Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Straight Skirt to Pencil or A-Line

During the past year I've had a few requests for Pencil Skirts, so I thought I'd show you how easy it is to make it a pencil using any straight skirt pattern. Because both rely on a tiny paper hinge, I'll show you how to make one type of A-line style too.

Step 1: Start with any straight skirt pattern that you like. What's a straight Skirt? One that is the same width at the hem as it is at the hip.

I like the two/four dart front because it fits the body much better than the one/two dart front.

Step 2a: Using a ruler, draw a line at the seam allowance (red line). The seam allowance will become your pivot point, so you need to know where that is.

Step 2b: Draw a cut line that angles from the hip and pivots to parallel the seam line (blue line).

Now we are ready to make our pattern into an A-line or a Pencil skirt.


First, the A-line style. An A-line skirt is wider at the hem than it is at the hip.

Starting at the hem (bottom), cut into your pattern, following your cut line, up to, but not through the seam line. From the other side, cut into the seam allowance to the seam line leaving a tiny paper hinge.

Put paper under the pattern and pivot the side seam outward, up to 2 1/2". Tape in place on both sides of the cut line.

Repeat this same procedure for the back pattern.

 Next, the Pencil style. A Pencil skirt, sometimes called a "Pegged" skirt, is narrower at the hem than it is at the hip.

Instead of outward, pivot the side seam inward, overlapping the cut edges. How much to taper or overlap is a matter of preference, but just remember that you still need to be able to walk!

Remember the Hobble skirt from before WWI?  Well, tape your pattern in place, and of course repeat this procedure for the back pattern, then you can watch how these lovely ladies manage a narrow skirt with tiny dainty steps!



  1. Thanks for this! Useful--and that video is brilliant!

  2. Thank you for posting this! I needed just this tutorial for a pattern alteration I want to make.

  3. Thanks - will probably use this a lot in the future! Nice to modify a straight skirt to an a-line for chiffon or other flowy fabrics.

  4. Thank you! I had a question concerning the A-line - I'm trying to turn a straight-line gown into an A-line, and I was wondering why you only add 2-1/2 inches to your pattern (totalling on 10 inches with the four sides) - is it because it would be too heavy for a knee-high skirt? I'm assuming I could add more to a gown, since it's longer, but wanted to hear your thoughts if you can!

    1. Of course, an a-line can only be a slight angle, or it wouldn't be a-line anymore. The 2.5" bump out at the knee would continue to extend on the straight edge for longer lengths, or to the floor. Adding more than the 2.5" can be done, but you should expect a very different look from it.


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