30 Minute Basic Skirt Tutorial

This tutorial was originally shared over at Jenny’s blog Mend and Make New as part of her Handmade Kids Clothes swap festivities.

This is a very quick little tutorial that will have you churning out bunches of skirts for all the little girls you know! I say 30 minutes but that depends on your experience and tools – if you have an overlocker you could probably make it even quicker. When I first started sewing it would have taken me a bit longer.

I’m not re-inventing the wheel here – skirt tutorials are a dime a dozen out there in sewing blog land. This is just my tried and true method for a quick project with winning results – these skirts are plentiful in our house.

In the cooler months Anna loves to layer skirts over leggings and wear boots. Once summer comes around again, she wears her skirts with a tee and some pretty sandals. For us, skirts are an all year around garment.

You don’t need much for this project – in fact you probably have everything sitting in your stash right now!

You need:

– Up to 1/2 metre / yard of fabric – I used the whole width from a 45″ bolt.
– Elastic for waistband – I like 1″ wide for kids garments.
– Large safety pin
– Coordinating thread
– Sewing machine and overlocker (if you have one)
– An existing skirt to measure the length (particularly handy if your child is at school when you sew the skirt!)

1. Take your existing skirt (or your child if they are close by!) and measure the length from waist to above the knee. Add 3″ to account for waistband and hemming, then cut your fabric so you have one long piece 45″ wide and the length you desire + 3″.

2. If you have an overlocker, serge the raw edges along the top and bottom. If you don’t have a serger you can skip this part – this is just a little cheat to make hemming and creating a elastic casing at the waist really quick and easy, keeping up the 30 minute time frame ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Cut fabric in half so you have two pieces to form the front and back skirt panels.

4. With fabric right sides together, use your overlocker and stitch the side seams.

If you don’t have an overlocker, french seams are a great finish on a skirt like this – quick, easy and very neat – check out this tutorial here for how to sew a french seam. You can also keep it super simple with a straight stitch then trim the seam allowance with pinking shears, or use a zig zag stitch to finish them.

5. Flip your skirt inside out so the wrong side is facing you. Fold the top over 1.5″ to create the waistband casing for the elastic. Press.

6. Stitch into place, leaving a 2″ gap for inserting the elastic. Because I am super lazy, I just stitch right over the top of the overlock stitches. It keeps my stitching in a nice straight line.

If you are not using an overlocker, fold the raw edge over 1/4″ and press. Fold over again 1.5″ and press. Stitch in place.

7. The amount of elastic you need will depend on the size of your child. Usually their waist measurement, then deducting 2-3″ works for me, so the elastic has some stretch and the skirt stays up.  (so if the waist measurement is 19″, cut 17″ of elastic.) Alternatively, check out any patterns you have for elasticated garments – they will have a size chart.

Use the large safety pin to attach to the end of your elastic. Push it through the casing. Pin the tail of the elastic outside the gap in the waistband so you don’t lose it.

8. Overlap the ends of the elastic and use a zig zag stitch to secure it.

9. Flip the elastic into the waistband then top stitch the gap closed.

10. Fold up the bottom edge and press at the desired length, then stitch the hem in place.

If your edges are not overlocked, fold up 1/4″ and press, then fold up 1″ to conceal the raw edge then press again. Stitch.

DONE! Woohoo, told you that was quick!

Now place skirt on child (or stick up on a wall with washi tape) and admire.

Fabric details: Pink birds cotton dobby purchased from here.

This type of skirt would suit a variety of fabrics – quilting cotton, corduroy, double gauze, poplin, polycotton. Anything light to medium weight. Knits would work too although the drape would be a bit different.

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Happy skirt sewing!

19 thoughts on “30 Minute Basic Skirt Tutorial

  1. Snap! I was just reading about this over on Jenny's blog! Question, do you think you need to cut the fabric in half to have a front and a back given there is no shaping other than from the elastic? (or am I just being lazy in wanting to speed it up even more?)

    1. No I don’t have any nightdress patterns sorry. Good luck with making the skirt – it’s a nice quick project!

  2. Does it need to be 45inch wide for all sizes ? Would that not be too much material for a 3month old? Or too little material for an 8 year old? X

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