FCC Disclosure: I was provided with beautiful cotton spandex fabric and social media promotion by Girl Charlee in exchange for creating this post. Be sure to scroll all the way down for your chance to win a fabric bundle from Girl Charlee! This post also contains affiliate links, where I receive a small amount from each sale. Thanks for your support!
Guess what: it’s back-to-school time! A knit pencil skirt is a classic item for dressing up for work or school but not looking like you’re trying too hard–and for the quilters among us who are TERRIFIED of sewing garments, it’s actually one of the very easiest things you can make. So here’s a knit pencil skirt tutorial for moms and kids. YOU CAN DO IT. I promise.
The major difference between pencil skirts for mamas and those for kids is that mamas have curves. Kids (unless they’ve eaten three pieces of pizza in the last ten minutes) generally don’t. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a slimming, curve-celebrating skirt for you, along with a super easy pencil skirt for the little one.
1 yard of cotton spandex knit fabric for you
1/2 yard of the same fabric for the kid
Approximately 2 yards of non-roll elastic, either 3/4″ or 1″ wide
A jersey sewing machine needle
Paper for tracing a pattern: I used Swedish tracing paper, but you could also use wrapping paper or paper grocery bags taped together
Creating a Pattern
The kid skirt is really easy and you can definitely wing it there, but you’ll need to make a pattern for your skirt. I’m glad I did, because even in the course of making this tutorial I messed up and cut my skirt pattern too small. It’s far better to screw up on paper than it is on your glorious fabric.
1. Cut out a rectangle with the following dimensions:
WIDTH: Your hip (fullest part) measurement, divided by two.
LENGTH: The length of your waist down to your knees, plus about 4″.
After you’ve cut out the rectangle, draw a line two inches from the bottom edge to represent your hem line, and one about two inches from the top to signify the waistband. I say “about” because cotton spandex fabric is extremely forgiving, so there’s no need to be super exact.
2. Measure and mark your rise and waistline.
The rise of a garment is the distance from the hip to the waist. Measure the distance from your natural waist (or where you want the waistband of your skirt to sit) to your hip. Draw a third horizontal line that distance down from the waistband line on your pattern.
Next, measure your waistline, and then subtract that amount from your hip measurement. (My difference was 9″.) Divide that measurement by 4. (For me, 2.25″.) At the top of your pattern, mark that distance in from either side edge.
3. Make curves happen.
As you can see above, I cut a gentle sloping curve from my hip line to the mark I made 2.25″ in from either side at the waist. You do the same. BOOM, baby.
4. Repeat at the knees.
To keep the skirt from hanging straight from the hip, we need to bring it in a bit at the knees. Measure 2″ in from either side at the bottom edge, then create a very slight sloping line down from the hips. Cut off these edges too.
And now you have a pattern!
Making the Mama Skirt
1. Cut out your pattern pieces.
Fold your fabric in half width-wise, with the width being the stretchiest dimension of the fabric. (Selvages should be on the side.) Lay your pattern out, then pin and cut. You should have two identical skirt pieces: a front and a back.
2. Sew the side seams.
For this next step, you can use a serger or just a jersey needle on your sewing machine. Select a knit-friendly stitch like an overcast or a zigzag. Place the two pattern pieces right sides together, then sew the side seams using about a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Try on your skirt, disregarding length and waist. Does it fit in the hips? You shouldn’t see any bunching, and it should hug you like it’s your BFF. If it’s too loose, cut off either seam and re-sew.
3. Sew the hem.
Fold 1″ of your hem toward the wrong side, then repeat to completely enclose the edge. Press well. (I find that knits are tough to press without a lot of water/steam, so I use a spray bottle here.)
Using your machine’s stretchiest stitch, sew the hemline. I use a Janome, and my machine has what it calls a “knit stitch.” This stitch has the most stretch out of anything else I tried, including zigzag and overcast. I also love how professional it looks. (A zigzag will work too, though.)
4. Sew the waistband.
Take your elastic and wrap it around your waist (or where you want your waistband to be). Add 1/2″, then cut. Overlap the ends by 1/2 and sew, so you have a stretchy circle of elastic.
Make sure your skirt is inside out, then place the elastic around your skirt top. Wrap the top edge over the elastic so it just covers. Using that same stretchy stitch, sew all the way around.
Next, fold the top of the skirt over again, so that the raw edges of the elastic and fabric are completely enclosed. Stitch around the skirt top again.
5. Walk around and look hot.
Making the Kid Skirt
1. Cut out a single rectangle of fabric with the following dimensions:
WIDTH: Your child’s circumference at her widest point. (For my kid, this was her belly rather than her hips.)
LENGTH: Your child’s measurement from waist to knees (or the desired length of the skirt), plus 4″.
Optional: As you did for the adult skirt, you can measure in 2″ from either side at the bottom and cut a slight slope into the fabric to make it come in a bit at the knees. I omitted this part in my example because I made the skirt a bit shorter and wanted my daughter to have room to run around.
2. Sew the center back seam.
Rather than sewing two side seams, you’ll sew just one back seam. Fold the fabric together width-wise and right sides together so that both sides touch. Sew that seam using a serger or jersey needle and stretch stitch on your machine.
Turn the skirt right side out and try it on your model. If it’s too loose, cut those seams off and re-sew.
3. Follow hem and waistband instructions above.
Now that you have your fabric tube, go ahead and follow the hem and waistband instructions as listed in the mama part of the tutorial. Because we left the same amount of excess fabric on top and bottom, the dimensions are exactly the same.
4. Put skirt on kid.
And voila! Thanks for following my knit pencil skirt tutorial! Happy sewing!
HEY! How about your very own Girl Charlee BOLT fabric bundle? Girl Charlee is offering a giveaway of five yards of your choice of beautiful cotton spandex. Think of all the knit pencil skirts you can make! BOLT is only found in stores and not available directly from Girl Charlee, so this is a big deal!
Want to enter to win? Here are the rules:
- One winner will receive a bundle of your choice of five one-yard cuts of Girl Charlee BOLT fabric.
- One entry per person, please. Entries will be counted from Thursday, August 4 through 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 7. To enter, simply leave a comment below stating what you might do with the fabric. The winner will be chosen at random and informed by email within 24 hours of the closing date and must respond within 24 hours to claim their prize.
- The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This is a giveaway by Girl Charlee. The giveaway is open to US/Canadian residents aged 18 or over. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary.
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