Introduction: How to Make a Bias Cut Skirt With Wide Stretch Waistband

This tutorial will show how to make a bias cut a-line style skirt, with a wide stretch waistband, using fabric and a recycled t-shirt. This is how I make all my skirts. They look good, feel really comfortable, and are also really great for pregnancy, breast feeding and general monthly body changes as the stretch waistband is very accommodating and the bias cut molds really well around curves. The a-line shape is flattering to most body types and suitable for all sizes.

To make this skirt you will need:

3 metres of fabric with a width of 150cm (for the average ankle length skirt, less will be required required for a shorter skirt) - I have had my best results from satin, silks, and cotton voiles*;
1 fitted womens t-shirt (must be the cotton/lycra or cotton/spandex stretchy kind);
a sewing machine or overlocker and appropriate that you know how to use the basics on, or a needle and the time and patience to hand sew;

Difficulty level - Easy.
This tutorial requires no prior knowledge except familiarity with the basics of your sewing machine/overlocker or preferred sewing technique.

*If using cotton remember to wash the fabric first to avoid shrinkage after the garment is made.

Step 1: Bias Cut - What and Why

Bias cut means to cut the fabric in a way that when the garment is finished the grain hangs diagonal, rather than straight up and down. Because you are cutting diagonally across the fabric it uses quite a bit more material than if you were to cut straight along the grain, but the effect is that the garment that sits much better on curves, flowing around them rather than hanging straight over them, and also allows a slight bit of stretch or give where needed from otherwise non-stretch fabrics.

In order to really emphasize the bias cut in this demonstration I have chosen to use a fabric with a length ways stripe pattern. As you can see in the finished garment the stripes end up on the diagonal when cut in bias.

Step 2: Fold Fabric in Half

To start, fold the fabric in half with the wrong side* facing out and lay on your cutting surface.

*wrong side = the side that will be the inside when the garment is finished.

Step 3: Make Your 'pattern'

Next you need to take your measurements, you can do this the old fashioned way with a tape measure, but I prefer to use a bit of cord, or to rip off a few centimeters of fabric from the end. Since I often buy fabric and lay it out to find that it has not been cut straight this has the double advantage of neatening the edge.

Step 4: Measure the Length

Take your strip of fabric and measure from just above your hip down to your ankle (or knee if you prefer knee length). Add approximately 2cm for hem and seam allowance and mark the measurement with a knot in the fabric strip.

Step 5: Measure the Width

Next take the fabric strip and, starting from the same end as the previous step, wrap it around your hips at their widest point - it doesn't matter if this is higher or lower than were you want the skirt to sit, it just needs to be the widest. Add 1cm for seam allowance and tie another knot.

Note - I do it in this order because my hip measurement is larger than the height measurement. If you have narrow hips and long legs you may need to measure hips first.

Step 6: Cut the Corner Off the Fabric

Find the second knot on your fabric strip pattern (waist measurement) and fold in half (in the image I changed my fabric strip pattern to a red one so that it shows up easier against the black and white fabric). The easiest way I have found to make sure I have the correct angle is to fold the corner of the fabric over so that the edges are at 90 degree angles. Remember to measure from the raw edge to the inside of the selvage. Cut off the corner, this will be the top of the skirt.

Step 7: Cut the Skirt

Lay your fabric strip pattern perpendicular to the cut made in the previous step. The next step is to cut out the a-line skirt in a shape like that shown in the second picture, you can cut this out as shown, although I have found it much easier to get a symetrical shape by folding the skirt piece down the middle so that edge a (as showm in picture 2) lines up with edge b.

Step 8: Cut Out the A-line Shape From the Folded Fabric

Cut out the a-line shape from the folded fabric. Use the first knot on your fabric strip pattern for the length. Cut the bottom of the skirt with a slight curve towards the outer edge. The angle of the a-line can be narrow or wider depending on how much flow you want in the skirt. Basically the greater the difference between the width of the bottom of the skirt and the width of the top, the fuller the skirt will be, a smaller difference will result in a more of straight looking skirt with a bit of a fishtail at the bottom.

Step 9: Sew Up the Side Seams

Keeping the fabric on the 'wrong' side sew up the sides of the skirt.

Step 10: Cut the Band From the T-shirt

Take the t-shirt and cut a band of about 20cms from the bottom of the t-shirt to make the waistband.

Step 11: Pin the Band to the Skirt

For this step I tend to use two safety pins, one on each seam, so that the seams of the skirt match up with the seams on the band. Keeping the skirt with the wrong side facing out and the band with the right side facing out, slip the band inside the skirt and match the raw edge of the skirt and the raw edge of the band together. Pin together at the side seams. The band will be narrower than the skirt, so it is important to keep the side seams of the band and the skirt together so that when you stretch the band as you sew it will be even across the front and the back.

Step 12: Sew the Band to the Skirt

I use my overlocker for this step, but when I don't have an overlocker available I use a zig zag stitch on a regular sewing machine. With the stretch t-shirt fabric on top and the skirt fabric on the bottom stretch the t-shirt fabric from one pin/seam to the other so it matches up evenly with the skirt fabric, then sew in place. Remove the pins and repeat with the other side. When you have sewn the band on the finished skirt will have a slight gather where the skirt meets the band - this will disappear when the skirt is on the body and the band is stretched over the hips/waist.

Step 13: Finish Off

Overlock the edges if you choose and hem the skirt and you're done.