Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crossover Pleat Skirt Draft-Along 2: Get your tools ready

I am so excited that we got quite a group for this Draft-Along, and it was great to see my New Yorker and US sewing friends among participants. Being so far away now, I really miss meeting up and taking sewing or drafting classes together. The draft-along feels like an improvised reunion in a way...

As I was reading your comments and questions, I realized that I  need to add some introduction (learning by doing).  So, I am breaking up the posts starting here with the tools you will need for this draft-along. The schedule won't change significantly, I am only adding two more posts to the planned ones this week and the first drafting post will follow later today.

The following list contains some personal preferences of mine. Some of them are pricier, but are worth investing in in a long run. I must add, however, that you can, of course, follow the draft-along with simplest tools available in every household.


Use sturdier paper for your first draft. Alphanumeric type is the most convenient for drafting because it makes easy to draw parallel or squared lines. However, if you are equipped with good rulers you can also use any other paper that is wide enough (so you don’t have to paste too many sheets together). Here in Cyprus, I could not find drafting quality paper for a while, so I even used paper rolls from the IKEA kids department. 

We will be drafting all, lining, petticoat, back and front on one master pattern, and will colour code individual pattern pieces to make it easy for tracing.  

Individual pattern pieces will be transferred onto a tracing paper, which we will then use for cutting.  Here, I often use thinner paper I often find in packaging, or you can purchase tracing paper on a roll  from Amazon, where you can find cheaper options than in retail. 


I use at least one longer ruler (about 60cm or more), and one shorter one. One favorite ruler of mine is Fiskars 6x24inch Acrylic Quilting Ruler.  It’s perfect for drawing right angles, parallel lines, and it also has 30, 45 and 60 degree guides making it easy to draw precise angles. In addition, I use it a lot for graining fabric.

French curve is very convenient for drawing curved lines. You can find a set of French Curves in every school or craft supply store.


Drafting circle skirts you will require a compass for larger circles.

A BOSTITCH Fiberglass compass  is great for drawing inner circles up to 16” diameter, which makes it a great tool for drafting circle skirt, peplums and so on. It also quite affordable at $7.98 on Amazon.

Beam Compass by Rotape is the one that I use for drawing large circles. The best part is that it is not only long enough, but it also rolls up and is very compact.

However, with some effort, you can also get on without these tools.  Use a ruler to make points equally distant from the center point. The bigger the circle (or circle segment) the more points you will need for precision. Then connect the dots using short curved strokes, or rotate the paper for smoother results. This takes longer time of course, but it also saves money for tools.


You will need simple graphite pencil, preferably a softer one (2B, for example) since it is darker and offers more contrast. The master pattern (which we will use for the lining and the petticoat pattern) will be drafted in graphite pencil.

For the pleats and seamlines of the back and front pieces, we will use coloured pencils. Here, I also prefer softer pencils for contrast. Prismacolor is my favourite brand. It is pricey, but if you draft every now and then, it’s worth investing in it. Besides, you really need only a smaller pack – the one with 24 colors is probably the smallest you can get. If you go for Prismacolor I’d also recommend purchasing a sharpener from the same brand, as a regular school supplies sharpener often breaks the soft lead.

Again, Prismacolor is just my personal preference, and you can draft the skirt using any brand you got at home. 

Add paper scissors for cutting final traced pieces and this is all you will need.

The next post will cover general principles on drafting circle skirts, measurements and calculations for our master pattern. 


  1. As a designer I have all of your supply list except the alphanumeric paper. Cheaper place for tracing paper
    I buy the white 24" x 50 yards. This is a light weight paper that I generally call trash, but it's sketch paper. I use this for patterns and a heavier paper for my tnt patterns.



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