Sewing together this New Year: Easy Pencil Skirt
- An Kesenne
Do you make new year's resolutions? Maybe spending more time doing the things that make you happy? Sewing for example? I read somewhere that sewing is good for your happiness, for your self esteem and for connecting.
Connecting online on instagram or in facebook groups is very popular these last few years. A lot of people are sharing what they are making. It’s very inspiring, sometimes too inspiring for me. My list of things I want to make becomes longer and longer, no time to do it all :-). But it doesn’t make me unhappy, it makes me inpatient. I wish I could do it all faster and spend even more time in my sewing room!
Since I started sewing for myself I buy less clothing but I buy more fabrics, so I don’t think sewing is less materialist than shopping, but sewing is so much more than the momentary high you get from buying something new. You learn, you built new skills, you gain competency… and all that has an effect on how you feel about yourself. It’s not just about ‘the things you own’. I’m not showing off my fabric stash. I’m showing off the things I make.
Sewing gives you the opportunity to create a community with like-minded people. We can ask questions, discuss problems, cheer each other on and inspire each other with all our projects. And it connects generations! Who learned from their mothers or grandmothers and is teaching her/his children or grandchildren? Passing on traditions is not only important for the tradition of sewing itself but for me too because I know how rewarding this hobby can be for yourself, for your own happiness.
So,... Pass it on! Give someone the gift of finding out how much fun it is to sew and make something you can wear or decorate your house with!
Two weeks ago, I spent a lovely sewing day with my sister in law, making a simple skirt together. We started from a pattern from Fibre Mood, the PINA dress. It’s a really easy pattern. We chose PINA I, no zipper. And along the way we altered the pattern and made it even easier. PINA 0 :-))).. The Pina I without the slit. (link to the pattern at the bottom of this post)
We met up at a local fabric store in the morning and bought a soft heavyweight sweatshirt fabric in a lovely indigo blue. The material is a soft and thick knit you would buy for a sweater or sweatpants. Right side is a smooth jersey, with plush on the inside and it has a nice stretch.
Besides the fabric, you need matching threads and an elastic for the waist band. We used the MadamSew fantastic elastic. And for the tools, you need a sewing machine, scissors, pins/clips, a double needle, a serger or an overcast foot, and a fabric marker.
In this post I take you along the different steps for making a garment from a magazine pattern. So this might be interesting for those newby’s among you. For the more experienced ones I detailed the part about the waistband and made a separate video to explain the way I assemble a casing waistband with an elastic that you can access and adjust whenever you want.
Prewash the fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the fabric to dry and iron any creases before cutting. We didn’t prewash the fabric as we had our goal set to finish the skirt in 1 day, but you should ;-)
Choose your size and figure out which lines you will need to follow for your pattern. You can mark the guides with a red pencil if you want.This will make it easier to follow the dashed lines.
1. Trace the pattern.
As it’s a pattern from a European magazine, there are several patterns on one pattern page so I never cut the original. You can buy the pattern separately as a PDF. Then you don’t have this problem of course and you can cut your PDF. A friend of mine gave me a great tip, she prints the PDFs on tracing paper. Easier to match and to pint the pieces to your fabric!
I like to leave the original pattern intact. I use tracing paper and just copy the size I need. Don’t forget to copy all the marks and write on every piece the name and size of the pattern you are drawing.
2. Cut out the different pattern pieces.
3. Tape the different pieces together. Sometimes it’s a real puzzle. For this pattern you just have 4 big pieces (2 times 2) and 1 strip for the waistband.
4. Trace the pattern on the fabric.
Positioning the fabric in the right way is important. Fold your fabric in half, selvedge to selvedge which is the neat edge of the fabric. Where the instructions say to place the paper pattern on the fold of the fabric, place the paper section right up against the fold and pin in place.
Follow the layout guide found on the paper pattern instructions, these will show you how to position the paper pattern on the fabric depending on the width of your fabric.
When laying out a pattern piece there’s a line called the grain line, which has to run parallel with the grain of the fabric. To make sure the paper pattern is in the right position, use a tape measure to measure that the line is the same distance from the fold of the fabric all the way along.
Most European patterns do not add the seam allowance so remember to add seam allowance when you trace the pattern to your fabric. We added ¼” and used a little seam gauge to do this.
Don’t forget to transfer all the markings of the pattern with your fabric marker or use the old fashioned tailor’s tacks. I added a link to a great post about this really easy technique at the end of this post.
I also mark the corners. It helps to pin the pattern pieces together.
6. Cut out the fabric pieces. Good fabric scissors are indispensable! If your pattern pieces are not too big, or you have a really big cutting mat, you can use a rotary cutter as well.
7. Pin the front piece to the back piece, right sides together. In the picture you see that we already finished the edges with the overcast foot. In the original pattern there is a slit and at this point we still thought we were making the Pina skirt with slit. Without the slit you can finish the edges later in the process.
8. Now you can move to your sewing machine. I snapped on my ¼” quilting foot with guide because I find it a great tool to sew a straight seam. And it really worked well for Isabel. Sew the 2 side seams together at 1/4”. If you have drawn a bigger seam allowance, you need to sew further from the edge.
9. Now, try it on for a fit. Ouch, we cut it too big and had to take the skirt in. Use pins first, then, baste the line with needle and thread and stitch over the baste line
10. Finish the edges with a serger or use the overcast foot and an overcast stitch. The side seams can be finished together. Don’t do this with the bottom seam :-). If you want to use the color of the fabric, I find an overcast foot a nifty little tool. It doesn’t cut your fabric but it finishes like a serger and with the guide it’s easy to stay on the edge.
11. Time to attach the waist band. There are several techniques for waistbands. This one is a separate stitched-on casing waistband. It is one of the more easier techniques. The elastic is not stitched to the waistband and you can adjust the elastic whenever you want because you have an opening to access it. Some people are a little irked by the exposed seam on the inside, but for a first-time-skirt this is a perfect solution.
This drawing helps to understand the steps to make a separate waistband. You start from a strap (A)
Form a ring: (B) Sew the 2 short ends (1) together at ½” seam allowance, right sides together. Sew a little beyond the center point and leave a 3/4“ opening where you will insert the elastic. Backstitch firmly at the start and the end of the opening.
(C) Press the seam allowance open.
Turn the the waistband to the right side and fold the fabric in half, lengthways.
(D) Pin or clip the band to the skirt’s waistline, double folded, right sides together, with the gap for the elastic on the inside. Match notches and seams. Or divide the waistband and the skirt’s waistline into quarters and match the quarter marks. Stretch the waistband to match the top of the skirt. The circumference of the waistband is smaller than the skirt's. Now stitch all 3 layers into place, ½” seam allowance.
Finish this edge (the 3 layers) with your serger or overcast foot.
12. To finish the bottom seam, for the version without a slit, you can’t use a blind stitch because you need a stitch that gives enough stretch. We tried the blind stitch first but the stitches broke after the first fitting. So we started all over and used a double needle and a very little zigzag stitch. And, as you can see, we used the magnetic seam guide. For the beginners, a great tool to keep a straight line.
13. Insert the elastic in the waistband through the little hole you left using a large safety pin, a bodkin or an elastic threader. Pull the elastic all the way through the casing so that it comes out on the other side.
14. Fit again to be sure to have the good size and sew the elastic ends together. Overlap the ends of your elastic ½” and stitch securely using a straight stitch or a zigzag. Sew a few lines or sew a square. You want this to be nice and strong!
As a Christmas surprise for Isabel, I made a little skirt for her daughter, Julia. I used leftover fabric from her skirt, copied a skirt of my daughter for the pattern and used the same steps to assemble the skirt. This is really a 30 minute project! And I think that if I want to make a skirt for myself, from the same pattern, it will also take very little time. Copy, cut, sew the sides, assemble the waistband and finish..
Questions or suggestions? Don’t hesitate to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And I’m still curious about what you are making! Share your makes in our Facebook group or on instagram with the #madamsew hashtag and inspire others!
And above all... Enjoy the holidays and your quality time with friends & family!
Sewing aficionado and keen sewing blogger/vlogger.
An is Madam Sew’s dedicated creative brain, writing and filming insightful, inspirational content for the sewing enthusiast.