When making a tailored pencil skirt for my mid-apprenticeship exam, I learned a so much new information about making and lining a skirt, as well as three understated embellishment techniques, and I wanted to pass this on to you.
Match plaids perfectly
The waistband is cut on the bias. Here’s my trick for cutting out perfectly matched plaids: I cut out one side, then lay it on the fabric – right sides together – so that it matches perfectly into the plaid pattern. And cut around it to make the second piece.
A bias-cut waistband needs support to retain its shape. I added fusible interfacing, but it still wasn’t stable enough, so I also fused seam tape along the seam lines.
Limit pocket gaping
Slanted pockets like these are liable to gape when you wear them. Nip this in the bud by applying fusible seam tape (just as on the waistband) along the opening as soon as you cut out the fabric.
To further minimize gaping, I stitched the pocket edge shut at the top. The rule of thumb is that pocket openings should be 5″ to 6″ inches wide so your hand will fit in comfortably – I left just 5″ open on mine.
Trim with self-fabric fringe
As an understated trim for the tailored pencil skirt, I applied a self fabric fringe along the hem and pockets. I added the trim to the pieces before I sewed them together at the side or back seams.
First, I sewed on fabric strips using a fairly small (size 2 setting, which is 2mm long) stitch. Then, I pulled the weft threads out of the strips until only two weft threads remained between the fringe and my lines of stitching.
By the way, the fringe isn’t just for decoration. It hides the seam where I ran out of fabric on one piece and had to join more fabric on near the bottom. You can see the seam it on the inside view of the left side here:
Add piping to the lining
I wanted to add narrow piping – made from bias tape – to the edge of the lining. But, I didn’t have any red fabric, so instead, I used satin ribbon.
It is not a good substitution, since this type of ribbon doesn’t curve at all – not even to match the gentle contours of these pieces. But it was all I had, so I pre-pressed it into a curve before I stitched it in to try and coax it to behave.
Whether I’m using proper bias tape or satin ribbon, making the piping even is a really chore. Luckily, I had a trick up my sleeve…
Decorative – and useful – prick stitch
I decorated the edges of the lining with a prick stitch. To give the stitches extra oomph thread, I used buttonhole twist, a thick silk for hand-sewing buttonholes.
Besides trimming the lining, the prick stitch helped me fudge the piping to make it even. At the points where the piping was too wide, I folded the lining over so the piping was even, then prick-stitched it in place.
Along the waistband edge, I used the prick stitch as a substitute for understitching so that the inner waistband won’t roll around to the front. And at the zip, where it’s difficult to get the lining in just right with a machine, I’ve attached it exclusively using the prick stitch.
Add ease to the back for sitting
Something new I learned about lining a tailored pencil skirt: If a skirt has a vent at the back, and the lining is attached to the vent, then the lining shouldn’t lay flat along the center back seam.
Instead, the lining should around 3/4″ longer in the CB seam – between where the zipper ends and the vent begins – than the actual skirt fabric. This is visible because there is an extra bubble of lining along this seam (visible in the left picture – just above the slit).
When I pull on the fabric, (as in the above right picture) the lining is pulled taught, as the skirt outer fabric stretches. As you can imagine, this is how the skirt will be tugged whenever I sit down. Lining fabric does not have the same stretch as wool, so if the lining is the same length as the outer skirt, it will be under extra strain. This results in seams being pulled out over time.
Building extra length into the lining helps combat this. The amount of length you need depends on how much your outer fabric stretches when you tug it. You can determine this most easily once the lining is sewn to the zipper, but before you sew it to the slit.
Hold both layers at the zip with one hand and grab the outer fabric at the top of the vent with the other hand. Pull firmly. When you’re at full stretch, use the hand holding the vent to catch the lining fabric and hold it in place as you let the fabric relax. You should end up with extra length in the lining you need.
Use a pin to pinch this length out of the CB lining seam so you won’t forget it. No you can move on to sewing the lining to the vent.
Even up the lining hem
Once you add this extra length to your CB lining, you’ll find that your lining hem now curves up in the back. Before you can fix this, you need to have already pinned and pressed the hem on your main skirt fabric.
Put your pencil skirt on a dress form or hang it on a skirt hanger. Then measure and cut the lining off parallel to your skirt hem. Ideally, your skirt lining should end up being 3/4″ shorter than your skirt, and have a 3/4″ wide hem.
Since you turn up the fabric twice, you’ll need a total of 1.5″ for the hem allowance, which means you should cut the lining 3/4″ longer than the skirt hem.
If your lining is too short – as mine was – use a narrower hem allowance, but aim to have it parallel and at least to over to top of the skirt hem allowance.
So I hope you found these details as interesting and useful as I did when I learned them! Would you incorporate any of these into your own sewing?