My Voile Zinnia & Sewing Tips for Longer (Looking!) Legs

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

Navy and Blue Chambray Look Striped Cotton Voile from 'Theory'

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.

zinnia--3Abide by the “Recommended Fabrics”

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

Free Notion

Hey there, friend! I'm Becca - Lifestyle Photographer, Wanna-be Fashionista, & Sew-blogger Enthusiast behind Free Notion, Sewing Stadium, and Sew the Show. I'm always whipping up fun clothes between yoga class and preschool pickup - so subscribe below to keep up with my latest work!

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7 thoughts on “My Voile Zinnia & Sewing Tips for Longer (Looking!) Legs”

  1. Love your skirt and you’re right you did all the things recommended for longer leg look including the yellow shoes (they say the very best is nude pumps but you’re close with that lovely yellow 🙂 ) stripes going up and down. You have a lovely defined waist and this skirt really shows that off beautifully.

  2. If I still had your shape (I did when I was your age), I’d be wearing skirts more often. That skirt looks darling on you. Love the bright yellow shoes with it. I’ve been planning to make a Zinnia skirt for quite a while, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Have a light weight cotton lawn that is a similar colorway to your’s. Might just have to make it up in a Zinnia. Remember… imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

  3. Time to revisit the no skirts rule for you, you look amazing! Great fabric choice and length. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Your skirt looks amazing on you! Thank you for sharing this fabric from Cali & Co and the helpful hints on where to put the hem for the optimum skirt to leg ratio. You look terrific!

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