December 7, 2011

How to: Draft a Vent Lining

Hey friends! Please note that as of 4/6/2012, this tutorial has been refashioned, just a bit. 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.

This is the next step in perfecting a pencil skirt, in my opinion. Giving it a lining. To line a skirt that has a vent, we need to take in special consideration for a few things. Adding a vent, in my opinion, is cake. It's this issue of the lining that's a beast! For clarification, I've actually done line drawings here (please don't judge my artwork too harshly) plus there are extra tips to make the sewing easier and the final result more professional. My artwork is nothing special, but I think it will do the trick. I think you'll agree, that once you've perfected a vented and lined pencil skirt, it's one of those "go-to" patterns that you will most likely revisit again and again. So, break out your pencil skirt pattern and let's draft a fabulous lining for a vented skirt. Here we go:

Step 1 First of all, you'll need a pencil skirt pattern that has a seam in the place where you want the vent and if your pattern doesn't come with a vent, you'll need to create one (that tutorial is located here). Here we are looking at the back pattern pieces. To get these, you'll need to trace off two of the back pattern piece, mirror imaging each other, just like I have here. Now, to clarify, I'm only going to show the skirt back sections here (because they are the devils that are hardest to understand), but you'll want to trace off the front skirt panel to create a full lining pattern too. There will be a few more instructions for the Front Lining, but no pictures. And yes, there will be a quiz at the end, just to make sure you read this and not just looked at the photos. Label the left "Left Side Back Lining" and the right "Right Side Back Lining." You also need to add 2 sets of notches. The first set of notches is at the zipper stop notch - just a notch indicating where the zipper ends) and a second set of notches where the vent stitching needs to end. This notch happens 5/8" from the edge of the vent extension.

Step 2 Now it's time to start cutting and slashing a little. These next few steps help the lining hang better giving a much more professional result than merely cutting a replica of the skirt pattern for the lining. Since we're dealing with a rather fitted style, we need just a bit more room for everything at certain points of strain, like the seat and the hips. There are two things that we need to do first to both the Front Lining and the Left & Right Back Lining panels. First, mark the darts and turn them into tucks. There is nothing really special about this alteration, just know that instead of sewing a dart you'll sew down from the dart legs about 2 inches, creating a tuck instead of a dart. Next you need to widen the hips. Below the seam allowance at the top of the skirt side edge, give yourself a 7 - 9 inch window and with the aid of a hip or french curve, widen the hipline by 1/8" of an inch. I know, seems like a silly amount, but remember you need to do these first two steps on the Front Lining panel as well. It will give you just a little more ease in your hips so that when you sit down or bend over, the lining doesn't strain, rip or distort.

OK, now for the part that only deals with the Left & Right Back panels. Since the lining is attached to the skirt at the back vent, there is a tendency, I've noticed, for the lining to hike the skirt section up in that area. To facilitate for this and the added strain of sitting down, you'll need to extend the back sections by 1/4". To do this, slash the pattern above the vent extension and in the middle of the skirt in a rectangular formation. Slide that section down 1/4" and tape in place. Be sure to blend the newly formed hemline once finished.

 Step 3 Alright. Not so bad, right? We're almost done here. Now for those of you who have added or sewn a vent in a skirt before, let me draw your attention to the fact that the extension is kind of rigid, right? I mean, its got some sharp angles - as it should.  To make the sewing of this 10,000 times easier all we need to do is round off the angle where the center back seam meets the vent extension seam and the end of the vent extension itself - Note: this is only for the lining pattern, not for the shell pattern. With your french curve in hand, just round out those two sharp edges. Make sure to keep the notches in place. That's a must. Keep track of those notches. One more thing here: the biggest concern here is that vent extension only extends from the edge of the seam by 1 1/4 inches (3.2 centimeters) and that the angle of the top edge of the vent extension is a true 45 degree angle. Both of these elements make for sewing this thing up alot easier.

Step 4 Last step! Yay! For the Right Side Back Lining piece, we've got to invert the vent extension now. Lay the Left Side Back Lining panel over the top of the Right Side Back Lining panel. Line up the center back seams and the hemline and trace the vent extension area onto the Right Side Back Lining panel. Don't join the panels along the center back seamline/allowance, just meet up the patterns along the center back so that you have a seam allowance for the inverted vent. Absolutely positively make sure that you've kept the notches in place. Okay? Sewing it is such a cinch with the notches. Way cinchier than trying to figure out where to start and stop the seam - yeah, I've already done that one. Now cut away the inverted extension from the Right Side Back Lining panel. And there you go!

Now, just a quick recap of what we've done. You will need to: Trace off two separate skirt back pieces for the lining (and one for the skirt front too!); transform darts to tucks; widen the hips; lengthen the vent extension; round off the sharp angles of the vent extension; and lastly invert the Right Side Back Lining vent extension.




  1. Awesome tutorial. Thank you so much!

  2. Great tutorial and diagrams Sunni - thanks for tweaking and re-sharing :)

  3. [...] been refashioned to be much clearer and easier to sew (with better results to boot)! Have a look here for how to draft the skirt lining! Yay! Ho hum…..I know I said yesterday. There were [...]

  4. Hi Sunni! It's been a while since I commented around here! I hope you are well! I wanted to thank you for the tutorial! I am planning a series of pencil skirts for my work wardrobe after Christmas and will definitely use this tutorial! Can't wait for the sewing one!

    One question...not sure if maybe you already addressed this when you did the original pencil skirt sewalong, but how do you fit your skirt so that it doesn't ride up when you walk. That is a major issue for me with pencil skirts. Every time I move, my skirt rides up at the waist and I am constantly having to pull it down. I have RTW skirts that do this, and I made a couple skirts that do this too. Certainly there must be an easy fix for this! Any information or ideas are appreciated!

    Have a wonderful day!

  5. thanks for the great tutorial/diagrams! i've been wanting to make a lined pencil skirt for ages... will definitely come back to this when i'm ready to make it!

  6. I worked through skirt vents and linings a while ago using Kathleen Fasanella's "Nameless Tutorial" series and her book. The tutorials ( dealt with jackets, but tutorial #4 in particular addresses back vents and was easy enough to apply to skirts. It looks like your methods will be very similar to hers.

    I love how easy it is to sew the lining to the skirt completely by machine, plus it looks terrific, too!

  7. Yeay - I've been waiting for this repost! I'm afraid I'm one of those fools who just couldn't figure out how to do I am so so grateful for you redoing it - and adding those fab diagrams! Thanks again, and looking forward to the reposted sewing part too (because yes, I am that bad! lol).

  8. [...] I am not that person I included some stay tape at the top of the waistband, added lining, used Sunni’s new great tutorial for adding a back vent, reinforced the whole back seam with silk organza like I did here, and stitched my hem by hand.  I [...]

  9. Hi Sunni. I'm working on a lined pencil skirt at the moment and these posts are really helpful. Thank you so much. I have a question - your curved line where the vent meets the centre back - would you repeat this alteration to the shell pattern pieces as well?

  10. No just for the lining. The shell should have the more angular lines and should be constructed using those angles too, just like in the post I linked to on how to create the back vent. Here we're just drafting the lining for it and the lining is such that it has to be constructed in a certain way in order to play nice with the shell.

  11. Thanks Sunni that's great.

  12. [...] got several upcoming posts scheduled for next week including, but not limited to, the finale of Inserting a Lining into a Vented Skirt. There’s also new projects on my table, ones I need to finish up and several I’m dying [...]

  13. Honestly, this is awesome. I am totally going to use this to draft the lining of the suit skirt! I only have to hope against hope that I have enough of my gorgeous silk lining left! (This is the same skirt I'm hoping to be able to use petersham for as the facing (attached to the top of the lining - per your other awesome tutorial).

    Thank you so much for taking the time to instruct on these things...

  14. I hope you do too because that lining would be out of control beautiful!

  15. Sunni, I was just struggling with this for the last hour and getting really upset...when I realized I was working with a double extension for the left side, rather than a single. I checked your vent tutorial and, indeed, you add a single extension to both skirt sides.
    I also made the mistake of foolishly starting with the Right side panel. Yes, my brain could not compute the curves, LOL! But the stubborn part just kept trying to make it work.
    I think I have it worked out now. I'm working with a Burda Petite pattern, for the record. I do have a couple of comments/questions:
    1) You don't mention Straight Grain lines at all but I retraced the one that starts from the body of the skirt as I believe it's the true one; I did the same for the CB line, retracing it into the 1/4in modification.
    2) Am I correct to understand that the square that is cut out is moved down AND OUT by 1/4in. This is what it looks like from diagram 3;
    3) When I did the softening of the angles, I traced a curve out of the angle and then inside the outer corner of the vent. Do you understand? I mean, does the new S line pass through the notch at 5/8in or not?

    It's really difficult to explain with words only. I hope you understand enough to help me out. Thank you in advance. Off to double-check what I've just done.

  16. Hi Lakaribane!

    Alright! I didn't mention the grainlines because you're just tracing off the back panels and you'll take the grainline that's included or should be included with your pattern. You're not really messing with the grainlines in any way as you make the alterations for the lining here. And if in doubt, the grainline should be parallel to the center back seam.

    The square/rectangular section is moved down by 1/4 inch, but not out. Sorry, my illustrative skills are not as great as I would like! But the directions do say to only move that section down, not out. Thanks though for helping me clarify!

    I do understand how you softened the angles and that's exactly correct! The notch will not be quite 5/8" from the edge of the vent extension since you've shaved a little bit of that off now - this is why you add the notch before you soften the angles. If you do that, your skirt will meet up exactly with the lining here instead of having to try to figure out where in the world to meet the lining to the fashion fabric. Hopefully this helps! Sounds like you are on the right track!


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