An illusion skirt performs a cool trick of the eye. By using a lining fabric in your skin tone, your skirt will look like it’s made only from lace. An illusion skirt is provocative without actually revealing anything and is guaranteed to turn heads. Depending on the kind of lace you use, it can look sweet or sultry, dressed-up or casual.
Best of all, it uses a simple A-line skirt pattern that you can create yourself at home. I’ve always found making my own patterns to be intimidating, but even I could manage this one!
For this tutorial, you’ll need 1.5 yards of lace fabric at least 30 inches wide (I used a piece of white eyelet fabric that I’d dip-dyed blue), 1.5 yards of lining fabric in your skin tone (I used gold polyester), a 7-inch zipper in your skin tone, and a hook and eye.
The first step is to measure yourself. Begin by measuring the circumference (that is, all the way around) of the smallest part of your waist. Write down this measurement. Then move two inches down your hips and take that circumference. Do that same thing (measure your circumference, move down two inches, and measure your circumference again) 3 more times, writing down your results as you go. You should end up with 5 numbers of increasing size.
Next, we’re going to do a little quick math. Divide each of your circumference numbers by 4, then add 1. (For example, if your waist is 32 inches, 32 / 4 + 1 = 9). Write down those final numbers on your scratch paper.
Then choose the length for your skirt. I decided to make my skirt 18 inches long, but I’m really short so you may want to choose something like 22 or 24 inches unless you want a mini-skirt.
The next step is to create your pattern. You can use blank pattern paper, newspaper, or any large plain paper. In my case, I used a roll of parchment paper right out of my kitchen! Cut a piece that’s as long as the length of your skirt (18 inches for me) and at least 20 inches wide.
Working carefully with a ruler and a pencil, make a mark every 2 inches down the left side of the paper. Then, straight across from each of these marks, make a dot at each of your 5 measurement numbers. Your smallest measurement should be at the top edge of your paper, then on down the line at each of your 2-inch marks.
So for me, this meant a dot at 7.75 inches along my top edge, then out at 9 inches, 10 inches, 10.5 inches, and 11 inches.
At the bottom of your paper, draw a dot that’s 1 inch wider than your widest measurement. Once you have all your dots, connect them with a line.
Cut out your pattern along your pencil line. Congrats, you’ve just made your own custom skirt pattern!
Fold your liner fabric in half and lay down your pattern piece with the long straight edge against the fold. Cut, then reposition your pattern and cut another on the fold. Repeat the same process (cutting 2 on the fold) with your lace, adding 2 extra inches of length at the bottom so your lace will hang down a little farther than your liner.
Unfold your 4 cut pieces. You should have 2 identical pieces of lining and 2 identical pieces of lace.
Lay one piece of lace on top of one piece of liner (both right-side up), pin, and sew them together along the top and sides. This is to stabilize the liner and lace together to prevent bunching or stretching as you construct your skirt. Use a ½” stitch.
Repeat the process with your other piece of liner and lace. From here on, it’ll be like you only have 2 pieces of fabric: one front piece and one back piece, each one a layer of lace stabilized on a layer of liner.
Finish all bottom edges with a turned-under seam.
With right sides together, lay your front piece on top of your back piece, pin, and sew with a ⅝” stitch. Be sure to leave a 5-inch gap unsewn at the top on one side; this is where we’ll eventually sew in our zipper.
Next, make the waistband. I made my waistband only from my eyelet lace, but if your lace isn’t very strong or substantial, you can add a layer of lining to it. Just cut the same size rectangles from your lining as you do from your lace and stabilize them by sewing them together, the same way we did with our skirt pieces.
Go back to your waist measurement. Not the measurement after you divided by 4 and added 1, just the actual original measurement around your waist. For me, this was 27 inches. Divide by 2 and then add 1.5. So for me, that math worked out to 15 inches.
Cut two pieces from your lace (or lace + lining) that are 4 inches wide and the above number of inches long. So for me, that meant 2 rectangles that were 4 inches by 15 inches.
Fold each of your waistband pieces in half lengthwise and stitch them together at one end, using a zigzag stitch to finish the edge.
Next, pin your waistband to your skirt all along the top edge, matching unfinished edges together. Sew your waistband in place and finish it with a zigzag stitch.
We’re almost done! The last things to complete are the closures.
Finish the raw edges of your skirt’s zipper opening with a zigzag stitch. This means the unfinished short ends of your waistband and the 5 inches you left unsewn along the edge of the skirt.
Once those edges are finished, turn them under and pin your zipper in place. I always try on my skirt at this point to make sure everything looks good before I sew the zipper in.
If everything looks good and fits right, go ahead and sew in your zipper. I also like to add a hook and eye at the top of my zipper so it closes fully.
Finally, turn your skirt inside out and finish the left and right seams with a zigzag stitch.
You’re done! And even better, you didn’t just make an illusion skirt… you made your own A-line pattern that you can use for many projects to come.