Mermaid skirt tutorial

How to use your sloper and make a mermaid skirt


Today, I want to show you how to draft a skirt sloper, using pattern drafting technique and how to use this sloper to make a lovely mermaid skirt. Making this skirt is really, really easy. I made the skirt in an hour, even though I always had to pause a bit to take pictures. I just wanted this tutorial to be really detailed, so I captured quite a lot of pictures.

Let’s get started.

First the skirt sloper.

There are many methods of drafting a skirt sloper. I typically use two methods to draft my skirt slopers. My most preferred method is Natalie Bray’s method of drafting a skirt sloper.

My next method is one I drafted myself but is influenced by Natalie Bray, and Donald H McCunn’s techniques. This I will show here, with pictures to aid understanding.

What you need:

You need some tools for this. They are listed below in no particular order:

  • Measuring Tape
  • Yard Stick
  • Rulers
  • Long French curve/hip curve (whichever you have)
  • masking Tape
  • Tracing Wheel
  • Noticeboard Pins
  • Office pins
  • Pencil
  • An eraser
  • Pattern Paper/Brown Paper or any paper you prefer to use that is enough
  • Fabric of choice [optional of course, but I would think you would love to sew a skirt for yourself, that is the purpose of this training 😉 ]


Second Method of drafting a Skirt Sloper:

  1. Measure yourself. You will need the following measurements: Waist Circumference, hip Circumference, Waist to Hip distance, Waist to Knee. Below I show you the measurements I will be working with. 23 measurements
  2. Divide your Waist Circumference and Hip circumference into 2. For instance I am working with 90cm(waist) and when I divide that by 2 I get 45cm:4
  3. Divide your waist and Hip circumference into 4. Working with my waist circumference: 90 divided by 4 = 22.5cm
  4. Now get paper with the following dimensions: Width = your half hip measurement + 6cm(minimum), Length = waist to knee (minimum, I used more than this for the length of my paper). Let me explain that some more. As you can see in the image above, my half hip is 50.5cm. So the width of paper I will use for pattern drafting must be a minimum of 50.5 + 6 cm=56.5cm. Then the length = 43.2cm (waist to knee in the image above) Please note, I subtracted 8cm from my natural waist to knee to get this waist to knee measurement I am using. You should do the same too.

    The paper I am using for my pattern drafting.
  5. Mark 2.5cm from the top of the paper, on both sides of the paper6
  6. Draw a line connecting the dots like so. We will call this line the waistline.7
  7. From this waistline measure your waist to hip (Do not measure your waist to hip from the top of the paper. Measure it from this line you have drawn). This new line is your hipline8
  8. From the waistline, measure your waist to knee measurement. Make dots and then connect the dot, to get your kneeline like so: 9
  9. On the waist line, mark your waist divided by 4. On your hipline, mark your hip divided by four plus 3cm, on your kneeline, mark your hip divided by 4 plus 3cm as indicated by the red dots in the image below: This 3cm is for ease. Feel free to eliminate it, if you prefer tight-fitting clothing. I would however recommend you reduce the 3cm to 1cm instead of eliminating it completely.10
  10. Connect the hip and knee dots with your ruler. 11
  11. Now subtract your quater waist from your quarter hip. My quarter waist is 22.5, while my quarter hip is 25.25. I will round that 25.25 into 25.3 (because there is nothing like 0.25 in the meter ruler, there is 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 etc, but no 0.25) Then, I will subtract: 25.3-22.5 = 2.8cm. Now divide what you get into 2. I got 2.8cm, I will divide that into 2 and I will get 1.4cm. From the quarter waist mark you made on the waistline, I measured this 1.4cm and made a new mark (the mark my pencil is pointing at)12
  12. From that new mark you made on the waistline, measure 2cm upwards (as indicated by the pencil). Make a mark there. This is our new quarter waist mark. 13
  13. Using your curved ruler, Join the quarter hip mark to the new quarter waist mark 1415
  14. Still using your curved ruler, draw a curved line from the quarter waist mark to the waistline as shown below: 16you have completed the front piece.
  15. Repeat this exact same process for the back piece. 17

Placing Darts in the Pattern

After drafting the basic shape of the pattern, you have to draft the darts as well. This is because darts give a nice shape to a skirt.

  1. Measure the curved waistline as shown in the image below:  18 you will notice that what you get is wider than your quarter waist measurement. This is good, because the excess, is what you will take out in your dart. So when I measured I got 24.5cm. when you subtract my quarter waist (22.5 cm) from this, 24.5 – 22.5=2cm. So I will be taking out 2cm through dart.
  2. Divide the curved line by 2 and make a mark on the curved line 19
  3. From the waistline measure 9cm down. This is for your yoke line 20 21 notice that the yoke line is equal distance from the hipline. This is because I measured down 9cm from the straight waistline. Not from the curved waistline.
  4. Square down from that midpoint on the curved line to the Yoke line 23
  5. Since I am taking in 2cm for my dart, I marked 1cm on each side of this line. If you are taking in 3cm, it will be 1.5cm on each side of this line. If you are taking 3.4cm, it will be 1.7cm on each side of this line. If you are taking in 4cm, it will be 2cm on each side of this line etc. 24
  6. Repeat this same dart process for the back piece.

Fitting the Sloper into a pencil-like skirt

After doing our darts, we will now slim the skirt around the knees to created peg shape (normally used for pencil skirts)

  1. At the kneeline mark in 4-7cm from the side seam as shown below: 26 I marked 4cm from the side seam. I was more interested in comfort so I did not want to make the knee too fitted. However, If you want a really fitted skirt, and you have an ample hip, then you can go in as much as 7cm. I wont recommend taking out more than 7cm, because you might not be able to walk in that skirt.
  2. Draw a slanted line from the hip to this point on the kneeline as shown below: 27
  3. Repeat the same for the back piece as shown below: 28

Trueing the Dart

After creating your darts, you will need to true it. The video below shows you how to do that.

Adjusting the Back piece to accommodate a shapey hip

My main focus during this adjustment, is not to mess with the side seam line. Watch the video below to know how I did  it.

Using My Pattern:

After drafting a pattern, the next thing is to cut fabric using the patterns:

  1. Place the patterns on the fabric and pin them like so29 30
  2. Watch video below to know how to allocate your seam allowances.
  3. After cutting, Create notches at your hip line as shown below. Make sure to transfer your dart lines to fabric. 31
  4. Do same for the back piece, notch the hipline with little snips. 32
  5. Sew darts, zip and centerback. Below you see my back piece33
  6. Join front and back pieces, making sure to match the notches as shown below 34
  7. I will be using gathers for the flared part of the mermaid skirt. So I cut fabric that is 3 times my hip circumference. So my hip circumference is 101. 3 x 101 = 303cm. I wanted the flare to be long enough to swallow my heels, so the length of fabric was longer than my knee to floor length. 35
  8. As you can see above, I folded the fabric into 4 along the width. So on one side, it has a double folds, while on the other it has a single fold and 2 cut ends. I notched the double folds and notched the single fold as shown in the picture below:
    notching the double folds

    notching the single fold
  9. Measure 1.5inches from both cut-ends as shown below. This is the centerback seam line for the flare piece. The gather must NOT reach this line or you wont have a neat finish. 38 As you can see, I started my gathering stitch after this line, not before it.
  10. Set your machine. The upper thread tension should be set to zero while you will set your stitch length to the widest your machine has (this setting is for mechanical machines. Please check your instruction manual to know how you can replicate this in your own machine) 39
  11. Start sewing gathering stitches from the 1.5 inch line you made on one cut-end, to the 1.5inch line on the next cut-end. Because of the setting of my machine, the fabric is gathering as I sew. But the gather will not be enough because I am working with a huge amount of fabric that must be compressed to a small kneeline. So I will still gather the fabric some more, manually. 40
  12. Sew the 1.5 inch line down to length of the fabric. Remember to return your machine to its normal setting before you do this. This will be the Center back of the gathers.41
  13. Remember those notches we made? they will come in good use now. We need those notches so we can distribute the gathers evenly and have a professional looking skirt. You will put the top skirt into the flare lower skirt, right sides touching each other. Then you will match the Centerback of the top skirt with the 1.5inch line of the flare. To the left of this 1.5inch line is a notch. Match that notch with a side seam. Do the same with the notch on the right hand side of the 1.5inch line. Then the single fold notch must be match with the CF of your top skirt. So as you are gathering the flare, you must be sure that these notches are matched to the appropriate parts. Really important for a nice finish. 42
  14. What the skirt should look like after all the gathering and matching. When the flare and the top skirt are now the same amount around the knee, make sure you pin to secure the gathers and matching. Then go to your machine and stitch. 43
  15. Still using that your skirt pattern, cut out lining pieces. I added the same seam allowances as I did for the fashion fabric.  44
  16. Sew the darts of the lining and then sew the side seams. Then making sure that right sides are touching each other, sew the waistline of the lining and fashion fabric together.
  17. Then sandwich the zipper in between the fashion fabric and lining, then sew lining to zipper fabric, making sure that you do not sew on the fashion fabric while doing this.
  18. Then sew the centerback of the lining.
  19. Serge the hem of your fashion fabric and lining and you are done. Skirt finished.
Mermaid skirt tutorial
Mermaid skirt

For a clearer view, you can click on the pictures to see it better.

Who else is feeling my fro? 😉

To join my free Skirt Drafting Course and see how to draft and sew a mermaid , click here

Do you have any questions? Ask in the comments below. I will answer immediately.

Do you love this tutorial? Show some love in the comments below, to encourage me to create more 🙂


3 thoughts on “How to use your sloper and make a mermaid skirt

  1. this is my first time of seeing your blog and I was so happy to know some one taking the time to teach . I did not understand the measurements you used for the darts. Did you measure from the fold ( I taught to measure the dart line four or three inches from the center fold, also the front dart was either longer than the back dart. Can you verify that) . Also from your measurements you are a small person. How do you measure the curve from waist measurement of 38 or less and hips of 46 inches. the curve by your method was impossible. the curve took part of the hip measurements. HELP.


    1. Hi Mazy,

      Thanks for your kind words. Now let’s tackle your questions

      1. For pattern drafting you do your darts on paper, then transfer to fabric. While working on paper, you will need to divide your curved waistline into two. This is so that you can find the midpoint of the waistline. That midpoint is the middle of your dart. The depth of the dart will depend on how much you have to take away from the current curved waistline before it can become exactly a fourth of your real waist measurement. So I don’t use a fixed location for my darts like 4 or 3 inches from the fold (unless I am doing freehand cutting)

      2. No dear. I don’t measure the hip curve, even for my own measurements. Here is what I do: I measure the straight distance between waist and hip. Its this straight distance that I use during drafting.

      Let me know if I answered your questions. If you are still confused dear, don’t be shy, please tell me. And I will know what next to do. Thanks.


  2. You look really nice in the outfit. The skirt looks beautiful on you. It would be nice if there were more pictures of you showing the finished item so we could see a bit clearer how it looks. x


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