Pencil skirts are really fashionable this year and I want to give you a few hints and tips which will easily turn yours from handmade to designer.
The fabric is Italian Wool and Mohair Fabric
and it is utterly beautiful. A pencil skirt needs a lining and I used this premium Anti-Static Lining
from Minerva. You also need a zip, thread and a small piece of firm interfacing. I used a woven interfacing.
The pattern I chose is the skirt pattern from Butterick B6184. I chose this because it has a high waistline which again features heavily this season.
In this post I am not going to give you a skirt tutorial because after all skirts are simple to make right? - wrong. Well, they are simple but if you are making a pencil skirt the fit just HAS to be right! So that is what this post is about, fit.
First it's tape measures out (there is no skipping this) take your measurements and identify the pattern size closest to your measurements. If in any doubt go up to the bigger size. Don't panic! There are no size labels in bespoke garments and a garment which fits perfectly is utterly flattering.
Now you may destroy your measurements, there's no need to tell anybody what they are.
Now either cut your pattern out or make a copy by tracing it through tracing paper, it doesn't matter which really.
Take a piece of woven fabric, I am using sheeting, and lay your pattern pieces on the grainline specified.
Do not cut out just yet.
We are making a toile or a test garment and we need to make sure that there is enough seam allowance to be able to adjust the pattern to fit our figures.
For example, I know that my waist is not the 26 1/2" shown for size 12 but my hips correspond to that size, so that's the one I chose.
Think about how you will style your skirt. For example if you intend to tuck a top into the skirt you will need to make the waist a bit roomier.
Cut the pattern out but leave a good couple of inches extra fabric at the side seams.
We need to transfer the original seam line from the pattern onto the fabric and I do this with thread tacks. Using tacking thread do a running stitch all along the seam line leaving long loops with every stitch . Snip the loops and pull the fabric gently apart a little bit and snip the thread between the two layers of fabric.
Mark the darts, I used tailors tacks going over the lines with tailors chalk and then tack them together.
Stitch the centre back seam, you can do this by hand or machine, leaving it open above the circle marking the bottom of the zip. Leave the bottom vent open too.
I then tacked the side seams and tried the toile on ready for fitting. My first problem is that the waist is too tight, which I knew it would be. This is pulling the back out of shape too.
Also there is an area on my hip bone where the skirt is too loose.
Tack the side seams again, letting the waist out and taking the hips in and keep doing this until you are happy with the fit.
This is not wasting time, you are going to end up with a skirt which FITS. And not only that you will have a fantastic pattern to use time and time again. This step is well worth the effort ladies, it will save lots of time when you want to make another.
Look at the darts next. This pattern is superb because it has pairs of darts which are immensely flattering.
If you have chosen a different pattern which has single darts on the front and back, then it is worth while dividing the width of the darts and creating two instead of just one.
Also you can take this opportunity of moving the darts towards the side seams if they are in the centre. Moving them slightly away from the centre will once again create a flattering shape.
Once you are totally happy with the fit take the skirt off and lay it on your work surface inside out.
Using a permanent marker, or a felt tip pen - ordinary ones, not ones which will disappear, draw along the new seam line we have just created.
Note this is the seam line and we now have to create a cutting line. To do this draw another line 5/8" away from the seam line.
Cut the garment (Toile) out along this line.
Open the darts and using your marker pen mark the darts.
Mark the centre front.
If you are going to reposition the darts,do it now. I used the original pattern pieces to check that the darts were still correct.
Also make any alterations to the length of the skirt at this stage.
I then cut out the waistband facings using the pattern pieces and the toile to ensure that they would fit the waist exactly.
Press your fabric pieces (Toile) and lay them flat on your work surface. Place tracing paper on top and weight it down, carefully draw over all the pattern markings on the toile, transferring them to the paper. Make sure that this is totally accurate
Ladies you now have a paper pattern (pattern block) for a pencil skirt with fits you perfectly. What's more you also have a toile which you can use whenever you make another skirt.
I like to change my pattern from time to time, for example I might do a vent instead of a pleat, or I might make a pleated vent, the possibilities are endless.
Another point I wish to mention is that the longer your skirt length is the longer your vent or pleat at the back needs to be. This is to give you enough walking room.
Using your new pattern lay it on your fabric and cut it out. Ensure that the pattern pieces are the right way up and mark the right and wrong sides.
Cut the lining out in the same way.
Mark the position of the darts and sew the darts. Press using a pressing cloth.
I know we have just spent a day or so making a toile and from that a new pattern, but please don't forget that you need to keep trying your skirt on as you go.
Stitch the skirt and lining side seams, and then the centre back below the end of where the zipper will go down to the mark for the top of the vent.
Please be aware that the fabric does fray so trim the seams and hems and overlock or finish them in some other way.
Insert the zipper. You can insert it by hand or you can insert a centred zip, a concealed zip or an exposed zip. The choice is yours!
Put the lining inside the skirt wrong sides together, match up the side seams and darts and stitch them together at the top
Iron your interfacing onto the wrong side of your facing. I use some oven liner whenever I am using iron on interfacing to save my ironing board cover! Stitch the side seams and neaten the lower edge of the facing.
Stitch the facing right sides together to the top of the skirt. Clip the seam, press it iron, press the facing to the inside and top stitch close to the top of the skirt.
Stitch the lining onto the zipper tape along the sides of the zip, and in the same way turn the edges of the facings in and stitch them in place too. Make sure that the top is level. You may need to add a hook and eye closure to the top of the skirt.
Decide now if you want a vent or a pleat. I chose a pleat for this skirt, but when I make my next one I will make a vent. The pleat is easy; sew the vent extensions together from the dot, along the top and down the side. Press the vent and tack it together with a big cross at the top to hold it together for now.
All we need to do now is to neaten the hem. I overlocked the bottom of the hem and pressed it up. I stitched the hem in place by hand but another option would be to use your blind hem foot. Pin your lining hem up by a good 3/4" shorter than the skirt. This hem can be machine stitched.
Give your bespoke designer skirt a final press using a pressing cloth. Wear and enjoy the compliments!
I hope that this post is useful to you and that you now know how to work with a toile