Guest Post: Maddie from Madalynne

With us today is Maddie from Madalynne to talk with us about a pattern making technique called ‘slash and open’. Maddie writes a fantastic blog about fashion, design, and sewing. If you are interested in pattern making, you really must check out her tutorials on drafting a bodice block (part 1part 2, and part 3). She also has my dream job as a technical designer for Anthropologie! I was beyond thrilled when she agreed to do a guest post and even more excited when she proposed the topic. Like Maddie, I love slashing and opening and use it frequently when making patterns. Most recently, it was used to create the gathers in the peach blossom top and the fullness in the cherry blossom top. There’s really no end to what you can create with this simple technique. Please help me to welcome Maddie to A Good Wardrobe!

Slashing and opening creates a few of my favorite things in life – ruffles, flounces, flares, and fullness. My favorite piece in my wardrobe is a blue skirt I made four years ago (it’s the blue skirt in the photo above). It’s dark blue and hits at that sweet spot just above the knee. Circular cut and made of the lightest wool, it moves so sinuously as I walk. When I twirl, it twirls with me and when I sway from side to side, so does the skirt. But my favorite part of the skirt are the cream-colored and silk pleated ruffles peeking out from the bottom. It’s just darling, it truly is and the entire skirt, aside from the waistband, was drafted by slashing and opening.

Slashing and opening is the process of cutting into a pattern and spreading it open to add or to transfer width or length. It’s a simple technique and is used for many pattern drafts and alternations. Ruffles are created when a pattern is slashed and opened through the entire width or length of the pattern. Flares and flounces are created when a pattern is slashed and opened at one point and tapered to nothing at another point. For the sake of preventing this post from turning into a textbook, I will limit my scope to slashing and opening to transform a block, pencil, or any straight skirt into a flared skirt.

When slashing and opening to create a flare, there is one key principle that must be noted. The width that is added to create the flare must be added at several points and not all at one point. If the pattern is slashed and opened and all the additional width/flare is added at one point or if the all the additional width/flare is added at the side seam, the finished garment will have one large flounce as opposed to many flounces throughout the entire skirt. I don’t think you want one large flare on your skirt, now do you?

With that said, now we can get started.

Using your block, pencil, or straight skirt pattern, draw several (at least 2 or more) vertical lines from waist to bottom opening. There really is no formula or right number to calculate the number of lines to draw. I have drawn 2 lines and I have drawn 6 lines; it all depends on the particular pattern and the amount of width/flare to be added. The way I determine the number of lines to draw is to find the number that divides into the amount of width/flare to be added evenly. If 6” of width/flare is to be added, I draw 3 lines and open the pattern 2” at each point. If 12” of width/flare is to be added, I draw 3 lines and open the pattern 4” at each point. Also, make sure that the lines drawn are evenly distributed at the waist as well as at the bottom opening, even if that means the lines become angled near the side seam. Once the lines are drawn, slash/cut the pattern along the lines and spread the pattern open the desired width and the bottom opening, tapering to nothing at the waist. Lastly, true the bottom opening curve (TIP: When truing, butt the front and back skirt patterns together at the side seam and make sure the bottom hem transitions smoothly from front to back ((or vice versa)) and that the point where the side seams meets the bottom opening is at a right angle. If this point is not a right angle, the skirt will point up or down when it is sewn).

That’s it. That’s all! You got yourself a flared skirt!

I’ll end with… thank you my most darling and dearest readers. It’s been a lovely pleasure.


27 Responses to “Guest Post: Maddie from Madalynne”

  1. I’ve always wanted to know how to do this. Thanks so much for this explanation!

  2. That’s really helpful! Thanks for explaining it all so clearly. Now I want to give it a try!

  3. This is very well illustrated and explained! When I worked as a TD, the factories overseas always made the flared skirts in the wrong way-all the flare at the side seams! So frustrating when the correct way is so beautifully simple! Great post!

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed.

    Alexandra… I too am a TD by day and this is a common and very noticeable problem. We’re always telling the vendors/manufacturers to correct this simple mistake. Frustrating!

  5. This makes a ton of sense, especially since I’m starting to learn about slash and spread for pattern alterations regarding fit; it’s essentially the same thing only done for style rather than fit 🙂

    I love your blue skirt btw; it’s very charming and sweet 🙂

  6. If you laid the two final patterns on top of each other, how would they differ? Maybe I’m just terrible at visualization, but it seems like they would create the same pattern. I’m confused!

    • It is confusing, Carey! Don’t worry. When I was first taught this in school I thought it was magic because I just couldn’t understand how the patterns differed. One way that they are different is the curve at the waistline. If you were to add just at the side seams and taper towards the waist, the waistline curve would stay the same. When you slash and open though, you are creating a more pronounced curve at the waist which changes the grainline across the pattern. This, in turn, creates the drape you see.
      Does that make sense? I’m sure Maddie can explain better if not!

      • Carey, I didn’t understand this at first and for a long time, I made the mistake of adding all of the fullness at the side seam. The pattern pieces will not the same. An easy way to understand this is to draw a skirt pattern (mini-style) on two post-its. One one post it, add the fullness at the side seams and then cut out mini-pattern. On the other post-it, slash and open as shown in the diagram and then cut out this mini-pattern. After, lay the two mini-patterns on top of each other. They won’t match. The mini-pattern that was slashed and opened will “smile” at the waist and bottom opening while the other mini-pattern won’t.

  7. Yay, I love this just because of one thing. You GET that a well presented diagram is worth a thousand words! Seriously, someone could go on all day about this concept and I might not get it- but a diagram is so wonderful 🙂 Thanks for this tutorial!

  8. Great post! I’ve totally been guilty in the past of just redrawing the side seam! Haha! Learned that lesson the ugly skirt way…

  9. I love this! Thanks for posting, Maddie! Can I ask a dumb question? What is the best way to eliminate waist darts in this example? Do you just slash at the dart line and spread them apart enough that it closes up the dart?

  10. Oh. How. I. WISH. i could jump in my time machine armed with this knowledge and redrape a dress i just finished. ARGH.

    this is so excellent! thanks maddie and lizz! i’m off to check out maddie…

  11. Genius!! Something so simply, but effectively explained! Ask me how I know that the second method does not work??

  12. All of your comments have made my Friday sparkle. Thanks 🙂

  13. What fantastic information. I love not only learning how to alter patterns, but WHY a change will create a certain result. Thanks for the wonderful information, this is definitely being saved!

  14. Thanks for a great post! This makes all the sense in the world and I’m looking forward to trying it!

  15. I have to try this. I think flared skirts suit me more than pencil skirts.


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