How to Make a Basic Skirt

woman making skirt on sewing table
  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-50
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Sewing machine
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Sewing machine

Whether you have a lot of sewing experience or you're a relative novice, a skirt is something you can make yourself. The simplest way to make a skirt is using a pattern. A pattern can be picked up at a fabric store, or even found online. If you want to make a skirt without using a pattern, though, you can do so by following these simple steps.

Step 1 - Measure

Before you even buy the fabric necessary for your skirt project you will have to measure yourself. This will help you know how much fabric you will need to purchase.

You'll need to measure your waist, hips, and the length you want your skirt to be. Consider what the skirt will be used for here. If you're planning to wear it to work, you will need to make sure it is long enough to be appropriate for the workplace.

Make sure to buy more fabric than you actually need to account for a seam allowance and any mistakes you may make. If you want to make a belt out of the same material as the skirt or other decorative items, make sure you get enough fabric to account for this as well.

If you have extra at the end, you can always make a headband or find another way to use the excess fabric.

Step 2 - Pick a Fabric

Now it's time for the fun part: picking a fabric. Make sure you get enough based on the measurements you've taken. Again, consider what the skirt will be used for. Is it for work? A costume? Brunch out with your friends?

This will help guide your fabric choice. Fabric choices should have a large array of fabrics to choose from but make sure you pick a fabric that is long enough to match your measurements.

Step 3 - Sketch It Out

hands drawing skirt pattern on brown paper

Sketching out your skirt with the correct measurements will help you know where to cut the fabric and avoid making a mistake. Divide your waist measurement in half.

This represents the correct measurement for the front half of the skirt. If you are going for a gathered look in front, you will need to add some extra allowance of around six inches. If you are going for a flat, tighter look, you'll only need to add a very small seam allowance.

Next, mark the length of the skirt. You can mark it by drawing it on a piece of paper that you will then use as a guide to make your skirt or by placing a pin on the fabric.

Creating your skirt measurements on a piece of paper before cutting into the fabric is always recommended so you avoid making a mistake on your more expensive fabric. You can also hold it up to you to make sure it is the fit you are going for as well.

You will also need to make sure to account for the fact that the skirt will have to fit over your hips and not just your waist. Mark on the fabric where your hips will be and draw the length line at a diagonal to account for this.

    Step 4 - Cut

    hands with scissors cutting fabric

    Once you have finalized your dimensions, it is now time to cut. Make sure you are using sharp scissors that will not damage the fabric. Cut the paper first to make sure your dimensions are correct before transferring the pattern to the fabric and cutting the fabric.

    Step 5 - Sew

    Now comes what is the difficult part for many: sewing. Once the front and the back of the skirt are cut out, you will need to sew them together using your sewing machine. Make sure to use a thread color that matches your skirt. While you could do this by hand, using a sewing machine will make the process much faster.

    Line the front and back up, accounting for a seam allowance, and sew the two together. You will need to sew the bottom hemline of the skirt so there are no jagged edges. You can sew the top as well or consider adding a waistband. It is easier to add the zipper before adding a waistband, though.

    Step 5 - Add a Zipper (Optional)

    hands sewing a zipper on a skirt

    While you can create a skirt that doesn't need a zipper and you instead just slide up or down—usually these are a stretchy material or a loose, boho fit—you may create one that uses a zipper instead. Skirts with zippers generally have more shape.

    To add a zipper, you are going to need to open up the seam allowance you included when cutting your fabric and use your sewing machine to sew the zipper in.

    Step 6 - Make Extras

    While these next few ideas are not necessary, they will make your skirt look professionally made instead of like a home craft project. One of the easiest things to add to your skirt is a tie.

    To do so, add belt loops to your skirt. Cut some fabric thin but long so that you can use it as a belt. Make it long enough that you can tie a bow with it. In addition to looking nice, this has the added benefit of hiding any mistakes you made up top.

    You could also consider adding sequins, a lace overlay, extra decorative zippers, chains, or other embellishments to make your skirt really stand out as an original piece.

    Using a Pattern

    smiling woman making skirt

    Making a skirt is even easier if you are using a pattern. Patterns can be purchased anywhere from a craft store to online. If you go into a fabric store, someone working there may be able to help you understand which pattern is going to be easiest for you to use.

    A lot of patterns will have information about the level of difficulty on the box as well, which can also be helpful.

    Someone at a fabric store may also be able to help you understand what pattern options may work best with the various fabric options the store sells. Or, if you have a very specific fabric you want to use, they may be able to point out a specific pattern they recommend.

    Step 1 - Measure

    Like with making a skirt without a fabric, you will have to measure yourself in order to know how much fabric you will need to purchase and how large or small to make the skirt. Your pattern should make it clear where you need to measure yourself but generally speaking, you'll need to measure your waist, hips, and however long you want the skirt to be.

    Like with a skirt without a pattern, consider not just the length needed when you are standing but also when you are sitting down. The skirt may rise a bit when you sit so make sure there is still enough to cover you up even when you are sitting.

    You also need to consider the use of the skirt and the look you are going for when you decide on the length. Some patterns, however, may be marketed specifically as work skirts or other, specific types of skirts and call for a set length as a result.

    Since you already have a pattern for your skirt, you can skip the extensive sketching needed when you do not have a pattern. You'll still have to mark your measurements, though, on the pattern.

    Step 2 - Cut

    Once the measurements are finalized, it is now time to cut out the pattern you are using to make your skirt. Hold it against your body to make sure the dimensions are correct.

    Once you have cut the pattern and ensured that it is what you were hoping for, it is time to cut the fabric. First, transfer the pattern onto the fabric using a pencil or erasable marker.

    Make sure you use sharp scissors meant for use on fabric. Dull scissors will not cut through the skirt properly and are more likely to fray the edges. There are things you can do to make sure this is not seen, but it is still better to make sure your scissors are sharp enough that you don't have this issue in the first place.

    Step 3 - Sew

    hands sewing fabric with machine

    Once the fabric has been cut correctly, it is time to sew your skirt. You can use a sewing machine or hand sew the skirt, but using a machine will make the process go much faster and save your hands a lot of pokes and pricks, not to mention hard work.

    Pick a thread for the job that matches the look you are going for. If you want a plain black skirt, you will want both black fabric and black thread. If you are going for a fun, party look and have a plain black fabric, you may want to consider a bright-colored thread to make the skirt appear unique. Place the thread into your sewing machine correctly, per the instructions for your particular sewing machine.

    Now it is time to sew the two pieces together. Line up the front and the back of the skirt. Make sure you are including the seam allowance when you do so. You can now use your sewing machine to sew the two pieces together.

    Once the two pieces are sewn together, it is time to beautify the hemline of the skirt. This will ensure there are no jagged edges and you have a more complete look. If you are going for a rustic look, however, you may want to skip this step.

    You can similarly sew the top to not have any jagged edges. You could also consider adding a waistband or a zipper here.

    Step 4 - Adding a Zipper

    If you want to add a zipper, now is the time to do so. If you are adding a waistband or other decorative items, do yourself a favor and add the zipper first.

    Skirts with zippers are generally more professional looking than those without a zipper, and have more fit options than ones that have to be able to be pulled up and down.

    To add the zipper you will need to open up the seam allowance mentioned previously. Your zipper will actually be sewed into the seam allowance. You can use your sewing machine to sew in the zipper or do it by hand. We recommend using the sewing machine.

    Step 5 - Make Other Additions

    skirt material with colorful designs

    Now that the function of your skirt is complete, it is time to get creative and add on to it. If you are sewing a jean skirt for a child, you may want to add on some flowers or other decals. You could also add sequins, lace, or other embellishments. These will make your skirt stand out.

    Be careful, again, to think about where and when you will be wearing the skirt. If it is going to be a work outfit, for example, do not add sequins. If it is part of a roaring 20s costume, however, go ahead and add some fringe.

    By following these steps you will have designed and created a beautiful skirt that you can wear and enjoy for years to come. Whether you use a pattern or not, building a skirt is a project you can do with a little bit of patience and the right materials.

    In order to keep your skirt looking its best for years to come, consider hand washing it or washing it on the delicate. cycle, especially if you add details to the skirt. You could also ask a salesperson at a fabric store where you purchase your materials whether or not the one you are buying is machine washable.

    If you're creating a skirt for a child to wear frequently, the skirt being machine washable is a big concern. If it is for a costume or special look for an adult, however, it may not matter as much, since the skirt will mostly be worn for special occasions and therefore won't need to be washed as much.