I recently took part in a pattern test by Itch to Stitch designs, a sewing pattern brand I have been a tester for, for years. It was easy to jump into this test! Involved were many skirt options and knit fabric, a combination that is irresistible as a HUGE skirt wearer.
The Balboa skirt is not only one skirt pattern, there are 13 views available. They all have a waistband with elastic. There is one for every day and occasion you could think of. Most of the views can be cut on the fold and be also cut on the bias and have center front and back seams.
Bottom weight knit fabrics are recommended for the Balboa skirt and I would evaluate the style of the skirt to pair it with the properties of the fabric.
For the straight and A-line skirts, I would choose a more structured knit like Cotton/Spandex, Ponte, Liverpool and even Scuba.
For the versions with flounces and ruffles, I would prefer a drapier knit like french terry, athletic knits, lighter Ponte and even stretch velvet.
My choices: For the Double flounce and Handkerchief versions I made, my choice is Rayon Spandex (95% rayon, 5% spandex at 5-6oz/sq yd). I know, a little lightweight, but nothing a slip underneath can’t fix. I also made a skirt that is a mashup of the A-line skirt with the Single flounce skirt and chose medium weight athletic knit Suplex that is 100% Polyamide and 8oz/sq yd.
Sizes include 00-20 US with a waist of 40.5″ and a hip 48.25″ as a reference for size 20. The design has zero ease at the waist and about 2″ of positive ease at the hips. The skirt is pull-on and a fabric with 20-30 horizontal stretch should be the minimum stretch needed for the waistband to go over the hips. The waistband has an elastic to fit semi snug at the waist.
Drafted for a height of 5ft6″ and has lengthen/shorten lines to customise length.
Sewing Construction comments
The waistband technique in this pattern is not my favorite. I had sewn it previously on the Lindy petal skirt, a free pattern from Itch to Stitch. I recalled having a RTW skirt with this waistband a few years ago. The look on the outside is clean and flat, but on the inside, it does not look neatly finished. See more details and how to sew it on this video on my sewing YouTube channel.
The technique to join the edges of the elastic together is GENIUS. You don’t just overlap it and zig zag it closed…no. That is ugly and bulky and totally how I’ve been doing it for decades. This new to me way involved cutting a small piece of woven fabric and placing it behind where the edges of the elastic meet and sewing the elastic to the woven fabric. This created a joined area free of bulk that will lie flat inside the waistband.
The hem allowance is 1/2″ and it’s my preferred amount for flounces and curved hems. After finishing the raw edge (I serge mine), sewing close to the edge is instructed. In my experience, a twin needle will cause a nicer look than a straight stitch on the sewing machine. For those who have a cover stitch machine, it’s the ideal way to finish knit hems. I personally would not hem with a straight stitch and while a cover stitch is not on the horizon, twin needles are my friends.
About twin needles: For lightweight knit fabric, like rayon spandex, a twin needle where the distance between the needles is smaller (2.0), will give a flat acceptable result. Using a needle that has more space between them (3.0) may cause tunneling and not a brilliant look. I suggest experimenting with scraps first. You can see the difference between the two twin needles below.
For the main seams, I used my sewing machine with settings for a shallow zigzag, 0.5 width and 2.0 length. I serged the edges with my overlocker. I can’t come to grips with sewing a whole garment just with the serger. The intersections of pieces need precision and the sewing machine is best for that.
Waistband alternative 1:
I mentioned that the waistband technique on the Balboa Skirt pattern is not my favorite, so I used the same waistband pieces from the pattern, sewed them to the skirt leaving an area that was not serged or sewn to thread the elastic through. I joined the elastic as per the pattern instructions before pushing the elastic fully inside through the opening. Once the elastic is inside the waistband, the opening can be serged and sewn closed. Voila. This waistband is neat inside.
Waistband alternative 2: Yoga waistband
My fabric of choice is Cotton/Spandex, 90% cotton, 10% lycra (or spandex, or Elastane) and around the 12-14 oz/sq yd. This waistband is not wide when finished. It has a finished width of approx 1 3/4″.
The piece is 4.5″ tall by the length comfortable for you, usually 3-4″ smaller than your waist measurement. This piece will be smaller than the waist of the skirt and will act as a waistband AND elastic in one go,
The waistband will have only one seam. I put this seam on the center back for two reasons: its discreet and helps me see where the back is. It’s easy to get confused with what is the front and the back and I don’t use labels on my garments.
After sewing the waistband seam, fold lengthwise onto itself wrong sides together. Mark quarter points on the skirt and waistband and unite them with pins. *Note: the sides seams of the skirt are not quarter points because the front and back pieces of the skirt have different widths*
Slide the skirt inside the waistband. The skirt waist will be longer than the waistband.
Stretch the waistband slightly to match the skirt waist underneath while serging it together. After serging, I sew on the machine with the zig zag settings mentioned above.
Lets see them all!
Double flounce Balboa skirt in blue rayon spandex
I am a print addict and had to force myself to make a solid blue skirt. There are plenty of matching tops in my wardrobe, so I convinced myself to make a blue one. The fabric is rayon spandex and light, hard to cut and manipulate, BUT drapes beautifully for this style. I sewed the waistband technique in the Balboa skirt pattern instructions but will end up removing it and replacing it for “Alternative 1” mentioned in this post.
I needed to lengthen the skirt. I am 5ft8″ and taller than the drafted height of this brand (5ft 6″). A 2″ change is typical for me. I opted to use the hip shorten and lengthen line on the top tier shown above to add the length. The pattern instructions mentions adding on the hem of the bottom flounce, and that is ok too. The later method adds even more width to the pattern piece and I am always working with limited fabric amounts.
For each tier, the side seams are sewn first and then attached on the round to the next tier. The intersections of these areas need precision and sewing with the machine is important for me to achieve this.
This blue skirt will go a long way in my wardrobe! This fabric light and clingy, so a slip is a MUST.
Then there is the typical, and no thought required look with black.
Scraps together for a unique Double flounce Balboa Skirt
This next one is also the double flounce version, only this time with different fabrics, all rayon spandex scraps that were not enough to make whole garments with. I played with “toddler type” sketching to decide on the combinations for the three tiers. I added a yoga waistband to this skirt, the method described above.
The red on the bottom has a reason for being there. If I want to wear this skirt with a red top and the tones of red aren’t identical, it will be less noticeable, because the fabrics won’t be touching each other and there would be an acceptable distance between them.
Using a black top makes it seem like it’s a dress with a dropped hip style…. this would not be my first choice color combination.
Now this is the reason I opted to leave red on the bottom flounce. The red Harmony blouse from Love Notions (See video about this project HERE) is not the same tone of red, but it’s not too noticeable.
I match the stripes on the side seams to form chevrons, and this is the precision a sewing machine can achieve and a serger can’t do very well. Therefore, I sew and serge my seams.
Handkerchief Balboa Skirt
The handkerchief skirt is the easiest to sew. Only a front and a back. The “points” in the center front and back are hemmed with mitered corners neatly. I chose my best print rayon spandex in tropical print, but red, blue and light grey. I sewed the waistband “alternative number 1“, posted above.
I like the volume on this design. Not too much, just enough. The flowy sensation of wearing this skirt is amazing. This is the Harrison shirt from Cashmerette, that I made with short sleeves and use like a little jacket (Video about this project HERE), on top of a camisole.
I played with a casual look too and grabed a grey tank top with my Atenas denim jacket and grey booties.
Mash up: A-line skirt + Single flounce skirt
I used the front piece of the A-line skirt and the back of the single flounce skirt and mash them together. The back will have an extra detail and extra “swoosh”. Both versions have the same length on the side seams, so this mash was very easy to sew.
Because this skirt has less volume than the others I made, I chose a slightly heavier athletic suplex knit that is 100% Polyamide and drapes beautifully. The print is also very cheerful. This is a winter look for me.
I have also paired this skirt with a white linen top and chunky heels. I think this skirt will go a long way in my wardrobe and love the discreet flounce only in the back.
This was quite the post! If you would like to see many sewing aspects mentioned in this post, along with the skirts on my body in action, you can see the video available on my sewing channel.
I think you’d love this pattern and we can make many skirts from this one pattern. My next goal is to find the right stripe knit to make a bias-cut style with chevrons.
DISCLAIMER: I was provided the pattern without cost, as a pattern tester, in exchange for sewing a muslin, providing feedback on instructions and fit. I Purchased my own fabrics for all these skirts.
I have affiliate links in this post to the pattern company and the pattern. If you click on these links, at no cost to you, I receive a small commission that helps finance my sewing, blog and Youtube channel.
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