated a-line, don’t need any extra help adding width to your frame – which is exactly what stiff fabrics like quilters cotton will do.
But here’s the thing – even if you DO use apparel fabric for your apparel projects, you could be using the wrong kind. Heavy weight denim and stiff linens might be great on the hanger, but put it on a body and it’ll jut right out and add lots of girth. Adding width, as mentioned above, is counter productive to any long-leg mission!
In this case, Zinnia requires drape for proper balance: “Lightweight fabrics such as silk or rayon crepe, shirtings, lawn, silk twill, light wool gabardine, wool crepe.” Voile doesn’t make the list, but this particular voile is comparable to the recommended cotton lawn. This skirt wears and falls just as it was designed to – and not a bit wider!
What is voile anyway?? According to Wikipedia it is “a soft, sheer fabric, usually made of 100% cotton or cotton blended with linen or polyester. The term is French for veil.” There is SOME sheerness to the voile I used, but not enough to require a lining.
Lastly, Use a Proportional Hem Length
I used the 50/50 method. I measured the length from my skirt’s waistband down to the floor, divided that number in half, and hemmed the skirt to that length. It’s a simple way of ensuring you’re left with a flattering leg-to-skirt ratio. Super easy – right!?
I hope you find these tips useful! And if you give them a try, I hope you’ll share your creation with me on instagram. Happy Sewing! XOXO Becca