This gathered skirt is really easy to make even if you have never sewn your own clothes before. You don’t need a pattern and can make it customised to your own measurements. It has an elastic waist so there’s no need for zips or buttons and you can even add pockets if you like. This style of skirt is very common amongst DIY enthusiasts, but what I love about it is that everyone seems to have their own approach to making it. In this tutorial I’ll show you my preferred way of making this skirt. I’m using a light weight woven rayon with an abstract floral print. You could also use a cotton poplin, gingham or lightweight chambray.Start by measuring your waist where you want the waistband of the skirt to sit. Multiply this measurement by 1.5 to get the measurement of the skirt allowing fullness for the gathers. (This skirt is only slightly gathered, if you want a fuller skirt you could multiply your measurement by 1.8 or 2.) For example, if your waist measurement is 70 cm (27 1/2”) multiplied by 1.5 the total measurement is 105 cm (41 1/4”). Measure your hips just to make sure the previous measurement (1.5 x your waist) is at least 10 cm bigger than your hip measurement. If it’s not, try multiplying your waist measurement by 1.6 or 1.7. This is to make sure the skirt will fit around your hips comfortably. This measurement goes all the way around the body and you need to cut a separate front and back piece so divide your number by two, so 105 cm (41 1/4”) divided by 2 equals 52.5 cm (20 3/4”). Lets call this number measurement A.
Now decide on the length you want the skirt to be. For example, I want my skirt to be 48 cm (18 7/8”) long, the finished dimensions for the front and back skirt pieces are 48 cm (18 7/8”) long by 52.5 cm (20 3/4”) wide (measurement A), but we need to add seam allowance to these measurements. Add 2 cm to the width of the piece to allow for 1 cm seam allowance down each side seam. To the length measurement you need to add 2.5 cm for the hem and enough for a casing for the elastic along the top. I’m using elastic that is 2.5 cm wide so I’m going to add 4 cm for the casing so I can turn over 1 cm to create a neat folded edge and then fold over another 3 cm to form the casing to fit the elastic.
So this is how our maths is looking so far: the width of the piece is measurement A plus 2 cm, in my case this is 52.5 (20 3/4”) + 2 cm (3/4”) for the seam allowance, totaling 54.5 cm (21 1/2”).
The length of the piece is the length of the skirt 48 cm (18 7/8”) + 2.5 cm (1”) for the hem allowance + 4 cm (1 5/8”) for the casing allowance, totaling 54.5 cm (21 1/2”). (Which turns out to be the same as the width – weird! Depending on your waist measurement and the length of your skirt your piece might not be a square. It’s much more likely to be rectangular.)
So to make a skirt to fit my measurements, I need to cut out two squares of fabric measuring 54.5 cm (21 1/2”) by 54.5 cm (21 1/2”). One will be the front of the skirt and the other will be the back.
Using tailor’s chalk or a pencil, mark your squares (or rectangles) on the back of your fabric and cut them out. If you want your skirt to have pockets, cut out 2 pairs of pocket pieces ( 4 pieces in total). You can make up your own pocket pattern by drawing a shape large enough to fit around your hand, or you can use my pattern piece by clicking on the image and printing it on a piece of A4 paper.
Finish off the raw edges of each of the pieces by overlocking all the way around each piece. If you don’t have an overlocker, you can use a zig zag stitch on your normal sewing machine. This is to prevent any of the raw edges from fraying. For more on finishing off raw edges, have a read of this post.
Across the top edge of each of your skirt pieces, fold over 1 cm (3/8”) and press it flat with your iron.
Fold down a further 3 cm (1 1/4”) and press it flat with your iron. This will form your elastic casing later on. I just find that it’s easier to form these creases now while the pieces are flat, rather than later when the side seams have been sewn up.
If you want your skirt to have pockets, now is the time to make them. To do this, first mark the crosses on the back of the fabric in the two corners of each of the pocket pieces using my pattern piece as a guide. The crosses should be about 1 cm (3/8”) away from the edges.
On one of your skirt pieces, measure down 8 cm (3 1/4”) from the top folded edge. Place one of the pocket pieces right sides together on the skirt pieces and line up the little cross with the point 8 cm (3 1/4”) from the folded edge and pin together at this point. Pin the rest of the straight edge of the pocket opening to the edge of the skirt up to the other cross.
Sew between the crosses with 1 cm seam allowance remembering to back-tack at each end.
See how the stitching goes up to the cross, but not right to the edge of the pocket piece? This is important. Sew another pocket piece to the other side of the skirt piece and then repeat for the other skirt piece with the remaining pair of pocket pieces.
Press the seam allowance open where you have attached each pocket piece then flip the pocket over the seam allowance and press along the seam line again.
Lay the two skirt pieces with the right sides together and with the pockets sticking out at the sides. Unfold the casing at the top so you can pin the side seams together.
Pin down to the cross with all the seam allowance going towards the pocket, then pin around the pocket to the cross, then down the rest of the side seam.
Sew down the side seam and around the pocket, as pinned, with 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance. Pin and sew the other side seam in the same manner. On the back of the skirt carefully clip into the seam allowance to the two crosses of both pockets. Be very careful not to clip through the seam, just get close to it.
Clipping the seam allowance like this allows you to now press open the seam allowance of the side seams above and below the pocket.
If you are making a skirt without pockets, simply pin the two skirt pieces with right sides together and sew down the side seams with 1 cm seam allowance, then press the seams open.
Fold the casing at the top of the skirt down again at the side seams and iron so it’s nice and flat again. Pin the casing down all the way around the skirt, leaving a gap of about 5 cm (2”) at one of the side seams.
Sew the casing, as pinned, close to the folded edge, making sure you leave the gap open.
Pull the piece of elastic around your waist where you want the skirt to fit and mark the length that is comfortable. Add 2 cm (3/4”) for overlap and cut the elastic at this length. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic.
Feed the safety pin into the casing through the gap you left open. Keep sliding the safety pin all the way around the casing being careful to not let the other end of the elastic disappear into the casing.
When the elastic has gone all the way around the casing pull the two ends away from the fabric a bit and remove the safety pin. Overlap the ends of the elastic by 2 cm (3/4”), sew down the middle of the overlapped section then zig-zag over both of the raw edges to prevent it from fraying.
Ease the elastic back into the casing and pin the gap closed. Sew the gap closed, pulling it taut as you go.
Stretch the waistband open as far as it will go and release it to spread the gathers evenly around the skirt. To help prevent the elastic from rolling or twisting, pin through the casing and the elastic at both side seams and stitch through all layers to secure the elastic at the side seams.
Try on your skirt and make sure you’re happy with the length, then take it off and fold up the 2.5 cm (1”) hem allowance. Iron it flat and pin in place.
Sew all around the hem, press the hem again, iron out any creases in the skirt and it’s now finished!
It’s taken ages to put this tutorial together and I need to go cook some dinner now, so I’ll take some outfit photos of the skirt tomorrow. If you do have a go at making this skirt, I’d love to hear about it so let me know in the comments section or leave your link if you’ve blogged about it – I’d love to check it out!
I’ve since posted some outfit photos of this skirt. Take a peek here.
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