The Easiest Skirt in the World (x2)

19 Mar

I’m the queen of cheap and easy sewing projects. If there’s a fun fabric around and I can make it wearable, in garment form, in an hour or less, I’m going to go for it. This weekend I found some fun printed upholstery fabrics at my local shop that suggested immediate and simple fashions with barely any effort required.

There’s no garment more simple to sew than an elastic-waisted skirt, and I’ve found that if I skip the casing and buy elastic that can serve as a waistband, unattended, I can simplify the “simple” even farther. This skirt takes only four seams to make, and requires no measuring.


3/4 yard fabric of choice

1 yard (or waist measurement length) 2 1/2″ wide elastic



1) zigzag the top edge of your fabric

2) cut the elastic to be just long enough to fit around your waist and sit comfortably, slightly stretched, at just the height you want to wear your skirt.

3) fold the elastic in half and mark the center with a pin. Then fold each half in half, and mark each quarter point with a pin. Fold each segment in half once more, and pin for each 1/8 point. Then, repeat the same process along the top edge of your fabric.

4) You will now have the same number of pins in both your elastic and along the top edge of your fabric. Pin the elastic to the top edge of your fabric, overlapping the zigzagged edge by 1/2″, and matching up elastic pins to fabric pins.  Because your fabric is longer than the elastic, the fabric will bunch up between each pin.

5) Sew both layers together, stretching the elastic so that it goes through your sewing machine smoothly right on top of the fabric beneath it. Sew close to the edge of the elastic. The stretch will created a “gather” in the fabric.

This is what it looks like, front and back, when you have finished:


If you have trouble holding the elastic stretched while sewing, you can also run two rows of straight stitches along the zigzagged edge of the fabric (no backtracking) and gather it, first, and then pin it to the elastic, already gathered. Pin, and sew that in place.

6) Sew the side seam: with right sides together, pin the ends of the elastic together, and the sides of the fabric. Sew a 1/2″ seam across the ends of the elastic and all the way along the fabric. I sew back and forth across the ends of the elastic several times, to secure it strongly.  Press seam open.

7) Try on your skirt. Trim your skirt to the desired length, and hem it. I turn up and press a narrow edge along the bottom of the skirt (1/4″) and then turn up and press another 1/4″, folding the raw edge inside. I use the blind-hem setting on my sewing machine to stitch it in place. You can also just top-stitch it. Press seam.

In addition to being easy, depending on the fabrics you find, these can also be really cheap. I paid less than $10 for each of the skirts pictured here.


I also feel I was a little influenced, this day, shopping, by the fact that the Anthropologie catalog came in the mail that morning. I might have been slightly more in the mood for “spring prints” as I embarked, because of the layered patterns and textures I saw there.

63 Responses to “The Easiest Skirt in the World (x2)”

  1. Amy K. March 19, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Love the tutorial! I really want to make one of these now (or two, or three….). I need some new clothes and am not seeing what I like in the stores.

    • handmadejulie March 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      Yeah, they can get addicting…but it’s like “why not? when they’re so quick.” Nothing like immediate gratification!

      • Tara Lynne Lingle May 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

        Hello. 🙂 I really love this skirt and want to make SO many for summer, but I’m about a size 22 and I don’t think the fabric yardage you have listed would work for me. How do I figure out how much I need? Thank you!

        • handmadejulie May 17, 2013 at 8:41 am #

          Since my way of working is oh-so-scientific, I would simply unroll a portion of the chosen cloth from the bolt of fabric and wrap it around my waist, leaving an extra 10″-20″ or so, depending on how much extra fullness and gather I want in the skirt. (That changes, depending on the weight, design, and drape of the fabric at hand. A stiff fabric with a loud design doesn’t need very much, but something soft that drapes looks better with more folds, so I might add as much as 20″). Then I would ask the salesperson to measure just that much off, and see what it works out to be. If you’re wrapping it directly around your body, you’ll know you have enough!

    • Lainey October 18, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      I made the mistake of not picking out fabric wide enough… I may just go ahead and make it but it looks like it is going to be too tight. I am a size 8 but have a bit of a booty! Oh well I do have some fabric that is wider that I will try it on.

  2. mujerboricua March 20, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    The prints on those skirts are so pretty. Fast and easy projects are so needed after a long and hard one. This is great how-to!

  3. Tamsin W-P March 20, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    So simple and so striking! well done (might have to make one!)

  4. Ash March 22, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Sooooo cute! Especially love the scripted skirt … I’m obsessed with anything scripted when it comes to fabric, so I’m really drooling over that one 🙂

  5. Silvia April 5, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    That is how I make my skirts for Spring/Summer! I sew the waistband slightly different but still use elastic. Your Fabric is much nicer than mine though

  6. Blakeley July 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    I am so so new to sewing. (Got my machine 2 weeks ago!) going to have to give this a shot. The fabric is beautiful. Where do you get it?

    • handmadejulie July 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      I got it at a local fabric shop, in the upholstery section. I like upholstery fabrics for clothing, because the prints and patterns are often far more dramatic than those in the fashion fabrics. Plus, it’s sturdy–so don’t be afraid to venture out! Good luck sewing, I hope you enjoy it, and that you’re hooked!

  7. Virginia July 15, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    What type of elastic did you use? when I did mine with regular elastic the thread showed really bad and it looks terrible!

    • handmadejulie July 15, 2012 at 8:14 am #

      The thread of the elastic, or the thread of your seams?

      I’m sorry I don’t know the content of my elastic, I stocked up on a variety of 2″-3″ elastic webbing from M&J Trimmings in New York. But I do sew the skirt onto it “right sides together” and then press that seam (elastic to skirt body) open, so all the stitching is kept on the inside/underside.

    • handmadejulie July 15, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Whoops, I just realized I’m totally wrong: I did it “right sides together” on the most recent skirt I made (, but on the two that I show here, I simply lapped the elastic over the raw edge of the fabric. Which goes to show there’s a variety of ways, and none are incorrect. Hope you work out the solution that works for you!

  8. homemadebynicole July 18, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    Fantastic idea, my two year old has such a small waist all skirts her size fall down on her. Such a quick, cheap and easy project to do her wadrobe is going to be fall of skirts, thankyou

  9. Irina M. July 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Brilliant! Thanks so much!

  10. Chris July 31, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Having trouble finding wide elastic in colors other than black and white. Any suggestions?

    • handmadejulie August 1, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Yes: my best source is M&J Trimmings, in New York. Their online site might not have much of a selection, but perhaps you could call.

    • Beverly December 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      Saw some at JoAnn’s

  11. Joyce August 10, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Hi! I found your tutorial in Pinterest and set out to make a skirt for my Craft Challenge. Except, I ended up making a dress all because i snipped off a tad too much fabric lol. Here is the link to my post if you would like to see it 🙂

  12. Dana August 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Very cute skirt & good tutorial. Word to the wise, though, for those of you prepping to make this skirt: measure your waist (& hips) before you happily bounce out of the store with 3/4 yard of cutsie fabric. I needed another little bit.

    I cut my fabric in half, lengthwise, and have a seam on each half. Still cute!


  13. Miss Jill September 3, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    I made this skirt with 3/4 yards and it was not quite enough for around my hips. The skirt is very tight. Next time I will use more. I am a size 4-6. So i am not a very big size. Would be good to modify the pattern and put what size this is for. Thanks for the idea of a really quick sew. I do love this skirt and will make more to size. Thanks again!!

    • handmadejulie September 3, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      It sounds like you used the fabric cross-grain (with the selvedges at the waist and hemline.) But that’s still a good recommendation, since people will want different lengths of skirts, so of course, it requires individual judgement, and holding up the piece of fabric to your own body. But I use the width of the fabric for hips, not the length (with the grain running vertically), so adding 1/4 yard doesn’t make a wider skirt, it makes a longer one. Which is fine, too. A standard bolt size of fabric is either 60″ or 45″, and 45″ width is enough for my size 14-16 hips. But as always, one size never fits all, and if you’re making it for a little kid, it takes less, for a larger body, more, with more gathered fullness will also need more…etc.

  14. Donna Jarrett September 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Liked your skirt tutorial.

  15. Sharon October 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Thanks for the great idea! I made one the other day and it was so comfortable, I’m looking forward to making lots more!

  16. Gjeometry December 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Wow, that looks like a great skirt and also easy. I thought that I just made the easiest skirt in the world, and just blogged about it, but now I will have to try and sew this style, for sure.

  17. agol12 January 6, 2013 at 2:43 am #

    Do you sell them? I tired and I just can’t do my own -_-

    • handmadejulie January 6, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      No, sorry–all my crafting is for personal use or gifts. But is a great source for handcrafters who do production lines, and there’s some great clothing makers there.

  18. Natasha January 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Thank you for this! It was my first sewing project and it doesn’t look nearly as good as yours but it was super fun and easy.

  19. theorganizedcrafter March 12, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Thanks for the tutorial! I love this skirt! I just made a tribal print one and I am IN LOVE! Here is a link to my blog if you would like to see it.
    I look forward to following your blog!

  20. Nou April 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    thanks for the great idea! looks so easy, i’m going to try it once i find some fabrics i like. will make a matching set for me and my baby girl to wear this summer!!

  21. Sewist from the Midwest April 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    27″ (3/4 of a yard of fabric) is extremely small. I am surprised so many adults (?) were able to make a skirt that would fit over their hips from such a small amount of fabric.

    • handmadejulie April 27, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

      A standard bolt of fabric is 44-45″ wide. I’m not sure where you’re finding it at 27″, but the upholstery fabric I routinely use is more than a yard wide. It still won’t fit *everybody* (thank god, humans come in a wide range of sizes!) but it’ll do a lot of adults, including (not so small) me. The 3/4″ yard refers to length, which is from waist to hem in the pictured skirts.

  22. Tabitha May 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Is your upholstery fabric the same as “duck fabric”? Just want to be certain. Thanks, I’m certainly gonna try this one 🙂

    • handmadejulie May 19, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      I don’t know–I confess I’m not familiar with “duck” fabric.

  23. Amy Hammond June 25, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    Thank you for the great tutorial! I am working on my second one right now! The first one was made and worn today! A lovely knee length denim one. I am a size 12/14 so I had to modify it a smidgen. I bought 1 1/4 yards and then folded it in half length wise. I the cut it and sewed the two halves together. My fabric was only 42″ wide so I needed the extra length. It is just so sweet and comfy! The one I am working on now is going to be a bubble skirt. Wish I could show you a pic! Thank you again, I sure was having a heck of a time trying to find some cute skirts for summer! Now I will have a closet full!!!

  24. Denise Benedict December 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Great tutorial, thank you so much!

  25. Faye July 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    What was the width, of your “upholstery fabric” please? Also, when recommending the 3/4 -1 mete of fabric, how many inches of allowance/ease, are you allowing for the proper draping around the hips?
    Thank you…love the tutorial…keep them coming Please!!

    N.S.Canada here 🙂

    • handmadejulie September 19, 2014 at 8:08 am #

      Most upholstery fabrics I’ve found are 44/45 inches. When I use the 3/4-1 yard, keep in mind that the grain runs the long direction, meaning that dimension (3/4- 1 yard) ends up being the *length* of the skirt, not the width. So more fabric will make the skirt longer toward or over your knees, not give more draping around the hips.

  26. Pattie Banfield February 11, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    My six year old granddaughter has quite a booty and most skirts look shortet in the back. I have see skirts that dip in the back which would cover her. Any help describing how to cut this design?

  27. handmadejulie October 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    I’m so glad!
    I love to see other people’s versions, too.

  28. Kem Ryan December 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    I made a ton of these skirts for my teen but used two side seams and added hidden pockets ( for her cell phone) in the side seams. She loved them!

  29. Faye July 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    So would I….:)))


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