Friday 27 September 2013

Minerva Blogging Network: easy elastic waist skirt

This month's Minerva Craft Blogger Network project is an easy peasy skirt. All that's required is a rectangle of fabric and a length of elastic. And what's more I'm going to show you how to make it.

The decision to make this skirt was made when I bought a couple of metres of awesome two inch wide polka dot elastic from Walthamstow market. I was with So Zo, who was looking for wide elastic to make her husband some undies. I spied it amongst the selection and had to have it, despite having no clue what to make with it.

Whilst I was thinking of clothes to take with me on holiday last month, I realised I needed a simple skirt I could pull on over a swimsuit and suddenly thought of the perfect use for my elastic. A gathered skirt with an elastic waist may not be everybody's idea of fashionable elegance - whilst I was researching methods of making it, 90% of the skirts I saw were for toddlers… But for a quick, easy holiday make they're great - no fiddling with fastenings at the pool and comfortable to wear over a swimsuit. Yes, I know summer's over now but I got my months mixed up when I was planning my Minerva sewing projects so here it is now in sunny er September! 

Like the idea? Good, here's how to make one.

You will need
One metre of your chosen fabric*
One metre of two inch wide elastic
*I chose a cotton jersey for my skirt as I wanted a stretch version, but this would work equally well with a cotton woven too.

1. First you need to measure your hips. Multiply this measurement by 1.5 and you have the width of your fabric. My hips are 37 inches, so the width of my fabric is 56 inches (I rounded it up). Then decide how long you want your skirt. I wanted mine pretty short, so the skirt in the tutorial is 19 inches long.

2. Finish one of the bottom edges of the rectangle (I overlocked mine). Turn up ½ inch, press and hem.

3. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half widthways with right sides together, so the two shorter edges meet. Sew this seam using a half inch seam allowance. You now have a tube skirt!

EDIT: As I used a knit fabric for this tutorial, I didn't need to finish the top edge of the skirt, if you're using a woven fabric, you may wish to finish the top edge now to prevent fraying. You can finish it using a zigzag stitch, an overlocker or simply turn and hem. Thank you to Scruffy Badger for bringing this to my attention, you can see what a finished top edge looks like on her post here

4. Sew a row of long, gathering stitches along the top, unhemmed edge of the tube (don't backstitch at each end!) Divide your tube of fabric into quarters with pins. I did photograph this step but you can't really see anything so you'll just have to imagine it.

5. Now we need to attach the elastic. Measure your waist, add ½ inch and cut the elastic to this measurement. Sew the two ends together with a zig-zag stitch using a ½ inch seam allowance. 

Press open. You may also wish to backstitch a few times for security. 

Divide your elastic into quarters with pins.

6. Put your skirt and elastic together - you want the wrong side of the elastic to face the right side of the skirt. There will be a lot more skirt than elastic at this point. Your goal is to match up the four pins on the elastic with the four pins on the fabric tube. Gently pull up your gathering stitches so that the fabric is evenly distributed. Pin together using as many pins as necessary.

This is what it should look like once the fabric is evenly distributed

7. Sew right around the waistband with a zig-zag stitch, keeping close to the bottom edge.  

Outside view of sewn waistband

Inside view of sewn waistband

Ta-da - you have yourself a skirt!

If you fancy making a similar skirt for yourself, or indeed, your toddler, Minerva Crafts have put together a simple kit. The kit comprises a metre of red cotton jersey and matching thread, which you can purchase here. They don't stock polka dot elastic, but they do stock standard two inch elastic which you can find here. Happy sewing! x

The kit was given to me free of charge as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. All views my own.


  1. So cute! We call them Ra-ra skirts. I stock a reasonable range of stripy coloured wide elastic for this very purpose, I am beyond envious of the polka dots though!

    1. We had Ra-ra skirts here in the 80's but they came with several tiers, god that's taken me back! x

  2. Love this elastic! I need a couple of little skirts like this to wear with leggings and boots for the winter and this looks like a quick and easy project to make now that I'm back at work, so cheers for the tutorial.

    1. Oh that's a great idea, I might get some more wear out of it that way, thanks! x

  3. Nice tutorial Jane, and cute skirt.
    I so love toddler style!!

  4. This is really nice what a lovely colour and spots too!

  5. That is so adorable, Jane! Great instructions. And what crazy cute elastic, omg!

  6. Oh, I heard elastic waist and cringed, than saw your post! That is too cute, I'm going to make one with some knit fabric I have left over.

    1. Ha ha I usually cringe at the thought of an elastic waist skirt too! I think the mad elastic helps gives this skirt a bit more street cred! x

  7. This looks like a great starter project ! Or would you steer clear of the jersey knit as a beginner ?

    1. The jersey I used was really well behaved. I'd say give it a go, there's only the hem and one seam to sew, plus the waistband. I think the stretch actually helps get the gathers in order too! x



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