Adding darts and length to the back skirt piece of a Miette skirt


My original skirt with an arrow highlighting the folding.

This post is a bit delayed, as my keybaord went a bit doolaly after my post about my Maxi Miette, so I couldn’t really type. However, onwards! As I mentioned in my last post after making my first Miette I decided that the back needed some more shaping – I could feel it didn’t sit right above my bum and you can really see that in this photo there is a fold above my bum just below the waistband and tightness at the top of my bum, which is caused by the gradient between my waist and hips – I need to pull it tight to keep it on my waist. The other problem, as I found with my first skirt hem was that the back required extra length.

To solve these issues I decided I needed to add length to the back and some waist darts for shape. I knew how I could add length, but I searched through my books and the internet, and I couldn’t find any guide to adding darts to the waistband, where there were none- I found lots of tutorials on moving darts around, but none on adding darts. If anyone knows any sources that describe how to do this, I would love to hear how you are ‘meant’ to do it. But without any sources I was left in a quandary – how to do it?

I drew on my experience with FBAs – this involves spreading a pattern piece maintaining the grain lines and using hinges to open or enlarge a dart, which is the principles I followed, although done in a different place. Adding the darts at the same time as the length allowed me to do this.

Therefore, this is how I did it. I would describe this as a this-is-what-I-did-follow-at-your-own-risk type tutorial rather than this-is-how-you-should-definitely-do-it, but here goes:

  1. You need to estimate how much length you need to add to the skirt – I guesstimated 2 inches based on my experience with the hem on my last version of the Miette. If you are not sure, I would recommend a muslin to test (although I guess by the time you have decided you need this alteration you have probably done a muslin or a previous version).
  2. Next, you need to draw some lines to use for your reshaping
    1. IMG_0386

      Drawing in the centre back line.

      Centre back – on many skirts this would be easy to mark. On the Miette it was trickier, as the grain line is clearly aligned with one side of the skirt and therefore is not aligned with the centre back. In the end I marked this line at right angles to the lengthen/shorten line (reasoning this line must be deigned to add length to the pattern piece evenly) and roughly half way across the pattern piece (as it is not symmetrical this was mostly guesstimation and eyeballing it)

    2. The lines to draw in - purple= lengthen/shorten line, red = centre back, blue = cutting line, yellow = side seam stitching line.

      The lines to draw in – purple= lengthen/shorten line, red = centre back, blue = cutting line, yellow = side seam stitching line.

      Cutting line – this is parallel with the lengthen/shorten line marked on the Miette pattern piece, which is at right angles to my CB line. I put it across at the level of the first notch on the side seam. With the hindsight of having done the alteration I would suggest this is as low as this should be – it could be an inch higher

    3. IMG_0390

      Dart spreading lines. green = single dart spreading line, orange = double dart spreading lines.

      Dart spreading lines – the number of these depends on the amount of length you are spreading. Based on my experience I would suggest roughly one dart per inch you are adding on each half of the garment. If you are adding one inch the line should be roughly half way between the centre back and side seams, parallel with the centre back line. With two (the number I ended up with) they should be spread evenly between the centre back and side seams (again, rough guesstimation required).

    4. You also need to mark the stitching line (1.5cm in from the cutting edge) along the side seam where the cutting line intersects with the side seams.
  3. Now prepare to do the spreading of the pattern piece. I would recommend using a pin board so you can in the pieces you don’t want to move to make it easier. You also need to get some paper to fill in the space you will be creating – mark a straight line across this piece of paper which you will use to ensure that the part you spread will remain aligned with the centre back.
  4. Now we need to cut the lines, ready to spread the pieces.
    1. Cut the cutting line in the middle of the pattern between the two stitching lines – don’t cut all the way through from side to side
    2. From the side seams cut in about 1.3cm along the cutting line, leaving a small hinge either side of the pattern piece
    3. Cut the lines you have marked for the darts down from the waistband close to the stitching line, leaving a small hinge of a mm or two at the end of each.
  5. IMG_0392

    Ready to spread with the lines cut, bottom of the skirt pinned, and paper pinned behind.

    pin the lower part of the skirt to the board with the section above the cutting line free to move, and in the new paper underneath the top section with the centre back aligned with the centre back on the skirt piece.

  6. IMG_0394

    All spread and pinned in place.

    Now it’s time to do the pattern spreading. You need to move the centre back up the amount of extra length you decided was required. As you do this the dart lines will naturally open up. Once you have spread it sufficiently make sure the darts are even, the centre back is still aligned and then pin the top section of the skirt in place. I have a confession to make about this stage: when I did this my dart lines opened up, but to spread them to my desired 2 inches I had to pull the hinges on the ends of my darts apart. I suspect this means these pattern pieces are not designed to spread as much as this, and I should only have spread them as far as they naturally would go.

  7. Evening out the side seam edge - the original seam highlighted in yellow, new line in red.

    Evening out the side seam edge – the original seam highlighted in yellow, new line in red.

    Once everything is spread evenly and the pattern piece is pinned down, tape this down to the paper behind, and fill in any gaps in the spread area with paper.

  8. Where you have hinged the side seam you will now have an angle, which is not conducive to a smooth side seam. Therefore, use a couple of small scraps of paper to round off this corner.
  9. Finally you need to draw in the new darts we have created. Some of them can be drawn along the lines you have spread, however because of the shape of the Miette skirt piece I found that it worked best to rotate the outer darts to more parallel with the edges of skirt – this shapes the fullness we have added to be more rounded, like your curves, rather than just a straight line.
    1. moving the centre line of the dart to paralell with the closest edge of the skirt.

      moving the centre line of the dart to paralell with the closest edge of the skirt.

      To rotate the outer darts take the line down the centre of the wedge you opened when you spread the pattern and redraw this, keeping the position at the waistband edge the same, to be roughly parallel with the nearest skirt side (on the Miette this will mean rotating one side much more than the other).

    2. IMG_0399

      Folding the dart to cut the waistband edge.

      Basically to draw in a dart draw lines from the edges of the wedges you spread to meet 9cm down the centre line from the top of the skirt (including the seam allowance) – this will be smaller than the actual wedge you opened (this was judged based on my trial and error, your mileage may vary). Where you have rotated the centre line with the instruction above draw the dart the same width as the others around the centre line.

    3. Now take the pattern piece and fold the darts as if you were sewing them (in half, and then folded to one side) then cut a straight-line along the original line of the waistband – when you open this up all excess paper will have been removed and your darts will be shaped with the slight kink that means it will be tidy and flat with the seam when sewn.
  10. Now we are done! Tidy up any remaining edges and make a note of what you have done on your pattern piece so you know in future.

My final skirt piece. If it looks a little messy, that is because it is – the dart length was a bit of trial and error, so there is some tipexing going on.



The final skirt piece with the darts (apologies for the lack of contrast, the fabric is very similar to my flooring). You can see wrinkles at the top caused by the extra fullness added by the darts. However, the skirt sides are fairly straight – like the original pattern piece which I hacked up, which I think is a sign of success.

Having read all this I guess you are wondering, did it work? I will give it 8 out of 10. I definitely succeeded in adding extra length, and as you can see with this photo on Dolly, the skirt piece definitely curves around a bum better – my waistline fold is gone.

IMG_0777However there are two issues – the first is there seems to be some slight pulling across my bum on the top back piece towards where the waistband tie is. I am not sure if this is really a fit problemas I can’t watch myself in motion, and I did note that this fabric has a fair bit of stretch on the crossgrain and bias, so that might be causing it. Perhaps it is a fit issue, any ideas?


The sideways pull lines

I don’t think it bothers me enough to worry about it without further evidence – I am pretty sure it will not be noticeable when I move.

The length I cut off the hem (folded in half) with the edges and side seam highlighted - you can see the narrowing around the side seam.

The length I cut off the hem (folded in half) with the edges and side seam highlighted – you can see the narrowing around the side seam.

Secondly. Although my lengthening at the back worked well, it turns out I also need some extra length at the side seam, on both the front and back skirt pieces – presumably the effect of having large hips as well as bum. Now the darts are sorted adding a little length on this seam next time shouldn’t be an issue.

In the end, considering this was a bit experimental, I am pretty happy with the results. If you have a go at anything similar (or know better than me about how this alteration should be done) I would love to hear from you.

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