Episode 307


Dart Details by Ellen Switzer

Learn how to draft a pencil skirt pattern with quick-and-easy ruffled roses.

Learn more about facings from the Sew it All 3 article, "About Face."


  • 2 yards of print woven fabric
  • 1/4 yard of fusible interfacing
  • 7"-long invisible zipper
  • Thread: all-purpose & serger (optional)
  • Presser feet: blind hem & invisible zipper
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Serger (optional)

Prep It

Note: If not using a serger, seam-finish the skirt as desired.

  1. Download the skirt front and back patterns and waistband and facing patterns; cut out the size that corresponds to your measurements.
  2. Cut out each pattern piece from the print fabric. Transfer all pattern markings.
  3. From the interfacing, cut one front and back waistband. Trim 1/8" from each interfacing waistband perimeter. Fuse the interfacing waistbands to the corresponding fabric waistband pieces, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Clip the skirt center front and center back along the waistline.
  5. Staystitch the skirt front and back, waistband and waistband facing using a 1/2" seam allowance, beginning at the clip.
  6. Select a 3-thread or 4-thread overlock stitch and disengage the knife on the serger. Serge- or zigzag-finish the skirt front and back side-seam edges.

Sew It

Use 5/8" seam allowances unless otherwise noted.

  1. Stitch the skirt front and back darts. Press the darts toward the skirt center.
  2. Select a 3mm to 4mm stitch length. Stitch 1/16" from the skirt front and back seamline on the seam allowance, leaving long thread tails at the beginning and end.
  3. With right sides together, stitch the skirt right side seam; press open the seam. Serge- or zigzag-finish the seam allowances, trimming the edges 1/8". Repeat to stitch the waistband and waistband-facing right side seam. Trim the waistband-facing seam allowance to 1/4".
  4. With right sides together, pin the waistband to the skirt waistline, matching the right side seam, center-front and center-back clips.
  5. Gently pull the thread tails, slightly gathering the skirt-front upper edge to ease the skirt waistline into the waistband, making sure the easing is smooth and even. Stitch the waistband to the skirt; press open the seam. Trim the waistband seam allowance to 1/8" and the skirt seam allowance to 1/4". 
  6. Pin the waistband facing to the waistband, slightly stretching the facing to match the waistband length and matching the right side seam, center-front and center-back clips. Stitch, beginning and ending 1" from each short end. Press open the seam.
  7. Understitch the facing seam allowance to the facing, beginning and ending the stitching 1" from each short end. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8". Press the waistband right side, favoring the waistband toward the facing.
  8. Beginning at the skirt lower edge, tightly roll the skirt up to the skirt waistband, positioning the roll between the waistband and facing.
  9. Align the facing long raw edge with the stitched waistband seam; pin. Stitch along the previous stitching line, beginning and ending the stitching 1" from each short end. Press open the seam, treating the waistband and skirt seam allowances as one. Trim the facing seam allowance to 3/8".
  10. Slowly pull the skirt through one waistband short-end opening. Press the waistband seam.
  11. Stitch the skirt left side seam, ending at the zipper opening lower edge. Press open the seam.
  12. Open the zipper. Stitch the right zipper tape to the skirt-back side seam, following the manufacturer's instructions. Close the zipper.
  13. Using a removable fabric marker or tailor's chalk, mark the waistband seamline on the left zipper tape. Open the zipper. Pin the left zipper tape to the skirt front side seam, aligning the zipper marking with the waistline seamline. Machine baste the zipper to the skirt 1" above and beyond the marking.
  14. Close the zipper. Check to make sure the waistline seamlines match. If they don't match, remove the basting and adjust the zipper position; baste again. Once the seamlines perfectly align, stitch the zipper to the skirt following the manufacturer's instructions.
  15. Slipstitch the waistband open seams closed.
  16. With right sides together, stitch the hem facing short ends to create a continuous band; press open the seams. Trim the seam allowances to 1/8"; serge-finish.
  17. With right sides together, align one hem-facing long edge with the skirt lower edge; stitch. Press open the seam. Trim the skirt seam allowance to 1/8" and the hem facing to 1/4". Serge the opposite hem-facing long edge. If not using a serger, double-fold the long edge 1/4" toward the wrong side; stitch close to the first fold. Press the skirt lower edge from the right side.
  18. Turn the skirt wrong side out. Blind hem stitch the hem facing long edge to the skirt, referring to your machine manual for specific instructions.

Bias cut roses:


  • 1 yard of organza
  • Scrap of organza, tulle or satin
  • Tear-away stabilizer
  • All-purpose thread
  • Ruler
  • Serger (capable of pearl stitch)
  • Rotary cutting system (optional)

Prep It

  1. From the organza, cut 2"-wide bias strips.
  2. From the scrap organza, tulle or satin, cut one circle according to the desired finished rose-base diameter.
  3. Set the serger for a pearl stitch, referring to your machine manual. Serge each strip long edge. If you don't have a serger, select a narrow zigzag stitch to finish the long edges.
  4. Tip: Fabric cut on the bias doesn't ravel as much as fabric cut on the straight or crosswise grain, so leave the bias strip edges raw for an edgy look.
  5. Tip: If using polyester organza, singe the bias strip raw edges using a candle to create a wavy effect. Lightly pass the organza strip over the flame to barely melt the fabric edges.

Sew It

  1. Position one strip short end over the base center. Take three stitches along the strip center.
  2. With the needle down, lift the presser foot and turn the base 180˚; take five additional stitches.
  3. With the needle down, lift the presser foot and turn the base so the strip begins to overlap the strip beginning to create a tight rosebud center.
  4. Continue turning the base and stitching the strip center, abutting the successive strip centers with the preceding strip to cover the entire base. Hold the previous layers out of the way during stitching.
  5. Add additional strips as needed, positioning the new strip short end over the stitched strip short end.
  6. Trim the base close to, but not through, the outer stitching line.
  7. From the tear-away stabilizer, cut one circle 1" larger than the rose diameter.
  8. Center the rose right side up over the stabilizer circle; pin. Position the rose right side up over the garment front right side where desired; pin.
  9. Fold down the outer-most strip to expose the stitching line. Stitch the rose to the shirt, following the previous stitching line.
  10. Carefully tear away the stabilizer beyond the stitching line. 

Pattern Play

Create two different skirt silhouettes using the same basic pencil skirt pattern.

Princess Seams

  1. Draw two vertical lines parallel to the center front, extending from the dart points to the skirt lower edge.
  2. Cut along each line and dart legs each to create two separate pattern pieces.
  3. Add seam allowances to each pattern piece cut edge.
  4. Repeat to draft the skirt back.

A-Line Skirt

  1. Cut along one dart leg line to, but not through, the dart point. Repeat for the remaining dart.
  2. Draw a vertical line parallel to the center front, extending from the dart points to the skirt lower edge.
  3. Rotate to close each dart; tape. Position the pattern over a new piece of paper; tape. Cut out the new pattern.
  4. Repeat to draft the skirt back.

Technique Dictionary

Favor: Favoring is the process of slightly shifting the seamline toward the garment wrong side or facing to create a clean and smooth appearance.

Grading: Grading is trimming the seam allowances to different widths to reduce seam bulk.

Staystitch: Staystitching is a row of stitching that's sewn on an angled or curved seamline, such as a neckline, armhole, waistline or facing. Staystitch after the pattern is cut using a 2.5mm-long stitch length to prevent the seamlines from stretching and distorting during construction.

Understitch: Understitching is pressing the garment seam allowances from the right side toward the facing, and then edgestitching through the facing and seam allowance to prevent the facing from turning to the garment right side during wear.

Tip: Always cut fabric on grain according to the pattern pieces to ensure a professional-looking garment.

Products used in this episode:

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