Totally understand about being self-taught - I only had the basic instructions from a short home ec section in junior high and from there it was trial and error and lots of reading. It's a good/bad thing - on the one hand I run into basic sewing stuff I *should* know, and started my sewing on fabrics uniquely unsuited for beginners (seriously, polyester chiffon for one of my first garments?? what was I THINKING?). On the other, I like that lots of what I do came from figuring out what works and why it works and it helps me sew outside the box a bit. It's hard to be afraid of things like complex construction or going off pattern when you've already taken the huge leap of sewing in the first place.
With that, I'm personally a fan of starting (not necessarily finishing
) with patterns and there are some good ones out there for women of all sizes.This Connie Crawford pattern covers just about all ranges of sizes and, if you've got a Joann's nearby, is absurdly cheap
- Yeah, it's a straight skirt. But (1) straight skirts look better on far more people than they think and (2) it's really easy to modify to an a line once you've got the basic fit worked out. Just cut from hem to waist in two or three places, flare the pieces just a bit, and fill in with tissue paper (or, better, trace, filling in gaps) and you've got an a line that you're sure fits.Nice gored skirt from Simplicity spanning from size 10 to 28
- like CC pattern above, elastic waist for easy construction. Not as easy to mod into a bunch of styles but the gored look is very flattering on a lot of women. McCall's longer aline bias skirt
- one of the few a line skirts for Women I found in my quick search. It looks super easy and it shouldn't be any trouble to find an identical pattern for those under size 18 that you're teaching.
Hope this helps! I'd love to do a skirt rather than an apron in my sewing class but my students keep either getting pregnant or being men (the latter being a pre-existing condition, not one they acquired during class - just to clarify) so we're sticking with aprons.