How to Make a Pencil Skirt

For a pencil skirt, you’re going to want a relatively strong fabric. It also helps if the fabric has some stretch to it. Stretch twill works well. A heavier non-stretch fabric would also work. You can even use a thicker t-shirt knit or spandex, especially if you don’t want to fuss with a zipper and darts.

Pencil Skirt by



Step 1

The key to a great pencil skirt is fit. To get a good fit you need good measurements.

First, you need to decide if you want the skirt to go all the way up to your natural waist, or just to your low waist.

If you want the higher waist, use the four measurements shown. If you want it at your low waist, you don’t need to measure your natural waist.

For clarification: your true WAIST is the slimmest part of your torso. It’s a few inches above your belly button. Your LOW WAIST is probably where you wear the waistband of your jeans, below or near your belly button. The measurement for your HIPS should be taken at the widest part of your butt.

Measure around your legs where you’d like the bottom hem of the skirt to hit. Make sure your measurements allow enough room for walking (adding a slit will help with that a little).

Step 1

Step 2

Divide your measurements in half and transfer them onto a piece of paper (or your fabric). This will give you the general shape of your skirt.

The front panel of the skirt is one piece. The back is the same as the front, except it’s cut in half down the middle (as shown by the dotted line) and has extra seam allowance for the center seam and zipper. If you’re using a very stretchy fabric, you can skip the zipper and make the front and back pieces 1 panel each.

Make sure you’re leaving space for the seam allowance. Particularly if you are NOT using stretch fabric, give yourself a generous seam allowance.

Step 2

Step 3

Here is your front piece and two back pieces. Before you sew them together, you’ll need to decide about slits and zipper placement.

You’re going to want to put a slit into your skirt so you can actually walk. You can have a slit on the side, in the center back, or on both sides. It’s up to you.

You can make slits the same way you put in a zipper- sew the two pieces together, stitch around the seam, and open the slit with a seam ripper!

Step 3

Step 4

Unless your skirt is very stretchy, you’ll need a zipper. You can put a zipper at the side (between the front and back pieces) or you can put a zipper at the center back (between the two back pieces).

You can also put a zipper at the bottom of the center back or sides, so you can zip and unzip the slit!

Once you’ve figured out where to put the zippers and the slits, sew your pieces together.

Step 4

Step 5

Try your almost-finished skirt on.

If you put your skirt on and it has some bagginess around your waist, you need to add darts. Click here for the tutorial on darts.

If it fits perfect, hem the top and bottom of the skirt and you’re done!

Step 5

43 thoughts on “How to Make a Pencil Skirt

  1. I liked this tutorial but I needed to add more inches once I found the final product didn’t fit my butt!! Ekk!

    Awesome tutorial I have been looking for one for a long time now.

  2. What kind of fabric is best for this kind of skirt? I’m asking because the fit in the hips is terribly crucial for this to look good.

    1. I like to use thicker knit fabrics because the stretch gives you a perfect fit with minimal work. If you’re willing to spend extra time on fit, you can also use something like stretch twill or poplin but you will need to do things like add darts, zippers, etc. to get even a decent fit.

      For knit fabrics, I like double knits and heavy weight jersey.

  3. Hi! Very nice picture, it is you?You are so cute)
    A slim denim pencil skirt looks best with a simple top in any color, that plays up the sleek, sophisticated lines of the skirt. And i should say you looks like pin up girl!Very interesting style)

  4. Hi – I’m sewing a pencil skirt like this one and I am very hippy (i.e. my hips are 9″ wider than my waist). My problem is trying to make the zipper lie flat on my hip and not curve. Right now, it’s curving out – any idea how to fix that?

    Thanks in advance for your help!


  5. Fantastic tutorial!

    I am making this pencil skirt to be part of a wiggle dress (making top and skirt separately) I have made the skirt and the fit is pretty good accept I have pointy bits on the hips! Have double checked seams and they are curved, no angle in sight!

    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Danielle-
      I’m not sure if I’m picturing the “pointy bits” right, but I’m thinking it might be a result of the seam puckering because it’s a bit too tight at the hips.

  6. This is going to help me out so much in making my pencil skirt, it’s going to save a ton of money to, because I’m going to make it out of very shiny black latex.

  7. I don’t need to know how to make a pencil skirt. I need to know how to make that kind of bottom on any skirt. You stopped short on your video; what a tease. Where’s the rest of the instructions?

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by “that kind of bottom”? Or what video you’re referring to? I don’t have a pencil skirt video. :/

  8. Hi I have just made a pencil skirt with a front side slit , I used cotton stretch, now the slit curls to the outside, what can I do to prevent it from curling outward

  9. question about top hem. I don’t want the noticeable hem line on my waist, could I add a larger seam allowance and just fold over and iron?

    1. If you want to go with no stitching at the top, you could try using a fusible like Steam A Seam or StitchWitchery. It’s basically a narrow strip of fusible web that you can use to “glue” the hem down. Make sure to dry on low heat or air dry if you use a product like this, though.

  10. So I love this basic pencil skirt, I have a fabric with a little stretch and am going with visible zipper but was thinking I’d like the zipper to run from the top to the bottom of the skirt then open the zipper a smidge as the slit. Any suggestions on doing this?

  11. I was really hoping to see how to make the little mermaid flair at the bottom of the skirt that’s pictured here. sad it’s not included.

  12. I just made this pencil skirt and with a lot of trying it on.its got an hidden zipper and a back slit and by some stroke of luck it fits perfectly. Thanks for the tutorial.

    1. You’ll have to do a bit of math:
      First figure out the desired length. Make sure you add a few inches or centimeters to account for seams and hems.
      Now take your hip measurement. If the fabric is wide enough to encompass your hips (again, don’t forget seam allowances), then the yardage required would be equivalent to the length+seams.
      If your hip measurements exceeds the fabric width, you’ll need double the yardage.

      Example: The length + seam allowance for my skirt is 64 cm total.
      My hip measurement is 114 cm.

      If the fabric is 147 cm wide, I need 64 cm of fabric.
      If the fabric is 101 cm wide, I need 128 cm of fabric.

      (I did my best to convert this to metric, but I just realized that you might call it metrage instead of yardage when its metric. Oops!)

  13. Thanks for this great tutorial. What is the vertical distance between the high waist and the natural waist and then the natural waist and the hip.

  14. Hi. I love your instructions, but I am more of a visional person. I tried measuring and drawing the pattern but it did not come out right. Do you have any tutori videos I can watch that are step by step. I am a beginner. Please help. Also, If there is a way you give seeig lesson via video I would glady pay. Please let me know.

  15. i am trying to make a hobble skirt, a pencil skirt very tight at the knees and hem. i have non stretch fabric and i like the skirt , it’s hard to walk other than tiny steps, but it’s really cute. the skirt has no slit as it is not supposed to. i have torn the hem several times and have received two different ideas. one is to put a double layer of strong waist tape inside the hem, and the other is to get a 1/8 inch piece of braided steel cable. then solder or crimp a connector once the length is right. the measurement around the hem is 27.5 inches so keeping the hem from ripping would be good. has anyone made a hobble skirt ?? and which solution do you think would be better. the cable is stainless and would not rust , plus it seems flexible. amanda

    1. I think something like a cotton twill tape would probably do a fine job of reinforcing the hem. I think the steel is probably overkill, but then I’ve never worn a hobble skirt, so what do I know?

  16. i have a wool /tweed fabric – would this work for this type of fabric? do i need to add an ease? know i would need to add darts and a zip too, but really like the fabric and think it would be nice as a high wasted pencil skirt

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