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The Everyday Skirt - A Tutorial

Today for the kcwc, I made a skirt for Indigo.  I know there are a million skirt tutorials out there, but I thought I'd share how I made this one.  Indigo is a size 5T.  If your child is bigger or smaller, you may want to adjust size of the waistband up or down an inch or two.

 You'll need:
1/2-3/4 yard fabric (I used seersucker)
1/4 yard for the contrasting waistband (or use the same fabric cut perpendicular to the direction of your main fabric... or on the bias)
1.5" elastic
coordinating thread

1.  Wash, dry, and press your fabric.

2.  Take your child's waist measurement.  Then measure how long you'd like the skirt to be.  Indigo's waist measured 20 inches.  I wanted this skirt to be worn high, near her belly button, and to hit her knee, which measured 13 inches.

3.  Cut your main fabric the length you've determined your skirt to be (more if you like to finish it with a wide hem), selvedge edge to selvedge edge.

4.  Cut the waistband  5 inches in length x the waist measurement + 4 inches.  I cut my waistband 24 inches wide x 5 inches long.

5.  Cut your elastic the waist measurement + 1/2 inch.  I cut mine at 20.5 inches.

You now have all three of your skirt pieces cut out.

6.  Fold your skirt fabric in half, right sides together, and pin the selvedge edges together.  (You usually do not need to finish or serge selvedge edges, but mine were a little funky so I did.)  Fold your waistband fabric in half, right sides together, matching the short edges.  Pin.

7.  Sew both the skirt and waistband short edges together with a 1/2 inch seam.  They will now form a circle.

8.  Press the seam allowance open on both the skirt and waistband pieces.  

9.  Fold your waistband in half, wrong sides together, and press.

10.  Open up the waistband and press one of the raw edges to the wrong side by 1/2".

11.  Set the waistband aside while we gather the skirt.  Set your machine to a basting stitch length.

12.  Sew two rows of basting stitches along the top edge of your main fabric, one at 1/4" and the other at 3/8".  Be sure that you don't cross the threads.  (For more details on gathering, see this tutorial.)

13.  Now we're going to get ready to gather.  I always dread gathering.  Taking a few deep breaths first makes it easier, I promise.  We're going to divide the skirt into fourths to keep our gathers even.  Fold the skirt in half.  On the left side will be your seam.  Place a pin on the far right edge to mark it.  You've just divided your skirt in half.

 Here's the close up version.

Now match up your pin with your center seam and mark the two outside edges with pins.  You've just divided your skirt into fourths.

Repeat with the waistband.

14.  Gather your skirt by gently pulling on the bobbin threads, cinching the skirt until it the same size as the waist band.

15. Place the skirt inside the waist band, right sides together, matching the raw edge of the waistband with the raw edge of the skirt.  Double check to be sure your fabrics are indeed right sides together.  Match the seam of the waistband with the seam of the skirt.  This will become your back center seam.

Pin the skirt to the waistband, first matching the pins you placed as guides.  Then distribute the fullness evenly throughout the skirt.  Pin in place.

16.  Now we're going to sew the waistband to the skirt.  Turn your stitch length back to it's normal setting.

Sew the waistband to the skirt using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Be sure that your waistband is flat and smooth as you sew to avoid puckering.

The seam allowance will probably be a big thready mess.  I like to trim mine with a pinking shears to approximately 1/4", but this isn't necessary.

Press your seam allowance toward the waistband.

17.  Fold the waistband over, so that it covers your stitching line.  Pin in place.  Since we will be edgestitching the waistband from the front of the skirt, I like to pin the waistband over the  stitching line from the front of the skirt.

18.  Start edgestiching about 1.5 inches to the right of the back center seam and stop stitching 1.5 inches to the left of it.  I place pins on each side to remind me.  We need to leave space to thread our elastic through the waistband.

19.  Using a safety pin, thread your elastic into the waistband casing you just made.  This wider elastic is a little harder to thread through.  Taking a deep breath helps.

20.  Sew the elastic together using a 1/4" seam allowance, making sure it's not twisted first.  Check one more time.  Not twisted?  Good.  Stitch it together.  Now fold it open like a book and stitch each side down using a 1/8" seam allowance.

21.  Tuck the elastic inside the waistband.  Now it's time to add a tag, if you wish to do so.  I got the idea to add ribbon as a tag from an Oliver + S pattern.  Then one of my favorite sewing bloggers inspired me here and here to make my tags even more special.  I cut a square of fabric 2" x 2".  I pressed the opposing sides in by about 1/4".

I folded it in half and drew a heart on the bottom of one side.  I hand embroidered the heart onto the tag.  It was a little sweary, because I was trying to do it while nursing the baby, without an embroidery hoop (maybe I should have embroidered it and then cut it out?).  But when Indigo saw it, she gushed about how much she loved it and said it was her very favorite part about the skirt and thanked me for handsewing it for her.  Totally worth it.

Place the tag in the center of the back seam and edgestitch the opening closed.

22.  Try the skirt on for size.  I chose to finish it with a narrow hem because the length was just about perfect.  I serged the bottom edge and then folded it over by 3/8" and pressed it.  I hemmed it from the front of the skirt at 1/4".  If you don't own a serger you could use a zigzag stitch along the unfinished edge.  Or you could fold the edge over by 1/4" and press, then fold it again by 3/8" and press, enclosing the raw edge.

Done!  Now let your girl rock out in her new skirt!


  1. Indigo is so little in these pics. Isn't it amazing how quickly kids grow! Nice skirt bt the way.

  2. love seeing Indigo so young and adorable! Glad this skirt has lasted through many wears and now Tia is able to wear it with great panache! Great tutorial:)


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