Author: Joie Martin
A basic gored skirt is one of the easiest articles of clothing to make and can add a great deal of utility to a feminine character’s wardrobe. A “gore” is simply a triangular panel of fabric that makes up each section of the skirt. Gored skirts can be made out of nearly any fabric, which means heavier weight skirts of velvet and wool can be used for winter costuming, while lighter skirts of cotton and linen can be worn for summer. Once you have the basic shape down, it’s easy to add your own touches to the skirt design, so that it is fresh and different each time you make it. I will illustrate how to make a basic six gored skirt below then give you a few ideas regarding additions that can be applied to make it unique.
Needle and thread or sewing machine
Ruler (the longer the better)
Fabric (2-3 yards is usually enough for most people)
7 inch zipper
Measure your waist and add ½ inch.
Divide that measurement by 6.
This number is the width of the top edge of each gore.
Multiply the width of the top edge of the gore by 3.
This number is the bottom width of each gore.
Measure the length of your bellybutton straight down to where your ankle meets your foot (you may need someone else to take this measurement for you).
Add 2 inches.
This is the length of each gore.
First, make sure your fabric is folded in half lengthwise so you have a long folded edge. At most fabric stores they will fold the fabric this way automatically, but it’s always good to make sure it’s folded correctly before you start.
Take your dressmaker’s chalk (sold in any fabric store) and measure a line that is half the width of the top edge of each gore from the folded edge of the fabric. For example if the width of the top of each gore is supposed to be 6, you would draw a 3 inch line from the fold. Measure down the fold the length of each gore from the first line and draw a second line. The second line should be half the width of the bottom edge of each gore. So, if the width of the bottom of each gore is supposed to be 20, the second line would be a 10 inch line from the fold. Next, take your ruler and carefully draw an angled line connecting the outer edge of the top line to the bottom line. When you are done, you should have something that looks like a long right triangle without the point at the top (see figure 1 for an example of what it should look like). Cut the fabric along the chalk lines and unfold. You now have a gore!
You can use your gore as a pattern piece to create more gores. Simply lay the gore open and flat, pin in place, and carefully cut around the edges of the fabric. See figure 2 for an example of how to do this. Or you can fold it in half and pin it along the fold if you’d like to cut a second gore on the fold. You may notice in figure 2 that I flipped my gore upside down and pinned it right next to my previous cut line. You can do this to be economical and save fabric.
Once you have cut six gores total, separate them into pairs and pin along one seam, right sides—that is, the front of the fabric—together. Stitch the fabric in place making ½ inch seams. See figure 3 for an example of how this should look. Then take the three larger pieces you’ve just made and stitch one seam of each to the other, right sides together, leaving the final seam open. For the final seam, stitch from the bottom up, leaving an 8 inch section toward the top unstitched. This gap is where your zipper will go. At this point, your fabric should begin to resemble a skirt.
With the skirt inside out, along the bottom hem, fold the fabric up ½ inch and stitch in place as illustrated in figure 4. Then fold over another ½ inch and stitch again. You’ve just successfully hemmed your skirt.
At the top of the skirt, do the same thing; turn the fabric down ½ inch and stitch in place, then another ½ inch and stitch again. At the unstitched gap on the final seam, turn the edge of the fabric under on either side of the gap and stitch in place; see figure 5 for a visual example. Then, take your zipper and place it in the gap, lining up each turned edge along either side of the zipper’s teeth. Stitch in place by hand, or by using the zipper foot on your sewing machine (see figure 6).
You now have a completed skirt that should look similar to the one in figure 7, but this isn’t the only thing you can do with it! In part two, I’ll give you a few ideas on how to modify this pattern to make your six gored skirt different every time you make it.