Pencil Skirt Sew Along: Drafting a Skirt Sloper

pencil skirt sew along

Today we are going to draft our pencil skirt sloper.  If this is your first time drafting a flat pattern to your measurements….you are going to love the fit.  Because it will be drafted to your specific measurements, it will fit like a glove, no matter what size you are.  You may need to adjust the side seams or the darts (we are using standard measurements for darts) but we will show you how to do that at the end.

For our pattern we are basically taking our own measurements and putting them down on a flat paper (hence the term flat-patterning).  And let’s define a couple more terms while we are at it.  A sloper (what we will be making) is a basic pattern without seam allowances or ease, which will be made DIRECTLY from your measurements.  And “ease” is the additional room in a pattern that is made for comfort of clothing (less ease—the tighter the clothing, more ease–the looser the clothing).  Okay, definitions out of the way….let’s begin.

I have put every one of these steps onto a handout that you can print out and refer to as you are drafting.  It is probably the easiest way (other than sitting in front of your computer screen ;).  You can find the whole directions HERE!

Let’s get started:

  1. Take your measurements: (we learned to pattern draft in centimeters, so these directions are written in centimeters–you can convert to inches if you would like 😉  You also might need a friend to help you.  For more information on taking your measurements, refer to this measuring post.

                     Waist —measure around your actual waist (elbows on waist and bend)

                     Hip—the fullest part of your bottom half

                     Waist to Hip— put top of tape measure on waistline, measure to hip measurement.

                     Waist to Knee—putting the tape measure on your waistline, measure to your knee.

2.  Draw a straight parallel line about an inch or so from the top of your posterboard.  This will be your “waistline.”

3. On the edge of your posterboard (which will be your center front line), mark your waist to hip measurement and your waist to knee measurement.  Using these marks, draw straight parallel lines to make your “hipline” and your “knee length.”

4.  Take your waist measurement from step #1 and divide by 4.  Mark this point on your waistline as shown in the picture below.  Measure up 1 cm from this waist mark and curve your skirt waistline.

5.  Take your hip measurement and divide by 4.  Mark this point on your waistline and kneeline as shown in the picture below.

6.  Connect the waistmark and the hipmark with a slight curve (using your hand as an arc or a French curve).


7.  Find half-way point of your waistline dot as shown in the picture below. Mark.  This will be the top dart point.  Mark this top dart point on your hipline as well (this will be your bottom dart point).  Draw a straight line between the top dart mark and the dart mark on your hipline.

8.  Find your top dart point.  Measure 1 cm to each side and mark.  Connect these new marks to your bottom dart points.  This will be the lines where you will sew your dart.

9.  You are finished with your skirt front!!!!

A few notes about darts:

*How big to make darts often depends on your body shape.  If you have a boyish figure (straight up and down) your darts will probably be smaller than what is shown and if you are a curvier figure you will need bigger darts to make your skirt fit you at the waist.

*Before you put your darts on your pattern, you can make a skirt “muslin” and try it on.  It will be very obvious if you need darts.  If so, you can pull the fabric and pin it in a triangular-shape to figure out how big your dart needs to be.

Drafting the Skirt Back

  1. Repeat steps 1-6 exactly like your skirt front.

  2. On step number 7, your dart measurement should be ¾ the distance of your waistline dot, not halfway like in your skirt front.

  3. On step number 8, instead of measuring 1 cm to each side of top dart point, you are going to measure 1.5 cm for the back dart.  Connect dart points as you did on the skirt front.

  4. I like to add a back vent to my pencil skirts.  They are sometimes called a kick pleat.  This tutorial is getting long…so I am going to send you to Sunni’s blog—she has a fantastic explanation of what they are, how to add one and then how to sew it up.  I like square but she does a 45 degree angle on the top of hers.  GO HERE if you want to draft a back vent!

Remember–the drafting that you just did is a pattern sloper (a body draft without seam allowances) and that you will need to add ease and seam allowances (to ALL SIDES) to make it a pattern for an actual skirt. Back center needs to have seam allowances too….front center will be on the fold.

For a tight fitting skirt you need to add .5 cm ease and then your regular seam allowances.  For a looser fitting skirt you will need to add 1-2 cm for ease and then your regular seam allowances.  I NEVER do this on my sloper.  I always trace my sloper onto pattern paper (or tissue paper is great) and add the ease I want and the seam allowances on top of that.  Then, you won’t mess up your actual body measurements on your sloper and you can use your sloper again to make a new skirt (with different ease or seam allowances!)

I didn’t add ease to my skirt, because I made it out of a stretch denim (or this one is a stretch cotton sateen).  You DEFINATELY don’t want ease if you are making this in knit (and you might want to shave off a bit of the sloper when you trace it if you have super-stretchy knit!)

**** A couple of helpful hints.  I am curvy.  I have hips and a bum that are two different measurements.  So what do I do?  I take TWO hip measurements!  Essentially, you can take as many as you want.

I take my first hip measurement about 5 inches down from my actual waist (I am switching back and forth from inches to cm–sorry, I do it all the time when I draft.  It makes me weird.)  And then I take another one about 7 inches down where the widest part of my lower body is.   Here is what my sloper looks like with 2 hip/bottom measurements. I hadn’t smoothed out my curve yet, but I do take my French curve and smooth it out a bit…it helps with the shaping of the body.  You can also see in my sloper that I only take my dart to this first hip measurement.  It fits me way better.

skirt sloper e

See you Wednesday to SEW!!!!


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  1. says

    Thanks for the tutorial – I can’t wait to start on my pattern! One quick question before I grab my pencil and paper, though – since we are taking the waist darts out of our original waist measurement, don’t we somehow need to add in what we subtracted with the darts? Or is that what ease is for? I’m just concerned that I’ll end up with a pattern that’s too small for my waist – does that make sense? Thanks!!

    • Elizabeth says

      Your ease will take care of it. If you want to make a skirt muslin (out of cheap fabric) you can tell right away if your dart is right or not (you will either seeing it pulling too tight= make the dart smaller or pulling away from your waist =dart needs to be bigger).

  2. Susanna Martin says

    I have the same question as Emily^. Will the ease take care of the amount we take out of the waist measurements with the darts? Also, I am not sure I have the back darts figured out. I wasn’t sure if you meant measure 3/4 from the center waistline and make the dart, or if the darts are supposed to be .75 X the waist measurement long. Hmmmm…help please!!!

  3. says

    This is going to be so exciting! I’ll have to see if I have any fabric that will work for a pencil skirt. Question: When the instructions say to take your waistline, is this the natural waistline, or lower down, where people typically wear skirts and pants nowadays, or is it the same thing for a pencil skirt? Thank you!

  4. says

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve just pulled out my pens/rulers & tracing interfacing. The only variation I made was to measure my front waist & back waist separately (as there’s a 6cm difference!, hello sway back & tummy 😉 My hips are symmetrical front & back, go figure).
    I didn’t sew the darts as I wanted to pinch them out while wearing the muslin.
    Pleasingly, all I needed to do to my quickly sewn sloper muslin was add in 2 shorter front darts (same size, but only 4cm long) & take out a horizontal fisheye of 1cm for my sway back – no vertical darts required.
    Definitely a most straight forward pencil skirt tutorial – very handy, so Thank You again 😉

  5. kanani says

    How is a standard poster board supposed to be sufficient for drafting any measurements over 28in? Am I missing something here?

  6. elizna says

    Thank you!!!! I want to make my own flamenco skirt, but first needed to draw a pencil skirt pattern. Hope I get there.

  7. yasmin brown says

    Thank you thank you thank you! these are the easiest instructions that I have ever found especially the part about two hip lines. OMG Awesome. One request (pleaseeeeeeee) can you show the smae skirt but adding a lining and pockets?


  1. […] Today is Day #2 of our Pencil Skirt Sew Along and we are going to focus on sewing up our skirt.  You should have your skirt sloper drafted and then your paper pattern traced on top with ease and seam allowances.  In case you missed how to draft your pencil skirt on Monday, head to the Skirt Drafting Tutorial HERE. […]

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