Skirts are very similar to pants and they share many of the same properties. Darts, closures and waistbands are virtually the same. However, because skirts don’t have the separation of legs, there are many more options available for fullness and style.

Skirt Lengths / Hemlines

The bottom edge of a skirt is referred to as the hemline. They can range from incredibly short to extremely long. Sweeping hemlines that drag behind while walking are common on wedding dresses, formal gowns and court dresses. These are often referred to as trains, because they trail behind the wearer when walking.


You'll note the numbering which corresponds to the pattern variable Skirt Length Code within Patternmaker Pro. You can change the length of select skirt patterns with this variable by simply selecting the number you want. 

  • 0 Floor - Skirts can go all the way to the floor and beyond. (Side Leg Length)
  • 1 Full - This is full length, just above the floor. (Side Leg Length less 1.5"/38mm).
  • 2 Ankle - This is also referred to as the Maxi length. These end at the ankle and rest on the foot or shoe. (Ankle Height).
  • 3 Ballerina - This is approximately half way between the midi and ankle lengths. 
  • 4 Midi - This is mid way between the knee and the ankle. 
  • 5 Knee - This will hit just above or below the knee. (Knee Height).
  • 6 Mini - This is half way between the crotch and knee. (Crotch Depth).
  • 7 Micro Mini - This is extremely short and usually includes an undergarment that is meant to be exposed. (Crotch Depth).

If you create a skirt that is longer than you want, it is very easy to crop it at any length you need. Generally, you will need to add a slight curve between the side points at the hem and not cut a straight line across or it will hang strangely.

Hemlines don’t have to be symmetrical. You can have one side higher than the other or the front and back at different levels. They also don’t have to be straight across. Handkerchief hemlines have points all around the hemline and scalloped hemlines are common.


Skirts can have yokes just like pants and bodices. The yoke can be in the front, the back or both. The yoke is typically very fitted to the model and then a full, gathered or pleated skirt is attached. You can create different skirt designs by cutting off the top of one skirt draft and the bottom of another. Then just combine them to make a completely different look.


When a skirt has four or more separate panels, these are referred to as gores. You can have from four to over twelve gores in a skirt. It is very easy to add width to each gore to make the skirt much fuller. You can also add shape to the hemline of each gore, which will repeat around the edge of the skirt. The skirt below is a fish-tail gored skirt. You can see the break and flare around the knee, which creates a shape similar to a fishtail.

Pleated Skirts

Pleats are very common in skirts and the "schoolgirl" pleated skirt is a perfect example. 


Skirt tiers are rows of fabric attached to each other or to a base underskirt. The first tier is typically 1 to 1.5 times as wide as the waist and each subsequent tier is 1.5 to 2 times as wide as the previous tier.

Tiers are easy to make because they are just rectangles. All the tiers can be the same height, or you can vary them. How many tiers a skirt has is completely at your discretion.


A peplum is a single tier or very short skirt that is attached at the waist to a bodice. It’s actually an extension of the bodice and not technically a skirt at all. You’ll find a lot of these in historical clothing.