How to Make a Pencil Skirt Dress

Written by jen randall
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How to Make a Pencil Skirt Dress
The pencil look, which typifies pencil skirts and the skirt in pencil dresses, became fashionable in the late 1940s. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Falling just slightly below the knee and tightly fitted through the thighs and hips, the pencil skirt style came to life in the late 1940s with Christian Dior's "New Look" for women which popularised fashion for the new class of working women. Today, pencil skirts appeal to women seeking a professional, classy and feminine style. A pencil skirt can have a high or low waist and often includes a slit in the back of the skirt. A pencil skirt dress can either be a pencil skirt-style dress where the lower portion is designed like a pencil skirt, or a dress that to appears to be a two-piece pencil skirt and shirt or blouse set but actually is one dress, the latter style which gives comfort to the wearer while minimising skin exposure and can be made from an existing pencil skirt and shirt.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil skirt dress pattern
  • Fabric (or a shop-bought pencil skirt and blouse)
  • Soft measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Zip
  • Sewing machine thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric chalk
  • Seam ripper

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    New skirt

  1. 1

    Following the directions on the pattern, take body measurements of the bust, waist, hips and other body parts instructed. Cut the paper pattern based on the measurements.

  2. 2

    Lay the fabric on a flat surface and pin on pattern pieces. Pin, then cut each piece out, starting with two pieces for the skirt, waist backs, two pieces for the front and the two pieces that will constitute the dress top.

  3. 3

    Pin the pieces together, then following the pattern directions make approximately 15 cm (6 inch) long tucks in each of the four skirt pieces. The tucks should be deeper in the back to give space for the round of the buttocks.

  4. 4

    Try on the pinned skirt and check to be sure that there is enough room for the hips, waist and buttocks. Pin the hem of the dress skirt up on the inside of the skirt so it falls just slightly below the knee.

  5. 5

    Sew the back and front pieces of the skirt part of the dress together using the sewing machine.

  6. 6

    Pin on the dress top and leave room for the zip, which will extend from the dress to through the skirt, following the dress pattern.

  7. 7

    Sew the top of the dress to the skirt pieces, leaving approximately 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) of fabric in case adjustments. Following directions on the zip and pattern, insert and sew the zip.

  8. 8

    Fold in the remaining dress seams, press, pin and hem using the sewing machine. Trim all of the interior cuts with fabric scissors and press open using the iron.

    Adjust a skirt

  1. 1

    Acquire a pencil skirt that fits the wearer well and a cotton blouse or shirt. Either use a skirt and shirt you have, or mix and match from a shop or second hand shop. They will become the pencil skirt and shirt dress one-piece.

  2. 2

    Try on the skirt and shirt together, tucking the shirt into the skirt to check to ensure they fit comfortably. Use fabric chalk to mark where the shirt tucks into the skirt, marking the front, sides and back.

  3. 3

    Use the seam ripper to remove the zip and open up the seam around the waist. Pin the shirt to the inside of skirt based on the chalk markings. Use the sewing machine to sew together.

  4. 4

    Use the scissors to cut a hole in the side of the shirt above where the zip used to be. Pin in the longer zip, following instructions on the zip package, which should extend up from the very upper thigh to the side of the wearer, or about 30 cm (12 inches). Carefully try the pinned dress to ensure the fit is optimal, if not make small adjustments using the pins.

  5. 5

    Turn skirt and shirt set dress inside out. Use the sewing machine to sew together just inside the pins and up through the zip to bring together the skirt and shirt into a dress set.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a stretchy fabric as pencil skirt style dresses can be tight.
  • Using a pattern may produce better results than making the skirt from an existing skirt and dress, though the latter may be cheaper.

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