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How-Tuesday: Sew a Skirt in One Hour

Aug 16, 2011

by Brett Bara handmade and vintage goods

In this week’s How-Tuesday post,  you’ll learn how to stitch your very own custom skirt and update your wardrobe in a flash! Brett Bara, author of Sewing in a Straight Line, will guide you through the process.

When you see how easy it is to sew your own quick and comfy skirt, you won’t ever want to purchase this wardrobe basic off the rack again. With just one yard of fabric and a mere sixty minutes, you can whip up a fantastic little number that looks like a million bucks. You can easily adapt this pattern to make a variety of different looks — try a narrower elastic waist, a longer length, or even less gathering to suit your own personal style.

Materials You’ll Need:
– Approximately 1 yard (91cm) medium-weight fabric*
– 1 3/4″ (4.5cm) wide elastic (the length of your waist circumference)
– One large safety pin
– Scissors or rotary cutter
– Thread
– Iron
– Sewing Machine

*Note: This garment is sized to fit your measurements, so the exact amount of fabric needed will vary. Read the entire pattern and take your body measurements (in step 1) to determine the exact amount you’ll need. Buy extra when in doubt.

Finished Dimensions:
Width: Sized to fit your body
Length: 18″ (45.5cm)

Fabric Suggestions
I made this skirt in a cotton-linen blend, which is soft and has great drape. Almost any light or medium weight fabric will work for this project; just keep in mind that the texture of the fabric you choose will determine whether your skirt is flowy or more structured.

Let’s get started!


1. Measure and Cut:
Fabric: Measure your hip circumference 7″–8″ (18cm–20.5cm) below your natural waist, or at your widest point) for measurement A. Cut 2 rectangles with a width equal to A and a length of 22 1/2″(57cm).

Elastic: Measure your waist circumference and cut a piece of elastic to that measurement minus 1″ (2.5cm).

2. Sew the Side Seams Pin
Then sew the 2 front/back pieces together along both 22 1/2″ (57cm) edges using either 1/2″ seam allowances or a 1/4″ (6mm) French seams. Press the seams flat before moving on.

3. Sew the Waistband Casing
Turn under the top edge 1/2″ (13mm); press. Turn under this folded top edge 2″ (5cm); press then pin. Topstitch the folded edge in place, leaving a 4″ (10cm) opening near one of the side seams.

4. Sew the Hem
Turn under the hem 1/2″ (13mm); press. Turn it under again 11/2″ (3.8cm); press then pin. Topstitch the hem in place.

5. Finish the Waistband
Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread that end through the entire waistband casing and gather away, being careful not to twist the elastic. When the safety pin gets back to the opening, overlap the 2 raw edges of the elastic 1/2″ (13mm) and sew them together with a straight stitch, backstitching to reinforce at the beginning and end of the seam. Insert the joined elastic ends back into the casing. Topstitch the opening of the casing closed.

Distribute the gathers evenly around the skirt. Once the gathers are arranged, stitch in the ditch along each side seam at the waistband to secure the elastic in place.

Go Custom
You can change this pattern up in lots of ways to make whatever kind of skirt your heart desires. Here are a few options:

— If you prefer the look of a skinny waistband, just use thinner elastic and adjust the waistband casing accordingly. Make the casing 1/4″ (6mm) wider than the elastic.

— This skirt measures 18″ (45.5cm) from waist to hem. To make it longer or shorter (if you dare!), just adjust the length of the rectangle you cut in Step 1. (You may need to buy more fabric for a longer skirt.)

— The fabric you choose has a huge impact on the look of this garment. A very light fabric with a lot of drape will give you a flowy skirt; choose something stiff like taffeta for a poofy ball-gown effect.

Score a copy of Sewing in a Straight Line from Amazon or an independent bookseller near you.

More Things to Make | Skirts on Etsy

vintage 1980's skirt / a line blue with pockets / xl extra large
vintage 1980's skirt / a line blue with pockets / xl extra large
Striped skirt J056
Striped skirt J056
Prep School Grid Pull-On Pleated Waist Skirt (xs - s)
Prep School Grid Pull-On Pleated Waist Skirt (xs - s)
Red and White polka dot Betty circle skirt
Red and White polka dot Betty circle skirt
organic cotton fabric by Daisy Janie - 1 YARD - Caravan
organic cotton fabric by Daisy Janie - 1 YARD - Caravan


  • alexandranoel

    alexandranoel said 5 years ago

    What a great post, thank you! I have been hearing about your book and can't wait to pick up my copy, especially after reading this. The explanations seem really thorough and easy to follow. I bet you could make some really one-of-a-kind skirts with this pattern using dyeing techniques, embroidery, anything!

  • DessertWine

    DessertWine said 5 years ago

    I'm running out the door to buy a sewing machine! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas said 5 years ago

    Skirts were the first thing I learned to sew. Nothing better than a skirt to twirl around in!

  • MyYellowBrickRoad

    MyYellowBrickRoad said 5 years ago

    Thank you!!! I've been wanting to start making my own clothes, but have been such a chicken! I can't wait to try this! I have to do it all by hand, though (no sewing machine). WIll I be 80 by the time it's finished?? (((:

  • TeddyBearWorld

    TeddyBearWorld said 5 years ago

    Wonderful post

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 5 years ago

    The tutorial is great, but I love those three fabric styles you featured for sale!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    Love this post! I love to sew! Beautiful skirts!

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads said 5 years ago

    love this idea!

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice said 5 years ago

    Skirts are so cute and easy! I have made many kinds, my favorite and most recent skirt was made from a vintage pillowcase.

  • kathywelshart

    kathywelshart said 5 years ago

    So cute!! I can't wait for the weekend so I can score some fabric and make my own...

  • domesticdebbie

    domesticdebbie said 5 years ago

    Great tutorial, A++!!

  • mroses

    mroses said 5 years ago

    Great post! Thanks for the pattern!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

    Yay, so easy! I can sew in the mending sense, but ask me to construct an item from scratch and I will stumble through it. Great directions, thanks!

  • thewildplum

    thewildplum said 5 years ago

    Hello, my name is Christina and I am sewing challenged; unable to sew a straight line. Somehow, though, I have managed to collect 8 vintage sewing machines and a lifetime supply of vintage material. My inner voice keeps telling me to try again. However, my Homer Simpson fingers keep making me go, "d'oh!" Maybe this book is the answer. Thank you!!!

  • melodine

    melodine said 5 years ago

    I love this "How-Tuesday"'re so right...endless possibilities here. Thanks for both the video and written. I'm gonna look for your book!

  • sparrowgrey

    sparrowgrey said 5 years ago

    Love this! Looking forward to it.

  • gothicreations

    gothicreations said 5 years ago

    I love sewing simple skirts.

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 5 years ago

    Just forwarded this to one of my friends via Facebook. :)

  • RedHarp

    RedHarp said 5 years ago

    I've been making full skirts for years, using patterns. This is a great, simple design, easy to execute and requires no pattern. I'm going to give it a try.

  • jenjenpb

    jenjenpb said 5 years ago

    When I'm shopping for skirts, I can never find the perfect one...this way I can create my own :) Cool!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 5 years ago

    Awesome! I bought my first sewing machine several months ago.

  • 1dream

    1dream said 5 years ago

    I love it..Thank you...

  • scandivintage

    scandivintage said 5 years ago

    Thank you! I sew a lot, but never managed to get hold of a great party-pattern like this! Good for last minute changes of heart for a night out or when I have picked up the perfect piece of fabric form a charity shop.

  • AzuriteCreations

    AzuriteCreations said 5 years ago

    fun and easy thanks :)

  • hoganfe

    hoganfe said 5 years ago

    Well done tutorial - thanks Brett!

  • AuroraVk

    AuroraVk said 5 years ago

    thank you!!!! really cool tutorial!

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 5 years ago

    so cute. i just made a bunch of skirts for my store. very similar to these cute ones. keep an eye out, i'll be listing them all next week!

  • ThreadRare

    ThreadRare said 5 years ago

    I'm gonna need a tutorial on how to get that skirt model's hair...

  • RetroStock

    RetroStock said 5 years ago

    Great idea! I will have to try this!

  • 26Sorts

    26Sorts said 5 years ago

    Love this! I am definitely feeling inspired to do some fabric shopping!

  • wahlrus

    wahlrus said 5 years ago

    So much inspiration! Thanks for sharing! EtsyLove from, Jamie & John

  • gussygreen

    gussygreen said 5 years ago


  • TNShopthailand

    TNShopthailand said 5 years ago

    Wonderful.Likethis idea!

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 5 years ago

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • SweetiePieCollars

    SweetiePieCollars said 5 years ago

    Awesome post! Great idea! Thanks!

  • BlissfulBloomsBtique

    BlissfulBloomsBtique said 5 years ago

    This is exactly what I've been looking for. I even made a challenge list for myself, and one of the things was, "Learn how to make a cute skirt." Check!

  • alexcismelendez

    alexcismelendez said 5 years ago

    absolutely fabulous!

  • ashleyeaston

    ashleyeaston said 5 years ago

    oh, skirts! thank you! I've been itching to make one for quite awhile, with limited time and very limited sewing machine skills! ;) This is perfect!

  • designbyluecella

    designbyluecella said 5 years ago

    FLASHBACK 1965 HOME ECONOMICS Sewing class. 1st Project: SKIRT. Bought corduroy. No one told me about nap when laying out to cut. Walked around wearing a skirt half shiny and half dull. I wondered why it looked funky! :) Keep up the fab work Etsy..Great showcase for awesome talent!

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart said 5 years ago

    This looks easy enough that I could probably even make it. Unfortunately, I don't think I could pull off wearing it :)

  • KKSimpleRegalJewelry

    KKSimpleRegalJewelry said 5 years ago

    Sewing is so much fun! Thanks, ~Krista

  • rinnyc

    rinnyc said 5 years ago

    I love skirts. I wear them everyday! This looks so simple and i am going to try it right now!

  • asileoriginals

    asileoriginals said 5 years ago


  • MaryFosterCreative

    MaryFosterCreative said 5 years ago

    I can't even remember the last time I wore a skirt :) This pattern is so simple and versatile, I just might try it.

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 5 years ago

    easy peasy

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 5 years ago

    Inspiring color!

  • MyWisteriaCottage

    MyWisteriaCottage said 5 years ago

    For the one who said she would rush out and buy a sewing machine a few thaughts. Your first machine can last you for your life. Buy a simple one that is very sturdy like a Singer old school. My Kenmore is English made in 1967 simple and sturdy and I have used it for at least 100,000 miles.It has been my friend and business partner. I have others but I still love that basic machine best. An old restored machine is worth the money.

  • littlemissbluebird

    littlemissbluebird said 5 years ago

    Soooooo excited to get a sewing machine soon and make this! :) Thanks!

  • glusk

    glusk said 5 years ago

    Ooooh I want that skirt! Good thing I can easily make my own one now :)

  • paperbugg

    paperbugg said 5 years ago

    looks so simple i love it! and the blue white pattern. where is it i want it!

  • Alaroycreature

    Alaroycreature said 5 years ago

    That was seriously awesome! I've been wondering how to do the elastic thing since forever!!

  • MadebyLinLin

    MadebyLinLin said 5 years ago

    Sewing is so awesome! Great pattern!

  • elishalong

    elishalong said 5 years ago

    I can't wait to try this!! :)

  • thecyclingartist

    thecyclingartist said 5 years ago

    So cute! I'm going to do each fabric side just over half my hip measurement - to get a more fitted look. I can only do straight lines to excited to use some of my collection of fabric for this!

  • effiSER

    effiSER said 5 years ago

    Wonderful post!!! I will have to try this!

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 5 years ago

    I like this post, a skirt was the first thing I ever sewed in home ec in the 7th grade. The second was a Aloha!

  • beliz82

    beliz82 said 5 years ago

    Great idea Thank you for sharing :O)

  • JillianReneDecor

    JillianReneDecor said 5 years ago

    Great post! The tutorial is so clear and seems very easy to follow. Thanks so much for sharing... off to check out more of Brett's tutorials!

  • KittyStoykovich

    KittyStoykovich said 5 years ago

    OOO I'm excited to do this now!! Thanks for the tutorial!

  • jcwWoodcrafts

    jcwWoodcrafts said 5 years ago

    Very cool article and great instructions. I only makes me appreciate more those people who can sew!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 5 years ago

    Love your sewing articles! I encourage anyone who is even thinking about learning to sew just do it! Its such a stress reliever AND you can make a living sewing!

  • candlemoods

    candlemoods said 5 years ago

    Love this!

  • PinesVintageClothing

    PinesVintageClothing said 5 years ago

    omg I want to make a skirt

  • PosiesbyCait

    PosiesbyCait said 5 years ago

    This is wonderful! I've been asking for a sewing machine for my birthday...I'm adding this book to the list, and I can't wait to get started!

  • Shoplift

    Shoplift said 5 years ago

    I'm definitely going to try this!

  • MarshaNealStudio

    MarshaNealStudio said 5 years ago

    Great Post!!!

  • hawthornehill

    hawthornehill said 5 years ago

    Thank you so much!! My 11 year old daughter wants to sew. This will be very helpful.

  • morgantatedesigns

    morgantatedesigns said 5 years ago

    i love making my own skirts! This is a great tutorial! For more ideas, check out this book: It's written by a former anthropologie designer.. such cute designs! :)

  • good4you

    good4you said 5 years ago


  • greenlikegrandma

    greenlikegrandma said 5 years ago

    So cute. My daughter wants to sew something and this is perfect. Thanks.

  • missbatch

    missbatch said 5 years ago

    I can't wait for this event! The book is great and so is Brett!

  • miniwonderfulthings

    miniwonderfulthings said 5 years ago

    I've been trying to get together with my 15 year old granddaughter for MONTHS to do something like this. Just can't convince her that we don't need a pattern.

  • smilingmama

    smilingmama said 5 years ago

    Love this skirt. Hadn't used a sewing machine for years until I went to a bag making workshop last week. Loved the bag and now want to sew anything and everything. Have been given a practically brand new sewing machine by the husband of a dear friend who died. So everything I make will have extra meaning. Have been gathering material for years, just a shame the book isn't released here till 7th Sept. But will definitely be making skirts this weekend. Thank you.

  • elemegibere

    elemegibere said 5 years ago

    Wonderful Skirts!

  • Likls

    Likls said 5 years ago

    this is great! it's so hard to find a pattern for a good, basic skirt. and i think it's nice that you don't have to buy much fabric, so you could make it with a fabric a little more luxe than what you would use for, say, a full dress.

  • allybstudio

    allybstudio said 5 years ago

    I am feeling the inspiration for a new wardrobe! :)

  • freshpikd4u

    freshpikd4u said 5 years ago

    Great tutorial, thanks so much!

  • AllUNeedNMore

    AllUNeedNMore said 5 years ago

    That was great and simple THANKS!

  • darkmuse

    darkmuse said 5 years ago

    Yay thank you for this!

  • alexcismelendez

    alexcismelendez said 5 years ago

    i just finished my "one hour skirt" which ended up taking about 2 1/2 hours! very proud of it though. wearing it to work tomorrow.

  • TheWhimsicalMuse

    TheWhimsicalMuse said 5 years ago

    How fun! I've recently started looking for a sewing machine & am still in a haze about what to buy. This is a totally fun idea. I could see not only making one of these skirts for me, but for my 5 year old, as well. Love it!

  • UrbanEcoBeauty

    UrbanEcoBeauty said 5 years ago

    This was so helpful thank you!!!

  • jenniferwhitmer

    jenniferwhitmer said 5 years ago

    I just love this skirt and have an old Singer featherweight that can whip it up in no time! Thank you for this patternless pattern. How liberating to sew this way. Commercial patterns are so costly these days, even the simplest ones. I'll look for Sewing In A Straight Line when it comes out. If this skirt is an example of what's in the book, how lucky are we!

  • ayeware

    ayeware said 5 years ago

    I made it tonight! I used some beautiful turquoise cotton fabric that's been burning a hole in my psyche for months to whip up this skirt in...well, more than an hour because bobbins hate me. But this is easily the most userfriendly sewing tutorial I've ever seen/read, so the book is a must purchase. (And I'm third in line to check it out of the Free Library.) Love. it!

  • bazketmakr

    bazketmakr said 5 years ago

    sounds terribly fun and easy! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • pearliemae

    pearliemae said 5 years ago

    I make these all the time because I LIVE in skirts in the summertime! I buy old dresses at the thrift shop, cut them and add an elastic waist - new skirt in 30 minutes or less! Already hemmed! What's with the last line, though? A tutorial about skirts and a line that says "If you make your own sandals, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group." wth?

  • WestEndave

    WestEndave said 5 years ago

    Very good idea!!!

  • WestEndave

    WestEndave said 5 years ago

    Very good idea!!! I think I will write my own book too.

  • hawaiibeads

    hawaiibeads said 5 years ago

    Love this skirt! I am inspired to go for a sewing machine again. I used to sew all the time (my favorite machine was a 1930's (?) White Rotary with all the fancy parts). But moves over the years and such, I find myself without a nice little sewing machine. I do have two wonderful heavy duty upholstery machines that I used in business for years. But now I am ready to sew for myself again. I have all my old patterns, including my collection of vintage muumuu patterns! But I need to find an nice little portable that will sew knits so I can shorten all my tshirts! Any suggestions on what is your favorite machine for all around sewing?

  • HennyPennysJumble

    HennyPennysJumble said 5 years ago

    Makes it look so easy to make darling clothes!


    MILKYBABY50 said 5 years ago

    Wonderful info thanks for posting it

  • komoriuta

    komoriuta said 5 years ago

    Oh my god, this is so cute. I'm going to make one right now!!!

  • Knit1Give2

    Knit1Give2 said 5 years ago

    This looks so pretty! I'm making one out of old t-shirts I never wear and doing it all by hand, but I might have to give myself a little break. I think I'll have to look at the book, too!

  • krista60

    krista60 said 5 years ago

    I made this -- my second skirt ever -- and wore it all day today. Love love love it! Thank you!

  • nutcasefashion

    nutcasefashion said 5 years ago

    This post is great for beginners at sewing and the silhouette is so easy to wear! Thank you Etsy :) Will try this for sure~~~

  • ColtVintage

    ColtVintage said 5 years ago

    this is a great idea for an easy to make skirt, but if you don't add seam allowance to your hip measurement ('A' in the directions), then the skirt might fit too tight...just sayn'

  • wiredroxz

    wiredroxz said 5 years ago

    I've been sewing all my life and love the simplicity of this.....will definately give this one a try :)

  • BunniesandAvacado

    BunniesandAvacado said 5 years ago

    SUPER cute! Cannot wait to make one just for me. Or maybe seven just for me.

  • squaredup

    squaredup said 5 years ago

    I think it would make me look like an oil tanker, but it looks really cute on the model!

  • roseandlotus

    roseandlotus said 5 years ago

    very nice! can't wait to try that tutorial soon.

  • TheDapperDeer

    TheDapperDeer said 5 years ago

    It's a really nice tutorial, but you need to add seem allowance to the width. Also, if you are looking for a really flowy skirt like the model is wearing you need to add more to the width (especially if you have a large buttocks or hips). But if your looking for something more tailored, just leave it.

  • PittiVintage

    PittiVintage said 5 years ago

    can't wait to make one!

  • TheBeachyHouse

    TheBeachyHouse said 5 years ago

    awesome!!! going out to buy cute fabric soon to make one!!! great post!!!

  • RagsToRebecca

    RagsToRebecca said 5 years ago

    I made this today, one each for my mom and I! Mom chose a thin pinstriped fabric, and it's loosely bunched. I got a Japanese-inspired print with a gray background and waves and gold lines abstractly representing waves.... You might want to actually subtract about 4" from the elastic length.

  • alyssain1derland

    alyssain1derland said 5 years ago

    Now I don't have an excuse NOT to make one for my little girls. This is going to be fun, or interesting at least!

  • EclecticSublime

    EclecticSublime said 5 years ago

    These skirts are so awesome. Thanks, also I can totally where them to work and my days off. *P.S.

  • tuinuiioi

    tuinuiioi said 5 years ago

    wow , nice and easy, i've to try it

  • ArgentTonic

    ArgentTonic said 5 years ago

    Lovely skirts!!!! I will definitively get one of those!!! Congrat! nice work!

  • cheonghyangDESIGNs

    cheonghyangDESIGNs said 5 years ago

    Easy ~^^ Thanks.

  • RosieT27

    RosieT27 said 5 years ago

    Thank you so much! I modified this a tad to make a skirt for my sons costume (he's Bam Bam) I can't wait to buy your book!

  • Blueridgefabrics

    Blueridgefabrics said 4 years ago

    T am so glad to see that someone is making sewing simple. I love to sew and have since I have been small. This fuels my love of fabrics which is why I am starting a fabric site on Etsy. I love the feel and art of fabrics. I get a rush when I see a beautiful piece and there are some that I get an emotional attachment to many. I am probably strange but oh well. Dot Bradham Blueridge Fabrics

  • princessmarmalade1

    Princess Marmalade said 4 years ago

    I've just finished my fourth one. They look great. This has given me the confidence to try something else. Many thanks. : )

  • mends6593

    Mariah Dwyer from MariahsPrepWeaving said 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! (: It saved me soooo much money on the skirt I am sewing to make my wedding dress underskirt that goes underneath the crocheted lace! Woohoo and it looks easy!

  • chookooloonks

    chookooloonks said 2 years ago

    I don't own a sewing machine, but my 9-year-old daughter wants one, and wants to learn to sew. Stumbled across this post this weekend, and we ran-out and bought some fabric, and she hand-sewing one. She's so proud of her work. Thank you so much for this!

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