Thursday, July 16, 2009

Skorts - Summer Skirts Epilogue

By popular demand (thank you all for popularly demanding,
by the way), here is the tutorial for skorts, aka scooters
aka skirt-with-shorts-underneath, brought to you from
the sewing laboratory of ikatbag, where
We Make Mistakes So You Don't Have To!

First, I'd better clarify that these are not the same as culottes,
which I wore a lot of as a young person. Culottes are sort of
flowy divided skirt. I made a pair or two years ago and
I think you could make them easily if you
  • got a pattern for a pair of knee-length shorts
  • made the bottom hem of each leg very wide
  • made the crotch lower
  • used a soft fabric.

Some of the earlier shorts I sewed for the girls ended
up culotte-esque by virtue of the soft knit I used,
and the gross mismeasurement of their dimensions.
So you see - not very difficult to make, eh?
You can literally make them by accident.

But moving along now.
Today we are making skorts, which are essentially
a skirt with shorts sewn on underneath. And the
following tutorial is simply how to attach the shorts
to the skirt. Which means you'll need to
already have a pair of shorts and a skirt.

Right-o, here's how I began - first, I got out my old shorts
pattern and made a pair of white knit shorts. Except I used
only a 1/4" seam allowance at the top instead of 1 1/4".
This is because we are not going to fold down the top to
make an elastic casing for this pair of shorts.
I finished the leg hems but not the waist hem.

Then I cut out knit fabric for a gathered skirt. Now the
classic gathered skirt is made from a single rectangle.
That would have been too wide at the waist to line up with
the waist of the shorts. So I cut out two trapeziums for
the skirt instead, so that
  • the waist matched the waist of the shorts
  • the bottom hem was roughly twice the waist measurement of the wearer

I finished the bottom hem but not the waist hem.

Here is a picture of the shorts and the skirt lined up so
you can see their waists are almost the same size. It is OK
if the skirt is a little bigger than the shorts because it's all
going to be gathered in the end anyway. And if you are
using knit for the shorts (which I recommend because it
is stretchy-comfortable, you can stretch its
waist to match the skirt's waist.

Let's get started, finally, shall we?

Step 1
  • Turn the skirt inside out.
  • Turn the shorts inside out - this is important! Even if it is counter-intuitive. This is what cost me an hour of seam ripping yesterday.
  • Insert the shorts into the skirt.

Step 2
  • Line up their waists and pin the two layers together at the side seams and the center front and back.

Step 3
  • Using a 3/8" or 1/4' seam allowance, sew all around the waist to join the skirt to the shorts. Stretch the waist of the shorts to fit the skirt as you sew, if necessary.

Step 4
  • Turn the entire garment right side out (so the shorts are inside).
  • Top-stitch close to the top of the seam.
  • Measure 1 1/8" from the line of top-stitching and sew another row of stitches all around waist, leaving a 2" opening for inserting the elastic. In the picture, you can see the top-stitching and the elastic for width-reference.

Step 5
  • Insert elastic (measure around wearer's waist for desired snugness) with safety pin.
  • Sew ends of elastic together.
  • Sew up the 2" opening.

Voila! Skorts - the miraculous 2-in-1 modesty garment.

I've also seen (and worn) fitted skorts, which are wrap skirts
with zippered shorts underneath. So really, they come in all
mutant varieties. But for my kids anyway, I'll stick to the
elasticized version. A big consideration when sewing their
clothes is how they can independently dress themselves and
elastic is wonderful for that. You'll see this concept again
in the Summer Dresses coming up next!


  1. I'm right there with you....I just recently put my recycled t-shirt skort pattern into an was the most frustrating pattern I've dealt with....but I love it now and so do all my friends. Once my daughter got too big for bloomers the skorts became a necessity!
    I'll have to try your pattern now!

  2. I don't sew {hopefully 'yet'} but you really are nice to stop what you are doing to take pictures of each step along the way. I've watched my mom whip things out, so Thank you for taking the tiem to show us how to do it {even if we don't yet}

  3. Why have I never thought of sewing my own skorts? Add it to the project list!

  4. Wonderful tutorial, we are thinking of trying it! You mentioned a knit fabric...what kind of knit is it? We've been to the 3 fabric stores in our area and can't find any knit that isn't solid. Where do you find your fabric?

  5. Shannon: I buy my fabrics from several different local stores - JoAnn is an old reliable in general, but they don't have a lot of printed knits. Most of my printed knits are from Mill End Textiles which carries brands like Oshkosh prints. But you can always use regular non-knit/non-stretchy) fabric for the outer skirt if you wish. There is a lot more choice for great prints in those!

  6. Great idea! I posted two of your tutorials on

  7. Skorts are an adorable idea and I love the oceany colors!

  8. I really love this tutorial (and your blog) - thanks so much for posting it. I'm just starting to get into sewing for my daughter and it is sooo addictive. How hard it is to sew with jersey or any other knit or stretchy fabric? Also, can one get good results sewing with those fabrics even without a serger?

  9. Step 1, "turn the shorts inside out". I would have done the opposite but after reading through your tutorial and viewing the photos I get it! Thanks you saved me and hour of pulling out stitches.

  10. What a great idea. I love skorts and this tutorial will help me make bunches.

  11. Thanks for this. I used your basic idea, but added a ribbed waist band. Though, I should have used elastic as it is a bit big on my daughter. I guess better too big, she can grow into it. Thanks again. Love your site and your humorous tell-it-like-it-is-ness.

  12. Just used your tutorial to make skorts for my 4 year old. They turned out great, and I feel like a bit of a superstar. Thank you so much!!

  13. I am so glad that I found your blog! Skorts (or shortrokjes as we call them in Flemish) are hard to find in Belgium, and my 7 year old daughter just loves to wear them during summer time, especially when going on sports camp! Even sewing patterns in Europe lack this garment! So a big thank you!

  14. So if you are looking for fabric to make the shorts part with, use a large or bigger man's t-shirt. Depending on the size you need. I have used some that have only been worn once for an event. You also don't have to hem them if you lay your pattern right. I have a shorts pattern that has front and back all in one piece. I also just use cotton cute cotton fabric with a 3 to 4 inch slit on the sides. Elastic waist. My grand-daughter loves them.


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