How to Sew a Super Simple Skirt – Sewing 101

August 2, 2012 separator DIY Tutorial

Learn how to sew a super simple skirt with this free and easy elastic waist skirt pattern building tutorial!

Beginner Skirt Sewing Tutorial

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.

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 pattern 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.

Supplies:

You’re going to make your own elastic waist skirt pattern as you go simply by measuring yourself and following these steps. Here are the supplies you’ll need. This list contains affiliate links, so I may receive a small commission from purchases.

*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.

How to Measure Yourself for a Skirt/Making Your Own Elastic Waist Skirt Pattern

How to Measure Your Body

  1. Hip – With your measuring tape, measure around the largest part of your rear. This is your hip measurement.
  2. Waist – For this skirt, measure around your waist at the point where you would like the skirt to sit.
  3. Length – Now measure the total length you would like the skirt to be. 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.

Converting Your Body Measurement to Fabric Measurements

  • For the length of your skirt fabric, start by adding 3.5 inches to your length measurement. For example, I want my skirt to be 20 inches long, so my length for the fabric is 20 + 3.5 = 23.5 inches. 
  • For the width of the fabric, add 10 inches to your hip measurement, and divide by 4. For example, my hip measurement was 39 inches, so my fabric width is (39 + 10)/4 = 49/4 = 12.5 inches.
  • You can also adjust the number you add to your hip measurement depending on your desired fullness of the skirt. Adding more than 10 will give you a fuller skirt; adding less than 10 will be more fitted, but make sure you leave enough room to move!

Taking a break to gather everything? Pin this for later!

Got your measurements? Let’s start sewing!

Next - Sew Your Skirt

78 comments

  1. Hi! Great tutorial! Can’t wait to try it out! Just curious… What type of fabric do you recommend for this skirt? Thank you for your time!

  2. I made this skirt tonight and it turned out so cute! I’ve been trying to pick sewing back up after 7 years and several projects have ended in tears. I’m planning to make three more. Thanks for saving my summer wardrobe.

  3. Thanks a lot. The instructions are super clear and easy to follow. I sure will try this. Fantastic job! Thanks again

  4. Girrrl, I didn’t think I could do it without a video tutorial but, Heeeyyy, I’m lovin’ the skirt I made! Thank God for you and your easy directions!!!!!!! Yay! I’ll be sure to post on instagram!

    1. Ahh yay I’m so happy to hear it! Be sure to tag me so I can find it on Instagram! @shrimpsaladcircus and #shrimpsaladcircus So excited for you, Patrice!

      1. hI Lindsay! I’m just curious why you say ‘not to’ use a stretch fabric? What would happen if you did? :-) Thanks, Walter!

  5. So excited to try this out, hopefully I can make it a little more straight. Thanks for posting somthing like this ! You’ve helped me tons !!

    1. You’re so welcome, Sydney! You can make it a little more straight by adding less than 10 inches to the hip measurement in the measurement section; more full if you add more than 10. Hope you were able to figure it out! :)

  6. This may be a stupid question, but are there 2 seams, or just one? I’m super visual when it comes to these sorts of things :(

  7. Hi love how yours turned out. I’m a total noob – what kind of fabric would you recommend? Yours looks great for the project :)

  8. WOW, I can’t believe how you have eased my mind. You have just made sewing look like fun and not something that would be very difficult to learn and understand. Where were you when I took home-economics class. You could have taught my instructor a thing or two. I probably would have gotten a better grade. Anyway, I am impressed and amazed by how simple you have made it to understand my sewing machine, as well as how to sew. God bless you.

  9. My daughter and I made this skirt today. I am a ‘non’ sewer so I really appreciate your easy to follow instructions and although not perfect, I’m happy with how the skirt turned out.
    Thanks!!!

  10. Hi! I love how easy to follow this tutorial is… Do you think this would work to make a simple dress if we just measured from the bust instead of the hips and made the fabric longer? My roommate and I are trying to find a way to make a simple dress with an elastic band!

  11. currently attempting this tutorial with a reclaimed curtain i bought at a garage sale. first sewing project i’m attempting by myself and i’m so nervous! trying to convince myself to go further than just taking my measurements!

    1. Ahh yay! I love that you’re upcycling the fabric. I definitely want to see it, Sarah – if you’re on Instagram, tag with @shrimpsaladcircus and #shrimpsaladcircus. Seeing reader projects is my FAVE!

  12. Hi I made this skirt it was so easy I could not believe I actually made something! I felt so god to know I was capable making a skirt! I also made one for the American girl doll type doll and it turned out adorable!!!!

  13. Thank you for your tutorial!! I’m a quilter.. but hadn’t made clothes.. other than an apron before! It turned out great!

    1. Suzanna – so glad you found this tutorial helpful! I’d love to see your project. If you’re on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you can share with #MyShrimpSaladCircus :)

  14. Hi every body..i’m a girl from Iran and I’m a tailor.this is the first english sewing process I’ve read.I should say it’s great.I really enjoyed cuz it was a bit different from the way i make a skirt.

  15. Hi there! this is just the skirt I’m looking for very simple, but I like a thick waistband. So was just curious if adding a waistband without a zipper would work or adding in three inch elastic into the waistband stil without using a zipper would be better since your skirt already has the elastic. Thx in advance.

    1. Hi Jess! I’m not entirely sure, as this was a tutorial by Valerie writing as a guest. However, I think that if you used a material that wasn’t very rigid, you could probably get away with skipping the zipper. However, I don’t think there’d be any benefit to using wider elastic. I hope that helps!

  16. 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 :)

  17. 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?

  18. 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 :)

  19. Thank you so very much for a reliable and easy to follow tutorial! I made a black velvet skirt and the fit and look are just what I envisioned.

  20. 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!!

  21. 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)

  22. 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 ;-)

  23. 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 ;-)

  24. Im a beginner and im also getting a sewing machine for my birthday ‘cant wait’ :D and im excited to try making this skirt my challenge. Love this Tutorial it will come in handy Thank you!

    please feel free to visit my blog some time <3 much love Sheila x

    http://ruby–x.blogspot.co.uk/

  25. 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 :)

  26. Why does it say to use a fabric that doesn’t stretch? I have a lot of stretchy ones I’d like to use up. Will it not come out right?

  27. 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!

  28. great and easy instructions. i would like to add pockets, not on the outside (patch) but maybe along the side seams? how woul i do that?

  29. Do you have a sewing machine that you would recommend? I may be looking for a new one. Thanks! Loved the tutorial. My daughter wants to make some skirts for herself…modest ones are hard to find.

  30. 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!

  31. I just finished the skirt and it looks amazing! my pattern was a light pink stripe and it looks great! :) thanks!

  32. 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!

  33. This is an amazing tutorial. It is the clearest one I have ever found!! Thank you so much for posting this, love it.

  34. I totally love them all.How I wish I can sew all of them.Impressive,helpful and useful post.Thanks for sharing.

  35. Hi, Love this but was wondering how to put pockets in the skirt? I am always in need of pockets! Thanks!

  36. Hi, I was wondering… Is there a way to make the skirt more flared? Um, bigger at the bottom? Thanks in advance!

    1. just cut the rectangles wider. it doesn’t matter if the top is the same width as the bottom because you’ll be putting elastic in anyway.

  37. 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?

  38. 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.
    Fran

  39. I absolutely adore the yellow peter pan collar top that you are wearing in the first few photos. Did you make it or purchase it? And if you did purchase it, where did you find that gem?

  40. 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).

  41. 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!

  42. Great tutorial! I am definitely going to try. Made a skirt a few years ago but seams unraveled. Thank you!

  43. 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!

  44. I am Abby and I ran across your blog from Pinterest. I LOVE this skirt!! Would you wear this during the fall?

    1. 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

    2. 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!

  45. 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)

    1. I cannot for the life of me sew!! I started working on a skirt yesterday evening, and decided to hem it first. Stupid me!! Just this morning I realized I had used the wrong stitch! I used the running stitch(?) instead of the ladder stitch(?). (I am awful at remembering the names of the stitches and when to use them correctly. I flunked my home-ec final in 8th grade, but hey, look at me now! I’m at least putting forth the effort, right?)Ugh! I’m going to go douse my pain and watch Judge Judy and eat the last of the chocolate ice cream. If only I could figure out the cursed sewing machine, all my problems would vanish!!

      Rachel

    2. I cannot for the life of me sew!! I started working on a skirt yesterday evening, and decided to hem it first. Stupid me!! Just this morning I realized I had used the wrong stitch! I used the running stitch(?) instead of the ladder stitch(?). (I am awful at remembering the names of the stitches and when to use them correctly. I flunked my home-ec final in 8th grade, but hey, look at me now! I’m at least putting forth the effort, right?)Ugh! I’m going to go douse my pain and watch Judge Judy and eat the last of the chocolate ice cream. If only I could figure out the cursed sewing machine, all my problems would vanish!!

      Rachel

      1. Rachel – I feel ya!!! I finally had to sit down with my sewing machine manual and a LOT of patience! You’ll get it figured out! Good luck, lady.

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