How to shorten a curved ruffle
I was halfway through my Liberty Zina wrap skirt / Simplicity 8606, when I realised that shortening the curved ruffle was not going to be a simple affair, largely because I needed a whole 11cm off the longest length, still wanting to keep the curved shape and then tapering to nothing at the thin pointed end where it meets the waist tie on the left.
Ideally the main skirt pieces would also be shortened to keep the flounce in proportion but I couldn’t bear the thought of truing all the seams between the skirt and flounces. However, I did discover later in this video by made label that it wouldn’t have taken much effort. This was an excellent tutorial about shortening this type of skirt and adding lengthen/shorten lines (which this pattern didn’t have) but it didn’t address shortening the flounce, only shortening the skirt and adjusting the flounce pattern so the seams would match.
With 11cm length to take off, I thought it would look better to reduce the flounce rather than the skirt, otherwise the flounce would have looked really deep compared to the skirt. My height is 164cm.
In this pattern the hem is sewn in an earlier stage before attaching the flounces or waistband, but I didn’t know how much to cut off without having a skirt to try on. Since I was using French seams, I attached the flounces with the first pass with wrong sides together, but I didn’t do the second pass yet as the hem should be completed first, and I didn’t want to risk a dodgy join where these two meet.
This allowed me to hold the skirt up to get an idea of length. I also compared it to a maxi skirt I already own. Once happy with the length measurement, I added the following:
1.5 cm for waistband seam allowance
2cm for the second part of the French seam attaching the flounce to the skirt
1.5cm for the hem
Well, that was the plan. In reality I forgot that the second pass of the French seam with a 1cm seam allowance would add up to 2cm, and I only added 1cm for this. However, with me using a 4mm rolled hem foot, I’d only need about 7mm for the hem and so it kind of balanced out. I wasn’t going to quibble over a few mm.
This is where I got brain ache, as the skirt isn’t the same length all the way round. It was simple enough to chop this bit off the back pieces, but what about the curved front flounces? The amount I was taking off was a fairly significant 11cm so taking an even amount off the flounce hem wouldn’t have worked. I decided to draw out another curve for these on the paper pattern pieces and then transfer them to the skirt.
Here’s how I did it:
Step 1 - Measure length of hem of left flounce
I started with the longer right flounce piece which is a mirror of the left flounce, only longer and continuing to a point, whereas the left flounce stops short with a butt end. I needed 11cm off and wanted this to end up at 0 at the pointed end. I used a measuring tape on its side, roughly where it should be shortened.
Step 2 - Divide the length of the hem by the amount to shorten
I very roughly divided the length along the hem by 11 for each cm I wanted to shorten. Choose an amount that would give you a decent amount of reference points e.g. if you only need to take 4cm off, maybe divide by 8 and use 0.5 cm as your reduction at each point.
Step 3 - Mark the reduced length at even intervals
I marked the 11cm from the hem at the side seam. At the interval measured above, I marked a line 10cm from the hem. At the next interval, I marked 9cm from the hem, then 8cm etc. until almost at the pointed end with 0. It wasn’t at all precise but I didn't think it would be very noticeable on the flounce. In the example above of only needing to take 4cm off and dividing by 8, mark at 0.5cm less at each interval.
The photo below shows how the first 5 intervals were marked.
Step 3 - Join these marks together
I then joined these lines together freehand but you could also use a curved ruler. The arrows point to the faint pencil line I marked.
Step 4 - Transfer markings to the other flounce pattern piece
I lay the right front flounce piece on top in a mirrored fashion, and traced this same line. The right flounce piece above is flipped in the photo below so it is face down, with the left flounce piece laid on top, right side up.
Step 5 - Transfer markings to the fabric
I then transferred these markings to the skirt. If you haven't started sewing the skirt by this point, this is pretty straightforward. I had already attached the flounce to the skirt so I laid it out with the flounce as flat as I could.
I lay the pattern on top and transferred markings with a water soluble marker at regular intervals. Nothing sophisticated about my method, I just kept flipping up the pattern and marking underneath lots of times.
If I was at home (I was on holiday at the time), I would have used a tracing wheel and transfer paper, same as in my blog post here but with just a single wheel and using white paper. I then joined all the marks together freehand.
Step 6 - Cut along the marked line
You should end up with a flounce the right length and has still retained its curve.
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