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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. These skirts are so cute and such fun fabric colors! We are so glad that you linked up to "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." Hope you'll be back next week! -The Sisters

  2. I'll take all three – oh wait, they probably won't fit!! These are adorable, and your tutorial is so good. Love your fabric choices. Thanks for sharing all your creative inspiration at Sunday's Best.

  3. Love these skirts and the fabric you used. I am going to pin this for spring inspiration for my girls.Thanks!!

  4. Wow, these are adorable. I love them. Your fabric choice is great.
    Greetings from Germany

  5. Please please please tell me what the curly font you've used on your skirt photos is… it's GORGEOUS! Oh and I LOVE the skirts.

    1. Thanks so much for that. I've changed my blogger settings (like you, I had no idea I was a 'no reply'). xx

  6. These skirts are really cute! Just one extra thing to add for ease, stitch in the ditch of the side seams at the waist band to hold the elastic in place. This prevents the elastic from twisting when you wash it.

  7. I've made lots of the skirts with the elastic waist for my granddaughter. She loved them. I'm a follower of yours now and would love to have you come by and visit and follow back. Best wishes. Linda

  8. Wow! You make these look so easy! I am going to follow your tutorial and try some! These are great! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Yay! I love all your creations, beautiful fabrics, and the smile of your princess is a dream.

  10. I came here via Sew and Show at Justine's blog-these are adorable skirts!

  11. Adorable skirts! I think the green one with the ruffle and self fabric belt is my fave!

  12. I love these! I pinned them to my sewing board for future reference. Can you tell me how you got the cool thing at the bottom of your post with the links to GFC. etc? I like it!

  13. Sweet skirt and great tutorial and I love the fabrics you used! Now, if I only a wee lass to make one for.

  14. Very great tutorial!!!!!! I sooo want to make skirts now!

    If you come back at The DIY Dreamer, you'll see that I had a linky party. I would love it if you shared this 🙂

  15. Jamie — Thank You ! This is great ! My granddaughters will just love them – – and instead of them making pillow cases — we can make them their own skirts !!


  16. Thank you!! I just went through my fabric stash last weekend and found some remnants that I wanted to use for skirts, but I didn't have a skirt pattern. This is perfect! And, I love all 3 options! Your fabrics are beautiful.

    1. Raye Jean Linn says:

      Am I reading this tutorial right—one width of fabric for the main skirt? Also what width did you make the casing? Thanks

      1. Yes, one width, which is around 44 inches, will be wide enough to fit a child from size 2 to about 10 (of course this will be much fuller on a 2 yr old vrs a 10 yr old.) The casing is not separate from the skirt piece, so it is the same width. (for reference, my daughter was 5 in the photos.)

        Good luck!

        Looking back over this tutorial (I made it 5 years ago and it was one of my firsts) I can tell it is not the easiest to understand and I am feeling inspired to create a video tutorial, so stay tuned!

      2. Hello, thanks so much for sharing, please am new to seeing, please I would suggest pictures for every stage, for clear understanding. Please. And like you said a video maybe. Thanks so much.

      3. New to sewing I meant to say. I would really love to try this skirts for my daughter.

      4. I was having website problems this morning, you may have visited at the exact time that none of my images were loading! I do want to make a video of this tutorial though… It’s on my list of things to do.

  17. I LOVE these skirts. You instructions are great too – I'm a novice but I feel like I could actually bang one of these out 🙂