Hi, as promised, here’s my post on the construction details for my Blueprints for Sewing A-Frame pencil skirt – my first pencil skirt and my first casual skirt. I usually make A-line skirts because they’re easy to fit to my body. What kind of skirts do you usually make?
I made version 1; version 2 is a lovely A-line skirt. (You can buy the A-Frame as a paper pattern or as a PDF pattern.) For my mock-up, I used some sheets from Goodwill (a chain of charity shops in the U.S.). If you follow me on Instagram (@csews) you may have seen some of these photos.
I wanted to play around with color blocking and use both sides of a narrow-striped denim fabric. As you can see from the line drawings, you can really have fun using up your fabric stash with this pattern. Version 1 has a center panel, flanked by side panels, which include pockets. The back also has a center panel with two narrow side panels on either side. There’s a center back zipper. I used an invisible zipper for mine. You can also use a regular zipper.
The pattern is printed on bond paper and is easy to trace. It comes in a nice package with a velcro closure. I got the printed version when it was first released in June at a 20% discount. The full price is $22. The PDF is $15.
I wanted to use the darker side of the denim for the center front and back pieces and the lighter side for the side pieces.
The pattern’s sizing goes from A (26-inch waist/35-inch hips) to J (40-inch waist/49-inch hips). For my mock-up, I cut size E for the waist (31 inches) and graded up to size F in the hips (41.5). But it was too snug as you may be able to tell from the photos of my mock-up. A year ago this would have fit better.
I could zip it up but I needed more ease. I didn’t notice that the pattern helpfully provides finished sizes. Oops. The finished size waist for size E was 32.5 and for the hips size F was 44 inches. My waist is now 32 inches (gained an inch over the past year as a result of little exercise and having a sedentary job).
I didn’t bother attaching the waistband because I wanted to get sewing so I just went ahead and adjusted my pattern pieces so the waist was size F (32.5 inches, 33 inches finished) and the hips were size G (43 inches, 45.5 finished).
The instructions include detailed descriptions for making alterations if you are different sizes at the waist and hip. Yes! They tell you exactly which pattern pieces you’ll need to adjust and where to make the changes. This was a relief because I wasn’t sure how I would make the alterations because the front and back each have 4 to 5 pattern pieces. Read the instructions before you start sewing – it will save you time. 😉
To keep track of which side was the “wrong” side, I put safety pins on the wrong side. If you use this tip, you might want to put your safety pins closer to the raw edge. Warning: Sometimes pins can leave holes that can damage your fabric, especially if you set it aside for a few days.
The instructions were very clear. You start off sewing the pocket lining to the top and bottom side-front panel pieces. (I used leftover cotton voile from my most recent Anna Dress.)
These two fabrics look really good together! But no one will see that because it’s the lining. (Maybe I can sew a different skirt combining these two fabrics.)
I decided to topstitch my pockets and some of the side panels. This was my own addition to the pattern. The instructions have you understitch the curved part of the pocket. I skipped that and topstitched it instead. I also decided to add top stitching to one side of the front panels and back panels. If you’re going to topstitch, make sure you do it before you sew the front and back together at the side seams.
The back has four pieces – the two center back pieces and two side panels – and a vent. Here’s where I marked the vent. If you are using medium-weight or heavy-weight fabric, the hem will be really thick if you follow the instructions and fold the hem up 1/2 in and then 1 inch. This could make your vent stick out. My fabric was medium-weight and it didn’t look great after I hemmed it. You’ll have to press it to death or you might want to finish the edge with bias hem tape to reduce bulk. If you do that, remember to shorten the skirt or it will be longer than you want it to be.
I put a clothespin on the vent folds to hold it in place overnight. That seemed to work – the vent stayed down! You can sort of see the vent near my leg in this photo. The skirt is easy to walk in.
Here’s a detail of the finished back view. I should mention here that I forgot to adjust the waistband size to size F not E so it’s a little smaller than it’s supposed to be. Oops! So that’s why I used a hook and bar closure, rather than a button. No room for a buttonhole. The pattern gives you the option of using a button or hook/bar to close the waistband. This fabric really disguises the invisible zipper!
[Note: for Version 1, step 14, I think the drawing might be showing the wrong side of the side-back pattern piece to attach to the center back piece. But if you just match your notches you’ll be fine.]
The pattern instructs you to edgestitch along the bottom of the waistband like so. The topstitching goes well with the edgestitching. 🙂
This skirt was easy to put together as long as I paid attention to the notches. Be sure to mark your notches! I now use a pink highlighter and arrows to note the notches so I won’t forget.
I really hate going back to a pattern piece to mark the notches after I’ve removed the pattern piece from the fabric. I not a fan of pink so it really gets my attention. [I got the highlighter tip from Brooke of Custom Style. She sews for a living – making and altering costumes for TV shows, the opera, theater productions, etc. I enjoy seeing what she’s up to on her Instagram feed (@sewbrooke).]
2 yards of medium-weight denim for the skirt from Fabric Outlet (I got it at a 40% off sale so I think I paid maybe $5 a yard for it.)
Cotton voile for pocket lining (leftover fabric from my stash)
9-inch invisible zipper
hook and bar closure
You can see more photos of it on this blog post but here’s another photo of the finished version.
If I make this again, I think I’ll make it a little shorter, and adjust the center front panel, which puffs out a tad – as you can see from this photo – though my hand in the pocket is also contributing to this. And the waistband needs to come in about a half-inch at the very top of the side seams. There’s a slight gap between the top of the waistband and my body, which you can’t really see from these photos. If I had made a second mock-up, I would have noted this and corrected it. I may rip out the side seams at the waistband and fix this – especially if I wear it with a Nettie bodysuit.
I didn’t make another mock-up because I was trying to finish this so I could enter it in the Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest, which was part of Sewing Indie Month (#SIM2015), organized by Mari of Seamster Patterns. You can vote for me here. 😉 Just click on the heart in the upper right corner of my photo – No. 20 – by Sunday, Oct. 11, central time, U.S.