the summer, you-don’t-need-a-pattern-to-make-this! skirt

well the introductions are over, so it’s time to start a project. how about a skirt? better yet… a skirt without a pattern!

okay, summertime has come late to new england but i so despise being hot. skirts are my go-to solution to stay as cool as possible. and they must be comfy… no constraining waistbands! so, i’m going with a cotton skirt (easy to take care of and breathable) gathered onto a wide elastic waistband (fully expandable! yay!). we’ve all seen skirts like this but i can’t bear to spend $30+ on a skirt i could make myself for half the price. they’re cute and i love the waist-cinching style so it’s inevitable that i would make my own. okay, enough chatter…

here’s what you need:
wide, 1 1/2″-2″ elastic (enough to go around your waist plus 1″)
1 1/2 yd material, depending on the length of your skirt
1 1/2 yd lining, if needed

start by measuring your waist and adding 1″—this is the length to cut your elastic. if your elastic seems likely to unravel, zig-zag the cut ends first. then bring the ends together, sew using a straight stitch at 5/8″, backstitch at both ends. then stitch each side of the seam to the band so the seam allowance will lie flat. slip it on, make sure all is good.

now, to determine how much fabric you need for the skirt, measure from where the bottom of the waistband will sit down to the desired hemline. add in a 5/8″ seam allowance for the top and 5/8″ for the hemline. since i’m working with a medium weight cotton i will use a deeper hem than if i were using a lightweight rayon or silky material. for something lighter weight you may only need 1/4″ for a rolled hem, so adjust accordingly. my skirt length will be 18″ so i need 19 1/4″ total.

how wide to cut your fabric depends on how gathered and pouffy you want your skirt to be. a lighter material will require more fabric to look full than my choice of cotton. if you are unsure, you many want to find one of your own skirts or dresses that is gathered at the waist and simply measure around the bottom edge. this will give you a good estimate. the width of my fabric is about 42″ and i will simply use the entire width. so, on the fold, cut two rectangles: the skirt length by half the skirt width (19 1/4″ x 21″). when unfolded you will have 2, 42″ long rectangles giving you a total skirt hem of 84″. still with me? if you need a lining, cut it out to the same width but 1″ shorter. 

if you’ve made a skirt before there is nothing new here. first, sew up the side seams and finish the seam allowances with a zig-zag stitch or serged edge. repeat with the lining material, if using.

with the right side of the fabric up, stitch two rows of basting stitches around the top edge of the skirt fabric at 5/8″ and 1/4″ making sure not to cross your stitches when you get all the way around. once gathered the basting stitches will need to be removed so it may be helpful to use a contrasting color of thread so it’s easy to spot and remove later. if you are lining your skirt, simply pin the lining to the wrong side of the main fabric and baste through both layers, gathering it all in one step.

with pins, mark the top edge your skirt into 4 equal parts (side seams, center front, center back) and do the same with your waistband. pin the skirt to the inside lower edge of the waistband, matching your markings. the right side of the fabric will be facing the inside of the waistband. to position it correctly, line up your lower basting thread with the bottom edge of the elastic. 

pull up the bobbin thread to gather your skirt. adjust fullness and pin as necessary all the way around. 

with the gathers down, sew the elastic and fabric together with a zig-zag stitch. i set my stitch length to 1.5 and my zig-zag width at near it widest setting. do a test on a piece of scrap fabric until you have the right settings. line up the edge of the elastic with the left side of the presser foot as a guide. be sure to remove the pins as you stitch. then stitch around a second time a little farther in so as to catch the edge of the fabric to reduce any fraying.

here is the outside

here is the inside

remove the basting stitches and try on your skirt to determine the final length. hem your skirt and you’re done! 

how easy was that? sure, you could add tiers, ruffles, lace, trim, pockets… this skirt could be made numerous ways and i probably will be making this one over and over again! i love having a few casual skirts in the closet to help a gal feel just a little put together because sometimes a skirt, a t-shirt, a swipe of lip gloss and a prayer is all i have. chocolate helps… but that’s a story for another day.

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