Introduction: Simple Maxi Skirt
Using a simple knit tribal print fabric, I made a quick and easy maxi skirt in about 3 hours.
- 1/5 - 2 yards of knit jersey fabric
- 3/4" elastic (enough to go around your waist)
- Scissors, needle, thread, sewing machine
- Wrapping paper (to create a pattern)
Step 1: Create a Pattern
Collect the following measurements:
- Around your waist (or wherever you want the skirt to sit)
- Around your hips
- Length from waist to hips
- Length from waist to ankles (or desired length of skirt)
Using these measurements, cut out a pattern from the wrapping paper. The fabric will be folded in half when you cut and you will have two matching fabric panels (front and back) to create the skirt. Thus, the measurements for the pattern should be as follows:
Waist - 1/4 of your waist measurement from above + 1/2 inch for a seam allowance
Hips - 1/4 of your hip measurement from above + 1/2 inch for a seam allowance (use measurement #3 from above to figure out how far this should be from your waist measurement on your pattern)
Length - Length from above plus + about 3.5 inches for the waistband. (This will be the measurement down the straight side of the pattern that is perpendicular to the waistband and bottom of the skirt.)
The pattern will be the shape of a trapezoid. In the second image above (with the purple / eggplant colored fabric behind the pattern, you can see a straight line along the top (the waist) and the bottom (near the ankle). There is also a straight line (perpendicular to the top and bottom) along the left. The right side is slightly angled. This will be the outside of the skirt. You can angle this as much or as little as you'd like. The more angled out it is, the fuller the skirt will be when you wear it.
It definitely helps to use a pattern because the soft knit fabric moves around quite a bit and I never would have had straight lines had I cut the fabric directly using just the measurements.
Step 2: Cut the Front Fabric Piece
Use the pattern to cut the front piece of your skirt. You will have identical front and back pieces that meet along the outside of each of your legs.
Step 3: Cut Out the Back Fabric Piece
Because I wanted my pattern to line up along each seam, I used the front piece of the skirt, after cutting it out, and laid it on the remaining fabric to make the back side. You can see I put wrong sides together ("wrong" = the side you don't want people to see when you're wearing the skirt) and matched up the stripes in the pattern so it would reflect how the seams would actually line up when I sewed them together.
I cut out the back of the skirt. I recently invested in a rotary blade and cutting mat. Although I like to keep my DIY projects on a budget, I can't stress enough how helpful these tools are. It makes cutting fabric so much easier and more accurate than regular scissors, so I end up with a much better finished product and less wasted fabric.
Step 4: Sew Up the Side Seams
With right sides of the fabric together, pin the front and back fabric pieces of the skirt together and sew up the side seams. I used a straight stitch but a zigzag stitch or a serger would work as well.
Step 5: Create the Waistband
In the following steps, we will create a fabric tube, sew that to the waist of the skirt, and then thread the elastic through the tube. More specifically:
1) From the top of the skirt, cut off the 3.5 inches of extra length that was initially added to the skirt when creating the pattern. This fabric piece should generally be about 2.5 - 3" presuming you have 3/4" elastic (enough to fold over/wrap around your elastic and have a reasonable seam allowance). I like to leave a bit more just to be safe. It's ok if the tube is a bit wider than the elastic, but a bit too small and you'll have trouble threading the elastic.
2) Fold the fabric in half the long way, right sides together. (Right = side you want people to see when you're wearing the skirt) In the photo, you can see the "right" side of the fabric on the left side of the photo with a safety pin through it and the "wrong" side on the right portion of the photo. (FYI ~ This photo was taken after the seams were sewn together.)
3) Pin the edges together and sew along the edges to create a tube of fabric. Don't close the ends for now.
4) Attach a safety pin to one of end of the fabric and begin to pull it through the tube in order to flip the tube so the right side of the fabric is now on the outside, as shown in the photo. Ultimately, in the photo , I continued to pull the safety pin to the left until the entire tube had been turned right side out.
Step 6: Attach the Waistband to the Skirt
Pin the seam of the waistband fabric tube to the raw edge of the waistband/top of the skirt. In order to hide the seam here and make the skirt a bit prettier and more "finished," be sure the fabric tube's seam is all the way at the top of the skirt and rest of the fabric tube is facing down toward the bottom of the skirt, as shown in the photo. While this is tough to explain in writing, it's kind of like opening a book after you sew the two pieces together. The fabric tube, after being attached, should open up from the skirt like a book's pages open along a binding. The first photo shows the inside of the skirt, which would be like the back of this metaphorical book. The second photo shows the outside / right side of the skirt with the fabric tube (which will become an elastic waistband) laying on top of the skirt panel and the seam along the top where the two pieces are sewn together.
Step 7: Thread the Elastic Through the Waistband
After attaching the fabric tube, measure the elastic to fit around your waist. You'll want to be sure you pull the elastic tight to reflect how you'd like it to fit when you're wearing it. Add about an inch for sewing the ends together. Attach a safety pin to one of the elastic ends and carefully thread it through the waistband fabric tube ensuring the other end doesn't slip into the tube. You can see in the photo both ends of the elastic are sticking out of the ends of the tube after completing this step.
Step 8: Secure the Elastic & Close the Waistband
Sew the two ends of the elastic together, one end laying flat on top of the other, ensuring that the elastic is flat all the way through the waistband tube before sewing together.(Not pictured)
Now that the elastic is sewn together to form a circle that will sit on your hips/waist (as you desire), we need to close up the waistband.
1) Fold the raw edge of one end of the waistband tube back into the tube (just so you can't see the raw edge).
2) Tuck the other end of the tube into the side where you folded in the raw edges so now you can't see any raw edges.
3) Sew a straight line along the seam where the tube ends meet (as shown in the photo).
Step 9: Finish the Bottom Hem
Knits don't fray so I left the bottom hem unfinished. Using the rotary blade, I rounded the sides slightly to make it fall a little better.
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