Pattern Review, Sew The Show

The Absent Woman


It’s been too long, my dears.  I just realized that I have been absent from this space for a month and haven’t posted anything substantive about sewing in longer than I care to calculate.  I wish I could tell you that the cause of my absence was something fun and exciting but my mother taught me not to lie.

Last month, Alida from Alida Makes announced a really fun sew along for the year called Sew the Show.  Each month she selects a Netflix show and asks sewists to make an outfit inspired by that particular show.  Like many others out there, I use my sewing time to catch up on Netflix shows, so I loved the idea of this challenge!

The first show Alida selected was new to me — a BBC drama called The Honorable Woman.  Since I had never seen it before, obviously I had to watch the show to get inspiration for my Nessa Stein-inspired outfit.  I can already tell that this monthly challenge will be both good and bad for my TV-consuming habits!  I loved The Honorable Woman.  I watched the whole mini series in just a few days — I couldn’t pull myself away!

But on to my outfit.  Nessa Stein, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal — wears simple, utilitarian, but classically beautiful business dress clothes.  She has a penchant for solid-color silk blouses, wide-leg trousers and simple shifts.  She also spends a lot of the show in her silk undergarments, but I opted to build my work wardrobe with this challenge instead 🙂

Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt sewn by Katie @
My Nessa Stein-inspired outfit.

My outfit doesn’t attempt to specifically imitate any one of Nessa Stein’s outfits, but rather is generally inspired by her character and style.  My blouse is the True Bias Sutton blouse in solid blue silk charmeuse.  I have plans to make a truly Nessa Granville blouse in silk charmeuse, but I thought Sutton might be a better option for my first time working with such a slippery fabric.

And while Nessa wears a lot of wide-leg pants, I have a need for woven pencil skirts in my wardrobe, so I decided to opt for the Pleated Pencil Skirt by Delia Creates.

Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt sewn by Katie @
Pleated Pencil Skirt and Sutton Blouse — a great pairing.

I will post a separate review of my Sutton blouse (must get 2 posts out of a photo shoot!) and focus here on the skirt.

Woven pencil skirts are a HUGE hole in my work wardrobe. I’ve made 5 Mabel knit pencil skirts but no woven pencil skirts at all. My current office is a lot more formal than my old one (where it wasn’t uncommon to see partners in jeans on a Tuesday) and I have a 3-week trial coming up in May. The Pleated Pencil Skirt has been on my to-sew list forever so it was a great time to try it out!

Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt sewn by Katie @
The skirt.

I made no alterations whatsoever to this skirt, at least no fit alterations. My only deviations from the pattern were to cut my inner waistband from voile so that I didn’t have scratchy wool directly against my skin and to hand-tack the lining to the skirt side seams so it’s not constantly riding up on me. I also added a hook and eye to keep the invisible zipper closed. That’s it! Otherwise a perfect fit.

Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt sewn by Katie @
Back view.

My fabric is a 100% wool piece that I thrifted ages ago. It was nice to finally use it. And I may even have enough left for a matching jacket! The skirt is lined with bemberg rayon so it won’t stick to tights or pantyhose.

Construction-wise, this skirt is really straightforward. I love the kick pleat in the back and I love that it is fully lined. So professional.

Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt sewn by Katie @
Love my new outfit — must make more!

But, I won’t ramble on.  Great, simple skirt from a great, simple pattern.  All the deets you should want to know are below!

Pattern: Pleated Pencil Skirt by Delia Creates

Size: 8

Fabric: Thrifted wool lined with bemberg rayon.

Difficulty: Advanced beginner.

Techniques required: Sewing a straight seam, sewing darts, basic fitting techniques, inserting invisible zipper, inserting a lining, blind hem (optional).

Similar patterns:  Oh goodness, there are any number of Big 4 patterns for pencil skirts.  In the indie world, the By Hand London Charlotte Skirt is very, very similar.

Modifications: No fit modifications.  I added a hook and eye above the zipper, cut the interior waistband from black voile rather than my main fabric, and hand-tacked the lining to the skirt side seams to keep it from riding up.

Fit:  Awesome.  I was pleasantly surprised with how well this fit right out of the envelope — fits like a glove!

Pattern Format: PDF pattern.  One of the better PDFs I’ve worked with actually.  There are only 8 pages to piece together, which is a big plus in my book.


  • Classic silhouette will never go out of style.
  • Great fit that hugs curves.
  • High-waisted skirt will look great with blouses tucked in and cropped sweaters.  But the hips are slim enough that I won’t be swallowed by fabric when I leave my tops untucked.
  • Straightforward construction.  Nothing terribly difficult here.
  • Instructions are well-done.  I actually read the instructions on this pattern (yes, that is pretty rare for me) because I wanted to see the method for lining a pencil skirt with a kick pleat.
  • Good staple pattern that can even be a skirt sloper.
  • Option to change up the waistband by turning it into a facing. Delia actually has a series of posts on her blog of Pleated Pencil skirt hacks including a faced waist (instead of a waistband) and a knit version.  A well-fitting simple skirt pattern can be a springboard to lots of other looks.


  • No pockets.  I like that there’s not added bulk in the hip area, but pockets can be nice sometimes.
  • Pattern doesn’t call for a hook and eye above the zipper and I think it really needs one.  But that’s easy to add.

Overall Grade:  A.  As I was writing this, I realized just how much I liked this pattern.  The whole package is just really, really good.  Style, fit, instructions, presentation, layout.  It’s an A all around.  And a good pencil skirt is a wardrobe staple.  I love how this fits and how easy it was to put together for a professional finish.  I have fabric pulled out for 2 more!

**I purchased everything used in this post with my own money.  I actually won a copy of the Pleated Pencil Skirt pattern in a giveaway a couple of months ago, but I had already purchased it months before that.

0 thoughts on “The Absent Woman

  1. and, i can’t wait to make that skirt!! i have some wool i bought in Scotland (a tartan plaid wool) on my honeymoon, but i haven’t had the courage to make anything yet. maybe this skirt will be the perfect pattern! i think i’ll to a trial-run out of another fabric first.

    1. I think this skirt would be the perfect pattern for your tartan! The simple shape and lines would really let the plaid shine. I’d definitely do a muslin though to tweak any fit issues you might run into. But luckily it’s a really fast sew (relatively speaking) so making a muslin shouldn’t be too burdensome. I have some lovely silk plaid home-dec weight fabric that I want to use for another pencil skirt, as well as a plain camel-colored wool. 🙂

  2. What a gorgeous outfit. The skirt really fits well. How lucky not to need any modifications. Now you can make a bunch.

    I’ll be working on Sutton soon. As soon as I feel like sewing, anyway. Look forward to your review.

    1. Thank you! I was very pleasantly surprised at how well it fit with no modifications. I have fabric pulled out for 2 more 🙂

      The Sutton blouse was great too — I’m sure you’ll like it. I’ve been having the same motivation issues lately. With this cold crummy weather, I’d rather sleep.

  3. I love this outfit! The skirt looks great–will be a real workhorse for you, I’m sure! Can’t wait to hear more about the blouse. I have the pattern and have been dying to try it… once it warms up that is.

    1. It’s a great pattern. This is actually the second one I made (first was more of a wearable muslin) and I’d like to make a couple more. Such a great work staple. I ended up sizing down since the pattern has a LOT of ease. Even going down a size, the top is still very loose. I also think this pattern demands something with tons of drape like a challis. A crisper fabric like lawn would probably end up strongly resembling scrubs, in my opinion 🙂

    1. Aw, thank you! I really have missed it too. Soon I’ll have to do more of a coffee date update since it’s been over a month since I posted one! So much has happened in that month!

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