Little Black Pencil Skirt

The Little Black Skirt
The Little Black Skirt

Just like the essential LBD, everyone needs a black skirt.  I’ve made this one for Daughter No2 from 1m of black stretch cotton sateen I bought from Fabric Godmother on Boxing Day – what else was I going to do on such a lazy post-Christmas day??  It was in the sale at just a 1m piece, so was only ever going to be a skirt and I had intended to use the Burda pattern I’d used last year for this plaid version.  I decided this one would be lining free, more of a summer skirt.  Possibly not my best decision, I now need to either make a slip, or find some stretch lining.

Burdastyle skirt #120 from July 2012

I used the same alterations I’d used on the previous version, tapering the side seams to make it more pegged, but otherwise the waist fitted really well.  I think I might put some stabilising something or other either in the top or on the waistline, because this stretch cotton does stretch really well.  I don’t want any complaints that it’s moving too much or not sitting properly.  So there might be a strip of grosgrain ribbon appearing at a later date.

DSC09654-1So, lining – as you can see in these photos, the sateen clings to tights, so if Daughter No2 were to wear the skirt now, in the cold weather, she’d be fighting a losing battle to keep the skirt off her legs.  Now I did think of it more as a summer item, needing no lining.  Needless to say, now that the skirt is made, it will need to be worn, so I will have to make a plan.

DSC09652-1In the meantime, I’m happy, she’s happy and I have used up fabric before it’s had a chance to disappear into the stash – it’s a win!

DSC09655-1Talking of fabric…  Daughter No1 is now in her last year as a Textile Design student and has uploaded some designs onto Spoonflower.  Her plan was that loads of people would buy her designs, and she’d have enough money to go travelling for a year to Thailand, Australia and South America in September.  My plan was to print loads out for myself, but I just couldn’t decide which designs to print onto which fabrics, and then there was the waiting time, the cost of postage to the UK and of course, the UK customs tax..  So when the ladies at By Hand London announced they’d be printing custom fabric fabric I thought all my prayers had been answered!  It’s still taken me 3 months to pick a design, but finally last week I bit the bullet and ordered 2m of the “Thread” design.

Thread design by Hauser Prints, printed by By Hand London
Thread design by Hauser Prints, printed by By Hand London

I didn’t order a test swatch first, naughty I know.  The initial design is more grey than the fabric that arrived, this has a blue/green tone to it, but I don’t dislike it.  The fabric is a sturdy, crisp cotton and would stand up well to being a dress with either pencil or full skirt, it has plenty of body.  But I don’t do dresses, so I’m thinking a tailored shirt.  For me!  I just need to draft a pattern.

In the meantime, I am shamelessly going to ask that if you like a design on the Hauser Prints Spoonflower page, that you go ahead and buy some fabric!  Otherwise I’m going to have to fund more of this trip than I’d really like!  You’d be supporting a really good talent (I’m not just saying that because she’s mine) to explore more of the world and hopefully return to us in one piece, fully inspired by all the fabulous places she’s seen and the new cultures she’s experienced.  Then she can knuckle down and get a job in a design studio somewhere and start living her life!

A Dream of a Pencil Skirt

Pencil Skirt #120 from BurdaStyle magazine July 2012

Using up the second piece of fabric from Evie of Pendle Stitches, I love this pencil skirt pattern!  Initially Daughter No2 was thinking a 50s wiggle skirt for this plaid, but wanted something a little more wiggley than is standard in the original patterns.  Instead of drafting something, I had a quick leaf through a couple of years worth of Burdastyle magazines & hauled out a couple for approval.  This is the one that got the nod, it’s 120 from the July 2012 issue.

Technical drawing from Burdastyle
Technical drawing from Burdastyle

It has a high waist and front darts that curve at the waistline to side seam, instead of going up to the waist, and normal back darts.  The other thing that I quite liked was that the centre back seam is not straight, but shaped to the zip stop.  I was hoping this, along with the darts, would make fitting the back better.  As it turned out, there were no fitting issues for the back at all!  Usually there is a degree of “sway back” fiddling to do, but not here.

Matching the plaid
Great darts for a fabulous fit

Because Daughter No2 has a difference of 2 sizes between her waist & hip measurement, I made a toile a little bigger and then re-adjusted the pattern.  So using the 34 on the waist, the skirt had to be graded out to the 38 (or just narrower) at the hip.  There was no way she was going to accept the skirt being the width of the 38 at the hem, so I tapered the side seams back down to the 34.  This gives the skirt a much more of a pegged look.  The other thing changed from the toile was the length.  We shortened it 4cm & took in another 2cm around the hem, 5mm on each seam.

The back fitted really well
The back fits really well

The fabric is 100% polyester, which means static & sticking to tights.  I bought a gorgeous wheat-coloured cupro lining from my local store to counter that & it’s made the skirt sit so nicely too.  Not needing the facing pieces meant no interfacing either, so something needed to be done to stop the top line stretching out of shape.  The interfacing could be applied to the skirt itself, or something without stretch needs to be sewn into the seam when attaching the lining to the skirt at the waistline.  You could use the selvage edge of your lining fabric, or seam tape.  Whatever you chose it needs to be thin – you don’t need added bulk here!  I used some seam tape from my stash, about 1cm wide.  It was also understitched to the lining fabric to ensure no popping over at the top.


I cut the plaid with the dominant stripe down the centre front & placed on the fold of the hem.  So if she wants it longer, or shorter, it’s not happening!


I recon this skirt’s a hit, it’ll be fab for school & won’t really need ironing either!  I think it’s also safe to say there will be another made from this pattern fairly soon, I love the shape & fit just about as much as Daughter No2 does. 🙂

We have still not found a pattern for the butterfly print, but hopefully it won’t take too much longer – it’s not going into the stash!!

Barbara – a 50’s inspired wiggle skirt

So after the catching up, the commercial patterns, the vintage patterns & the founding of my very own little Etsy shop (which has new goodies, btw)………  Back to something this blog was started for –   Patterncutting!!!

Ok, it’s not exactly earth-shatterning, but it’s a start.  As I said before, Daughter No2 is rather taken with the whole vintage thing, and it looks sooo good on her!  She starts 6th form in September (for those of you not in the UK, this is the last 2 years of high school) & the kids don’t need to wear school uniform anymore.  Not that they get to wear jeans & converses either – the new uniform is “Business Wear”.  Now we did this with Daughter No1, I made & bought all sorts of smart clothes, only for her to ditch the entire lot at the beginning of University, because no-one wears that sort of stuff!  Grrrr

Anyway, I digress.  Daughter No2 wanted to start with skirts.  Pencil skirts & wiggle skirts.  I posted some sketches I’d done, & she’d approved a couple of posts ago.  I have done the patterns for two of them, and made one of the skirts in between getting sidetracked & distracted by other shiny new things!

1950's inspired pencil skirts
1950’s inspired pencil skirts

So what we are after are simple pencil skirt shapes, with detail.  These two focus on the pockets.  I’d seen some patterns on Pinterest & Etsy, unfortunately either the wrong size, or already sold, and we decided to see if I could run them up!  We started with the one on the left, which Daughter No2 has called the Barbara skirt.

I used the dart (moved over towards the centre front a bit) as the starting point for the pocket, which also ended up being more curved than the initial sketch.  The skirt is pegged at the hem, I took in 2.5cm on each side seam & the same at the back.  Initially I was going to put a vent or slit at the back to enable walking, but after the toile she decided she didn’t need/want one this time.  How cool would it look with a little godet though??

The pattern pieces for Barbara
The pattern pieces for Barbara

These are the working pattern pieces for the skirt, you can see my adjustments & alterations scribbled all over them.  Once I am happy with the look, fit etc, I trace these off with the required markings so I can see what’s going on, but I always keep the working patterns to keep track of my fiddling!  The skirt sits properly on the waist, with a straight, narrow waistband.

Showing off the pockets
Showing off the pockets

The fabric is a mid-mod inspired print by John Kaldor in cotton with the teeniest amount of stretch.  I bought this aaaages ago, and made a skirt for myself, but had quite a bit leftover!  I decided a contrast pocket band would look good, but didn’t have a piece of black in a suitable weight cotton to match, so went with white.

Barbara skirtThe just-above-the-knee length works quite well.  The proper 50’s length would have definitely necessitated a walking vent, but Daughter No2 didn’t want it that long.

Barbara skirtI love how this skirt shows off her shape, without being too tight & revealing.   It’s quite grown-up!  😀

Barbara skirt with Jacket
Barbara skirt with Jacket

She even chose this skirt to wear on the induction day at the beginning of July, before jetting off to Sardinia with her best friend for 2 weeks.  I know she is looking forward to seeing what else I’ve made while she’s been gone….  I think I may have got sidetracked again & made something else!  Oops!  😀

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