Batik Pleated Maxi Skirt
Hello my fellow fabric lovers, I’m Faye a.k.a @thefairstitch. I’m so happy to be here with The Fabric Guys Brand Ambassador squad and sharing my first project today.
When I was first contacted by The Fabric Guys about this opportunity, one thing stood out for me; the range of Indonesian batik they offer. Being Indonesian myself, I’m biased of course, but I do love our batik. I started sewing about 3 years ago, after I emigrated to the UK, and so I never had the chance to sew with Indonesian batik. I’m pleased to say that that has changed. 😉
The word Batik itself comes from two very old Javanese words; ambah which means to write and titik which means dots. Our batik dates back to centuries before the country even existed, back when Indonesia consisted of many kingdoms, big and small. And back then, batiks were the fabrics of the Royals and high class. Batik used to be hand-painted all the way, but nowadays there are more techniques to speed up the process of course, such as printing and stamping.
The Indonesian batik I’m showing you today is from Bali – which is slightly different from the batiks I grew up with in terms of motifs and colours. I was born in Bandung – West Java (also known as Sunda), and each province/region in Indonesia has their own batik characteristics; different motifs and colour palettes, influenced by a mix of the natural world around the area (sea, mountains, flora, fauna), religious beliefs, their own customs and culture.
This batik I was gifted is 100% cotton, medium weight and has a bit of structure, more like quilting cotton I think. But based on my experience with the Indonesian batiks I own, they do get a lot softer with wash and wear. It sews and cuts like a dream! I did prewash my fabric, as you do, and I noticed just how soft it was coming out of the machine. The dye didn’t bleed in the wash, although I would advise to wash it separately at least at first, just in case.
This project brought me so much joy. It really supercharged my creativity and I loved every single minute I spent on it. I didn’t use pattern for my maxi skirt, I wanted to “play designer” with this project. I was inspired by a maxi wax print skirt from Anthropologie and I really wanted to recreate it.
The skirt has continuous waistband with opening in the back, invisible zipper (in contrasting red, because why not 😉 ), and ROOMY in-seam pockets that are actually anchored at the top to the bottom of the waistband/facing so they won’t move to the back of the skirt – my pet peeve when it comes to in-seam pockets. I wanted the skirt to have pleats but to be flat in the centre so as not to look too full around the tummy. I also mirrored it on the back.
To make this skirt you’ll need:
- Bali Batik fabric (I had 3m and it was enough to make the skirt and a matching cropped top).
- Invisible zipper, I used 9”.
- Interfacing for waistband and facing.
- Chalk, fabric scissors, tape measurer, threads.
Because the fabric width is only 44 inches, I was worried it wouldn’t be enough to accommodate the length needed for the pleats so I decided to cut across the grain instead (the selvedge edge being on the top of the skirt and received the pleating treatment). Although, looking back, with the measurements I ended up with, I could totally use the width of the fabrics. Fortunately since my fabric isn’t directional anyway I had the freedom to do either.
First thing I did was squaring off one cut side of the fabric because I’d be working with rectangles and I didn’t want wonky rectangles that are off the grainline. It was very easy and quick because the fabric behaves really well, unlike rayon/viscose that would just slip here and there.
Now, the all-important numbers: waist circumference, desired ease, seam allowance, the desired width for the finished waistband, and finished skirt length plus hem allowance (if your desired length is more than 44” that is). Mine were these:
- Waist 31”.
- Ease 1”.
- SA 5/8”.
- Waistband width 2”.
- Finished skirt length + hem allowance 38” + 1” but as I was cutting across the grain, I ignored this number and went ahead with the full width of the fabric and cut the excess later on.
After I squared off the fabric, I started working on the skirt pieces. I needed 1 front piece and 2 back pieces. What I needed to keep in mind was that the finished front skirt width has to be half of the waist plus ease (in my case, half of 32”, so 16”) plus 2xSA, and each back piece’s width is ¼ of the waist plus ease (8”) plus 2xSA. And then I started working it out on a piece of paper, like on the diagram.
Once I worked that out, I then started marking SA and each inch on the selvedge edge of the fabric, preparing to make the pleats. Once I had the pleats mapped out on fabric, I then cut the rectangle(s). And after that, I started cutting the waistband and facing, and the pocket pieces.
I hope the drawings above help illustrating how I ended up with my waistband and pocket pattern pieces, and how I mapped out the pleats. As you can probably guess, I’m not much of a Photoshop girl, so hand-written notes/drawings will have to do for now.
If you were to follow the diagram, you wouldn’t need to calculate in advance how wide the skirt (front and back) need to be, because you’d be pleating first and cutting once the pleats are all mapped out on the fabric.
And now I was ready to construct the skirt. Here’s my simplified step by step of putting it all together:
- I pinned the pleats on the front and back skirt pieces and basted them in place with long stitches.
- Finished the pocket’s rounded side with zigzag stitches.
- With right sides together (RST), I pinned and sewed each of the pockets to the skirt separately. The top of the pockets are flush against the top of the skirt.
- I stitched the front and back side seams, also the pocket bags. Finished the raw edges.
- Basted the pockets to the front of the skirt at the top.
- Interfaced the waistband and facing, notched the centre.
- Stitched the skirt to the waistband RST, making sure the skirt and the waistband are the same width. Here, the pockets are permanently secured to the front skirt/waistband.
- Finished the raw edges on the centre back, and folded and pressed the seam allowances to the wrong side as a guide for the next step.
- Attached invisible zipper to the back opening.
- Stitched the rest of the centre back.
- Pressed the bottom of the facing by ½” to the wrong side. This is to help me stitch-in-the-ditch later. If you recall, my SA is 5/8”, by folding only ½” means that it was pretty much guaranteed that I’d catch the facing when stitching-in-the-ditch.
- Stitched the facing to the waistband RST from one short edge to the other, leaving the folded SA untouched.
- Trimmed and graded the SA, clipped the corners, and turned the facing to the inside of the skirt.
- From the right side of the skirt, I stitched-in-the-ditch all the way along the waistband.
- Let the skirt hang for a day, because I cut the skirt across the grain I was being careful just in case it stretched. It didn’t.
- Hemmed the skirt.
Et voila! I’ve got a beautiful batik maxi skirt!
Once I finished cutting the skirt pieces, I realised I had enough fabric left for a top, so I decided to make a cropped Gemma tank (pattern by Made by Rae) hacked with facing using burrito method instead of bias finish, and now I have a matching set. I love that I have the freedom to wear both together or separately. I have a tutorial on how I hacked the top on my blog if you’re interested.
I hope this post has inspired you to sew with Batik. If you’re not into this maxi skirt, I created a Pinterest board filled with ideas for sewing batik garment, there you’ll also see the Anthropologie skirt that inspired me to make this one.
Thank you so much for reading, I’m looking forward to seeing you again with my next project/post.