Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November Gerties NBBS Project : The Pencil Skirt

I planned this skirt when I was making  the Sultry Sheath from last month. When I was planning for fall and reviewing the book I new I wanted to make this skirt and since the muslin was stitched up for the bottom half of my sultry sheath.

It has been my goal to improve my sewing and learn new skills with most of my projects and with this one I will learn the following:
1. Boning in the waistband.
2. Bound Buttonholes, since there is only one I thought this would be a good one to practice with.

The other skills listed I have already accomplished but will get more practice: darts and a lapped zipper I have learned while sewing the Retro-Inspired skirted playsuit and the Sultry Sheath

I  had purchased 1 1/2 yards of this wool herringbone fabric from Fabric.com on a closeout sale years ago and had the lining in my stash.
I do not have much difference in my waist to hip ratio so I picked the size 4 using my waist measurements and graded it down to a 2 in the side seams from the hips down.
I followed along up until Step 5 with my side seams basted and did a fitting, like the book recommends. I also notice that with many of my vintage patterns the recommendation to baste your seams and do a fitting before sewing them permanently. Whenever I read about vintage techniques either sewing or cooking I feel that we have become lazy and more interested in doing something fast and less about quality.
During my fitting I  felt like the slit was a little high so I extended the back seam down 1 1/2 inch past the final mark for the slit.

After putting in the final seams for the skirt I was on to the waistband, I decided I wanted to do the high waist with the boning and following the instructions I gathered my supplies. The list suggested  hair canvas, silk organza and either Rigilene or steel boning. Hair Canvas? I had a mental image of this...YIKES!

I have never sewn with it before but strolled down to my local store and they pulled it out and cut a 1/8" of a yard for me. You can imagine my relief when  I saw that it looked like this...

This had me curious about Why it was called hair canvas? In my research I discovered that the interfacing does contain a small amount of horse hair, and is commonly used for tailoring.

I used Rigilene for the boning because, I had it on hand and it is simple to work with and sews in easily. I added the first strip in the center and the rest 2 inches apart as Gertie advised. I ended up with 7 strips total.
I am short in the torso and was worried the waistband would rest right below my bust line, so shortened it 1/2 inch.

My Bound Button hole was a flop. I practiced and it was turning out poorly so I gave up for this time and did a quick machine buttonhole..which also isn't done very well.   Normally when things start to go south and I have been sewing for a while I know it is time to stop and step away from my project., at this point all I had to complete was sewing on the button, so I finished it up. 

Side seams a little off but I am going to leave it.

I paired it with a blouse that I recently sewed  from the same book, more on the blouse later.


  1. Love seeing how the waistband went together. The height of it is perfect on you. Also the line of the skirt. I know you will enjoy this very much, such a classic!

  2. I was surprised that I liked it a much as I did. Thank you.

  3. Such a smart skirt! Very nice :)
    Also, thank you for including construction pics! It is always interesting to see the insides and possibly learn new techniques.

  4. So impressed with boning and hair canvas! It looks great and it makes you look amazing. So tall and slender! How does it feel? Is it comfortable to sit in? (Not that it matters in the least when you look that good!)

    1. I was surprised that I can sit and eat in it. I do not usually wear tight things so a slimmer skirt is not as easy to move inas a fuller skirt. The waistband is not tighter than other waistbands but it does sit up higher an dthat feels different, It makes me sit and stand straighter but that is probably a good thing. Thanks

  5. Beautiful skirt. I'm curious to know how comfortable boning in the waistband is. Especially in a seated position.

    1. Gail, It is surprisingly comfortable and the only thing about the boning is that I feel like I have to stand straight and sit with lady like posture. I plan to wear it for Thanksgiving so that will be the real test.

  6. Hi, happy to find another Seattle sewist. Found you through the pattern pyramid you won. Congratulations! By the way, lovely pencil skirt. It looks like a great fit, too. Nicely done.