Black pencil skirt and a learning curve

Not the most ground-breaking make but as usual, there is a continued method in my madness!

I have hundreds of really lovely vintage and modern dressmaking patterns and a serious desire to make and wear each one but every so often feel like I’m winging it too much. For sure I get there in the end and it looks great for the camera but as the maker, I know what secrets lie inside!

So I need to rehearse skills on basic garments such as this pencil skirt to improve technique and reassure myself that I am still improving!


I really enjoy going back to the drawing board sometimes, quite literally! The pattern for this skirt is one I drafted back in August 2012. But I have made quite a few adjustments since then, which I really like, and I think make for a better fit.

  • I moved the darts apart slightly on the front.
  • I lengthened the skirt to below the knee (ooo get me and my bravery!)
  • I tapered the skirt by about 2 inches either side for a more pencilled effect.
  • I added a waistband.
  • I included a PROPER vent including mitred corners!
  • I made a much better job of the lining and learned how to line the vent.

What I should also have included:

  • a hand-picked zipper
  • more overlap on the waistband to add a button along with the hook and bar.

On the subject of hook and bar, even that was a revelation. I first used hook and eyes thinking they would suffice. But they really didn’t! They kept coming undone it wouldn’t be too long before they bent out of shape. So I dutifully replaced them with a sew on hook and bar. It’s much better but even though I sewed it in from the edge of the overlap, it still shows, so I need to set it back a bit further.


Nearly didn’t make the effort to do a mitred corner on the vent, but jolly glad I did. Before hemming I sewed the lining, right sides together all the way down the vent edges. Before hemming the skirt outer fabric I carefully unpicked the thread using the eye end of a needle. I used that loose thread to sew invisible stitches to attach the remaining lining once I’d trimmed and hemmed it. Such a neat trick! (And a great excuse to show off my mitred corner!)

vent lining

Interfaced waistband and hem using a lovely woven fusible interfacing. Nice and sturdy. Just the ticket!

Interfaced waistband and hem

I didn’t scrimp on the fabric for this skirt. I think you can afford to be a bit more frivolous when you only need a meter of fabric to play with. So I bought some quality British wool and boy does it feel good. A dream to sew up too.

I’m anticipating some questions on lining the vent, and I am really sorry I haven’t included it this time. A combination of no step by step photography and a serious lack of remembering exactly how I did it myself! I know it wasn’t that difficult and I hope to bring that part to you on the next one I make. And I will be making more because it was my original mission to make and own a pencil skirt for every day of the week. Different colours and styles. That would be so cool and not too unachievable!

Mr Ooobop! was of course, my lovely photographer for this and most posts.
Shoes by Vivienne Westwood… oh yes!
Top hand made peasant top that I didn’t get round to blogging!

40 Replies to “Black pencil skirt and a learning curve”

  1. Love those mitred corners; very smart looking indeed! Sometimes it is definitely worth making a basic garment really, really nicely! Your new skirt looks beautifully made and looks to fit like a dream.

    1. Thanks Mrs! That would be a great idea. I might have a search online. My little market lady only had this kind. There is a no sew one too which I must seek out.

  2. Gorgeous! I’m rather impressed by your mitred corner – very nicely done. 🙂

    (And, as per usual, I want your shoes!!)

    1. Thanks Kat… so am I, lol!! Shoes are gorgeous, quite old now but only ever worn indoors. I tried once but couldn’t make it as far as the tube before I had to hail a cab. Needless to say I sat down at the party all night!

  3. Ooobop! You look marvellous! AND THOSE SHOES!!! Your pencil skirt is gorgeous and the lining is so adorable. Good on you for drafting your own pattern and tweaking the fit – that will be resource for you for years to come! And thank you ever so much for you tute on mitring corners. I’m thinking of putting a vent in my cambie, so this will come in mighty handy. Great photos, complements to Mr. Ooobop! Love your red lippy too!

    1. Thanks so much Kat. The lining was one of my best finds in a charity shop. Who would have given that away?! I do have to think what I’m doing each time I mitre a corner but essentially its very very easy and to great effect!

  4. beautiful mitred corner. Impressive.
    You might wish to consider doing a hand stitched loop instead of an eye in your hook and eye, some time, they can be double whipped and are less liable to undoing themselves, also you can, very gently, squeeze up your hook, with a pair of pliers, to make it more secure – lessons learnt on tutus!

    and that is a lovely lining fabric, too!

    1. Thanks so much Mammafairy. I think you might be right about the loop and button. MercuryHandmade suggested that to me too. And yes… good reminder. I really need to get me a pair of small pliers!

  5. Your skirt block turned out really well! It really suits you are that length as well. I just learned to do the vent lining as well and it isn’t as hard as it seems once you get your head around it. And Yay for nice British wool! Very jealous 🙂

    1. Thank you Alaamelia. I do like this length. Tempted to take it an inch longer next time too! I agree the vent lining wasn’t that tricky and I’m so happy I did it. Will try and take step by step photos next time 🙂

  6. A luscious creation! The mitred hem, invisible stitching and fabulous fabrics,.bar and clip, vent …purr….must feel as good as it looks! I totally toast your of a collection of pencil skirts! I made 7 of them 2 years ago when I first retuned to sewing and still wear every one of them regularly…however, know that I know a bit more about finishes and seeing your beautiful result …I am going to make more!

  7. You look great in that length. Quite brave you are!!! I’m looking to try my hand at a fitted sheath dress to try to improve my sewing skills. I’m usually pretty cavalier when sewing, but I need to be more precise for this project and I’m a little nervous about it.

  8. Gorgeous! I’m a big BIG fan of deceptively simple garments because they show off the quality of workmanship so much better: your lining, the details, everything is just perfect here, and it’s definitely a big BIG win 😀 Love the shoes too 😉

  9. Love this, fancy making me a 1950’s all black wiggle dress? Off the shoulders and below the knee, added boning on the ribs would be lovely too… if you are up for the challenge talented lady! 🙂
    Kudos for the sexy poses too during this shoot! hehe! x

  10. Pingback: Old throw, new skirt | ooobop!

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