Tutorial: Easy DIY Elastic Waist A-Line Skirt w/ Pockets

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I’m looking forward to making this style skirt again with spring/summer-appropriate fabrics, and think it’s a great easy project for beginner sewers to try (and inexpensive – cost me about $5 total). Please note that I am not an experienced sewer and these steps may not be technically correct – I usually take garments I own and try to trace back the steps to recreate them. For this skirt, I used this J.Crew skirt as a guide and added a few inches to the length and width for a fuller A-line shape.

You will need:
– 1 – 1.5 yards of fabric depending on the size of the skirt, and if you want pockets. I used 1.5 yards.
– Piece of soft elastic – at least 1″ wide and long enough to fit around your waist.
– Sewing machine (my Brother is very old and discontinued; this is the most similar model), scissors & thread.

1. Cut two rectangular pieces of fabric for the front and back of the skirt. My rectangles were 21″ long x 23″ wide, for a skirt that ended up being 19″ long x 22″ wide at the bottom.

Length: However long you want your skirt to be, add about 3 inches (~ 2″ allowance for a waist “casing” to conceal the elastic band, and ~1″ allowance for the bottom hem). You can always hem the length shorter after trying it on.

Width: Depends on how full you want your skirt to be. For my skirt, I nearly doubled my waist measurement. If you want the same approximate fullness, take your waist circumference measurement, divide it in half, and multiply it by 1.9. This will be the width of your rectangular pieces of fabric.
DIY elastic waist skirt tutorial
Pockets (Optional): Fold your fabric so that the patterened sides are facing inwards at each other. Draw out and cut 2 sets of ear-shaped material as shown – 4 pieces of fabric total for the pockets.

2. Lay out your fabric pieces as shown, and pin the ears about 4″ down from the top edge. It’s hard to see in the photo below, but I also took chalk and marked “F” for front and “B” for back in the corners of the rectangular panels, and also “FL” on the front left pocket, “FR” on the front right pocket, and so on, just as notes for myself when I assemble them together.
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3. Stitch along where my yellow pins are shown – down the entire length of the straight edge of the pocket. Repeat for each pocket. Whenever you stitch a line, make sure to backstitch when you begin and also when you finish, to keep the thread from unraveling.

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4. Iron down the newly-stitched seams of each pocket, as shown:
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You should now have two continuous pieces of fabric, shaped like rectangles with pocket ears on each side.

5. With the patterned sides of the material facing in towards each other, lay the front and back panels down on top of each other and pin the left and right sides together. If you omitted the pockets, all you need to do is sew straight up and down both sides. If you have pockets, the white dotted lines below show where you should be stitching. When stitching, leave an opening along the side seams big enough for your hand to fit through comfortably (I left a 6.5″ long hole).
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Close-up of where to stitch:

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6. Next up, the waist band. Fold over half an inch along the top and iron it down. This will tuck away the raw edges of the fabric.

Next, fold the top of the waist over again and iron. If your elastic band is 1″ wide, then you should fold down about 1.3″ of material. The elastic band should fit easily inside this “casing” we are making.
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7. Stitch down the casing we just ironed along the bottom edge. Make sure to leave a small gap to feed the elastic band through:
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8. Wrap an elastic band around your waist until it’s tight enough to hold a skirt up, but still comfortable. Add one inch as an allowance for when we join the two ends together, and cut the elastic to this length. I made the mistake of making my elastic band exactly the same as my waist measurement – the resulting skirt feels a little loose and will have to be fixed. Ideally I should’ve made the waistband of my skirt about 2 inches more narrow than my actual waist measurement, because the elastic has good stretch.

Start feeding the elastic band through the casing. Pinning a safety pin to one end of the elastic makes it easier to feed through the narrow casing. Pin the tail end of the elastic to the casing opening so it doesn’t get pulled in as well.
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9. After the elastic has gone through the entire casing, securely stitch the two ends of the elastic together. Try on your skirt to make sure the waist fits like you want it to, then stitch close the casing hole.
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10. The elastic band may not lie flat once inside the casing and start to twist and flip around. To prevent this from happening, you can add a stitch or two to the outside of the waistband to secure the elastic down to the fabric. Because the fabric is all scrunched and gathered, you need to use both hands to stretch the elastic out evenly, so the fabric lays smoothly when being fed through the machine.

Don’t rush this part or you may end up with fabric that’s gathered unevenly along the elastic waist band. Stretch a few inches of elastic out with the fabric, stitch evenly, and pause. Stretch out the next few inches, continue stitching, and pause again.
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11. Try on your skirt, then hem the bottom to your desired length. Finish by ironing down all seams. If you don’t have a serger, you can try a zig zag stitch along the raw edges to help avoid fraying, or just fold the edges thinly twice and stitch them down.

Voila! Finished skirt, that can be easily changed up with any color or patterned fabric to suit your tastes and the seasons. I hope to try a zippered skirt next, but for beginners, you can’t beat the ease of working with elastic.
equestrian print skirt

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