Simplicity 2154 Pencil skirt – bring on the summer!

My latest creation is my final garment for a course that I have been doing since September last year. The course is a Level 1 NCFE in Creative Craft – Dressmaking which is aimed at beginners. Admittedly I did have experience in sewing and dressmaking before I started but I decided to do this course as I plan to go into teaching sewing. I am a firm believer in getting the basics right especially if you are going to teach others to sew. The majority of my sewing knowledge prior to this had been gained from my fantastic Mum and from teaching myself. I wanted to fill in some gaps of my knowledge and formalise some of my learning. There were also some new areas of learning, for example mood boards and colour theory. I have had to create a portfolio to evidence my learning which includes samples of techniques, research into fabrics, tools and equipment, colour theory and finally presentation of my final garment. I thought what better way of presenting my final garment than writing a blog post about it and reflecting on my learning?!

So here goes! Warning – picture heavy post!! But that’s ok, isn’t it? Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy!!

The design brief for the final garment was to make a skirt or pair of trousers. The skirt had to have the following features – a waistband, a lapped or central zip, darts and a slit at the back. We had to choose what theme we wanted the garment to follow e.g. workwear, night out, afternoon tea etc and choose the pattern, fabric and notions. I decided to follow the theme of Summer. I wanted a skirt that could be worn during the day with flip flops or pumps or alternatively in the evening with heels. I created a moodpboard based on the theme of Summer and included colours, fabric swatches, style inspiration from magazines, buttons, ribbons and summer themed pictures.

Moodboard for summer skirt project
My Summer themed moodboard

I chose the pattern Simplicity 2154. The pencil skirt had all of the design features included in the brief and I thought the style fitted my ideas for the skirt that I wanted to make. I used both the images on the front of the envelope and the line drawings on the rear  to help me make my choice.

Simplicity 2154 envelope

I chose a brightly coloured floral fabric from John Lewis. It is a 95% cotton and 5% spandex mix so there is some stretch in it which I thought would work well with the pencil skirt style. I chose a standard navy zip and some coral thread for the machine and hand sewing. The total cost of the pattern, thread, fabric and zip was £26.15. I also used some black medium weight interfacing for the waistband and a hook and bar closure.

fabric and notions

fabric choice

Comparing my body measurements to those on the envelope, I measured a size 16 waist and 14 hips. This is a good example of how not to automatically follow your ‘ready to wear’ shop bought clothes size as they do not necessarily compare to those of commercial patterns. I decided to measure the pattern pieces in order to help identify the best size to cut. After doing this and taking into account the finished ease of the garment, I chose to cut a size 14 throughout. The only alteration I made to the pattern was to increase the length of the skirt by I did this by cutting along the shorten/lengthen line and inserting a piece of pattern paper in between that measured 3.5cm. I stuck them together and redrew the pattern markings across the extension piece.

lengthening skirt pattern piece
Cutting along shorten/lengthen line
lengthening skirt pieces
Inserting 3.5cm piece into pattern

I ironed my fabric, lay it flat with the selvedges matching and right sides facing. I identified the correct lay plan in the pattern for the view I was making, lay the pattern pieces out and pinned them in place, making sure the grainlines were parallel to the selvedge. I was then ready to cut the pieces out.

layout of pattern pieces
Pattern pieces laid out and ready to cut

I transferred the pattern markings from the pattern to the fabric using tailor’s tacks.

tailors tacks
Sewing tailor’s tacks
tailor's tacks
Snipping into loops
tailors tacks
Removing the pattern piece from the fabric
tailor's tacks
Snipping the middle of threads to separate fabric pieces

I then began to construct the skirt (not all stages are outlined).

waist dart
Sewing waist darts
rear skirt split construction
Rear split at hem

The pattern did not include a zip placket but we needed to include one in our skirt so I cut a pattern piece out for a placket.

zip placket

making zip placket
Zip placket
lapped zip construction
Inserting lapped zip

Whilst overlocking the side seam seam allowances, disaster occurred….my fabric got caught up underneath whilst overlocking and the blade sliced a hole within the main fabric! AAAAAHHH! Fortunately I realised before creating an even bigger hole. The skirt sides did need a bit of shaping inwards towards the bottom to make it more hugging so this was the basis for the shaping! All was not lost! It actually looked better for the shaping!

correcting hole made by overlocker

edges of waistband
Waistband almost complete
Hook and bar
Hook and bar fastening on waistband
herringbone stitch on hem
Hand sewing the hem with herringbone stitch

So that is it! Want to see the finished skirt? Oh go on then….

(***Before you see them I must explain the background to the blog shots – I had a very very short amount of time to take the photos in order to write the blog post before my course deadline! When I say very short amount of time, I mean like 2 minutes in between my husband coming home and going back out again! It was pouring with rain – I did not have time to wait for this British weather to sort itself out and give me a glorious summer scene for my summer skirt – oh well. That’s the British summer for you!! You can’t plan everything!***)

finished skirt
Ignore compost bin in background – like I said, very short amount of time in the rain to photograph!!

finished skirt

front of skirt

front of skirt

rear of skirt

I am thoroughly chuffed with my skirt and absolutely cannot wait until the weather improves so I can wear it. The only thing that I would change next time is if I were to do a lapped zip again I would change the position of it to the back seam as the lap of fabric doesn’t lie completely flat along the side. Or I would change it to an invisible zip. Other than that I love it!

So what do you think – have I met the brief?

Moodpboard and Simplicity 2154 skirt
Mood board with finished skirt

in the rain


Yep – like I said, you can’t plan everything!

(Note the glimpse of wellies in final shot 🙂  – #Sewingbloggerproblems!!)

Wish me luck!

Until next time, when hopefully it will be sunny, happy sewing!!

Lorna x


  1. Maxine Robinson
    June 29, 2016

    Congratulations on finishing your course and as usual your beautiful finished garment

  2. Lynsey
    June 30, 2016

    Your skirt fab, the fit is great and it’s so sew well sewn, I’m self taught as there are no classes near me and know I don’t do a lot of things ‘right’ but would love to learn.

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