10/2/13

Free Sewing Tutorial: Curvy Color Block Ponte Knit Pencil Skirt

After the disappointment of the Elisalex dress, I wanted to sew something that would cheer me up.  I'm going back to the Elisalex dress soon (I will not be vanquished by thee, Madam Elisalex!), but in the meantime, sewing with knit/jersey fabric is fast, easy to fit, and (usually) highly satisfying.

I love making variations on my TNT patterns.  I consider the patterns in Sew U Home Stretch my knit block patterns, as they are simple, I know they fit, and they are easy to draft from for making variations.  I'm working on a woven dress block so that I can draft variations there, too, but I'm still perfecting the muslin.  But my knit block pattern was all I needed for this project. 

So, please meet THE CURVY COLOR BLOCK KNIT PENCIL SKIRT!!







I based this design on my corsetted pencil skirt, which has been really popular with clients (I think I've now made this skirt for five different people).

And because I like y'all so much, I'm going to show you how to do it.

TUTORIAL

Supplies
Knit skirt block with waistband
2 or 3-inch elastic
Ballpoint/stretch sewing needle
Tracing/drafting paper (you need to see through it)
Medium to heavy weight knit fabric - I used two ponte knits from GorgeousFabrics.com
Lining fabric (optional - I used a knit tricot)
Seam gauge or measuring tape
Ruler

Draft Color Block Skirt
STEP 1: If you don't have this marked already, modify your skirt block to a pencil skirt.  I have a mini-tutorial on this here.



STEP 2: Take pencil skirt front pattern piece and place marks 3 inches in from the side seam all the way down to the hip line. UPDATE: For larger sizes, I have found that it's best to measure in thirds. You want the color block inset to take up about two-third of the skirt. On your quarter-block, measure across the waist and hip lines. Divide these numbers into thirds. So if my quarter-waist measurement is 8, I would place a mark about 2.75 inches in from the side seam at the waist. If my quarter-hip measurement is 11, I would place a mark at 3.75 inches from the side seam at the hip.

STEP 2: Place a mark 5-6 inches in from the side seam at the hem (remember to mark in from the pencil skirt line if you have simply drawn that on top on your regular block).  Using a ruler or other straight edge, draw a line between this mark and the 3-inch mark at the hip line.

STEP 3: Connect dots, smoothing out line at the hip.  Feel free to play with the line to make it more curvy or straight. If you have a French curve or hip curve, use it!

STEP 4: Repeat with pencil skirt back.  Your skirt blocks should now look like this:



STEP 5: Use tracing paper to trace your four new pattern pieces (center front, side front, center back, side back).  Make sure to add a grainline on the side front and side back pieces.  I do this simply by measuring over from the center front/back fold.

STEP 6: Add seam allowance to all your pieces.  I usually use 1/4" or 3/8" on knit fabric when I have already tweaked the pattern for fit.  Since I wanted a 3-inch elastic waistband and my skirt block only allows for a 2-inch waistband, I marked 1 inch lower on the waist to remind myself to cut there.  Your four pattern pieces will look something like this:


Hello, Toes!


Cut and Assemble Skirt
You probably already know how to do this because you've made this skirt before, but I'll walk through the steps in order to highlight how to sew this new shape.

STEP 1: Cut skirt and waistband pieces.  If you aren't sure which side of a solid knit/jersey fabric is the "right" side, hold onto the selvedge sides and pull across the cut edge.  The fabric will roll to the right side.  If you are using 3" elastic, the size of the waistband will be (your waist + 3/4") x 7".  For 2" elastic, the width will be 5". This allows for a 1/4 - 3/8" seam allowance plus a touch extra.

For my waistband, I wanted the color block design to carry through the waistband.  I cut four pieces (center front, center back, two sides) and just measured the top of the skirt color block pieces to know how wide to make each section.

Note: Place a mark at the hip line on your center front/back, and side front/back pieces.  This will make it easier to match up the skirt pieces in the next step.

STEP 2: Pin and sew front/back side pieces to front/back center pieces.  This step might feel wrong when you are doing it, as you'll be matching a concave curve to a convex curve.  Pin the hip mark first, then top and bottom, then the rest.  Feel free to use a lot of pins on the curves (I did).  You'll notice that the fabric won't lie flat - that's okay (see third photo).  As long as the fabric is flat within your seam allowance (this is why having a small seam allowance is helpful), all will be well in the end.






If you have a walking foot, this is a good time to use it.  I like to sew with a long stitch on my regular sewing machine then serge over the seam with my serger.

Press seams - this should take out any remaining ripples.

STEP 3: Pin and sew side seams.  Place front section on back section, right sides together, matching hip marks.  Pin and sew with long stretch stitch on sewing machine or with overlock stitch on the serger.

STEP 4: Sew waistband.  Fold waistband right sides together, matching short sides.  Pin and sew.  Press seam open or to one side.  Fold waistband in half along long side and press.

STEP 5: Attach waistband.  Divide skirt into 8 equal sections and mark with pins.  Divide waistband into 3 equal sections and mark with pins.  Place waistband over skirt, right sides together matching pins.  Pin in place.  I like to have the waistband seam at center back.  Sew around waistband leaving a 2-3 inch opening at center back to insert your elastic.  You may need to stretch the waistband slightly as you sew to match the skirt.

If you have a color block waistband, then you'll simply need to match up the sections.

STEP 6:  Cut and insert elastic.  Hold elastic around your waist to determine how long you want it.  The elastic should be slightly stretched.  Overlap by 1/4 - 3/8" for seam allowance.  Attach a safety pin to each end.  Use one safety pin to feed the elastic through the waistband and use the second safety pin to secure the other end to the skirt (so that you don't accidentally pull it all the way through - very annoying).  This is harder to do with 3" elastic, but you'll get there.  Once the elastic is all the way through, overlap the ends and pin.  Sew ends together with a zig-zag stitch and trim off excess elastic.

STEP 7: Finish skirt.  Pin opening on the waistband to the skirt and finish this seam.  Try on the skirt and determine where you would like the hem.  Fold and press hem allowance and stitch the hem.  You can stitch the hem with a straight stitch, zig-zag stitch, blind stitch, or coverstitch (I used the coverstitch on my serger). Now put on the skirt and feel curvy!



I don't know why I am looking up, unless I'm worried about
bird poop - that tree behind me is full of birds.

My attempt at looking curvy.

And finally a word on the fabric I used.  I bought this ponte knit over a year ago from GorgeousFabrics.com thinking it would make a fun pencil skirt.  When it arrived, I liked it, but the thought of that bold, strong print swaddling my lower half was too much.  It sat around in my stash and I'd look at it every now and again and think, "How do I tame you?"  Finally this design idea came to me.  It was a "duh" moment (no angels singing opera) since I've seen about a million color block options online and this silhouette has been in my arsenal for a while now.  But I'll take "duh" for inspiration.  The black fabric came from GorgeousFabrics.com and you can find it here.  I lined the skirt with a black knit tricot that I also purchased from GorgeousFabrics.com (this isn't in stock but they have other knit linings).  I thought long and hard about where I placed the print on for the front and back pieces - I did not want to shine a spotlight on certain anatomical features!

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll add more construction photos the next time I make this skirt - I'm already scheming to make another version with this fabric (ponte knit and yes, it was also purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics - you can tell where I do most of my online shopping!):



If you make your own version of the skirt, please send me a picture or a link to your blog - I'd love to feature it!

13 comments:

  1. wow ... you look AMAZING in this skirt!! I'm sure if I was even vaguely sewing literate, I'd appreciate the tutorial too :)

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  2. Your skirt is awesome! I love the print. I have that knit SewU book but I keep forgetting I have it. I really have to get it out and use it if this is the result I can expect!

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    1. Hey Trumbelina - Some of the samples in the book are a bit dated, but the bones of patterns are great! I've found that I haven't had to do much to tweak each pattern for a good fit. I used the bodice pattern in the book as a base for some peplum knit tops and I love how they turned out!

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  3. You are definitely on a winner with this style! Love this skirt - very clever sewing ... J

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    1. Thanks, J! I'll likely be making a few more of these for the fall. They are super cozy once lined . . . .

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  4. What a fabulous skirt you skinny minny girl!!!!!! Wear this to church next week ;)

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  5. How many yards of each fabric did you use?

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  6. This is GENIUS! I have some fabric I have been stuck on for a long time, now I know exactly what to do with it.

    The only mod I am going to make is use a hidden elastic waist so I don't have to piece the waist band. All those seams are great places to stitch in the ditch to hold the elastic in place. Again you are a freaking genius for coming up with this.

    Thanks very much for sharing it.

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    Replies
    1. So glad this gave you some help! I'd love to see a picture of the final product. And I love your addition of doing a hidden elastic waist - that solves the problem of trying to match prints!

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