I am thrilled to be sharing a tutorial I came up for Girl Charlee!
If you don’t know already, Girl Charlee is an online knit fabric shop with great stuff and great prices. Their fabric averages about $5-6 a yard people (if you love knits you know how crazy good this is). I haven’t been able to see this matched anywhere else except with a coupon or deep sale off a random clearance selection at a store. And the quality and variety is top notch.
Girl Charlee is my newest sponsor too! They have been awesome enough to offer all of my readers 10% off of their order simply by entering DELIATEN at check out. Sweet!
Okay, now let’s get sewing shall we?
My project is a simple one you can sew for yourself! Today, I am going to show you how to make a knit pencil skirt in two ways.
*pre-washed knit fabric (most sizes need about a yard or less) – most types will work, but stay away from tissue thin knits, I used medium weight jersey knits (my knit source links are at the bottom)
*2 to 3 inch wide elastic – as long as your waist measurement
*double needle and/or ball point needle (designed for knit fabric), serger optional
*stay tape, wondertape, or strips of interfacing long – about 1.5 yards or less
*matching thread for the fabric and the elastic waistband
Start by measuring yourself. Measure at your waist, the widest part of your hips, and measure how long you want your skirt.
Be sure to measure your skirt length from where you intend to wear your skirt: high on your waist? at your hips?
Cut your fabric. Now, this project is a relatively quick project, but I caution you to not rush this step. Before you cut, lay your fabric out, make sure it is laying flat and even (on grain). You may need to trim off excess if the fabric was cut off grain (I didn’t experience this with my Girl Charlee cuts, but sometimes I get cuts from the store that are waaay off. So double check) Make sure, if you are cutting on the fold, that the patterns/fabric details match up as much as possible.
Now pull and push it to determine which direction is stretchier. The stretchier direction will be the width of your skirt. If you make the stretchier direction your length it might not fit and it might hang in funny ways.
Take your hip measurement and cut the skirt exactly that wide (don’t add in seam allowance). Cut it to the length you want as well. Now using a ruler, taper from the waist to about 2/3 a way down the skirt. I was a little conservative in my taper. It is ideal to cut this taper on two side seams (in that case I would add an inch to each side for seam allowance). I chose to have only one back seam (less pattern matching).
You can also use the outline of an existing skirt pattern if you have one. Just omit any slits, darts, and waistbands.
Pin the back (or side) seams carefully. Make sure that patterns and lines are matching up and use lots of pins!
Sew up the back (or side seams) with a zig zag stitch or a serger.
Add a waistband. The skirt waistband can be finished in two ways.
The FIRST method, is to fold the elastic underneath so you can’t see it from the outside.
Take 2 to 3 inch wide elastic that is exactly your waist measurement plus an inch. You can use a thinner elastic, but I like the support the larger elastics give me. As you can see…this 2 inch wide elastic suffered from a bad dye job…but that’s okay! No one will know because only you will see it. :)
Sew your elastic together overlapped 2 inches and secured with several zig zag stitches.
Divide the elastic into four equal parts. Repeat that with the top of the skirt. Match up the pins and pin the waistband to the skirt with the RIGHT side of the skirt laying evenly on top of the elastic. Now take the centers between the four quarter pins and pin again sectioning off the skirt into eight parts. The skirt should be wider than the elastic and be loose around the elastic at this point.
With a zig zag stitch, sew the skirt to the elastic. I like to start at the back of the waistband (which I line up with the back seam). I stitch forward and back and then grab the fabric at the next pin point. I pull it tight so that the elastic is stretched as long as the skirt (while trying not to stretch the knit skirt fabric). Sew all the way around working from pin to pin.
Try to keep it as even as possible. Unpick and re-sew as needed. Your evenness will be apparent from the front.
*You’ll notice that my back seam and waistband was a bit uneven. I actually went back in and unpicked everything to get it even. :)
Trim back any excess if needed. Then flip the waistband under, sew it down the back seam (if you like) and…. Tada!
It looks a bit baggy here but when it’s worn the wrinkles and gathers mostly smooth out.
You can see below that it looks much better worn. The belt is only there for style purposes.
Like, I said before, I was conservative with how I tapered my skirt. To eliminate the bunching even more, simply bring the waist in and taper it a little more.
The SECOND way is to sew on an exposed elastic waistband.
This is done much the same way as the first method.
This time though, the waistband is sewn together like in this tutorial – click HERE, and attached on the outside of the skirt with a straight stitch rather than a zig zag. This is to maintain a cleaner look. Of course, you can use a zig zag stitch instead if you please.
OR if you are brave enough for a knit fabric waistband (after three kids I’m not yet) you can take a strip of folded knit and add it to the top instead. Go HERE for my pregnancy pencil tutorial. Follow the same instructions, you just won’t be adding room to the skirt for a bump.
Try on your skirt and make sure it’s the length you want. Add 1.5 inches to the length for hemming and mark it with a pin. You may need to trim it down. Be careful that you are cutting it evenly. Sometimes knit will stick to itself and stretch while you cut. Smooth it out, take your time, and don’t let your scissors stretch or move the fabric. With the striped fabric I didn’t even try to cut several layers at the same time. Instead, I cut a slit into it and then cut all the way around using a stripe as a guide to ensure everything was even.
Now let’s hem it up. To make sewing easier, I ironed in strips of stitch witchery/stay tape and ironed up the hem before sewing it (a genius idea I got from Skirt As Top! She shares it along with her free Woman’s Scoop Neck Tee pattern HERE).
This helps stabilize the hem while sewing and you don’t have to use pins!
You can certainly use a zig zag stitch. Don’t use a straight stitch however, as those will break at the hem very easily. I used my double needle, lengthened my stitch, and sewed slowly. The reason why this works is that while there are double lines of straight stitching on top, there is a zig zag stitch on the underside that allows for stretch. Katy from No Big Dill has a great tutorial for using a double needle HERE.
You can also use a stretch stitch or a zig zag stitch but the look isn’t as clean. If you experience some stretching while you sew, press (don’t push back and forth) with a hot, steamy iron. It should help it bounce back for the most part. I’ve been known to spritz it with water and then toss in in the dryer too.
And now…..you’re done! Hooray!
Slip that comfy skirt on. Dress it up or dress it down.
(My back seam shifted off center but it’s not as noticeable because I matched my stripes! Totally worth unpicking a knit seam :))
A word of caution…you might have to wear a slip underneath. My slip was dirty, so you get me sans slip. – sorry.
But, hey…just look at that stretch. Thank you double needle. :)
I styled this a bit busy but, I totally love it. :)
This turquoise aztec skirt is my favorite. I am super sad they are already out, but go HERE to see the new tribal/aztec knits they have. Seriously…some amazing stuff.
Hey and good news…The gray and black striped knit IS still in stock! Go HERE. Yippee!
And there you have it. A basic knit pencil skirt!
Thanks for stopping by! Remember, if you shop at Girl Charlee, use my 10% off code : DELIATEN. That’s off your entire purchase! :)
Have a beautiful day!
P.S. Did you know Girl Charlee has a blog too? They share and link to great knit fabric tutorials on there, tell you what fabrics are coming soon…lots of great stuff. They are featuring this post today as well! Go HERE to check it out. :)
P.P.S. Adrianna from Crafterhours posted a knit pencil skirt with a knit waistband too! She tells you now to draft your own pattern from your measurements. It’s genius and gorgeous! Go HERE to check it out.