Math Skirt (yay!)

This is the skirt I will point to whenever any young person ever asks me WHY they have to learn about fractions, measurement, multiplication and division, and WHEN they will possibly ever use this in their real lives. Because this, Dear Readers, is a Math Skirt.

Love the skirt but my god the pictures turned out terribly. I’m scraping the barrel here, Dear Readers. Also: The Front.


Let’s word it like a math test problem:

You have two 40″ long pieces of border print fabric that must be assembled into a fitted skirt for an adult woman with a 30″ waist and a 38″ high hip (5″ below the waist). How much must the waist be pleated to reduce the 40″ to 30″, assuming twelve pleats on front and back (24 pleats total)? How much must the pleats be reduced 4″ down to ensure adequate volume for the high hip? For bonus marks, draft a 1″ waist-band.

Sure yes! Let's go tromping around in the woods in my new white skirt!
Sure yes! Let’s go tromping around in the woods in my new white skirt!

I didn’t even properly draft a pattern for this. I just cut out two 40″ long fabric rectangles, sat down with a calculator, a ruler, and a pink chalk marker, and started figuring out where to put the pleats and how big to make them to fit the way I wanted them to–which was to duplicate this skirt, as much as possible.


I do love that skirt.

White invisible zipper, white hook and eye. Side zipper so I didn’t have to break up the print. The fabric is a mid-weight cotton satin, and it’s just gorgeous. Just the right amount of body to get a pleated skirt puffing out nicely, but still light enough to be a pleasure to wear when it’s hot outside.

In the photographs, the white of the skirt catches all the light and you can’t see any details. So here is one with the exposure turned way down so you can see the pleats. They’re pleated from the waist to the high hip, sewn down nice and snug, and then released. Each pleat has a 45-degree stitching line at the bottom that you can just barely make out in this picture.

Pleats Proof.
Pleats Proof. Also Extra Wrinkles, that don’t show up in real life.

It has a white cotton voile lining, and here I used the skirt sloper to make a quick and dirty a-line lining–just enough to keep the main skirt belling out and provide a little extra opacity.

The Back.
The Back.


Since the border print ran along the selvedge, I just turned it up once and top-stitched it down. It’s not like it’s going to fray, after all.

Here I’m wearing it with a recent yet-to-be-blogged blouse, but I’ve got enough of the border print left over that I think I can make a shirt, maybe with the border print on one shoulder. This is yet to be decided.

In the meantime: Math Skirts–not so hard!

As a bonus, at the end of my little photo hike, this lovely lady popped out of the woods to say hello.


Terrible picture as it was getting dark, but the deer around here are not shy of humans, so she just placidly trotted along, snacking on greens, eyeing me while I tried to get a good shot. Which I clearly failed to do.

15 thoughts on “Math Skirt (yay!)

  1. Yay math! I’m in the midst of a mathy gathered skirt myself. Excellent use of the border print. When I taught a middle school sewing class, I would say that 1/3 of the kids were psyched to do sewing math and 2/3 were seriously crushed.

    1. True, I hadn’t considered the sewjo-killing effects of math hatred.

      Can’t wait to see your mathy skirt! Does this mean you’ve recovered from the wedding dress?

      1. Ha, sorta… it’s a skirt I need for a dance class. I was sorely tempted to purchase one but just couldn’t make myself spend $100 on an elastic waist skirt (that supposedly fit sizes from 26″ – 50″). The math is all well and good but the yards and yards of cutting straight lines and gathering is unappealing!

      2. Sewing tons of rectangles is suspiciously like quilting… Well, at least the kind of guilt-motivated use-up-all-these-fabric-scraps quilting I do.

  2. Maths! Algebra! Lovely! I know when I was learning I struggled with word problems. Partly because I seem to do all maths as word problems in my head, so I would have to convert words to plain algebra and back into words that made sense to my brain, which was work and took me a long time. But also because they were always stupid. I don’t care what time a train meets another train coming in another direction. On the other hand, I was fine when it came to practically applying that maths, and I remember clearly the two or three times we got word problems that were meaningful.

    I know I topped out at a certain level of abstractness in maths, too. A ‘someone else can do this much better than me’ level. It broke my poor teacher’s heart because up till then I was doing great! They should have just let me study advanced sewing maths…

    I love both your skirts! Very lovely.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 Though the black one was store-bought–it was the shirt I made in that photo, to match the skirt, which is one of my favourites ever.

      I actually quite liked math through high school, but I took as little of it in university as I could. Though I’m now wondering what a Calculus Skirt would look like.

  3. Also mathy – curtains.
    Do not try to do measurement math in your head in the fabric store! My worst moment was when i realized that I had miscalculated the fabric for batwing shirts for the YD’s gym team and that I was going to have to piece each and every one of the twelve I made.
    That is one splendid skirt and you look like a million dollars in it. Or maybe even more.

    1. Yes, well. In the fabric store I generally follow the tested method of “buy at least three metres and more if you think you might make a full dress.” Which is why I have so many large scraps left over. 😉

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