DIY Pencil Skirt: An Easy Drafting & Sewing Tutorial

Wear with a tucked-in t-shirt and sandals on a casual day, pair with a blouse and pumps for the office, or style it with a sequin top and stilettos for a fun night out. The timeless and versatile pencil skirt is easy to style and oh-so quick to sew. 

This high waisted pull-on skirt features a comfortable full elastic waistband. You can make this skirt as fitted or as loose as you want in your desired length in a knit fabric that has a great recovery with about 25-50% stretch.

But, right now let’s get drafting!

First, we need to take a few measurements – the waist, hips, waist to hips distance, and the desired length of skirt.

Waist – The skirt sits at the natural waist. Your natural waist is the smallest part of your torso and is right below your rib cage. TIP – Try bending to the side, the crease that you see is your natural waistline. 

Hips – Measure around the largest part of your buttocks. You can also wrap and tie an elastic band around your hips to make taking the “waist to hips” measurement easier.

Waist to Hips – This could be anywhere from 7” to 12”. Mine is 9”.

Skirt Length – This measurement is taken from the waist and to where you want the bottom of your hem to hit. 20” to 25” is a great pencil skirt length.   

Select Your Fit and then add, subtract, or leave as is. You can make your skirt as fitted or as loose and comfy as you want. If you are unsure, make it loose and then take in as desired.

Fitted but not tight – If you want a skirt that’s fitted but not too figure-hugging. The skirt below is drafted to my exact body measurements. It is comfortable to move around in and is great for the office.  

Form-fitting – This body-hugging fit is great for when you want to show off your beautiful curves. Subtract 1”-2” from your waist and hips measurements.

Comfy and loose – This fit provides a lot of ease in movement. Add 1-2” to your hips measurement. Since it isn’t so close-fitting, you won’t need to worry about no-show underwear. 

A – B – Length of skirt. (Mine is 23”)

A – C – Waist to hips length (7” to 12”)

A – D – Waist measurement divided by 4 

C – E – Hips measurement divided by 4 

D – E – Draw a curve to connect the points

E – F – Draw a straight line to connect the points

B – F – Connect the points with a straight line

F – G – 1/2”

E – G – Connect the points with a straight line.

A – H – 1/2”. From point H, draw a 1/2” straight line. Then, connect to point D with a curve line. This will be the back skirt pattern.

A – I – 3/4”. From point I, draw a 1/2” straight line. Then, connect to point D with a curve line. This will be the front skirt pattern. 

Now it’s time to add the seam allowances. I added 3/8” seam allowance to the H-D waistline and to the side seam. My hem allowance is 3’4”. Don’t forget to add the hip notch.

To make two separate front and back skirt pattern pieces, place the original skirt pattern on a blank paper. Cut around it along the H-D seam allowance line, then name the new pattern Skirt Back. Now, we will use our original pattern as the skirt front. All you need to do is add a 3/8″ seam allowance to the I-D waistline and cut along the seam allowance.

SUPPLIES: 1. Medium weight knit – 25%-50% stretch. The yardage is your desired skirt length plus a few inches for seam & hem allowance. 2. 1” Wide Elastic – Length of your waist 3. Ball point or Stretch Needle 4. Safety Pin 5. Knit Interfacing – Optional, for hemming

*Always pre-wash your fabric to avoid shrinkage later. Then, press using the correct iron temperature for your fabric before cutting.

Waistband 3 1/4” width, this already includes a 3/8” seam allowance. No matter what size we are drafting, we will all use this same 3 1/4” waistband width measurement. The length will be the same as your waist measurement. Be sure to add 1/4” seam allowance to both ends of the waistband.

1. Fold your fabric. Align the center front of the skirt pattern with the fold of the fabric. Place the front and back skirt patterns on the fabric fold. Then, cut out the pieces. Be sure to mark your hip notches. Also, place the waistband pattern on the fabric fold. Cut out the waistband.

2. Optional Step – Cut 3/4” strips of knit interfacing. Stabilizing the hem with knit interfacing will create a nice and smooth skirt hem. The length of the strips would depend on the measurement of your entire skirt hem.

3. With RIGHT sides together, pin the skirt front to the skirt back, matching the hip notches. Serge/zigzag with a 3/8” seam allowance. Press seam towards the back.

4. With RIGHT sides together, pin the short ends of the waistband together. Stitch with a 1/4” seam allowance. Then press the seams open. Press the waistband in half lengthwise. Pin the waistband to the right side of the skirt waist.

5. Zigzag stitch the waistband to the skirt waist leaving about 2”-3” open to insert the elastic. 

6. Cut your elastic to the exact length of your waist measurement. Attach a safety pin to one end of the the elastic. Then, insert it through the waistband opening. TIP – Wrap some tape around the safety pin to keep it from opening during insertion.

7. Butt the elastic ends and join using a wide zig zag stitch. Zigzag stitch the waistband opening close. Press the seam allowance down towards the skirt. Optional – Serge or zigzag the raw the edges. TIP – use a pin or some fabric glue to keep the elastic ends aligned during sewing.

8. Optional – Apply interfacing to the hem. Press the hem under 3/4”. Use a TWIN STRETCH NEEDLE or a ZIGZAG stitch for hemming. Your sewing machine may come with some other stretchy stitches. Be sure to always do a scrap test first. I highly recommend stabilizing the hem as it will create a smooth and neat finish to the hem.

Give the skirt a good final pressing and that’s it! Until next time…stress less, sew more!

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