August 17, 2010

How to: Create a Vent

Hey friends! Please note that as of 4/6/2012, this tutorial has been refashioned. The instructions and photos have all been updated to produce a much more professional result. If this is your first time visiting this tutorial, read on, if this is your second or third time (or 4th or 5th) give a read through the material as some of it has changed a bit.

One thing I found when making my navy blue pencil skirt from the Jenny Pattern from BurdaStyle is that the back had a slit and not a vent or kick pleat. I have strong feelings about slits. Slits, for skirts, belong in the front along one leg, if they belong anywhere at all. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. I really feel that adding a back vent or even a kick pleat (kick pleats are closed back vents) adds real value and durability to a garment. Slits are much more likely to tear or distort over time from wear.

You might also be surprised that though this little tutorial brings your skirt up a notch, its very easy to do. Weird huh? Usually things that look better on garments are much harder to do. I mean don't you find it a relief to know that this is easy peasy? Come now, let's cheer! OK enough silliness, down to brass tacks.

This is a tutorial for a pencil skirt that has a slit that you want to convert to a vent ( back, front or side vent - it can go anywhere you know). You will need:

  • your skirt pattern

  • straight edge ruler

  • pencil

  • paper

  • tape

Step 1 ✂ OK, ready? Here we go. You'll need the back skirt pattern piece for this (or the piece that has the slit). All you have to do is add 1 1/4 inches (3.2 centimeters) to the back edge where the slit begins and ends. Then, at the top of the slit, give your the extension a 45 degree angle - do make sure its a 45 degree angle if you plan to go ahead and use this tutorial in conjunction with my lining tutorial (You can achieve a 45 degree angle with a protractor or even a see through quilting ruler). This added on section to the slit of the skirt will be referred to as the vent extension. You're halfway there. The back skirt piece should now look something like this:

Cut this from the paper, cut your cloth and next we'll sew it up.

To sew the vent:

Step 2 ✂ Hem and/or finish the raw edges of the vent extension - in the above sample, I've merely finished the edge with a serge stitch. It's up to you to use the finishing technique you desire, know that you have 5/8" (1.6 centimeters) to work with.

Step 3 Stitch from the bottom of the zipper opening/stop to the edge of the vent extension, pivoting where the center back seam of the skirt and the vent extension meet. Please note that as per the Jenny Skirt pattern via BurdaStyle, this pattern has 5/8" (1.6 centimeter) seams.

Step 4 ✂ Clip into corner where the center back seam and the vent extension meet. Careful not to clip through the stitching, just close to it.

Step 5 ✂ Press the center back seam above the vent open and press the vent extension to one side. For the purposes of this tutorial, I've pressed the vent to the right side (wrong side up), but either side will do.

Step 6 ✂ Pin the top edge of the vent extension in place. Satin stitch following the seam line of the 45 degree angle along the top of the vent extension; stitch through all layers. This creates a nice, finished look at the top of the vent that you would typically see on most RTW skirts while also keeping the vent to one side.

Optional tip: For added durability, give the center back seam allowance, from the zipper opening/stop to the section where the center back seam and the vent extension meet, some strips of organza that's been cut on the straight of grain. This will act as a stabilizer and won't allow this section to stretch or warp over time.

Happy Venting!

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