The Gertie Pencil Skirt – Take One



Over & above all else, this project reminded me how much I LOOOOOOOOVE wearing pencil skirts: these are ME! I’ll wear an A-line; that’s ok, or definitely a flowy maxi skirt (I love me a maxi!!) but i always feel mildly imbecilic & twee in circle or full skirts, for some reason LOL.



So a skirt should really be the easiest thing to fit, right? But apparently I’m a bonehead & I messed up way too many things for me to not be fully embarrassed… let me recount the steps of my fitting demise:

  • i first traced according to my measurements: an 8 at waist tapering to 4 at hip (12″ differential?? who has that? not me, that’s for sure!! not that i mind being a 4 in ANYTHING, even one body part – i can tell you that never happens in RTW lol), but the first draft was too tight, so i added a smidge in the hip overall (so much for being a 4 – that was a nice five minutes LOL)
  • i then realized later, i had missed tracing the outer dart on the pattern pieces, hence the reason the first draft was oddly tight in the hip but a little big in the waist, which confused me cause normally I’d have the opposite problem
  • i didn’t figure out the above epiphany until after all pieces were cut, so i added a small piece to the waistband at each side to compensate (I didn’t have enough heavy fusible to re-cut the whole thing, and the waist didn’t seem big enough to add the extra darts… but DERP I didn’t think of the fact that it was a HIGH WAISTED skirt, and that I was trying it on without the waistband, BELOW the waist *facepalm*)
  • even after all this, the waistband was still too short at the back closure, so i did a pants hook & bar instead of the more vintage called-for button
  • now the waist is too big but it’s high waisted and I can cover it with a shirt, and the dark navy wool suiting hides a multitude of sins lol

So the end result is that if i make it again, i will add the second set of darts and the original waistband pattern SHOULD work, and it SHOULD fit me at the waist LOL.

So… let’s talk zippers for a sec. When I first started sewing, I was able to put in a reasonably invisible zipper and a reasonably tidy regular zipper no problem. I haven’t changed machines, and nothing else has changed but somehow I’ve lost the ability to install a decent zipper!!! I’m not gonna lie – this has been really making me down on my abilities, as I never seem to be able to complete a project without problems, and the zipper is the worst of them, despite how hard I try.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the deal is but I have decided to SLOW DOWN, focus on doing the basics really really well, and enjoy the process instead of thinking ahead to the finished piece. Perhaps that will help me discover where I might be going wrong. This isn’t easy for me, because I have SO limited time as it is, with my heavy work schedule, but if I’m not making things I love at the end of the day, even that limited time is wasted anyway, so it seems like the right thing to do.

So I did a lapped zipper and revisited my much loved hand picked stitches, learned from Gertie’s Bombshell class. I still have a slight bubble at the base of the zipper but whatever lol – it’s better than most of the zippers I’ve done lately. I did a lot of hand sewing on this skirt and I really have to give a shout out to Sunni’s silk thread – it’s so fine it’s almost invisible, and lovely to work with.

gratuitous bum shot! LOL

gratuitous bum shot! LOL

I decided to add a lining (this was my first time doing this without full-on instructions – they’re not included in the pattern, although basic steps are included separately in the book). I’m glad I did – because I will only be wearing this skirt with tights, the lining makes a big difference in comfort and smoothness.

I also did a hand sewn invisible hem & catch stitched the lining to zipper & vent.

inside of waistband, lining, and zipper

inside of waistband, lining, and zipper

Overall, this project was very time consuming (particularly for being a basic and relatively simple garment), mostly because there were some pretty dumb mistakes made, but in the end I got a nice basic out of it all, and now that I’ve learned my mistakes, I will probably make this skirt again 🙂

About symondezyn

graphic designer, illustrator, and artist of many skills... always striving towards new challenges and goals, and always with more projects than time to do them in!! View all posts by symondezyn

30 responses to “The Gertie Pencil Skirt – Take One

  • bimbleandpimble

    You totally suit a pencil skirt down to a tee! And well worth the effort on the fit- you look fierce!

  • sewlittletime

    it looks great. and despite the fit issues you can’t tell with the finished project! and i think the zip looks good – i love a handpicked zip and they are so often easier than a machine sewn one!

    • symondezyn

      Ain’t that the truth!! I have seriously considered doing all my zippers by hand lol – but until I conquer it by machine I just won’t feel right ^_^ Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

  • Annabelle

    Oh dear, what a story! I blame the long commutes for work (they do horrible things to a person’s ability to reason). But I’m glad it worked out in the end, if you had not shared all of your trouble I would have just thought “what a perfect pencil”. Though I still believe it looks pretty perfect on you – I mean, check out that bum pic!

    • symondezyn

      Hahaha!!! I know, right? I give my photog all the credit for that bum pic – I honestly didn’t know I even HAD a bootie – haha!!! 🙂 Thanks for your sweet words – yes, let’s blame the commute!! 🙂

  • Tia Dia

    This looks so perfect! I feel a bit twee in a circle skirt, too, although I lUrVe the excess of fabric swishing around. And measuring/cutting always makes my head crazy ‘cuz I’m always messing up somewhere (y’know – too much or too little fabric to go ’round!) I’m all for the hand-picked zipper – you just can’t beat it for perfection. For years I was afraid of the machine stitched zip, so settled for the “homemade” zip look and always did the hand-picked thing. Only later did I learn it was a couture technique!

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Tia! Glad I’m not the only one! 🙂 I think it’s important to know what suits us & embrace it, so we can decide when to “break the rules” consciously 🙂
      Hand picked zips FTW!!! 😀

  • sallie

    Pencil skirts are always so sexy!! And this one is no exception! You look fantastic in it. I think we often fool ourselves into thinking “simple wardrobe staple = simple sewing” but I’ve found that’s really never the case! Wardrobe staples become staples because we love wearing them, and ‘love to wear’ items usually call for things like linings, perfect zips, fitting adjustments, invisible hems etc. etc. etc. And those things take time!!

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Sallie! 🙂 You know, you’re absolutely right – the basics take more effort to do well cause you really can’t hide behind embellishments – it’s like the nudity of sewing… it’s all bare! lol

  • mrsmole

    It a winner and think of all the things you learned/taught yourself in the process!!!! Having such a classic skirt will bring you so many hours of wearing joy and probably many compliments too with or without the “bootie shot”…and sliding on a skirt with a lining makes you feel so special! Great job!

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Mrs M! 🙂 Honestly, I feel like the longer I sew, the less I know (but I can still rhyme apparently LOL). I hope I can retain some of the lessons I’m (re)-learning! So true about the lining; it definitely elevates any garment to a more special level! 🙂

  • Gjeometry

    OH NOES!! Sorry to hear of all your woes. But, I love the end product! I too prefer a more pencil, straight or A-line skirt. It also uses less fabric. The lining looks great as well! I was just saying the other day, that for my Snakeskin trousers I had to insert the invisible zip 4 times AND, I had to buy a second one because I ended up damaging the first one. So weird, because I inserted it the same way as for my Twinkle Sews skirt and that one went in perfectly the 1st time! But, all in all, the skirt looks great.

  • Laurie

    Your “zipper issues” reminded me of my “zipper issues!” Same thing for me- been sewing for years and had no trouble with zippers and suddenly my zippers looked like “crud…” I ended up going back and using Colette and Gertie tutorials for my invisible zip and it was beautiful! Guess I just needed to slow down too! Your skirt looks great despite your woes! 🙂

  • Jo

    It looks so good! Sometimes you have a project which fights back (most of mine do unfortunately), but I agree, taking your time and not being too caught up in the end result is a great idea. You look fab 🙂

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Jo! 🙂 Yeah, most of mine fight back as well – it’s hard not to get down on myself for it, but I’m hoping that this new re-focusing of my energy on the process will help – keep your fingers crossed! LOL 🙂

  • Andrea

    I think it looks fantastic and you need to make one in every colour. You are so right – tis style looks very “you”!

  • misscrayolacreepy

    I think the skirt and lapped zipper look great! I bet the next version will be so much easier and quicker. You can do it!

  • BusyLizzie

    This looks pretty good to me, I can’t see any of the issues you are talk of. I have this book but haven’t given any of the patterns a go yet, too lazy to trace them off so far 🙂
    Well done on all the hand sewing too!

  • Carolyn

    That’s a great basic skirt!

  • Calico Stretch

    Darn good skirt Sy and I don’t see any bubble on the zip either. And besides if anyone sees it they’re checking our your rear …… 😉

    I love pencil skirts too and have to get over my pants focus in order to make one. Winter and boots and pencil skirts makes me feel all cozy.

    • symondezyn

      Bahaha!!! I love that – too true!!!

      Yeah I love winter dressing – boots, tights, and skirts/dresses are cosy and make you feel so pretty when it’s dreary out 🙂

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