The Pencil Skirt – from Gerties book

by LadyD

in 1950s

So I bought Gerties book for better sewing and have been reading it cover to cover. I decided to start at the begining and go for the first pattern. The pencil skirt.

Yes, I am finally going to start the tartan pencil skirt. There were various colours to choose from but I went for blue. My hat is blue, my coat is blue…so why not my skirt. I chose the (60″ wide) tartan and then some poly silk haboutai for the interlining.

I cut the skirt out to find I had enough fabric to make 2 skirts if I wanted. lol! Well -I thought- handy if I make a mistake.
I cut generously so I could adjust the fit while wearing it to allow more ease. I added about 1cm to each seam…and it was quite comfy to sit down in. Started sewing it up. If I was using a machine it would have been very quick but as I hand sew everything it took longer. Especially as I wanted to do it properly so used the hong kong seam finish from the book. Cut bias strips from the silky blue fabric to encase the fraying material. As I decided instead of lining the skirt I would wear a slip. I of course hand sewed the zip. Was supposed to be ‘invisible’ but as always it doesn’t stay in place and gapes and shows the teeth of the zip however close I sew.

I used a hook and eye I took of an old jacket instead of a button as I suspected trying to do a buttonhole in the tartan material would be a nightmare with fraying.

For more infor/pic see my blog

This post was written by...

– who has written 33 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

I've always hand sewn but never created garments until recently. I love the retro/vintage style. Its so much more stylish and flattering than modern stuff. For my dancing escapades and folk music http://thelearningtoclogblog.blogspot.co.uk/ For sewing, craft and general blog http://stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk/

LadyD's posts / LadyD's website

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

EmSewCrazy October 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Wow! I am so impressed with your handsewing! What a lovely skirt!

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LadyD October 31, 2012 at 4:30 am

Thank you. It was a nice one to hand sew too. If I hadn’t of had to put it aside till I bought the right size zip would have had it done in about a week.

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Valerie M October 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Your skirt is gorgeous. I love the color too and am seriously impressed you hand sewed the whole thing. I don’t mind handsewing but I think twice about a whole garment. I’m itching to get Gertie’s book myself.

I think I know why you’re having problems with the zipper showing. Invisible zippers, with a machine, use a specialized foot that pushes the teeth to the side so the needle can get in very close. I think the precision of each and every stitch being the same in this case on a machine, with the foot, is what makes them “invisible”. Since no human can make such precise stitches *and* push the teeth to the side at the same time it may be why yours gapes in places.

It may be why lapped zippers were used so much in the past; they were hand sewn in. Those can be very well done hand sewn, lots of times better than you can get with a machine in my opinion.

Personally, I love invisible zippers but I’m lousy with lapped zippers either by machine or by hand. I’ve never tried to sew one by hand however.

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LadyD October 31, 2012 at 4:35 am

Thank you. I have so much white and blue in my winter wardrobe. I had to sew something to fit with the colour scheme. ;)
I was stitching very close too the teeth (it looks find on the hanger its only when I wear the skirt it shows) and have yet to figure out lapped zippers. I’ve just come to accept zips will show so I make them contrasting colours on purpose as a design feature. lol! (frustrated wannabe fashion designer speaking).

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WendyBee October 31, 2012 at 11:24 am

I love your skirt. The tartan is so crisp and cheery. I am in awe of the idea of hand-sewing. I just picture my being impatient with re-threading the needle and so using too much thread, and then dealing with twisting and knotting. You clearly know how to do this without the issues….beeswax? Anyway, great skirt! Loking forward to your next project!

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LadyD October 31, 2012 at 11:53 am

Thank you. :) I’ve got estimating the length of thread needed to maximise the stitches sewn V’s knotting factor down to a fine art (roughly length from forefinger to elbow). I’ve never used beeswax. But I do use quality thread.
You thread the needle, cast on THEN let it dangle for a few seconds to ‘untwist’ (not letting the needle unthread of course).

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Liz Chaisson Thompson January 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm

I LOVE the fact that you hand sew! I’ve been hand sewing for years, and only recently have begun using one of my two machines. No matter what the machine is working on, I always have a hand sewn project on the go.

You’ve done a terrific job with the skirt – and those materials must have felt so very wonderful to work with.

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