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Simple Skirt Tutorial with Options for 3 Different Looks

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Want to learn how to sew a skirt?  This Simple Skirt Tutorial with Options for 3 Different Looks is perfect as a beginner sewing project.

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

how to sew a skirt

Simple Skirt Tutorial with Options for 3 Different Looks

My daughter loves to wear skirts and dresses.  (She also loves posing for pictures, lol!)

I’ve been working for the last few days on a few new skirts for her spring and summer wardrobe.  These skirts are very simple in style, but I can easily change up the look with a few tweaks to the basic skirt.

I loved all these skirts, and am so excited to share this tutorial with you! (Don’t you just love all these bright and cheery colors for Spring?)

Basic Skirt Tutorial:

Things to know about these skirts- The reason this skirt is so easy to make is that you are using the width of the fabric to make the skirt.  

Most cotton fabrics are 40 to 44 inches wide, which is just the right amount of fabric for a simple gathered skirt.  In my opinion, this skirt is best for size girls in the 2 to 10 size range.  

Anything smaller or larger, you would need to adjust the amount of fabric used.

Materials needed:

  • Main skirt panel fabric (+/- 1/3 yard for main skirt panel ) (amount needed will depend on desired length)
  • Fabric for contrasting band (about 1/4 yard)
  • Coordinating thread
  • 3/4 inch elastic
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • iron

Option 1.  Simple Skirt with Contrasting Band:

Step 1:  Get your measurements.  

You need:  

Desired skirt length: ____________

Determine the length you want your skirt.  Measure from right below the belly button to where you want the skirt to end.  (The contrasting border fabric will be 3 inches tall.)

Measurement A: _______________

Your desired skirt length measurement – the 3-inch contrast band  =  measurement “A”

Measurement B: _______________

Measurement “A” + 1.75 inches = measurement B (this is the height/length needed for main skirt panel)

Waist Measurement: ____________   (for the elastic)

You will cut the elastic to waist measurement plus 1 inch

The contrasting fabric border will be 6.5 inches tall.

Step 2: Cut your fabric.

1.  Fold the main skirt fabric selvage to selvage and cut the width of the fabric (40 to 44 inches unfolded) by measurement B.

2. Fold the contrasting border fabric the same way and cut the width of the fabric by 6 1/2 inches high.  Be sure to cut off the selvages.

Step 3: Assemble the skirt.

1.  Fold the border fabric in half longways and iron.

2.  Lay your main skirt fabric out right side up, line up raw edges of border fabric and raw edges main fabric.  Pin and sew 1/4 inch from edge.

3.  Finish the seam edge with pinking shears, a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine or with a serger.  Press the seam flat with finished edge pointing up.

4.  With right sides of the skirt together, line up the raw edges of the side seams.  Pin and sew.  Finish the seam and press flat with iron.

Step 4: Make the skirt casing.

1. To make the elastic casing, turn the skirt inside out.  Fold top edge of skirt over 1/4 inch and press with iron.  Fold the edge over another 1.25 inches and press again.

2.  Sew along the bottom edge of casing, about 1/8 inch from the edge.  Leave a 1 1/2 inch opening in the casing to thread the elastic through.

3.  Cut a piece of elastic to your waist measurement plus 1 inch.

4. Using a safety pin, thread elastic through the casing.  At this point I like to safety pin the elastic together and have my daughter try on the skirt.  Once you are certain it fits, sew the elastic together using a tight zig zag.

5. Trim off any excess elastic and sew the casing closed.

Step 5: Top stitch.

Topstitch around the edge of the contrasting border of the skirt and you are done!

Option 2.  Simple skirt with Ruffled Bottom

Materials needed:

The same as option one, except you will need 3/8 yard for the contrasting fabric ruffle.

1.  For this skirt, cut the main fabric panel the same as option one and cut two 6 1/2 inch strips from your contrasting fabric.

2.  Iron the border fabric in half.

3.  Unfold the ironed border fabric and sew the strips, right sides together, to make one big circle.  Fold the fabric back the way you ironed it.

4.  Line up the side seam of the skirt, pin and sew.  Finish this seam with pinking shears, a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine or with a serger.

5.  Next, set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length and sew a gathering stitch 1/4 inch from the raw edge of the border fabric.

6.  While holding the fabric firmly, pull on the top thread to ruffle the fabric.  Distribute the ruffles evenly along the circle of fabric.  Keep pulling the thread and distributing the ruffles until the ruffled circle is the same width of the skirt fabric.

I didn’t get a picture of the ruffling step, but this is how fabric will ruffle up when you pull the top thread.

7.  Lay the skirt flat, line up the raw edges of the ruffle and the skirt.  Pin and sew the ruffles to the skirt.  Just sew right over the gathering stitch.  Finish this seam and iron flat so the finished seam is pointing towards the top of the skirt.

8.  Flip the skirt right side out and topstitch along the top of the ruffle.

Option 3.  Simple Skirt with Fabric Belt.

Materials needed:

Same as skirt option 2, but you will need an additional 1/ yard for the belt.

1. Cut your skirt and border fabric the same as option 1.

 Cut main skirt fabric in half so you have a front and back piece.  Cut 2 strips of fabric 27 inches long by 2.75 tall.  (If you want a wider belt, add an inch or two to the height of the belt pieces.)

2.  Iron the fabric ties in half and cut an angle at one end of the fabric ties as shown.  Sew along the edges of the ties, flip them right side out, and iron flat.

3.  Take the 2 skirt pieces, fold the top edge over 1/4 inch, and iron.  Fold over another 1 1/4 inch and iron again.

4.  Unfold the 1 1/4 inch ironed edge and line the raw edges of the belt and skirt fabric as shown.  Do this for both belt pieces.

5.  Line up the skirt sides and pin in place.

6.  See how the belt is sandwiched between the skirt pieces?

7.  Sew the side seams and finish the edges with your pinking shears, zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine or with a serger.

8.  Create the skirt casing as you did in the skirt option one.  Go slow and be very careful not to stitch into the fabric belt.  I sewed right up to the edge of the belt, stopped my machine with the needle in, lifted the presser foot and flipped the belt tho opposite direction, then kept sewing.

8.  Insert the elastic and sew the ends together.  Close the casing.

9.  Topstitch around the ruffle.

Ta-Da!  You’ve made a new skirt!  Now go find someone to try it on so you can admire your sewing skills!

How to sew a skirt. Easy Basic Skirt tutorial, perfect for a beginner sewist! This simple skirt tutorial has easy options for 3 different looks!

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  1. Thank you!!! Your instructions really helped. I have 5 granddaughters and wanted to make matching skirts. I think this will be simple enough for me.

  2. Your post are wonderful. I however am not always the smartest being math has never been my strong suit. How would I figure out yardage width for a 5 to 6x. As well as a 3T

  3. Barbara H. says:

    Hello Jamie! I just want to thank you for your patterns offered free to us! I think it is really so nice of you. I was searching online for a simple girl’s skirt with a ruffle for my Grandaughters. I googled it and your site was absolutely the best one out there! My 1st one, was for a Buffalo Bills fan. I also did an Eagles one. They both turned out perfect! Thank you very much.
    I’m trying to post a pick, but can’t figure out how to, sorry. ?

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      So sweet of you to stop by with the comment! If you are on Facebook, I do have a private Facebook group just for showing off our creations. Just search scattered thoughts of a crafty mom pattern group on Facebook to find it. You’ll have to request for access, but I am usually pretty good at answering those requests within a few hours.

  4. Bev Gladin says:

    I just wanted to tell you I have been making a variety of these skirts for my granddaughter for YEARS! 🙂 i come back to your post again and again, especially for your great formula! Thanks sso much from Miss Priss and her Bebba!

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      Love it, thank you fro sharing your experience with the pattern/tutorial!

  5. Grandma Debbie says:

    Just knocked out 8 skirts for my 2 granddaughters. Going for a visit next month with a suitcase full of sewing for my 5 sweeties!!

    Love this pattern and easy, easy tutorial. Thank you SO much!!

  6. Love these skirts and fabrics. My daughters are grown now but I would have loved to make these for them when they were little. Your directions are great also. I am just getting back into sewing. I would love to make one for myself to wear for tennis. Do you know how I would adjust the measurements? Thank you for any suggestions 🙂

  7. I love this tutorial and the third option is my fave! I have two girls and it would be fun to make some of these!! I am still a beginner but you make it sound and look so easy!! Ha!

    Do you think this would work with a light-weight corduroy? I need some fabric that will be a little warm since it is a cold winter.

    1. I think option 1 would be best with corduroy. You could do a ruffle with corduroy (as shown in option 2 and 3) but it would be a bit more difficult to create the ruffle on the bottom since corduroy is thicker than quilting cotton.

  8. Great tutorial!!! I'm teaching my granddaughter how to sew that this tutorial was so easy for her to follow and create her own skirt! Thanks so much for sharing your pattern/tutorial!

    1. Thank you, glad it helped!

  9. Sarah Black says:

    These skirt patterns are great! Whipped one up last night for a wee girls birthday present 🙂

  10. frecklesontheside says:

    This is great but every picture has an advertisement that pops up within seconds of stopping to take a closer look.

    1. Just click the little down arrow on the side to get rid of the ads.

  11. Ashley Bennett says:

    The last skirt tutorial was incredibly confusing to me after having done the first very easily. Please include more pictures in the future! I have no clue when I should do the ruffle bottom since you didn't mention it in the last tutorial at all (even though I know it's in the second). When I referenced the second tutorial, I was still stumped. More pictures in the future please! I'm getting frustrated wasting fabric and figuring out something that was shared as 'simple!'! Thank you for sharing the first, but I'd love to add variety with the other patterns to my daughter's wardrobe!

  12. house in head says:

    thanks, these are great! i have a ruffler foot and want to use it to ruffle the band for the skirt. any idea which settings i should use?