Sew a Super Simple Skirt . Sewing 101

Valerie Bryant is back with another incredibly helpful Sewing 101 post. Now that we’ve learned the basics, she’s showing us how to make a super easy beginner skirt. There are tons of pictures with each step after the jump, so you won’t get lost! If you love Sewing 101, be sure to check out Valerie’s blog and her shop. P.S. Valerie’s having a shop sale and giveaway right now. Get the coupon code and enter the giveaway here

Now that you’ve gathered your supplies and gotten to know your sewing machine, how about your very first project?
This beginner skirt sewing tutorial for an elastic waist skirt is a simple project with tons of variations.  Make it as a mini skirt with a floral fabric, as a knee-length solid for a great basic, or use a lightweight, flowy fabric in a midi-length for a super classy get-up!  You could make it a million different ways, and no two would look the same.



You’ll Need:
  • 1 – 1.5 yards of fabric* (amount depending on your size and the length you want your skirt)
  • ruler
  • measuring tape
  • straight pins
  • thread (in a matching color to your fabric)
  • safety pins
  • marking tool (I just used a pencil.)
  • cutting utensil (shears or rotary cutter)
  • 1 yard of 1″ elastic (again, depending on your measurements)
  • sewing machine
  • iron/ironing board

*Make sure you get a fabric that does not stretch.  Mine is a cotton twill, and any type of cotton or linen would work well
First things first:  take your measurements!



With your measuring tape, measure around your waist (at the point where you would like the skirt to sit), your hips (the largest part of your rear), and your total length you would like the skirt (I do this by looking in a mirror, and letting the end of the tape drop down to my desired length.  The measurement on the part of the tape that is at my waist is the length).
The first measurements we’ll use are your hips and total length.  To get the final dimensions for cutting, add 3 1/2 inches to your total length measurement (mine was 20″, so my final number is 20 + 3 1/2 = 23 1/2″).  Then, add 10 inches to your hip measurement, and divide by 4 (mine was 39″, so my final number is 39 + 10 = 49″ / 4 = 12 1/2″).  You can also adjust the number you add to your hip measurement depending on your desired fullness of the skirt.  A number larger than 10 will be more full; a number smaller than 10 will be more fitted (but make sure you leave enough room to move!.




Using these final dimensions, it’s time to cut!  Fold your fabric in half, with the two selvage edges together.  (The selvage is the edge of the fabric that is tightly woven and unable to fray.)  Use your ruler to measure up your final hip number (mine is 12.25″) from the folded edge.  Mark with your pencil, and draw a line (lightly) along the ruler to the fold.



From that line, measure your final length number along the fold (mine is 23.5″).  Mark this spot with your pencil, and then repeat the previous step from that spot using your final hip number.



Using your ruler as a straight edge, cut out the remaining three sides of your rectangle, leaving the fold as the fourth edge.  Open it up, and you have half your skirt!



Now, repeat!  Your two rectangles should end up with identical dimensions.
Next, determine if your fabric has a right side and a wrong side.  The “right” side of a fabric is simply the one that you want to be on the outside of your skirt.  Some fabrics are identical on both sides, but some have different coloring or textures.  For example, one side of my fabric is smooth while the other has tiny ridges.  I want the ridges to be on the outside of my finished skirt, so that is my “right” side.



Using your straight pins, pin your two rectangles together along the length sides, with the right sides of your fabric together.  (In other words, the right sides of your fabric will be on the inside once you have pinned).


Time to sew!  Guiding your fabric along the 5/8″ line on the plate underneath your foot, sew the entire length of the skirt on both sides.  Be sure to remove your pins as you go along – running over pins weakens your stitches and could cause you to break your sewing machine needle!



Once you have sewn both sides, finish your seam edges.  If you have pinking shears, use them to cut along the outside of the seam stitches.  If you don’t have pinking shears, use your zigzag stitch to sew the edges of the seam together.



Now to the ironing board!  If you pinked your seams, press them open.  If you zigzagged, press your seam to one side (either side is fine).


Next, along the open ends of your skirt, measure and press up the edge 1/2″ to the inside of the garment (the side where you can see the seams).   Do this all the way around the edge, on both sides.



Then, measure and press up an additional 1 1/4″ in the same way – all the way around the edge, on both sides.



Using your straight pins, on the outside of the garment (right side), pin what you have just pressed.
Here is what your skirt will look like after this step, from both the inside and the outside.




Take your skirt back to your sewing machine, and stitch along the pressed edge, at approximately 1 1/8″ from the outside edge.  Use your fingers to feel the edge of the pressed fabric underneath, and use your pins as a guide to make sure you catch the fabric underneath.



Do this along both sides, BUT on the second side, do not sew all the way around and meet up with your first stitches.  Stop sewing about 2 inches before you reach your starting point and remove your skirt from your sewing machine.  On the inside of your skirt, this will leave an opening where you will insert your elastic.



Cut a piece of your elastic equal to your waist measurement.



Attach a safety pin to one end of your elastic.  Use a safety pin to attach the other end to your skirt at the opening.



Feed the elastic through your waistband, using your fingers to push and pull it using the safety pin.  Your waistband will begin to bunch (that’s a good thing!).




When you have gone all the way around and reach the opening, pull your elastic out by a bit.  Unattach the other end from the safety pin, and overlap the ends of your elastic by approximately 1″.



Sew the ends of the elastic together using a zigzag stitch.  I like to sew it along both edges to make sure it is secure.



Pull the elastic tight into the waistband, and pin the opening back together with the rest of your skirt.  On the outside, stitch the opening closed.



Trim off any stray threads from around the skirt using your scissors…and you’re finished!!!
Try that adorable thing on and go strut your stuff!



Dottie Adele on Etsy





  1. says

    Looks great!
    I can’t sew, knit or crochet so my grandma always does this for me! (Because of this I have lots of warm and cuddly socks and sweaters :D)

    • says

      Abby, we can see what Valerie says, too, but I absolutely would!

      First of all, I’m a big fan of layering tights and boots to make warm-weather skirts and dresses work in the fall and winter.

      Secondly, I think Valerie makes a great point that you could adjust this skirt with different lengths and fabrics. I think it would be great in a midi length in a heavier fabric, like corduroy, for winter.

      Oh, and I’m so glad you’ve found Shrimp Salad Circus. Welcome! :D

    • says

      I agree with Lindsay! The fabric I used is actually a little bit heavier (it’s a twill, and other cold-weather fabrics like corduroy or even velvet would also work!), and I definitely plan to pair it with some tights and sweaters for fall!

  2. Anonymous says

    I’ve got some fabulous African print fabric leftover from my wedding (My husband was born in Zambia) and i’m going to make this skirt on my new sewing machine with it! Thanks for a great tutorial!

  3. says

    I love sewing tutorials! this is the first time reading yours and I think this looks great and easy enough for a beginner like me to try. Thanks for your tutorial!

  4. says

    I’ve been wanting to forge into sewing my own clothes but was a bit intimidated. This tutorial is definitely making me more confident about just jumping in and doing it! (I have just the fabric in mind, too).

  5. Anonymous says

    I’ve always found it helpful and maybe even necessary to stitch thru the elastic waistband at the side seams. This stops the elastic from shifting. Make sure the fullness id distributed evenly before doing this.

  6. Anonymous says

    Great tutorial! For a beginner sewer who has never made one of these before, how much time do you think it would take form beginning to end?

  7. Anonymous says

    This skirt is adorable…thanks for the tutorial! I bought 1.5 yds of fabric and I am in the process of making the skirt. I have just cut out my first rectangle (and I cut very close to the edge of the fabric)and now the next step says to repeat the process and cut out a second rectangle…but I do not have enough fabric to cut out a second rectangle! My measurements were the same as yours and I folded the fabric correctly, but cannot figure out what I am doing wrong! Can you help me?! Thanks!

  8. says

    Thank you so much for an amazingly simple skirt! I just made one for my daughter for a school play she is in. I am still intimidated by my machine when it comes to making clothing, but your tutorial was so easy. I appreciate the detailed pictures too.

    Thanks again!

  9. says

    I’ve been sewing for a while, but never clothes! This was my first shot at a skirt and it went really well. Great tutorial! Thanks!

  10. says

    I just found your fabulous blog and whipped this skirt up in 30 mins! It is EXACTLY what I have been looking for thank you SO Much! Could you maybe do other “simple” patterns? Thank you :)

  11. says

    Just what I was looking for! i have piled some fabrics over the last year but I’m always busy so I was looking for something quick and nice – today I’m going to make three skirts ;-)

  12. says

    Just what I was looking for! i have piled some fabrics over the last year but I’m always busy so I was looking for something quick and nice – today I’m going to make three skirts ;-)

  13. says

    Perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just what we were looking. Me and my mom absolutely love making skirts and these skirts are really easy and also a little complicated. I needed a skirt made in 48 hours stat because of my Choir, Bells and Orchestra witch was happening the next night. This is soooooo easy so my mom decided to use these directions for my skirt and for my two little sisters its also is really quick.
    LOVE IT …Parker (age 10)

  14. says

    Thank you!!!I made this skirt today and I love it!I have a bit of sewing experience but not really with dressmaking.It took me 3 hours roughly.Hoorah for dressmaking!!

  15. says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial – I just followed it and whipped up my first ever skirt in about 2 hours!!! :D a little big but now I will just look up how to take it in by half an inch and I’m sorted – so pleased tahnk you :)

  16. says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. My husband bought me some beautiful fabric for mother’s day and I’d like to make a few of these. Also, I really like your dress form. I need one! Where did you get yours?

  17. Ashton says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’ve finished cutting out my version of this skirt and just need to sew the pieces together. Your tutorial was super simple, and even me (who hasn’t sewn in nearly 6 years) understood everything :)

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