If you’d prefer something easier than pyjama pants for a first garment making project, make an elastic waist skirt.

Preparation skills needed :
– prepare and cut out fabric,
For the most basic skirt, simply cut 2 rectangles across the width of the fabric.
– be able to use a sewing machine and iron.

Sewing skills needed :
Here’s a post with links to guidance about the most basic sewing skills.

All the sewing skills used in making a basic skirt just need stitching in a straight line :
– sew a straight seam,
finish the seam allowance edges (scroll down in same post).

Place your fabric rectangles right sides together, and sew a seam down both sides.

sew a hem – 2 methods :
(diagrams are cross sections, black line = fabric, red line = stitching)

– sew a waist casing and add the elastic.
Detailed post on casings.
Many levels of difficulty : the easiest is a cut-on casing, sewn like a hem, as in the above diagram.

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If you’re feeling confident, all those steps are shown in this short video from Burda.
Burda patterns do not include seam allowances so you have to add them yourself, which the video shows.
No need to worry about that if you cut your own rectangles instead of using a pattern.
Measure around your widest point at hip level, both standing and sitting, and choose the largest. Err on larger, it’s easy to remove fabric if the skirt is too big. If it’s too small, add in a strip down the side seams.
Main pattern pieces, cut 2 :
width : half hip measure + (2″ or 5cm) for ease and seam allowances,
length : desired distance from waist to hem + 2x (1-3/4″ or 4 cm) for waist casing and hem.
pockets : cut 2 each of :
main pocket : 8″-20cm square
pocket flap : length 9″-23cm x width 6″-15cm
elastic : width : 1″-2.5cm, length : waist measurement + 1″-2.5cm.

If that is too much too soon, there’s much more complete detail in the next sections.

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More guidance

There’s a free photo tutorial from Megan Nielsen.

Here are a couple of well known people teaching free video classes to make an easy skirt.
Gretchen Hirsch – for complete beginners.

Crafty Gemini– some experience needed, uses stretch fabric for waistband instead of elastic.

These videos on making elastic-waist skirts are not free :
Easiest Skirt pattern from Iona patterns. Kits also available. Here’s her video (pdf pattern included, paper pattern available separately).

Doll skirts, from Rosie’s doll patterns.

Child’s skirt, from Liesl Gibson at Creative Bug.
Child’s skirt from eSewing Workshop.

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More skills

If you feel ready to be a little adventurous, add another skill with each project :

When you know how to gather, you can add a hem frill, or make a multi-tiered skirt, see McCall’s 8066.

Here’s a basic pattern for straight and a-line skirts with a less obviously scrunched up waist – which is possible if you use a knit fabric, McCall’s 8055.
Scroll down here for some starter tips on sewing knits on a conventional sewing machine.

This zero-waste elastic-waist pants pattern from Birgitta Helmersson also contains a skirt, with patch pockets. Cutting lines marked directly on fabric.
The pants pattern is more challenging to cut out, but not difficult to sew.

A free pattern for a big pocket skirt, from Paper Theory patterns and Peppermint magazine. Pockets easily made by folding a side panel.

Another pattern with visible pockets, the Vintage Pocket skirt from Iona patterns. Video here.

Or Dhurata Davies’ Olive skirt has optional pockets and ruffle lengths.

Her Edith dress pattern even includes both a skirt and a cut-on sleeve top/ dress 😀

The midi skirt from The Assembly Line includes slant pockets (scroll half way down pockets post). These are used in many patterns, so well worth getting your head around. Need some curved sewing.

The Lela skirt from SewDIY has many skirt length, hem shapes, and pocket options.

Can’t guarantee the pattern pieces fit together correctly or the instructions are complete with her patterns, but Tina Givens has a free elastic waist skirt pattern that involves cutting and sewing curved shapes, her Skeet skirt.

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So you can gain sewing confidence in several skills, and get some interesting clothes, just by making elastic-waist skirts 😀

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