It’s DIY Time again, where I post something you can do yourself rather than buy, which is a money saver, and can be VERY REWARDING. Some of these posts are crafts, sewing projects, re-purposed ideas, homemade cleaners, homemade health aids, tutorials, and the like.
I love my kids. I really do! Well, before I had kids, I had most of my Christmas presents wrapped in October and all of my high school choir field trip permission slips copied and ready for the entire school year for all four of my choirs by October (that was over a decade ago when I taught public school music and was childless). That’s the kind of person I was and the kind of person I like to be. But my kids have gotten the best of me. The great thing is that they continually teach me about prioritizing what’s most important and letting go of what isn’t.
So I was amazingly blessed over Christmas break with about three free days and no agenda. I took advantage of the opportunity, and I just went to town sewing. I had a pile of sewing projects I wanted to tackle. Before then I hadn’t touched my sewing machine in months and was aching to get to it. Once I actually get to the sewing machine, I’m hooked. It gets hard to pull myself away from the sewing machine. I think the machine knows that once I stop sewing, it will most likely be months before I get to it again, so it keeps tugging at me.
Well, during my sewing spree I was able to mend my ever-growing pile, make a few lovely baby blankies, make my first rag quilt and my first strip quilt, create some secret items I will blog about later, and make our Easter skirts. It feels so good to be on top of our Easter skirts this year! It sounds like I make Easter skirts every year, but the fact is that this year it’s a first. If you can make your own skirts, you can give your wardrobe an economical stylistic pop for a fraction of the price of buying a new skirt. Paired with a basic top, you can have quite a vogue, yet frugal ensemble. On Black Friday Weekend, I was able to score some fabric for close to $2 a yard (was it $1.99/yard at JoAnn’s?-too long ago to remember). So for close to $2 and less than a hour’s sewing time, I have a brand new skirt. My elastic was free for my skirt since I used the elastic from my husband’s old boxers.
Skirts are the only clothes I have made for myself and my girls. (Once I did make a set of pajamas for my toddling son, and I needed my hand held EVERY step of the way. Thank you, Cheryl!) Making skirts is a great first clothing item to create if you are new to sewing. Over the last year and a half I have made several skirts for myself and my girls, along with re-purposing a couple of dresses into skirts for my little beauties. I guess I have also made some skirts for my daughters’ American Girl dolls, so that counts, right?
I am pattern illiterate, and it’s not because I haven’t tried. For whatever reason I cannot make the process come to life from the hieroglyphics. So I am going to show you how to make an easy elastic-waisted skirt without a pattern. I am assuming you are new to sewing, so I apologize for being verbose if you are sewing-fluent. I added the instructions on the pictures for ease.
If you want to make a super easy skirt, just use one fabric and follow the first instructions. Since I love the contrast of two differently patterned fabrics, I am adding how to add the contrasting trim panel at the end of this tutorial.
What You Will Need:
- 1/2 to 1 yard of fabric, depending on skirt size (one or two patterned fabrics depending on if you are going to add the contrasting trim color/pattern)
- coordinating thread
- elastic, at least 1/2 inch thick, but more like 3/4 inch or 1 inch thick (I have used re-purposed elastic from other skirts, pants, and my personal favorite, my husband’s boxer shorts)
- sewing machine
- 2 safety pins
- tape measure
- Read through all of the instructions at least twice before embarking.
- Pre-shrink your fabric by washing it. Never, ever skip this step!
- For the skirt length: Measure your little darling from her waist all the way to where you want the bottom of the skirt to be. I like to go a little below the knee so she can wear the skirt for a long time (especially because I am going through the process of actually making the skirt). Add 2 inches to the length to make the casing (the home) for the elastic and the hem at the bottom of the skirt. So if you want a 15 inch skirt, the length of your fabric for the skirt should be 17 inches. If you want a skirt that is mid-calf or longer, you’ll probably need to put in a slit. I am not including directions for a slit today.
- For the skirt width: Measure your little darling’s waist. Double your waist measurement and this is your skirt width. This will give you a nice, full skirt. If you don’t have or don’t want to use that much fabric, take your waist measurement and multiply it by 1.5 instead of 2. One of my girl’s waist is 20 inches, so I need one piece of fabric that’s 40 inches. (By the way, if you are making an adult sized skirt or want to use up fabric scraps and don’t have a full piece of fabric the width of your skirt, you may cut two panels instead of one big one. For instance, I would have two rectangles that are each 20 x 17, instead of my one big 40 x 17 rectangle. Then you just make two side seams as in Instruction #6 instead of one side seam.)
- Cut your fabric to the correct size. This makes my piece of fabric 40 x 17. If you want a contrasting panel as shown below in the yellow, see **Optional for the trim panel at the end of this post.
- Sewing the side panel(s) together: Fold the rectangle skirt in half so the right sides are together to make a side seam. Or if you cut two rectangles instead of one (mine would have been 20 x 17 each), place the right sides together. You see the wrong sides. Pin together all the way down the side panel(s). Sew a straight stitch 1/4 inch away from the edge all the way down the side. Then sew a zig-zig stitch to make the side panel secure all the way down.
- For the hem (the bottom of the skirt): On the bottom of the skirt fold the right side so the wrong sides are together 1/4 of an inch. Iron this bottom all the way across. Fold it up another 1/4 inch, iron down, and sew down all the way along the bottom of your skirt. The bottom of your skirt is done!
- For the casing (the elastic’s home at the top of the skirt): Iron the top 1/4 inch all the way across.
- Whatever width your elastic is, add a half inch to that number. My elastic is 1 inch, so I add a half inch to make my casing 1 1/2 inches. So fold the top down again 1 1/2 inches or whatever your elastic width is plus 1/2 inch. Iron it down. Then sew very close to the edge of the bottom of the casing all around the waist, leaving an open hole about 1” to thread the elastic.
- Determine the elastic length: Use the measurement of your waist. This is the length of your elastic. Cut elastic to size.
- Threading the elastic through the casing: Safety pin one end of the elastic to one end of the casing. Pin another safety pin on the other end of the elastic. Thread the elastic through the casing. Below I show 3 different skirts through which I’ve pulled elastic.
- Sew elastic ends together: Overlap the elastic 1 inch, and sew together reinforcing it over and over, or use a zig-zag stitch as demonstrated here. Here I sewed the side panel at the end-oops! If you follow the order of these instructions, you won’t end up with frayed edges like you see here.
- Close the 1” hole for the casing, iron the skirt, and you are done!!
**Optional for the trim panel: If you want to add a second fabric pattern, before cutting the fabric to length as in Instruction #5, decide how much of the secondary fabric you want to show, and add 1 inch to that number. So I wanted my secondary fabric to be 3 1/2”, so I cut it 4 1/2”. Then I pinned it all the way across, put right sides together, sewed it on the wrong side with a 1/4” seam allowance, sewed a zig-zag stitch, and then ironed it down toward the bottom.
Please ask if you have any questions. I try to make the tutorial clear, but I know everyone has their own learning styles and that I am not the most articulate one.
Have you re-purposed a shirt into a skirt?
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