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How to sew a back split on a pencil skirt

Since the re-release of our Charlotte Skirt pattern as a PDF download, it's been wiggle mania here at BHL HQ! A wardrobe staple for all three of us since Day 1, the Charlotte Skirt is infinitely versatile, a breeze to sew, fits like a dream... but certainly lives up to her wiggly reputation where walking is concerned! If pigeon steps aren't really your thing, then here's a quick and easy tutorial for sewing a back seam split into your Charlotte - all the wiggle, extra struttability!

You will need:

  • The Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern
  • Your Charlotte Skirt - darts stitched, side seams closed and zipper inserted - back seam still open!
  • A measuring tape
  • Your usual sewing tools and supplies

*For step by step help with the making of your Charlotte Skirt, head to our Charlotte Skirt Sewalong!*

Step 1

Start with your Charlotte Skirt - darts and side seams stitched, zipper inserted but back seam still open. 

If you're using an overlocker/serger to finish your seams, we always recommend that you finish the lengths of your open back seam before inserting your zipper, as it's way too fiddly to overlock once the zipper's in. Be careful not to trim away any excess seam allowance though!

If you're not overlocking/serging, it's even more important to apply some sort of neat finish to your back seam, as you'll be more likely to flash your skirt's innards with a back split. You could bind your seams, or turn the raw lengths under and stitch them down.

Once your zipper has been inserted, and your seams all nicely neatened, press the seam allowance open all the way down to the hem.

Step 2

We now need to figure out where we want our back splits to start from.

I've cut my Charlotte as per the pattern without making any changes to the length, so I'll end up with a skirt that sits a few inches below my knees (I'm 5'5" tall for reference). I want my split to start above the start of my knees - not only to give me good walkability, but also because I think that a subtle back-of-the-knee flash can be super sexy!

Measuring down the back seam from the waistline - and taking the 5/8" or 15mm waistline seam allowance into account - mark with a pin where you want your split to begin, and therefore where you want the back seam to stop. I settled on 20" down from my waist.

Step 3

Stitch your back seam as usual from the bottom of the zipper to your marker pin.

Step 4

Assuming that you're happy with the length of your skirt (try it on now to double check if you haven't already!), turn up and press your hem as usual. Pin into place, making sure that your centre back seam is still pressed open.

Step 5

Starting from one of the side seams, stitch your hem, pivoting when you get to the split, stitching up one side of the split, pivoting again and stitching an inch or so across the top of the split, then stitching down the other side and stitching the rest of your hem as usual.

All done! One slinky wiggle skirt complete with sexy - and practical! - back split, done. Just don't forget the part about the waistband...


Comments on this post (2)

  • Jun 07, 2019

    My tip to strengthen the top of the split, so you don’t rip the seam when climbing on to a bar stool(!) is…
    take an off cut of your dress fabric about 2" or 5cms square, fold in half, press and neaten.
    Place the folded edge to the top of the split on the inside and pin it to the seam allowance.
    Check that it can’t be seen from the right side.
    Sew it in place to the seam allowance ONLY. Sew as close to the centre back seam as possible, and then again near to the edge of the seam allowance.

    — Gill

  • Mar 03, 2015

    Such gorgeous fabric!

    — Kirsty

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