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From BLAH to MEOW !! How to make a sexy high waist pencil skirt without a pattern !

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Picture of From BLAH to MEOW !! How to make a sexy high waist pencil skirt without a pattern !
Find a great fitting vintage pencil skirt at a thrift store, but it's just BLAH ?? Use it to make a sexy and stylish, new wardrobe ! This instructable will show you how to copy your favorite pencil skirt without a paper pattern, using your already owned skirt...this instructable could really be used to copy any similar styled skirt !!   
 
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Step 1: Know your fronts and backs

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Turn your skirt inside out.  This skirt has 4 panels (two front and two back).  

Step 2: Prepare your fabric

Take your fabric and fold, right sides together (you will want to cut double thickness).  For this instructable, I am using vintage wool with no stretch.  You can use cotton (if it's not too see through), a stretch twill (97% cotton / 2% lycra) or whatever fabric you like.  Be sure to wash and dry, per manufacture instructions prior to cutting...you don't want to make your skirt and go wash it, only to have it shrink !

Step 3: Cut front panel

Take your "front" of the skirt and fold in half.  Lay it down on your fabric, smooth down.  Start pinning ! Do not forget you will need to add your seam allowance.  I would suggest to use 5/8 inches.  So be sure when you lay your skirt onto the fabric, you have extra fabric hanging over on all sides (seam allowance).

Step 4: Cut back panel

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Same as the front....fold the back panel in half, pin and don't forget seam allowances !

Step 5: Cut waistband

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You can eyeball the waistband.  It is just a strip of fabric.  Lay your skirt down and measure the length of the waist and double that measurement ( 14 inches flat X2 = 28 inches ) and add 3 inches (31 inches).  Cut a (31) inch long strip and make it 4 inches wide.

Step 6: Congrats ! You are finished cutting !

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You should now have cut the front panel, back panel and the waistband (a total of 5 pieces...remember the front and back panel are both double thickness).

Step 7: Sew front panel

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Pin and sew the front panel (this will be the front center seam) using the 5/8 inch seam allowance setting on your sewing machine.  If you have pinking shears, you can pink the sewn edge, you could also overstitch the edges on your sewing machine if you have that capability.  This just keeps the inside as nice as the outside.  Fire up your iron and press your center seam open.

Step 8: Sew the back panel

Sew the back panel in the same manner as the front panel and press open seams. You will be sewing the straight side, not the curved side.  **I got ahead of myself with the darts, I will go into that in the next step.

Step 9: Darts !!

Take your skirt and lay it on top of your fabric (lined up with the correct panel).  Pin on each side of your dart at the waist and one pin where the dart ends.  Fold fabric at the seam you just sewed and pin at the same places on the opposite side.  On one side, fold fabric (right sides together) so the waist pins are together.  Sew your dart where the waist pins meet, diagonally and downwards, towards the single pin, you will basically sew off of the fabric when you reach the single pin. You will do this same thing for all of your darts on your skirt.  Press the darts from the wrong side of the fabric towards the center seams.

Step 10: Sew side seams

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This skirt has a left side, lapped zipper.  Lay your front and back panels, right sides together, pin and don't forget the seam allowances. You will want to sew the right side seam up completely.  For the left side seam, you will want to sew from the hem to where you want the zipper to end ( I used a 7 inch zipper, so you would stop sewing 7 inches below the waist). Press side seams open.

Step 11: Add zipper

Press your seam allowances ~ Larger seam allowance on the right (5/8 inch) than the left (1/2 inch ). Sew the left side of the zipper first using your sewing machines zipper foot, stitch zipper close to the zipper teeth (1/8 inch).  Close zipper and turn your skirt to the outside (right side).  Take the unsewn zipper side and lap over to the sewn zipper side (it should overlap the stitches on the sewn side, about 1/8 inch over the left side stitches).  Pin down the lap.  Feel where the zipper lays on the right side and start pinning to the left side of the zipper teeth ( I do it by feel ) and pin your sewing line (if you look at the pictures, there are two rows of pins...the larger headed sized pins are the lapped side and the small ball headed pins are your sewing line).  Sew carefully down the sewing line to the bottom of the zipper, rotate your skirt and sew across the bottom part of the zipper/lap.

Step 12: Add the waistband

Take your waistband strip and fold in half, longways (right sides together).  At one end, sew a point < ... at the other end sew just a straight line, trim seams, turn to the right side and press.  Start pinning waistband onto waist of skirt (right sides together), matching raw edges.  Sew on waistband, leaving the closest, raw edge free.  Turn the waistband up and press into the inside of the skirt.  You will also want to turn under the inside free edge (about 1/4 inch), press and hand sew the turned under edge to the inside of the waist. You can now add a button or snap to the pointy end of the waistband.

Step 13: Add girly things !

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Technically, you are done !! However, being a pinup takes some extra girly-ness....So, if you want, you can make a huge bow to add to the front waist of the skirt ! 
Cut a double thickness rectangle of fabric (maybe 6 or 7 inches) and if you have it, iron on some lightweight stabilizer to the wrong sides of the fabric.  Sew around the rectangle (right sides together), but leave a 3 inch opening, unsewn.  Trim seams, turn to the right side and press.  Sew a small strip of fabric (right sides together) about 3 inches long, trim and turn to the right side.  Hand sew the larger fabric rectangle opening, then take your fabric rectangle and start folding like a fan.  Take the small strip of fabric and wrap around the middle of your fan.  Hand stitch the strips free edges, until secure, at the back of the bow. Attach the bow with a few stitches to the waist of the skirt ! ALL DONE !!! You look absolutely fantastic !

Step 14: Your finished !!

Pair with a cute top and a pair of sling back, peeptoe, kitten heels....and your ready to go ! 

Step 15: Different finishing touch

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Another option....you can add piping or make your own scalloped piping to add vertically to the front panel.
Pinupgrl76 (author) 3 years ago
Oooohhh....what a sweet surprise for your wife !!!!

Yes, I made this without taking apart the original (mostly because I still wear the original..lol). But you could totally deconstruct your pattern piece and use it to make a more accurate pattern !! Just don't forget to add your seam allowances (regardless of which way you make the pattern). If your sewing skills aren't great, I might suggest you get someone to help you with the zipper insert ( probably the most difficult part of the skirt ). Good luck and great thinking !!
Thanks. Funny you should mention getting help with the zipper...I've had some bad experiences in the past and had already planned for help. Good to know that it wasn't hard just for me.
Great instructable. Is that thrift store skirt linen? If it still seems blah to you, what about some colorful modern doodle embroidery on part of it? (see a google image search if you're not sure what I mean by doodle embroidery)

I'll bet that would look adorable.
timm.tanner3 years ago
I have always loved the look of pencil skirts. I see that your method allows the original garment to remain whole and useable, but could you get a more accurate pattern by taking the skirt apart at each seam? I'm thinking of doing this as a surprise for my wife with a skirt she loves that got stained. I'm not great with sewing, but passable, so more accuracy in the pattern would be a big benefit to me.
Oh, it turned out so adorable! Love the bow.

I've been planning to do this with some of my favorite clothes that have gotten worn out.