Saturday, 8 August 2015

Checkered Pencil Skirt

 I finally finished my first pencil skirt. I am really happy with it, and am already planning on making a lot more.

First, the fabric. The shell is a lovely soft wool. The checks are black and royal blue. I bought it very cheaply from one of those garage sale pages on Facebook. I only had just enough for the skirt, which did necessitate some creative hemming. The lining is made from a black petticoat my grandma gave me to use. It feels really nice, but the fabric also frays a lot.

The pattern is Vogue 1989, one of those wardrobe pattern collections. It has a double darted pencil skirt, with a slit that I redrafted into a vent, using this really helpful tutorial. I also used this to line the skirt. I was quite concerned on getting this right, so spent a lot of time researching different tutorials on the web. I ended up settling with this one as it seemed the most clear and straightforward. Luckily I got it in first go.

I cut a size 16, no alterations. It took a lot of muslins to work out the correct size. 14 was too tight and 18 much too loose. Three muslins later I found the right size. This was mostly to do with wanting the skirt to feel comfortable. I love the shape of pencil skirts, but I didn't want one too tight, especially as I always tuck in my shirts. It's a good fit, and it's an incredibly comfortable skirt to wear. I think I certainly have a TNT pattern here. I already have another cut in a beautiful purple wool, and am sure there will be a number more.

Onto construction details; first the zipper. I am not entirely happy with it, but am leaving it as is, as all is sturdy, and looks good from the outside. I handpicked the zipper, but sewed donwn the waistband first. In hindsight I should have sewn zip, thn folded the waistband over. It would have given a much neater finish, and I would have been able to use the lining to enclose the entire zipper. Oh well, live and learn.

I got the checks to match incredibly well, but forgot to get a photo. It even impressed my grandmother. She was a professional seamstress, and is very pedantic about things matching. So it was a very high compliment.

Even though my lining went in properly the first time, there is a bit of puckering. This is a cutting fault, not a sewing on, the fabric slipped a little as I was cutting, and I did not have anymore to cut a replacement. It doesn't bother me though.

When it came to hemming I was originally planning to urn up the wool, and hem it to the lining with bias binding covering the raw hem. I couldn't afford to lose any length though, as I like my skirts to fall at the knee. I finished the hem instead with very wide bias tape. Again, not entirely ideal, but next time I will ensure I can get the length right so I can finish it off neatly.

Besides these small flaws, I am incredibly happy with this skirt. I intended it to be a learning curve, and it certainly was. Whilst a pencil skirt itself is not hard to sew, it was trying all these new techniques and details that really made this a good project. I am. now imagining a whole wardrobe of lined pencil skirts, both summer and winter.

Quick note about my red shoes. These heels go with absolutely everything, and are so comfortable I can wear them all day. I was also wearing this outfit with my red coat, but had taken it off for photos.

Has anyone else had any good projects lately that taught you a lot about sewing?


  1. Congratulations on completing your first pencil skirt! It's a really pretty, classic one and I suspect that you'll get oodles of wear out of it.

    Pencil skirts are a major wardrobe staple for me, especially from fall to mid-spring. Toss a pair of tights underneath and sweater or blouse and blazer on top and I'm set to tackle those famous Canadian freezing temps, no problem - okay, with boots and a heavy coat, too, natch! :)

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thanks Jessica! It's lovely to play around with a different silhouette as most of my winter skirts are plaid pleated skirts or kilts

  2. It's always a good thing to try something different and even better when it works out.

  3. Great work, this is a real classic that you'll wear for many years to come. Great shoes too. I love red shoes.