Sewing Indie Month: A tutorial from Maria Denmark!

Back with another instalment of Sewing Indie Month madness and do we have a treat for you! Maria of Maria Denmark Patterns is here to pay us a virtual visit and show us all her ingenious technique for disguising the old, ahem, pot-belly in a closely fitted garment, using our super snug Charlotte Skirt to demonstrate. Take it away Maria...!

I love me a good pencil skirt!

And when I was paired with By Hand London in the Sewing Indie Month, I knew I wanted to make the Charlotte skirt. It’s beautifully designed and drafted with awesome darts that angle and accentuate the curves (which I, sadly don’t really have that many of, so I like to pretend that I do).

I have what you would call a pot-belly if I were a toddler.

Which I’m not, so sometimes people call it a full tummy instead (but that sounds to me like I’ve just had too much to eat, so I go with the pot-belly – in Danish ”top-mave” - instead! ).

Sometimes it’s more full than other times – especially for about a week each month – and it’s often bigger in the evening than in the morning.

Do you know what I’m talking about? (BHL - Ummm yes we do!) Well let me illustrate..

See? The skirt might fit over all, but the fabric in the front seems to cling underneath my tummy, accentuating it.

Which is NOT what I need.

I know this is a common issue, because every time I teach one of my Skirt fitting or Trouser fitting workshops, several students have the same issue. And also I’ve noticed so many pictures of tight skirts with exactly this issue. And I will just say, that this method also works if you have a larger full tummy than I do – you’ll just spread the tissue more, then.

For some time I avoided wearing tight skirts or trousers (or indeed, wore them, but made sure my top was long enough to cover it up) but actually it’s quite simple to do something about.

What we want is to give the skirt more width and length to make it fall freely from the tummy. The tummy doesn’t go away with the alteration (if only it was so easy…), but I don’t accentuate it anymore.

Now I’d like to show you how you can fix this fitting issue!


This can be done in tissue or in a toile. I actually usually determine this with my students in tissue, but for this one I made a cotton toile, because it’s easier to see for you guys.

You want to look for where the tummy starts bulging out – you can often spot it by the drag lines that radiate out like a sun.

In my case it begins just above the hip line.


On the toile, I cut along the hipline, until I was past the tummy, then angled up to the corner, and let the fabric fall. The amazing thing is, that the fabric then actually shows me how much I need to spread. It simply falls down into place, and lets me insert a fabric scrap underneath, which I can then measure, to see how much I need to spread on the tissue (I had also opened the side seams a bit, which you can see in the piocture. That wasn’t necessary, though, so I ended up closing them again).

Here’s how it looks in tissue:

Draw a line on the tissue where the tummy started on the toile. Cut along the line, then angle the cut up to a corner.

To make the tissue spread the same way as the fabric in the toile, and still lay flat, I also have to cut down along a dart and let it spread out (or you could use both darts, if you like). The extra amount of tissue in the dart(s) will be removed, when you sew the darts.

Spread the tissue the amount you need, and slip some scraps of tissue underneath, and tape them in place (or do what I did, and just place the pattern on a new sheet and tape it in place.)

Now there is extra width at the centre front, and you just draw the new centre front continue straight down (meaning you are getting more width all the way down.)

That’s it – now all you have to do is to sew the skirt up!

See the difference from the toile?

I should mention that I started with a size UK10 at the hips (for my 38” hips) , and then merged into a size UK12 at the waist (my waist is 29½”, but I don’t like to merge more than one size up or down).

Besides the pot-belly alteration, I also narrowed the front darts to give me more room at the waist, and also made a full butt alteration (but that’s another tutorial). I shortened the skirt by 8 cm (partly because the longer length looked  wrong on me, and partly because had I gone with the longer length, I’d also have to make room for my extended calves)

Thank you girls, I look forward to seeing – and sewing - more of your patterns!

(Oh, and Knirke wants to say Hi!)


Maria, thank you so much for this! Another neat alteration trick in the tool box! We're loving your indie pattern outfit combo too - our Charlotte Skirt so perfectly set off by your Day-to-Night Drape Top, and of course, what sewist's outfit would be complete without a mascot kitty?!

  • Elisalex de Castro Peake
  • Charlotte Skirtladies we lovetutorial

Comments on this post ( 11 )

  • Oct 30, 2014

    This is genius!! :) I MUCH prefer slim skirts on me and this is a lovely trick to get it hanging properly rather than pulling in areas we don’t want emphasized haha __ Thanks for this! :)

    — Amanda

  • Jun 08, 2014

    Wow. I can actually see the adjustment clearly on your toile. Thank you so much! It makes so much more sense now and I have ready several fitting books trying to figure this out. Seeing it done here helped tremendously. Thank you

    — Judi

  • May 29, 2014

    I totally understand the pot belly thing. Thank you for this tutorial. It’s awesome!

    — Beth

  • May 27, 2014

    Ahh, what a great alteration! I’m always trying to get everything molded around every curve, but this makes for a much nicer fit! Thanks for sharing, Maria!

    — Ginger

  • May 26, 2014

    Love this and fantastic tutorial for those of us who have that post caesarian shelf. Think the fabric for both skirt and top is also fab – what is it?

    — Jayne

  • May 25, 2014

    Thank you so much for this..I have exactly this problem and have been wondering how to make my skirts look better.

    All the best.

    — Stephanie

  • May 24, 2014

    AMAZING! You just rocked my whole world, Maria …. pot-belly be gone :) YAY!

    — Alanna Jane

  • May 24, 2014

    thank you for this !

    — Janet

  • May 24, 2014

    Thanks so much for this – this has been my problem since I was a teenager! After having children too, my tum was the same but larger. I have always avoided pencil skirts for precisely this reason, despite being an hourglass shape (but voluptuous) otherwise. I shall be bold enough to try the technique now.

    — Gillian Sutherland

  • May 24, 2014

    Thanks, this is brilliant! I haven’t worn a pencil skirt with top tucked in for years because of my tummy problem. I will keep this solution in mind for sewing myself a pencil skirt!

    — erin

  • May 24, 2014

    Oh my goodness that is genius! I made my first Charlotte with fabric with a bit of stretch and that seemed to mould over the bumps OK. However my second one in red wool turned out to be far too tight across the tum. I’ll give your adjustment a go, thanks!

    — Helen Siddon

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