July 28, 2011

back in the fabric (pencil skirt tutorial)

One of the biggest challenges for me living in this city is, believe it or not, the lack of fabric stores. You wouldn't think that would be a make or break kind of thing for a person but for me, it just might be. Craft supply stores I can deal without. Sure it's handy to have an (overpriced but still handily down the bus line a few stops) Michael's. But in the end, craft supplies I can order, fabric, eh, not so much. Yes, I know, you can order fabric, but I'm not a big fan of doing it unless I've already bought the same fabric, or at least the same type of fabric from the same company before. I'm tactile. I like to touch it before I buy it. What can I say?
So it might not surprise you to hear that I brought an entire suitcase of fabric home with me from Missouri, with a good sprinkling of interesting or harder to find craft supplies tucked in here and there. I started out on a mission to find some navy blue wool suiting or twill to make a few uniform dresses for Miss Evelyn. Since her school doesn't have specific dresses/skirts/pants just a color scheme to stick with (navy blue dresses or bottoms, light blue tops) I thought it would be more economical (and fun) to use some of my beloved Oliver + S patterns to make her uniforms. But since I was at the fabric store anyway and had a whole empty suitcase just waiting to be filled, well, I stocked up. So now I'm feeling very fabric rich. I'm not really sure where I want to start. Uniforms? Doll clothes for Eliza? Wool felt wallet? Lisette Tunic?

Maybe just another pencil skirt. Especially since my table is currently covered with various wooden items that I painted with chalkboard paint for work projects leaving me nowhere to cut and pin more complicated patterns.

Remember that pencil skirt I mentioned? Well I love it. I've worn it a gazillion times since that day and picked out some nice kelly green knit while I was fabric shopping specifically to make another. This time around it took me, maybe ten minutes, but most of that was stopping to take photos along the way.

Because it's knit and because knit doesn't fray (remember when I was scared of sewing knits? What was I thinking? I LOVE knits!) this is unhemmed, so you have to make sure your cuts are clean, at least along the bottom edge. It uses the same fold over/yoga waistband that I used with Evie's leggings which makes it very, very comfortable. In fact, now I'm kind of wishing I'd picked up more knit fabric so that I could make a whole rainbow of these puppies.

Super Quick Pencil Skirt

You'll need a little more than a yard of fabric for this. Measure from your waist to just below your knees and then add 14 inches to get an exact amount of fabric. And keep that measurement, you'll need it in a sec.


Wrap a cloth tape measure around the narrowest part of your waist and record that number. Divide it by two. This will be Measurement A (so, my waist was 30 inches, my Measurement A is 15)

Now take that original number and divide by three, this will be Measurement B (Again, my waist was 30 so Measurement B for me was 10)

Finally, think back to that length you took to get your fabric amounts. Natural waist to just below the knee (or where ever you want the hemline to fall) This is Measurement C.

Fold your fabric (right sides together) lengthwise so the fabric stretches across the fold rather than up and down it. You'll need to cut two rectangles. One will be Measurement A by Measurement C, the other will be Measurement B by 12 inches. See below.

Without unfolding, sew along the edge opposite the fold using a zig zag stitch on both rectangles.

Take the smaller rectangle and fold it in half, pulling the inside over, so that the raw edges meet.

Tuck this into the larger rectangle so that the back hems line up. The waistband piece will be much smaller, you want this. You could stretch and pin it before you sew, but for me it was much easier to just stretch as I sewed. Slip the fabric under the foot of your machine and, with a zig zag stitch, sew back and forth over that center hem line a few times. Now, working slowly, pull the waistband out as you sew along the edge. Keep pulling, not overly tight, but pretty firmly, so that the waistband stretches as you sew it to the top edge of the larger rectangle.

When it's done and you turn it right side out, it should look like this.

And that's about it. The waist band is of the fold over variety and you can fold it more or less or not at all to adjust the length of the skirt.

Now, humm, what to sew next.