Friday, May 24, 2013

Measurement Math

If you cannot measure it, you cannot control it.
~ John Grebe

Well, recent events have conspired to disrupt my sewing queue.  As you may remember - and I can barely remember because it's been so long since I've been able to do any sewing! - I was working on clothes for my friends' assorted babies & toddlers, when Ana asked me to try to sew her skirt this weekend.  

The main issue is size.  The smallest size on the pattern is size 4, and Ana is probably a size 0 or maybe -2.    ;)

One good thing - the pattern I'm using has elastic around the waist - greatly easing the challenge of fitting!  (Another good thing - it can worn at just about any level between the waist and the hips.)  

Anyways, she gave me the (circumference) measurement representing the line (somewhere between her waist and hips) where she wants the top of the skirt to sit.  I added 3 inches for ease and the side seam allowances, then divided that in half and used that number to modify the skirt yoke:  

You can see below how I just folded the pattern along the sides to get the length I wanted - happily, the yoke pattern is a perfect rectangle!  

Next up, the skirt panels - there are TEN!!!!!  Yikes!  

Anyways, I took the amount that I had reduced the yoke pattern piece and divided it by 5 to figure out how much to reduce each skirt panel.  Then I divided that number by 2 and reduced each side of the panel by that amount.  

Again the sewing gods were smiling on me, because the skirt panel pattern piece is symmetrical.  

As with the yoke pattern piece, folding in the sides of the skirt panel pattern piece worked, with the minor exception that I had to make a small snip where the pattern flares, to allow it to lay flat when folded back.  

Finally, just to make sure everything would be okay, I worked the math backwards - I measured the width of the side panel and figured out how wide it would be after I assembled the 5 panels:  

It turned out that it didn't work out exactly right the first time.  Thank goodness I checked!  Luckily, I still had the pleat size to work with!  The pleat width in the pattern was 3.5 inches - I played with the number in Excel and found that a pleat width of 3.25 will get me pretty close to having the yoke and the assembled skirt panels match in width.  


As I read back over this post, I see that some reference to good fortune occurs 5 times!  If you are going to try to sew something long distance - without being able to take measurements yourself or do any fitting - you aren't going to get a better pattern than this!  ;)

Now that I've got the numbers all worked out, it's time to cut!  Yay!  Actual sewing is occurring!  :)


  1. Go forth, Gwen, with your mathematical approach. It will work. Unfortunately, the math God gave up on me when I was around 8 years old and could not learn the multiplication tables!

    1. Thanks, Gwen! Fingers crossed that I don't end up with a photo showing a major mismatch! ;)
      Who needs to know their multiplication tables, anyways? That's what calculators are for! ;)