Behind the design Designing The Ultimate Pencil Skirt
The pencil skirt is a classic garment, first designed by Christian Dior in 1954. So why would I bother to create a pencil skirt pattern?
The design for the stretch pencil skirt was a direct result a stretch jacquard fabric purchased from Cloth House over 20 years ago. The gorgeous oyster coloured wisteria on a navy base was irresistible. The stretch runs down the length or warp of the fabric but the wisteria jacquard design lends itself to the fabric being turned and worn in the other direction resulting in the stretch going across the body. There is at least 18% Elastane in the fabric construction, so I knew it would retain its shape and not 'seat'.
Using a long machine stitch I made a tube the width of my hips. I slipped this on the wrong way out and pinned the sides to the shape of my waist, narrowed the hips and the bottom of the skirt. Using Tailor's chalk I marked the line of the pins on either side so that I could un-pin and slip the tube off. It occurred to me that due to the amount of stretch I could dispose of a zip and use an elasticated waistband but with little excess fabric so it wouldn't look like a gathered waist. So once I traced the chalked shape onto pattern paper I added just the necessary ease at the waist. When this skirt is worn the shape is neat to the body but in no way restricts movement.
A rigid pencil skirt that finishes just below the knee is designed in a completely different way. The pattern pieces need to follow the shape of the hip but darts inserted are also required to shape from the seat to the waist. For a true pencil shape a kick pleat is required at the centre back and of course a zip inserted. The style of the Ultimate Pencil Skirt woven version is for the skirt to sit on the low waist with a facing rather than a waistband. I think this is more flattering and certainly more comfortable.
With some stretch woven fabrics I've chosen to make a skirt as a hybrid of the two; an elasticated waistband but retain the kick pleat for freedom of movement. For details of this variation see this Journal post.
The metallic pencil skirts pictured are made from PU, the metallic surface is bonded to a jersey base. This fabric has enough stretch to work as the stretch version. The stone and navy, sports-inspired, stretch skirts are made in 'four-way' stretch with a centre front seam added for detail. On the stone one either side of the seam is trimmed with contrasting orange tape. On the navy skirt a nylon zip is inserted from below the waistband.
The Ultimate Pencil Skirt pattern has one pattern for a stretch pencil skirt and another for a non-stretch woven skirt. The stretch pencil skirt also features in The Essential Collection Book.