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Knit Ruffle Skirt Tutorial

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Very Easy Knit Ruffle Skirt Tutorial! A great project for someone just starting to sew with knits.  The best part is you can make the entire skirt with an extra-large man’s shirt!

I love that this skirt is so easy to make!  I’ve made it multiple times.  One of the reasons it comes together so quickly is that you don’t have to hem any of the edges.  (I love that about knit fabric.)

Learn how to make a knit ruffle skirt using an old xl shirt or knit yardage.

 (Looking for more free patterns? Be sure to check out my free patterns and tutorials page here.)

The best part about this skirt is that you can use recycled knits: a man’s L or  XL t-shirt should give you enough fabric to squeeze out up to a 5t skirt.  (the pink skirt and green skirts shown above were made from Large golf shirts.  (That’s the perk of having multiple pro golfers in the family – we get all their girly or too small golf shirts.)

The skirt has an elastic waist, so it can be adjusted to fit from a 2T to 5T.  If you wanted to make it for a taller child, you would need to about 5/8 to 3/4 yard of knit fabric, and cut the strips slightly taller.

Items needed to make a Knit Ruffle Skirt:

  • 5/8 yard of 60 inch wide knit fabric or large or xl men’s knit shirt
  • 3/8 or 1/2 inch wide elastic
  • ball point needle
  • coordinating thread, scissors, ruler, basic sewing supplies


1.  If you are using knit yardage, fold your fabric in half and cut 3 strips 4.5 inches tall by 25 inches wide.  Cut a 4th strip, 8 inches tall by 17.5 inches wide.
(When you unfold the fabric, the measurements will be 4.5 X 50 and 8 X 35.)  Skip to step 4.

If you plan on using a Man’s shirt, I recommend using an extra large shirt.  The bigger the shirt, the more fabric you have to work with.  I have used a large shirt before, but it is a little bit harder to get the length needed for a longer skirt.

Here is how to cut up the shirt:

Starting at the bottom of the shirt, cut off the hem.

Then cut the shirt in three strips, starting at the bottom, 4.5 inches tall.  You will cut through the front and back of the shirt, making a big fabric loop.

I used my disappearing fabric marker to show where to make the cuts.  (I didn’t want to cut this shirt,  I am going to use it to make “comfy” pants for my son, so I am switching to the striped fabric…)

The 4th strip is for the base of the skirt and will be 7 to 8 inches tall.  (Go ahead and cut it to 8 inches if you have enough fabric.)  For the width, just square it off to the sleeve edge, (see my drawing above.)  This will leave you with two pieces.  Don’t worry about cutting through the placket, this will go at the bottom underside of the skirt and we will just sew over it when attaching the ruffle.

Here is what you will have:

2.  Take your 3 ruffle tube/strips and cut the seams on one side, so you have 3 long strips, 50 inches wide

3.  Take the 2 pieces you cut for the base skirt, sew them together along the 8 inch side so you have one long strip.

4.  Sew a straight stitch along the bottom side of each of your ruffle strips about 1/4 inch from the edge.  This will help stabilize the fabric and help it hold up better.

5. Time to gather the ruffles. Set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length. (Mine goes to 7.) Sew a straight stitch all the way across the top of the ruffle strip, 1/4 inch from the edge. Leave the ends loose, no backstitching. Do this on all three ruffles. Go ahead and move the stitch length back to the normal length now before you forget.

6.  To gather your ruffle strip, gently pull on the bottom thread of your basting stitch while holding the fabric.  Move the fabric evenly down the thread, trying to keep the gathers even.  Keep gathering until your strip is about 1/2 inch shorter than the width of the skirt base.  Do this for all three ruffle strips.

6.  Next, line up the ruffle 1/2 inch from the bottom of the skirt base and about 1/4 inch from the edge. (The extra 1/4 inch is for the seam allowance).  Wrong side of the ruffle facing right side of the skirt base.  When you are looking at the skirt, you will see the right sides of both pieces.  (If you are using a man’s shirt and cut across part of the placket when cutting your fabric, make sure it is on the bottom of the skirt.)

Pin the ruffle to the skirt base securely, all the away across.

Place the gathered edge under your sewing foot and sew right over the gathering stitch.  When I sew gathers, I usually leave my pins in, but you are risking broken needles and pins, so if you do this, go slowly and be careful…

7.  Line up the second ruffle tier 2 1/2 above the bottom tier and 1/4 inch from the edge and pin securely.  Sew the ruffle on the skirt, just like the bottom ruffle

8.  Line up the 3rd and top ruffle another 2 1/2 inches above the 2nd ruffle, just like the other two.  Pin securely and sew.

9.  Next step is to close the skirt base and create the skirt.  Line up the sides of the skirt base, right sides together.  Be sure to move the ruffle edges out of the seam-line and pin securely.

See how the ruffle edges are loose.

10.  To make the casing, fold the top edge over a little less than 1 inch if you are using 1/2 inch elastic or 3/4 if you use 3/8 inch elastic.  Sew around the top of the skirt, 1/4 inch from the edge, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch opening to insert the elastic.

11.  Take your child’s waist measurement minus 1 inch for the length of elastic needed.  Using a safety pin or turning tool, thread the elastic through the casing.

12.  Once the elastic is through the casing, I usually secure the edges with a safety pin and do a final fit on my sweet little model.  Once you are sure the waist fits, sew the ends of the elastic together.  I usually do several tight zig-zag stitches back and forth.  Trim the edges and finish sewing the casing closed.

Ta da! You are done!  Isn’t it cute?

If you have any questions about the tutorial, leave me a comment and I will answer as best I can.

If you are inspired to create something based on this tutorial, be sure to come back and share a photo on my facebook page or tag me on instagram!

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  1. What about the seams of the ruffles?
    Do they stay open or are they sewn afterwards?

    1. Are you asking about the side seams? I left them open.

  2. This is adorable. Would be perfect for my 4 year old who loves dresses yet needs to be cozy when the weather gets chilly!

  3. Jacinda Cote says:

    Just found this when looking for a cute ruffle skirt to make for my 2 year old.. LOVE IT! I am now your newest follower in anyway that I can follow you! 🙂

  4. That's really helpful and adorable also Thanks for sharing the tutorial. I will have to give it a try. I found your blog on The Idea Room link party, Can 't wait to make one for my friend 's daughter.
    gifts for boys