Makings Of A Skirt

I have been thoroughly enjoying using my new sewing machine so I thought I’d give a little tutorial as such on how I make my skirts.

If you want to do this then you will need:

  • Fabric – Cotton and polyester based fabrics are good and easy to sew with, for the skirt I show here, you will need about 115cm of fabric that is 100cm wide.  (You can vary this depending on the length of the skirt you want, I often use 150cm wide fabric and create a longer skirt)
  • Elastic Waistband – I use 2.5cm wide elastic in this example, but you can use whatever width you like.
  • Thread – In a colour that will go with your fabric
  • Scissors – some suitable for cutting fabric, some suitable for cutting threads
  • Sewing Machine (or Needles for hand stitching)
  • Pins – to keep your materials in place
  • Tailors Chalk/Pencil/Washable Pens – to mark your material
  • Tape Measure – to measure your material and possibly yourself
  • 2 – 3 hours of time if you’re using a sewing machine, longer if you’re sewing by hand

A few quick definitions: Right sides – these are the sides of the fabric which will be on show to the world once its made! Wrong sides – the sides which are not on show to the world once its made!

Firstly, I measure enough fabric to make the skirt.


I normally make my skirts from a square of fabric.  The current ones I am making I use a square with sides 100cm long.  Then fold this square in half, and half again.  At the corner where all the folds join, mark out the radius you need.  The radius is the waist measurement + 5cm.  I normally use tailors chalk attached to a piece of string to do this bit!

Marking the waistline

This is then cut out to leave a hole in the middle!  I forgot to take a picture at this point!  We’re going to call the cirumference of this hole the waistline.

Next, measure the approximate circumference of the waistline and cut a long rectangle of fabric which has one side measuring the circumference of the waistline + 4cm (for hems and seams) on the fabric you just cut out, the other side measures approximately 15cm.  This can be changed depending on the width of the elastic waistband.  Now is also a good time to cut a length of elastic waistband that when unstretched sits nicely on your waist, but when stretched can be easily pulled over the curves of your body.  Add about 2cm for joining the ends together (but don’t join them together yet!)

My large roll of elastic!

Next, hem the short ends of the waistband up. Then fold the waistband strip in half lengthways (with the right sides together) and pin in place, then sew in a straight line along the open edge to join it together.  Then turn it the right way out so that the seam is on the inside.

Pinning fabric together

Next, hem the waistline of the skirt.  This can be a little tricky as you have to go around the circle, but it makes things look neater!

Then match the seam on the waistband up to the waist line of the skirt and pin in place with right sides together.  When the two ends of the waistband meet, insert one end into the other so they overlap, make sure its not by too much otherwise it’ll be difficult to insert the elastic later on.  Sew along the waistline.  Only sew along the bit where the waistband joins to the waistline and don’t close up the holes in the waistband otherwise you won’t be able to insert your elastic later!

Waistband sewn with right sides together (but still pinned)

Turn it the right way round and the skirt should hang neatly off the waistband!  Hurrah!

The next bit is the easiest part.  You need to hem up the edges at the bottom of the skirt.  The way I do this is to fold the edge up and then up again so that the raw edges are enclosed and there’s less chance of the material fraying.  Pin it, and sew to create a neat hem.

The hem from the wrong side
The hem from the right side

Finally you want to thread the elastic waistband into the fabric waistband you’ve made.  This is much easier if you attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic as you thread it!  Once its all the way through, overlap the two ends by about 1cm making sure there are no twists in the elastic and sew them together.  The elastic should be smaller than the fabric waistband so that the fabric gathers and hangs nicely.  Finally line up the join on the elastic with the join in the elastic waistband and sew it all shut.  I just sew through the all the layers so that the elastic is attached at this one point to the fabric waistband.

The sewn waistband (confusingly laid on another part of the skirt…oopps)

Turn it all the right way round and voila!  You’ve made a simple skirt!




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