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Simple Summer Skirt Tutorial

I've made yet another skirt. And this time I took pictures in case there are any other little girls out there who would like to feel the warm summer breezes around their ankles.

To begin, you need:
Approximately 1/2 yard main fabric (amount will depend on how long you want the skirt and the height of the girl)
1/4 yard contrasting fabric
Coordinating thread
Elastic (I used 3/4 inch)
Measuring Tape
A couple of safety pins
Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler
Sewing Machine

Begin by coercing your little girl to hold still for a few minutes. This may involve bribery. Measure from her waist to where you like the skirt to fall.

Write the measurement down. Or like me, swear you'll remember it. Forget it five minutes later and begin the whole process again.

While you've got her there, go ahead and wrap the elastic around her waist. Overlap it just a bit and cut it to the size you will need. (Side note: Stretch the heck out of your elastic before you use it. I can't believe I just learned this tip. It helps prevent the elastic from relaxing a bit after you've cut it to the perfect size and sewn with it.)

Cut your main fabric one inch shorter than the measurement you just took along the entire width. Don't trim off your selveges. In Anna's case, I wanted a 16" skirt. So, I cut my main fabric 15" by the width of the fabric. Trim the contrast band to 6" by the width of the fabric. This will give you a 2 1/2 inch contrast band. Feel free to adjust this if you'd like a wider or narrower band. Just don't forget to adjust the length of the main fabric accordingly.

Lay out your contrasting fabric right side up.

Lay your main fabric on top of it, also right side up. Line up the top edge. (If you've got a print with a definiate top and bottom, like I do, you'll want to put it upside down so you're working with the bottom. So, the bottom of the fabric becomes the top edge that we're working with. Confusing, huh?) If you'd like to add even more sassiness
, you could stack some ric rac or lace or a second contrasting fabric strip right here. I might have, but I didn't have anything on hand.

Take the bottom of the main fabric and start rolling it up. Don't roll up the contrasting fabric along with it. Stop a couple of inches below the top edge.

Fold the bottom edge of the contrasting fabric up and over the little fabric roll, lining it up with the top edge of the fabrics. So, you've got the top edge of the contrasting fabric right side up, the bottom of the main fabric also right up, and the bottom edge of contrasting fabric wrong side up all lined up. The rest of the main fabric is all rolled up and tucked out of the way. If you've ever sewn a magic burrito pillowcase, this is all seeming very familiar. If you haven't, its probably seeming mighty weird.

Pin those three layers together and sew them using a straight stitch and a 1/2 inch seam.

Now comes the really fun part. Grab that little rolled up main fabric and start pulling. Keep pulling until it's all the way out and everything's flipped around.

TA-DA. You've now got a nice neat contrast band. It looks great from the front. And from the back. And all those ugly raw seams are neatly hidden inside.

Press the heck out of it.

Now you have a couple of options when it comes to sewing up the side seam.

Option #1- This is for those of you lucky enough to have two fabrics the same width (or close enough to the same width to make it work). You could use fabrics from the same collection to increase the likelihood of this happening. You've got it easy. Fold the fabric right sides together. Pin if you're into that sort of thing. Sew a seam wide enough to cover up all that selvege stuff. Press the seam open. The selvege edges won't fray so you don't have to worry about serging or zigzaging or any other seam finishes.

Option #2- For those with sergers or not afraid of a little fraying. Trim both sides so the everything is all even. Fold with right sides together. Sew a normal width seam. Finish with whatever seam finish you prefer- serging, zigzaging the raw edges, pinking, whatever. Press.

Option #3- For those with a mortal fear of fraying (like me). I'm going to walk you through an enclosed seam.

Trim both sides so everything is all nice and even. Fold your fabric wrong sides together. Yes, that's right, the right sides of the fabric will be out. Sew a narrow 1/4" seam.

Turn things inside out so now the right sides are facing each other and your seam edges are tucked inside. Press.

Sew a 1/2" seam.

TA-DA! A lovely seam with all the seam edges tucked inside. No fraying. No fuss. No muss.

Alright, we're almost there. We've done the contast band and sewn up the side seam one of three ways. All that's left is the elastic waist.

Start by folding and pressing down the top edge 1/4".

Fold it down again. This time 1 1/4". Press.

Edge stitch around, leaving a gap for inserting the elastic.

Stick a safety pin on each end of your already cut elastic. One is for guiding it through the casing. The other is to keep you from pulling too hard and losing the other end in the casing. Thread the elastic through the casing.

Pull both ends, scooching the fabric all together out of your way. Join it together however you prefer. I usually overlap it and sew a big old fat zigzag. Unscooch your fabric and slide the elastic all the way into the casing.

Close the gap you left in the seam.

There you go. One simple skirt probably in less time than it took you to read this tutorial.

Find your favorite girly girl and take some pictures.

Email me ( if you have any questions or if anything just plain doesn't make sense. If anyone does make one, I'd love to see pictures!


DangAndBlast! said…
Now I feel dumb - I've made those pillowcases (learned how at the houston quilt show last year), but I never thought to make it a skirt! Nice French seams, too.

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