Good old skirt vent

There is plenty of info available on the skirt vent, and here are my five cents on the subject.

The definition

Skirt vent is a part of functional design. When the skirt is worn, the vent opens to allow ease of comfort for walking and sitting. All vents are positioned in the seams.~ “Professional sewing techniques for designers”

I couldn’t say it better myself.

The look

Location of the skirt vent varies, but in classic style skirt it is located at the back. Back vent is pressed to one side and stitched. To help you remember which side it is stitched to, here is the hint: from outside it looks like number 1.

The specs

Classic back skirt vent is drafted in the centre back seam. The length of the vent varies depending on the length of the skirt and the width of the stride of the wearer. It may be anywhere between 15 and 30 cm.
When the skirt is made to order, the vent is drafted and cut along the entire length of CB seam and then adjusted at the first fitting.

The vent must be long enough to allow you to walk up the stairs without ripping your centre back seam. It also must be short enough to prevent an unwanted exposure.

Of course, I do not send my ladies running up and down stairs, there are other ways to determine the comfortable vent length, and here is a very old one.

Put the skirt on the wearer and get her to sit on a chair with hard seat. Mark the end of the chair seat on the skirt. The distance between the hem of the skirt and the mark (plus or minus 2 cm) equals the length of the skirt vent.

There is no strict rule on how wide the vent should be, so anywhere between 4 and 7 cm is a fair game.

And here is a little picture to sum up

Both sides are cut with self-facings. The width of the facing equals the width of the finished vent plus seam allowance. Later the facing on the left side is cut off.


Next time – sewing the vent

Lena Merrin
Lena Merrin

A dressmaker of many years, I enjoy drafting patterns and create custom garments.

8 thoughts on “Good old skirt vent

  1. Olga says:

    Hi Lena,

    This is an interesting way to determine a vent length, but I think it leaves room for interpretation :)
    I am at work right now and I am sitting on chair. When sitting, my skirt hem ends before reaching the seat’s end (I hope it makes sense) still, my skirt has a normal length vent.
    I usually am at lost with rules that imply variables like this, I would rather prefer something that says: vent begins X cm from the waistline, or from the end of the zipper :)

  2. Lene says:

    Thanks Lena, that is really useful information. I look forward to your next post. In particular I would love to learn how to finish the lining around a vent. I have checked the reference books I have but they all omit this (for me) vital part. Perhaps you can refer me to a website that explains this if you do not wish to go that far (I will understand).

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