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Math is really important

So recently I have been very inspired by YouTube videos by Bernadette Banner (, Cathy Hay (, and Enchanted Rose Cosumes ( to draft and sew my own Victorian walking skirt pattern. I purchased the book Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques Dover Fashion and Costumes and then started marking the patterns and styles that I was interested in. I selected my favorite which was a seven panel skirt. So what does this have to do with math? Read on...

I set up my kitchen table to hold my drafting paper. Got my waist measurements, the lengths I wanted measured, and my hips. No problem right? Well here is the math part. In order to accurately have a waist that will not be too big or too small you do need to divide your waist measurement by the number of panels in the skirt. This would seem like a no brainer however here is where I messed up. I made my four pattern pieces (front piece cut on a fold, two side pieces and a back piece) and then started my muslin (aka ducky-bunny, aka mock up). I had allowed for 1/2 inch seam allowances. Sewed up my muslin and....I could fit at least 4 of me in the muslin. OMG! I am no toothpick but I am not that big. So where did I go wrong? It was all in the math.

If you note the bold text above I state that you divide your waist by the number of panels in the skirt. I divided my waist by the number of pattern pieces I was making. Trust me the difference between dividing my waist between 7 and dividing by 4 is HUGE. Thankfully since I was using an old sheet as a muslin to test my pattern it was easy to adjust and correct. I took the muslin and set each seam where on my body I wanted them to fall. I then adjusted my muslin to fit. Transferred these changes to my pattern and then cut my actual skirt fabric.

So now I have the perfect fitting skirt right? Well yes and no. I added a zipper which was not in the original pattern so this did adjust my fit. I also had changed my diet and exercise level which meant that between the time I made my muslin and started wearing my skirt I had actually lost weight. This change of size is actually one thing I like about making my own clothing, I can easily adjust the size to refit myself. So I definitely learned from this experience that math is important.

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