Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer Skirts 1 - The Classic Gathered Skirt

Happy Independence Day!

We are spending the weekend at the girls' grandparents'
home, so I am posting from my very slow laptop.

But I am excited to start two new series(es) on summer
clothes that I've been making for the two older girls.
This first one is all about skirts! The plan is to do about
6 different kinds of skirts, and then do a cheat sheet
for the whole lot at the end. Sound good? They are so
easy to make that I am almost tempted to use the
expression "whip up" in the same sentence. Almost.
But because I was using up scraps and old bedlinen,
a silly lot of time was spent digging into my badly-
organized stash and experimenting with dimensions
and trims and color combinations.

But let's get started, shall we?

Here's the simplest of all sewn skirts - the classic
gathered skirt. In its simplest form, it is a rectangle
sewn into a tube, with one edge elasticized.

There are probably hundreds of tutorials on the internet
that show you how to make this, so I won't be repeating
the instructions here. I will, however, just tell you
how to get the dimensions of the rectangle of fabric.

Step 1

Measure waist of wearer. The waist is just above the navel.
Call this measurement A.
E.g. Emily's was 21.5".

Step 2

Multiply this roughly by two to get 2A but it doesn't have to be exact.
E.g. For Emily, this will be 43" but I used 40" just because I liked a round number. No other reason.

Step 3

Measure the length of the skirt you want. Call this B.
E.g. For Emily, I thought a skirt that ended just above her knee would be sufficiently modest. The distance from her waist to just-above-her-knee was 12".

Step 4

Now include all the seam allowances you need and cut a rectangle of fabric with these dimensions:
  • Length of rectangle: 2A + 1".
(1/2" seam allowance for each edge in the seam).
  • Height of rectancle: B + 2".
(1/2" bottom hem allowance plus 1.5" elastic-casing-allowance for top).

Step 5

Sew side seam.

Step 6

Hem bottom edge.

Step 7

Sew elastic casing for 1" elastic. Leave opening for inserting elastic.
See my old shorts tutorial for pictures for Steps 7 and 8.

Step 8
Insert elastic with safety pin, sew elastic ends together and sew up casing opening.

Beyond that, everything is embellishment.

Here's a pocket variation for the girls' 4th of July skirts:

Before sewing up the side seam of the rectangle, I sewed
on the decorative band at the bottom and two pockets.

Each pocket is fully-faced, meaning I cut a facing in
the same shape as the pocket, sewed the two pieces
together and turned the whole double-layered thing
right side out. This means there are no raw edges apart
from the parts of the pocket to be enclosed in the
skirt seams. Specifically, the pocket on the left has this
unfinished top edge which will be enclosed in the
elastic casing later, and the pocket on the right has the
same unfinished top edge and an unfinished
side edge, where it will be enclosed in the side seam.

Top-stitch the band and pockets on.

Two skirts finished (including dragging the ironing board
out of storage and waiting for ancient suspicious-brand
iron to heat up) in about an hour and a half.

Next up: the Tiered Skirt (the pink thing on the left).


  1. Lovely! Looking forward to the cheat sheets :)

  2. Loved the Foam Series and am sure this one will be just as great.

    Also, the pinks you put together are really cute...

  3. You are fabulous for posting this. Thanks!!!

  4. I love the direction and finished product. Ac ouple of questions since I am a real newbie to this! (1st time)after I sem my sides of the skirt and then the bottom hem...That all makes I fold the skirt over a tiny bit at the top stitch and then measure down about 1 inch and sew another seam then make my 1 inch down opening at both side seams to put in my elastic and stitch together my elastic and them close up the two openings and tada there is my finished skirt. Will I automatically havce a gathered look to the top of the skirt? or do I need to baste my top seam at the waist of my skirt first then add a sewn strip to the skirt over the basted seam, add the elastic and then close up the openings? If so what is the best way to sew the strip on over the gathered skirt made by basting the waist and then gathering by pulling the thred? PLease help me as I really want to do this before the weekend is here!!!! Thank you so much. Please feel free to email me at

  5. I love everything about this blog - the layout, the colors, the beautiful photos, and the very simple skirt pattern, inspiring for my 9 year old dd and aspiring seamstress, to handle. Thank you!! And, btw, even if unemployed (gratefully) look at the amazing contribution to us all you are making! We are a gratefully homeschooling family of 3 children; and I am also a part-time practicing attorney, out of necessity, but also grateful to still be able to homeschool, with the help of my dh!!

  6. I'm tackling this for the girls and I next. A bit nervous, so thanks for the encouragement! You're awesome, Lier.


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.