Tutorial: Easy fold-over waist skirt using stretchy/knit fabric

coral maxi1

DIY maxi skirt & top (tutorial below), Ann Taylor clutch, Talbots sandals (similar under $25 starting in sz 5)

Earlier this summer, I was sifting through a discount fabric store when this (poly blend) red squares print caught my eye. Even though it was under $4/yd, I was hesitant to buy due to the very stretchy nature. Materials like this are wonderfully comfortable and forgiving to wear, but they can be trickier to work with than non-stretch fabric. I’m glad it ended up coming home with me, as this resulting skirt set has been a favorite this summer – suitable for slightly dressier occasions, yet still appropriate (and lengthening!) when worn with casual flat shoes.coral maxi
Most of my at-home projects have involved a basic straight stitch plus some zig zag (used in lieu of a proper serger machine, which needs to be rescued from my parents’ basement). However, using a straight stitch across stretchy fabric effectively “locks down” that area and prevents any stretching along the sewn line. I learned this as a kid after laboriously sewing a knit skirt, only to have the straight stitches rip open once I tried to pull the skirt on over my hips. Sewing entirely with a serger machine (since the stitches allow for stretch) is one solution, and this excellent detailed post discusses other ways to sew on knits.
foldover waist skirt DIY
With my basic stitch machine and lack of serger, I tried to come up with a skirt design that would be very stretchy at the waist, and require no zipper or elastic. I also liked the idea of a fold-over waistband for versatility. Fold-over skirts don’t get a lot of love outside the maternity department, but they’re actually quite nifty – you can adjust the rise of the skirt to accommodate shorter or longer tops, or adjust the length to accommodate both heels and flats.

Making your pattern
Before you begin: if you suspect your fabric may shrink in the wash, then pre-wash and dry it before cutting. Also, the measurement guides below do not include a seam allowance, so please be sure to add one.
foldover waist skirt tutorial
A – Width of the waist. This depends on how stretchy your fabric is. If it only stretches in two directions (as opposed to 4-way), then orient the material so the stretch will go left and right across your waist. I suggest wrapping the material around your waist until it’s a snug fit, then measure the circumference and divide in half to get the waist measurement for the pattern. Note: when gripping the material for a snug fit at your waist, make sure to test whether it can still fit over your hips.

B – Width of the hips. I prefer my skirts to graze over the tush but not be curve-hugging. I took a loose measurement around the widest part of my hips, and divided it by half.

C – Width of the skirt opening. Take a generous step and keep both feet planted on the ground. Loop a measuring tape around both your ankles, and divide that measurement in half to get the skirt opening width. The flowiness of the skirt is up to you, but any opening narrower than this may be restricting when you walk.

D – Skirt length. Dangle a measuring tape from your waistline so that the end of the tape hits the top of your foot. I tend to add 3 to 4 inches to this measurement since the skirt can always be hemmed shorter once you try it on, but cutting the material too short leaves no recourse.

E – Waistband length. This depends on how thick you want the fold-over waist to be. If you want a 2” waistband, I would double that and add another 2” allowance, for a total of ~6” waistband length for the pattern. The foldover waistband area will be straight up and down, like a rectangle.

For reference, my skirt in this post measures A – 11″, B – 17″, C – 24″, D – 34″ (post-hemming) and E – 6″.

Now, time to make the skirt:

Step 1 – Pin your pattern to the fabric and carefully cut out two identical pieces. Using fabric chalk, mark the waistband line (where line A is on the pattern) on the fabric pieces.
foldover waist skirt tutorial1
Step 2 – Place the two pieces of fabric together with the “right side” facing inward at each other. Pin together down both sides, and stitch together. A serger is the easiest to use if you have one, but a straight stitch worked fine for me since I did not need this skirt to stretch in the up and downward directions. I did have to decrease the size of my straight stitch and lower the thread tension to get a smooth stitch.
foldover waist skirt tutorial2
Step 3 (bottom left) – Keep skirt inside-out. Fold down 1” at the top of the waistband so the right side of the fabric is showing.

Step 4 (bottom right) – Fold waistband over once again, this time down to the chalk line. Secure with pins.
foldover waist skirt tutorial3
Step 5 – Carefully turn skirt right-side out without stabbing yourself with the pins. Using thread that’s the same color as your fabric, stitch on the exterior of the skirt. Make your stitches right on top of the side seams (so your stitches are “camouflaged” inside the crack of the seam) down the length of the foldover waistband, plus an extra inch or two to secure it.
foldover waist skirt tutorial4
Step 6 – Hem skirt to your desired length. I used a blind hem stitch on my machine, but you can also do an invisible hem by hand.

Please note this is not the proper way to make a foldover waistband ski
rt, but I was pleased with the results. For those also without a serger machine or stretch stitch options, this design works because there is no stitching going across the width of the waistband to limit its stretchiness. The entire skirt took about 2 hours (including time for mistakes and re-do’s), and was even easier than the basic elastic-waist skirt.

In most of these outfit photos, my waistband is actually shown completely un-folded, since I wanted to cover up more belly to offset the cropped top. In the photo below, you can see it folded down 2″ on the far left:
coral maxi tops
I only planned on sewing a skirt, but couldn’t resist making use of leftover scrap fabric. These were some other top options I toyed with using the remaining fabric – which do you like best?

coral maxi2For anyone who decides to make a maxi skirt at home, please leave me a link or photo – I’d love to see it!
 

93 thoughts on “Tutorial: Easy fold-over waist skirt using stretchy/knit fabric

  • Mimi August 15, 2013 at 12:18 am

    ohmygosh, i died. this is amazing!!! you look great! 😀

    <3, Mimi

  • Valerie C August 15, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Love the third option best! This is great – saved for future reference, and I'll be sure to leave a link or a photo once I attempt the DIY. Thanks so much for sharing. The top + skirt is incredible!

    xo, Lily on Fillmore

  • Anonymous August 15, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I love the cross over top in the last picture 🙂 Could you post a DIY tutorial for that as well? The skirt is gorgeous

  • Crysta Superal August 15, 2013 at 12:41 am

    What type of strapless bra do you use?

  • Anonymous August 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Just marvelous! you looks so amazing….

  • yennie August 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

    wow, u look great! love it!

  • Mary Ann August 15, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Another excellent sewing post, Jean! I love the red on you. I wish I had more opportunity to sew this summer but I just moved and everything's a mess, plus I have multiple vintage dresses I still need to alter!

  • Catching Flight August 15, 2013 at 12:55 am

    That last picture is stunning! I love the pattern of the fabric. I actually really like the second top you made in addition to the one you're wearing.

  • Orange You Classy August 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

    this is beyond amazing!! i absolutely love it!

    http://oyouclassy.com

  • Anonymous August 15, 2013 at 1:23 am

    this skirt looks so cute! i was confused by step 5 though.. it sounds like you are stitching a long the side of the material and sticking down the folded parts? which doesn't make sense.. would you be able to reword it to make it a little more clear? thank you! (:

  • Lydia Chew August 15, 2013 at 2:05 am

    You look amazing! Just pinned an image so that I can try making one when (and if) I get my sewing machine and feeling adventurous 🙂 Thank you so much for awesome tutorials like this…

    Lydia
    doubleescapades.blogspot.com

  • Justine August 15, 2013 at 2:21 am

    the far right is definitely my favorite of the bunch!

  • A Petite Treat August 15, 2013 at 2:46 am

    That's amazing! I wish I could put things together like that! I love all three different tops and that fabric is beautiful!

    Jenn
    A Petite Treat

  • Carol Li August 15, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Thanks for sharing. Your outfit looks amazing. The pattern reminded me of a top I once had. I wish I could sew!

    http://www.petitestyleonline.com

  • GEMMA August 15, 2013 at 6:15 am

    You look so stunning! Nice combo:)

    HEY HEY! Come check out my blog: http://www.gemmamonclus.blogspot.com

    Love, Gemma

  • Jessica at Me Sew Crazy August 15, 2013 at 7:32 am

    gorgeous.

  • Jane August 15, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I don't like to gush but this is awesome. You look about 12 feet tall in this outfit.

    I happen to prefer the middle top because I think it's more versatile, permits a bra, and you'd be more comfortable in it. But the far right one is great for a party-type event.

  • Anonymous August 15, 2013 at 8:08 am

    How did you make the crop top?

  • Kelli @ Television in mirror August 15, 2013 at 8:19 am

    It’s amazing. I love this skirt. Your instructions are very clear. I want to make this pattern.

  • Krystal Troxel August 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • 7eventh Letter August 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

    GORGEOUS and the fact that you included the tutorial…I LOVE IT!!!!!

    7eventh Letter
    http://www.whatsmoreimportantthanfashion.com

  • Olivia J August 15, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Great post Jean! Love your DIY projects!

    Corporate Catwalk
    Facebook Page

  • Anonymous August 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    No offense, but I'm genuinely curious why you are posing on tip toes in all these pictures.

  • Jean August 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

    It just came about while wrapping the leftover fabric around so I'm not sure of exact steps, but will try to recreate it!

  • Jean August 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I wear the Little Bra Company Sascha with convertible straps – really like it!

  • Jean August 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Hi there – it's hard to describe, but just sew on top of the seams on the 'right side' of the fabric. I will try to take photos of the actual garment to help it be more clear : )

  • Jean August 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I started with two large rectangular pieces of leftover fabric and knotted it(knot goes over the belly button area), then criss-cross draped them and knotted behind my neck. I then sewed the back pieces together. Unfortunately didn't take photos b/c was just playing around and was not sure how it would come out

  • Jean August 15, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Krystal – thank you for saying hello! This year, I've found BR has been running smaller than both of those brands so maybe you will have better luck there.

  • Jean August 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

    It's not something I think about consciously…maybe my mom's myth of feet shaped by too much heel wearing has come true

  • Bytesize82 August 15, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Can you do a tutorial on the top?

  • Jessy August 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I love the knotted halter top that you came up with at the end. It's super cute! : )

  • pretty little things August 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

    this is gorgeous on you! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com

  • Isabella August 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Hi Jean, I'm enjoying your blog as it's always been hard to find petite, yet adult and professional clothes that fit me. Do you have any online fabric stores you recommend? It's hard to find fashionable, good quality fabrics in my area (no offense to JoAnn's…). Thanks!

  • Melissa Breau August 15, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Would love to see a tutorial for that top too!

  • Jackie August 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Oh! Another project I can try!I got a sewing machine for my bday 😀 I'm so excited to make things.

    Thanks, Jean! You look beautiful in it btw

  • rosanne August 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    There are many wonderful online fabric sellers: Mood Fabrics & Gorgeous Fabrics (amazing for designer yardage), FabricMart Fabrics (mix of discount & designer fabrics), Vogue Fabrics, and many others. Mood now has a Sewing Network of sewing bloggers showcasing what they have made using fabrics purchased at Mood (both their brick&mortar; stores in NYC and LA and online) that serve as great inspiration. Sewing.PatternReview.com is another great resource for reviews of sewing patterns (both commercial, free, and of tutorials) and also is a hub community for sewers. There are lots of resources for those who are interested in fashion sewing! Good luck!

  • Amanda Rollo August 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for this! On my first attempt at a stretch maxi skirt I used a straight stitch and learned my lesson. Wish I'd have seen your tutorial first! Love the fold over waist, btw.

    Amanda @ Running In Heels
    amandarollo.blogspot.com

  • Victoria Meyers August 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    thanks for the great tutorial! ive been wanting to make a maxi skirt (theres a great discount fabric store near my house that sells knits for $4 a POUND), but wasnt sure how to make a pattern for it. just what i needed!

  • The Fashion Pledge August 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Seriously, I'm in awe at your talent every.single.time! I don't even think I know how to DIY a single thing – really, I'm not exaggerating. My mom is SOOOOO good with crafts and DIY, yet I didn't get a single bit of that in my blood. Sad haha 🙁 Absolultely love what you did with it and I LOVE that print on you!

    ~Christine
    http://www.thefashionpledge.com

  • Anonymous August 15, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    I noticed the tip toeing too! You also cross your legs while standing up for a lot of your pictures. Here are a few examples..

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/9257669659/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/9417687125/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/9487956233/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/8974466597/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/8793713174/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/8650674212/

    Don't get me wrong you look great but always wondered if this was kind of trick so someone can look taller or leggier in pictures.

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