How to Make a Pencil Skirt – DIY Fashion Tutorial

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


My name is Alexis. I have a craft addiction. This is my story. also check out: (my clothes) (my tutorials)

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39 comments on “How to Make a Pencil Skirt – DIY Fashion Tutorial
  1. I have some gray ultrasuede I inherited from my great aunt, I bet that would be great for this! I will try to make it this weekend, thanks!

  2. Pencil skirts look great with waist bands if you are wearing it at your true waistline too. Darts give a nice fit and look to your backside as well. Thanks for the sharing!

  3. bree says:

    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.

  4. Anna says:

    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.

    • Lex says:

      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.

  5. loulou says:

    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)

  6. Maria H says:

    This looks like something I can tackle! Thank you for the easy to understand tutorial!

  7. ????? ?????? says:

    The skirt looks fabulous!

  8. Jenn-Lee says:

    Thank you for this great tutorial. I am using it right now to make a skirt for Family photos this week. THanks soooo much!

  9. Jennifer says:

    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!


  10. Danielle says:

    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?

    • Lex says:

      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.

  11. fay says:

    How much seam allowances did u put in and do u give instuctions like this for other garmentS such as shirts.

  12. Ann says:

    Really helpful. Just started a fashion class

  13. Jessica Lynn Ley says:

    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.

  14. rose norley says:

    this is really going to help me in my studies but u never mentioned anything about darts

  15. Janice says:

    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?

    • Lex says:

      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. :/

  16. Estelle says:

    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

  17. Dorothy says:

    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?

    • Lex says:

      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.

  18. Madeline says:

    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?

  19. Madeline says:

    Lol never mind I now see your pattern! ????????????????

  20. Pat says:

    I really got something from this tutorial, not made clothes before but with this can make a perfect pencil skirt. Thank u

  21. Steph says:

    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.

  22. joanne says:

    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.

  23. Thandy says:

    i luv luv…fanx

  24. Heidi says:

    How do you know how much material to buy ?

    • Lex says:

      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!)

  25. Zero says:

    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.

  26. Misick says:

    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.

  27. Lynne says:

    This is really fantastic! Thank you!

  28. leslie says:

    Thanks for brilliant tutorial, although I am a newbie, I could follow it comfortably

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  1. […] be tough! Anywho I’m following What the Craft’s (for the record I love that name) tut here. Happy sewing! I’ll post pics once I get this one […]

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