my new pencil skirt + 60 skirts for girls in foster care

I’m a little obsessed with making pencil skirts right now.
I mean.
They are.  The easiest skirts to make!
(sorry for the dramatics)
knit pencil skirt tutorial
20 minute knit pencil skirt

But I’m not kidding!
20 minutes….DONE.
I need to keep churning these suckers out.
And you should too.  (Get the full Pencil Skirt Tutorial HERE)
A couple changes I made this time around:
I used 2-inch wide elastic (rather than 1-inch)…which I was on-the-fence about at first (because elastic widths are an important use for brain bandwidth).  But I thought the 2-inch would be too wide and almost too tight at the top.  Instead, I totally love it!
simple pencil skirt tutorial
It actually holds me in better.
Which seems funny to note.  But I love clothing that helps me “suck it in”….like the denim shorts I wear all summer long.  Who knows, maybe I would have loved wearing a corset back in the day?  Of course corsets didn’t have 5% spandex thrown in.
I’ll stick to my shorts.
And pencil skirts.

Okay, the second change is that I used a cover stitch for the waistband and the hem.
YES!  This was my first time using a cover stitch machine!…which might sound foreign to some of you. A cover stitch is similar to an overlock stitch on a serger, but it has two parallel straight stitches on one side, and overlock stitch on the other side.  It’s that stitch you see at the bottom of every T-shirt hemline, on swim suits, on skirts, pants, etc.  It’s everywhere!  You’ve probably seen a thousand times without even realizing it.
how to sew a pencil skirt

And I got to try out the fancy coverstitching at Baby Lock Sewing Headquarters this week!
I’ve been working with them for about a year now (maybe you remember the yards and yards of ruffled streamers I sewed for their even last year?).   Well they invited a group of bloggers, sewers, and brand partners out to their facility in St Louis again, so we could learn more about their machines, eat cupcakes with friends, and share ideas with each other.

Which means….I got to hang out with Katy Dill, Kate, Melissa, Stef, and the Simple Simon girls for 2 days!

It’s such a treat to meet blogging friends in real life (like when I met Rae and Deborah)

Of course I love putting a voice with their writing style….but what I love more is hearing the laugh that goes along, and finding out which dry shampoo brand Kate loves (rather than the cheap Suave stuff I’ve been using), and listening to Liz and Elizabeth tell the funniest life stories while we sit eating pancakes at Denny’s at midnight.  You find out how poised and detail-oriented Katy is (okay, you already knew that).  But really, she has the most soothing, calm voice.  I sound like I’m vomiting conversation next to her.  Melissa is funny and witty and knows so much about so many things.  And Stef has the most amazing hair!  She’s just adorable and so smart.

Okay, I’ll stop rambling.
And share my favorite part of the event….
Every year Liz and Elizabeth host a sew-along called Skirting the Issue, where anyone can make skirts during July/August, mail them in, and the skirts are donated to foster care children.  It’s such a cool project and such an easy way to give.  Because how hard is it to make skirt??  20 minutes.

So they brought the project to the Baby Lock event and asked if we would help by sewing skirts together, right there in the same room.

Riley Blake fabrics donated yards of knit fabrics and we started sewing.  We focused on making skirts for teenage girls.  So we sewed knit pencil skirts, hoping that each girl could have a new outfit for the first day of school.
And in about an hour the group had sewn 60 skirts!  60!
It was a humbling sight to see all those skirts hanging on the wall.
If you want more info about how you can help with Skirting the Issue, head over to Simple Simon (the event hasn’t started yet for this year—I believe it starts in July.  But that link will give you info on how it all works).
Thank you Baby Lock and thank you friends for a wonderful two days.

And thank you for Riley Blake for all the extra fabric (we were also able to make our own skirts during open-sew time)  I’ll think of it as my souvenir skirt.
simple pencil skirt on MADE

  1. 1) Amy B.

    That skirt is adorable and the project is awesome. My sister is a foster mom that takes in teenagers. Those kids show up with the clothes on their backs most of the time. The state gives “vouchers” but most of the time they have to shop at a thrift store because the vouchers aren’t even enough to cover a pared down wardrobe at a cheap department store.

    I love that you sewed for the teenagers. 🙂 They so often get overlooked. Awesome project.

    • 2) Dana

      Oh that’s heartbreaking. Your sister is a saint for welcoming them to her home. I’m so glad we could help in even a small way.

  2. 3) Carrie

    I made my first pencil skirt a month or so ago and didn’t finish it because the elastic kept coming through on the other side of the fabric. Any tips on how to prevent that? And my skirt wasn’t as fitted as I thought it would be. Does it just get better with tweaking the pattern? Or am I doing my measurements incorrectly?

    • 4) Dana

      Hi Carrie,
      Every body shape is different….but what works best is to measure the widest part of your lower body. For me, that means measuring around my waist and buttocks (all of this info is in the video). Then the key is to taper it in a bit, toward the waist and down to toward your knees too.
      I like to measure in 1 inch and then draw a diagonal line down about 6 inches back to the side of the skirt. And it helps when you’re cutting that part off to really blend it in, so it’s not just a big chunk taken out…but as you cut closer to the side of the skirt, gradually ease your cutting back out to the side of the skirt. I know that sounds confusing. I think I’m going to do a tutorial here on the blog too, so there’s a tutorial AND the video.
      I hope that helps!

      Also…making the skirt smaller than you might think helps too. This time around I cut mine an inch smaller than I meant to and was worried it was going to be way too small….but then it fit awesome! It’s meant to be tight and form fitted. So don’t be afraid to make it do that! 🙂

  3. 5) Tina

    This is so awesome! I love that you shared this experience. Thank you!

  4. 6) Sandy O

    I clicked on the link to Simple Simon because I’m interested in “Skirting the Issue”, but the link led to me a posting from a year ago. Are they going to do it again this year? Thanks for any info you can provide

    p.s. I really enjoy your blog 🙂

    • 7) Dana

      Yes, that info is from last year. They haven’t started the event yet—I believe it happens in July.
      And I know they’ll be posting about it sometime in the near future. But that post from last year will give you tons of info to get you started until they announce it. You can always follow them on Instagram and their blog to stay updated with everything.

      I’m glad you want to join in!

      Thanks Sandy 🙂

      • 8) Sandy O


  5. 9) Sheila Perl

    That is an adorable skirt you are wearing, I am so impressed with all the skirts you ladies made at the convention! What a wonderful thing to do 🙂

  6. I love these skirts! And what a great idea to make some for foster care kids!

  7. 11) Emilie

    Unrelated question Dana! Where are those super pretty shoes from?

    • 12) Dana

      They’re from H&M!….but I bought them a few summers ago (which doesn’t help you at all. Sorry) I wish I had bought two more pairs because I’ll be totally sad the day they break!

  8. WOW that is a whole lotta talent in one room! I would have loved to be there!
    Great idea to do teen skirts! The style is perfect.

    OH- BTW, your site did something mine did. It routed me to a site called Go Garden club. My husband fixed mine by taking off sitemeter. It is a common problem for people with that installed.


  9. 14) Jody

    What a great project you ladies undertook! What girl doesn’t enjoy a new skirt in those fun colors and patterns?

    I’ve made two of the pencil skirts for myself and I love them. The new hem you mention looks so good, but my machine is old and won’t do that. But I could use a twin needle. Wouldn’t that give me a similar look?


  10. 15) Sarah Heat

    I covet a coverlock machine!

  11. 16) Erika

    I love this project and its purpose! The fabrics are beautiful and including the boutique-like tag really elevates the skirt, making it a special gift for the girls. So glad you could share this…thanks.

  12. 17) andrea

    I was going to ask the same question as Emilie: love the shoes . . . where did you score those?

    • 18) Dana

      They’re from H&M!….but I bought them a few summers ago (which doesn’t help you at all. Sorry) I wish I had bought two more pairs because I’ll be totally sad the day they break!

  13. 19) Anna

    How long have you had your coverstitch machine? I only recently learned that they were different than sergers and have been trying to get more information on them. Thanks!

    • 20) Dana

      I actually don’t have a coverstitch machine, but would love one!
      Baby Lock has a couple sergers that can convert to a cover stitch. And they also sell a separate cover stitch machine. They’re really awesome!

  14. 21) Alyssa

    I LOVE making these skirts and I LOVE all your video tutorials! Question: When I sew the 2″ elastic in instead of the 1″ elastic, the bottom of the elastic seems so much smaller than the width of the knit fabric (compared to the top of the elastic). How do I keep the knit fabric evenly sewn to the elastic all the way around without extra fabric leftover?

  15. 22) K

    I’m so heartened to see your post. I am addicted to sewing blogs but I often come away from it depressed that so many talented people are more or less playing dress up with themselves. A “selfish sewing” type contest is mind boggling when it appears as if almost all sewers are essentially doing this most or all of the time. I would love to see this creative community devote even 5% of their crafting time to help others such as in your project. Bravo to you and the others for making your 60 skirts! You are inspiring through your action!

  16. 23) ava

    Love your daughter’s dress. Is there a tutorial for that? Just make a tshirt dress with asymmetrical hem?

  17. Love these skirts! Just a FYI: I make loads of these for myself and my daughter when Daddy gets a bit bored with any of his T-shirts 🙂 Super easy, because the hem is already there. So LITERALLY all you need to do is add the waist elastic in. 🙂

  18. I totally like that skirt. 20 minutes? Really? Wow.

  19. 26) Barb

    Thank you for this site Im enjoying it greatly.

  20. 27) Fiona

    I find your work very easy indeed to learn and understand

  21. 28) Jamie

    how much material for little girls pencil skirts????

  22. 29) Lily

    Thank you for providing this tutorial. I’m rather new to sewing, but this project seems quite achievable.
    My question is this: did you use a universal needle for this project or did you change it to a ballpoint or jersey one?

    • 30) Dana

      I’m glad this makes you feel like you can do it! You totally can 🙂 With knits you can use a Ball Needle….but honestly, I hate taking the time to switch needles, so I just use a Universal needle and it’s worked fine for me! Hope that helps 🙂

  23. 31) Ingrid

    dear Dana, I just bought a new sewing machine and I am trying it out. How can I make a simple cotton pecil skirt? (No strech)

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