8 (Tips and Steps) On How to Sew A Skirt

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female wearing skirt beside the pond

Believe it or not, it’s a whole lot easier to learn how to sew a skirt than most people think – giving you an opportunity to create your own fashion pieces that are totally custom, one-of-a-kind, and tailored for your body and your look exactly.

Sure, you’re going to need a decent sewing machine, some great fabric, just about every safety pin you can get your hands on, and a pattern to work from. But other than that you don’t need a whole lot to get rolling.

In the rest of this detailed guide, we are going to show you exactly how to get started with an easy-to-make circle skirt project you can knock out in an afternoon or so.

Just follow along with the step-by-step directions we highlight in this guide and you’ll be amazed at just how quickly you’re able to put different maxi skirt pattern pieces together to make something really special.

Ready to get started?

Let’s do this!

What You Need to Sew a Skirt

As mentioned earlier, you really don’t need a whole lot to make a wonderful skirt aside from some halfway decent fabric, a reliable sewing machine, a bunch of safety pins, measuring tape, and a couple of other extras outlined right here.

  • Plenty of fabric to work with (pretty much any material will do)
  • A sewing machine with matching and contrasting thread colors
  • All of your basic sewing supplies (good pair of scissors, a seam ripper, a rotary cutting tool, a pattern to work from)
  • Have a decent-sized invisible zipper, at least 7 inches in life
  • Fusible interfacing (at least ¼ of a yard)
  • As long as you have all of that on hand you’ll be able to tear right through pretty much any skirt project.

Step-By-Step Instructions


female model wearing a newly sew skirt

Now that we’ve covered the basic essentials you need on hand, let’s get a little deeper into the step-by-step components of learning how to make a skirt for yourself (or as a gift).

Choose your materials

The first big piece of the puzzle is (obviously) going to come down to choosing the right materials and fabric you’re using for your new skirt waist.

While any fabric can become tulle skirt fabric with a little bit of imagination, some options are better and more comfortable than others.

After all, a cotton blend is always going to look and feel a lot better as a skirt fabric than canvas or denim – though you could probably do some pretty creative things with either of those options.

Also, you should know that knit fabric choices are going to be a little bit harder to work with as a beginner.

This isn’t to suggest that you can’t make a knit fabric skirt – even one that’s a little bit on the longer side of things, like a knee-length skirt – just that it’s going to be a little harder to pull off as a newbie.

Take your measurements

After you get your skirt fabric together you’re going to need to get your measurements squared away.

This is where a soft measuring tape (sometimes called a sewing measuring tape) is going to be your best friend.

Run that soft tape along your hip, along the smallest part of your waist measurement, and along the total length of where you want the skirt length to fall when you are done.

Make sure that you record all of these measurements individually (labeling them, too) so that you can take advantage of them at a glance as we go forward.

Cut your fabric and elastic

Now that you have your measurements for a pencil skirt pattern piece or gathered skirt pattern (both of which usually take advantage of elastic waist components) it’s time to start trimming and cutting the fabric and elastic you’ll be working with.

Each individual skirt piece needs to be cut independently of every other piece, though.

One of the biggest issues a lot of newbies bump into when learning how to make this skirt is cutting their pieces at the same, usually by folding fabric over so that they can speed things up a little bit.

Make sure you aren’t making that mistake!

When you are cutting fabric for a gathered skirt, a maxi skirt, or any other wrap skirt project – or any sewing project whatsoever, for that matter – you need to be sure that you’re cutting each fabric piece individually.

That’s the only way to be sure that everything is going to measure up and that everything’s going to work with your pattern.

Sew the side seams

With each piece of fabric ready to rock ‘n’ roll now (ideally cut with 2 inches of overlap so that you have plenty of extra work with) you’re ready to begin selling up the side seams according to your pattern.

Just make sure that you are giving yourself a generous seam allowance when you are creating these side seams. Too many people get stingy when it comes to seam allowance, making their new skirt a lot more formfitting (and uncomfortable) than it would have been otherwise just because they want tracking seam allowance in the first place.

When you are done, make sure that you iron out the seams to get them to lay completely flat before you dive into the next part of this project.

Create the elastic casing

On a gathered skirt the elastic waistband is going to be hidden by a cool little channel you create of the inside of the skirt length itself.

Using some of that overlapping fabric we mentioned above, you’ll want to fold about half an inch down from the top to create that hidden channel. Iron things over to “block” that fold in place temporarily and then use a top stitch (zigzag stitch) to secure things along the perimeter.

Just make sure to leave a couple of inches of the channel open so that you can feed your elastic strap through before closing things up later down the line.

Sew the hem

Every skirt pattern is going to tell you where you need to sew your skirt hem, and this is the stage of this simple skirt tutorial where you’re going to want to take care of that.

This is an essential step, as it’s really going to clean up the look of your skirt – giving it that professional look that’s really nice, really polished, and really refined.

Use your iron to lockdown the fold of the hem itself before taking advantage of a topstitching technique to put the hem in place.

Add the elastic

Now that the raw edge or folded edge of your skirt has been finished off, it’s time to add in the elastic material.

You’ll want to run the elastic waistband that you’re working with through the channel that you have created, taking advantage of that four-inch opening we mentioned earlier.

After you have completely run the elastic through the section where your hips are going to be, it’s time to sew the four-inch opening closed and finish off this part of your skirt pattern.

Finish the waistband

This is the best time to adjust any of the gathered ruffles created by the elastic waistband, making sure that they are evenly spaced and the way you want them to look permanently.

Once that has been taken care of it’s time to go through the low areas of those gathered pieces of fabric, sewing them with “invisible stitches” while avoiding running any of your stitches across the gathers themselves.

That would flatten things out and eliminate the look you’re shooting for with this skirt altogether!

multiple skirts that has been newly sew


Closing Thoughts

See, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?

It’s really is a whole lot easier for people to learn how to create a skirt than most realize – especially when you are working off of a proven skirt pattern (sewing pattern) and a skirt tutorial/sewing tutorial like the one above.

Obviously, you can create all kinds of other skirt projects using the steps above to help you with your operations and finding your way as you go along.

You’re not only stuck to making a maxi skirt or a gathered skirt, but can create a pencil skirt, skirts with a yoga waistband, a front skirt, or skirts with pockets, embellishments, and embroidery!

The sky really is the limit once you get the hang of all the different skirt pieces, how they come together, and what you need to do – and in what order – to make skirts from here on out.


How Do You Make a Simple Skirt for Beginners?

If you really want to make a simple skirt as a beginner, start off with anything that uses elastic waist components – like a pencil skirt, circle skirts, or a gathered skirt (the one we broke down above).

What is the Easiest Skirt to Make?

The easiest good to make is always going to be the skirt that you have a quality pattern to work off of!

Patterns make your work a whole lot easier, especially when you get into some of the more advanced DIY skirt patterns that really break things down in a step-by-step kind of way.

If you want something super simple to start off with, though, try out a party skirt, a pleated skirt (kick pleat), or a circle skirt.

How Many Yards of Fabric Do I Need to Make a Skirt?

It’s impossible to know exactly how many yards of fabric you’re going to need to make a skirt (only because you can totally customize it any way you like).

As a general rule, though, you’ll want between 2 yards and 2 ½ yards of material to work with.

How Do You Sew a Skirt Without a Pattern?

DIY skirt patterns really are a “cheat code” when it comes to these kinds of projects, an if you really want to must-have in the sewing materials department. They are so easy to follow and so easy to use that you have to be a little crazy not to take advantage of them.

If you really want to freehand this project, though, it really all comes down to simplifying the type of skirt that you’re working with.

Stick with something with a minimalist design – skirts like a pencil skirt or a gathered skirt – that have a lot fewer pieces and links to work with. Cut down on the complexity and you’ll have a much better time of things!

Leslie Parker

Leslie Parker

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