Introduction: DIY Zip-off Skirt : Change Length

About: Specializing in sewing, soldering, and snacking.

There is an easy and stylish way to get more out of one skirt. This instructable shows you how to install 3 separating zippers into one skirt. You can then zip off a panel to change the length of the skirt based on weather and/or desired look. I created the skirt so it could be worn at 4 lengths:

- Ankle length

- Midi length

- Above-the-knee length

- Utility pockets to add function to any outfit

The zippers that used are all 48" inch long separating zippers. The length of the zipper dictates the width of the skirt. I wanted the skirt to have a cylindrical modern look, so I ordered all three the same length. Some online zipper retailers cut separating zippers to custom lengths, which open up many design opportunities.

Step 1: Zip-off Skirt Changes Length

Step 2: Gather Materials

・1 1/2 yard of fabric @ 48" width or more

・Three 48" zippers

・One 9" invisible matching zipper

・Sewing machine


・Matching thread

・Straight pins

Step 3: Print, Tape and Cut Pattern Pieces

Wash, dry and iron the fabric to preshrink and wash out any sizing.

Print out the attached pattern and tape edge to edge. Start at the top left corner and tape together clockwise.

Pin or weight the pattern pieces to the fabric, using the center lines as the grain line. Run the grain line parallel to the fabric's selvedge.


・1 Front Top

・1 Back Top

・1 Front Facing

・2 Back Facings (mirrored)

・2 Front + Back Top Middle

・2 Front + Back Bottom Middle

・2 Front + Back Bottom

・Pockets + Loops to clip items to - I winged it, but here are the estimated dimensions

2 pockets at 7" x 8", a pencil/pen holder at 4" x 5" and a strip at 2.5" x 8"

For cut 2, fold one piece of fabric in half, pin and cut two pieces at once. This will ensure the pieces cut are mirrored.

Step 4: Sew in Zipper and Front to Back

The zipper is installed in the Back Top piece along the center seam.

Take the 9" invisible zipper, open it and iron the teeth away from the tape to flatten out each side. This allows the zipper foot to get in close to the teeth while sewing it in.

Pin the zipper in place, accounting for the 1/2" seam allowance (SA) at the top, and put the zipper foot on your machine. The zipper foot is open one either one or both sides so you can get close to the teeth without the foot stopping you.

Sew from the top of zipper about 1/8" away from zipper teeth. Sew down until your presser foot hits the zipper stop at the bottom. This will happen around 2" from the zipper's end. Back stitch and pull out the piece, the two back pieces should be attached just by the zipper.

Turn the piece around so you are now sewing from the bottom of the zipper. Sew 1/2", along the SA, when you get to the end of the first stitch line, stitch along side it 1/8" away from the stitch line and 1/4" up. Open and press over the center seam.

Once the zipper is in the Back Top piece, pin and sew the back pieces to the front piece along the side seams. Turn inside-out and press open seams.

Step 5: Sew Facing

The top of the skirt needs finishing, which is what the facing is for.

- Sew the Front Facing to the Back Facing pieces at the side seams. Press open seams.

- Pin the facing to the top along the edge, matching up the side seams. Press and pin open the center back facing edges 1/2".

- Sew 1/2" seam all around the waist.

- Open and press the SA towards the facing and edge stitch on the facing side. This rolls the seam towards the facing and allows it lay nice and flat when worn.

- Finish the bottom raw edge of the facing, either with a zig-zag or overlock stitch.

- Hand-stitch the folded center back edges down to the zipper tape. A whip stitch is the quickest and easiest stitch to use. Once you get to the end, knot off.

- Start 1/2" from the bottom of edge of the facing and along the side seams. This keeps the facing in place.

Step 6: Sew Together Panels

Move your attention to the rest of the panels. These need to be sewn up before we get to zippers.

- Pin each of the 3 panels and sew the side seams together.

- After all three are sewn, lay them out and check the lengths up against one another.

Match these seams in length:

Top to Top Middle

Top Middle to Bottom Middle

Bottom Middle to Bottom

It's important that the seams that will be connected via a zipper match in length so there aren't any buckles or problems with matching up when you sew the zipper in.

- If you need to, sew in or out at the side seams of a panel to even out the lengths.

- Open and press side seams.

- Fold up 1/2" along each hem line of all three pieces and iron. These folded edges will be topstitched to the zipper.

Step 7: Pin and Sew Zippers + Pockets

Pin and Sew Zippers

- Keep the zippers zipped together as you pin.

- Start pinning one side of a zipper to the top piece of the skirt. After it is pinned well and evenly, take the Top Middle piece and pin the folded, finished edge to the other side of the zipper. Make sure the side seams of the two pieces line up. Pin all around.

- Carefully unzip the zipper and separate it. Take the Top to the sewing machine and put zipper foot on. Start at one end of the zipper and sew about 1/8" away from the zipper teeth. This is where things can be tricky. The fabric will naturally smooth out and it will appear to of stretched at the end, you will end up with a little more of a gab between the beginning and end of the zipper. This is ok, just make sure that you are not actually allowing the fabric to be stretched as you go or the two pieces will not match when zipped together. I eased my fabric a little as I went to make sure that only 1/4" of a gap was between the two ends of the zipper.

- Switch the zipper foot to the other side and stitch the other side.

- Zip it up and check the lengths. If it doesn't match up, unpick about half of the zipper length, pin and sew again going slowly.

- In the photos is shows all the zippers pinned in before being sewn, I would sew one zipper before pinning the rest so you get a feel for it.

Repeat this process until you get to the end and your skirt. Either sew a 1/4" roll hem or overlock and sew 1/2" hem on the Bottom piece.

Roll hem the top edge of the pocket 1/2" and sew. Iron in 1/2" along the other 3 edges. Pin them on the Top piece and top stitch them down.

Sew Pockets + Pencil Holder

Take your pocket pieces and turn under 1/2" along all edges. I put the 8" x 7" pockets right on the hip lengthwise over the side seams. This balances the skirts severe flare from the waist to the hip and adds to the geometric and unique silhouette.

The purpose for the pockets, pencil holders are also to make the shortest length a functional work apron.

Step 8: Unzip and Enjoy!

Unzip the panels off to create different lengths.

Use the shortest length as add-on pockets or as an apron.

The choice is yours!