DIY Stretch Knit Pencil Skirt

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French designer Christian Dior introduced the modern pencil skirt in 1954. His classic design has stood the test of time and has been a staple in women's wardrobes ever since. Not only is the pencil skirt a versatile item, but it also looks great on many body types.

Finished pencil skirt.
Finished pencil skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Things You'll Need

  • Medium or heavy-weight stretch knit fabric (25% stretch or more), 1 yard
  • Measuring tape
  • Sharp scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine with a ball point needle
  • 1-inch elastic, 1 yard
  • Washable marking pen or tailor's chalk
  • Iron and ironing board
Materials needed for a pencil skirt.
Materials needed for a pencil skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 1

Measure the circumference of your waist. If you have narrow hips, you don't need to add anything to this measurement. If you have full hips, you will need to add 2 to 4 inches to this measurement. This will become the circumference of your skirt. Divide this number in half. Fold your fabric over widthwise so the fold is on your half-measurement.

Measure and mark the width of the pencil skirt.
Measure and mark the width of the pencil skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 2

Have a friend measure the distance from your natural waist to your desired length for the hem of the skirt. Measure and mark this distance on the folded side of the fabric.

Measure and mark the length of the pencil skirt.
Measure and mark the length of the pencil skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 3

Use your marks to cut the width of your skirt.

Cut the width of the skirt.
Cut the width of the skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 4

Cut along the line you marked for the length of your skirt. You will end up with a wide rectangle of fabric that is the circumference of your waist by the length of your skirt.

Cut the length of the pencil skirt.
Cut the length of the pencil skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 5

Fold over the rectangle so the right sides and the short sides (the skirt length edge) of your skirt are together. Pin along the raw edges.

Pin the center back seam.
Pin the center back seam. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 6

Sew a 1/2-inch seam along your pin line. Be sure to remove the pins as you sew. This seam will become the center back of your skirt.

Tip

  • When sewing with knits, use a stretch, ball point, or jersey needle. These needles are designed for sewing with knit fabric, so you will have a stronger, smoother seam. A universal needle will tend to skip stitches when used with knit fabric.

Sew the center back seam.
Sew the center back seam. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 7

Measure the circumference of your waist and subtract 1 inch from this measurement. Cut a piece of elastic to this measurement.

Measure and cut the elastic.
Measure and cut the elastic. (Image: Beth)

Step 8

Overlap the ends of the elastic and use a zig-zag stitch to attach the ends. This will become the center back of your elastic.

Zig zag stitch the ends of the elastic together.
Zig zag stitch the ends of the elastic together. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 9

Measure and mark the center front of your skirt and the center front of the elastic with a washable marking pen or tailor's chalk.

Mark the center front and back.
Mark the center front and back. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 10

Match the center front of the skirt with the center front of the elastic, and the center back of the skirt with the center back of the elastic. Pin the elastic in place on the top edge of the skirt.

Pin the center front and back of the elastic to the top of the skirt.
Pin the center front and back of the elastic to the top of the skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 11

Use a zig-zag stitch to sew the elastic to the right side of the skirt. Pull the elastic slightly as you sew to ease in the extra width of the skirt.

Zig zag the elastic to the right side of the skirt top.
Zig zag the elastic to the right side of the skirt top. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 12

Fold the bottom of the elastic up and over to the wrong side of the skirt and press it with an iron.

Fold over and press the elastic.
Fold over and press the elastic. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 13

Use a needle and thread to tack the elastic down on the back seam.

Tack the elastic down to the skirt on the back seam.
Tack the elastic down to the skirt on the back seam. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Tip

  • When using a heavy knit for your skirt, you can save time and effort by not hemming since knits won't fray. If you prefer a more finished look, you may add a simple hem.

Finished Skirt

Wear your pencil skirt with heels and a jacket for work or wear it with a T-shirt and flats for your weekend activities. No matter how you decide to style your pencil skirt, you can be confident you will look great and be comfortable at the same time.

Finished pencil skirt.
Finished pencil skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)
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