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


61 thoughts on “Tutorial: Easy DIY Elastic Waist A-Line Skirt w/ Pockets

  • MollyRancher April 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    This makes it look so easy! I'm just getting into sewing/alterations, so this would be a good project to try. What kind of fabric did you use? Just normal cotton stuff on bolts, like at Joann, or is that too stiff for a garment?

  • Vivien April 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I've been following your blog for awhile and probably first time I'm commenting! Can you please do a post on how you gained your blog followership online?

  • PetiteAsianGirl April 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Molly! I used a polyester material that turned out to be a little wrinkle prone. Sew Petite Gal did a post on fabric selection here http://sewpetitegal.blogspot.com/2013/03/sewing-101-fabric-selection.html

  • QueenLina April 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm
  • Fauxionista April 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the helpful tutorial! Bookmarking this for my first ever sewing project when I start. 🙂


  • Anonymous April 7, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Jean!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this DIY!! I am so excited because now I am going to make a few skirts using your tips! You are so inspiring!!! Again, thank you for sharing!

  • Holly April 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Thank you Jean!!!!! Gonna try this soon!

  • eqr April 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Jean, would you mind telling me where you bought the belt? it is very nice! 🙂

  • lin April 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    great tutorial, jean. you make the steps simple and easy to follow. i'm going to have to try this. 😉

  • Mary Ann April 7, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Great job, Jean! If you're interested in trying zippers next, I find, surprisingly, the invisible zippers to be much easier to install. You have to have an invisible zipper foot, though. Anyways, the skirt looks great!

  • Franziska April 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you!! I just got a hold of my mom's sewing machine yesterday so I think next weekend will be the time to try this out. I can't wait to see how it turns out 🙂

  • Christina Chen April 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Wow you are so talented! Thanks for sharing this!

  • gloyahh April 8, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Thanks for the tutorial, the pictures are great! I've got my eye on some fabric that I really want to try this with. =)

  • mila April 8, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Jean, what are the shoes you are wearing? They perfectly match the color of the bag.

  • mary @ B&G JOURNALS April 8, 2013 at 10:39 am

    thanks for the step by step—especially regarding the pockets, which is something i would definitely want but would have probably skipped out of intimidation. i've got some stellar fabric i've been needing to find a use for, and this project looks perfect. thanks for sharing all your crazy talents with us 🙂

  • winkingannie April 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

    What a great tutorial! I have a quick question to clarify the width measurement. You said "If you want the same approximate fullness, take your waist measurement, divide it in half, and multiply it by 1.9".

    Doesn't this make the width smaller than my waist? If my waist is 24 inches, then (24/2) x 1.9 = 22.8. So my width would be an inch smaller than my waist, which seems wrong? Am I reading something incorrectly?

  • PetiteAsianGirl April 8, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Hi Mila – they are the J.Crew mona pumps

  • PetiteAsianGirl April 8, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Whoops, just updated with a clarification – take your waist circumference measurement, so just like you did, but the resulting figure is only for the width of one panel of fabric (aka half of the total circumference for the widest part of the skirt). So with your measurements, if you use a panel of fabric that's about 22.8 wide, it will give you a total bottom circumference of about 45 inches around after the two pieces are sewn together.

  • Printingtextil Natasha April 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    CcUTE SKIRT! Veeery easy to sew! Thanks

  • andrea April 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Such an easy tutorial to follow! Can't wait to try it out…THANKS!



  • Helen Le Caplain April 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Great tutorial, will be giving this a go when I next have a day to myself 🙂


  • MIH Janise April 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    This is a great tutorial. Will definitely have to try. Please stop by my site at http://mamainheels.com/2013/04/08/giveaway-signature-henri-bracelet-seen-on-celebrities/ when you have some time. I'm giving away a signature bracelet seen on celebrities by Henri Lou.


  • Anonymous April 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Jean! I have an unrelated to this post question, if you don't mind? 😀

    I noticed you often wear the AT perfect pumps, and I was wondering which size you usually take them in? Do they stretch out a lot over time? I was wondering if I should go a full size smaller? I'm in between size 8 and 7.5, and took a 7.5 in the AT Factory Pumps which fit perfectly at first, but noticed a heel gap and some looseness just after 1 day of wearing and now I'm worried they'll stretch out even further. Should I take a 7 next time I purchase?


  • Corbin Page April 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    This looks adorable on you! I've been wanting to finally use the sewing machine I got for Christmas the other year/learn to sew and you make it look doable!


  • mila April 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm


  • Sincerely Sammie April 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I think it's awesome that you make some of your own clothes! I REALLY want to start making my own because it looks like such a fun project. Great job on this skirt.


  • Janki April 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Love it! I have started on my alterations pile and am adding this to my creation pile. Now, I just need some time where the kids are gone so I can do it. I have to thank you again for showing this. A year ago, I never would have though I'd have my own sewing machine (no matter how basic) and know the basics of sewing.
    I have been shying away from many blogs because of their over-consumption which fuels this sense of needing "more". However, you show how to make things work for our body types, how to be creative, and how to use what you have!
    Keep it up… this was another great post.

  • Janki April 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    I'm the same and got the 8 and even with the heel grips, sometimes they are too big! (so sad, since they are so wonderful). I do think they stretch out a lot, so next time, I would try the 7's. Just make sure you can fit into them so it isn't painful.

  • Victoria Meyers April 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    cant wait to try this, looks like the perfect project to work through all my vintage fabrics.

  • Shopaholic lama April 9, 2013 at 12:20 am

    love the way ….and u look amazing ….hey im kinda new here..i need some followers

    please do follow me,will follow u back thanks

  • Cherrysberryshop April 9, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Can you dis youtube tutorial on this?

  • Megha Varshini April 9, 2013 at 9:40 am

    absolutely love this….

    Stilettos Diary

  • ....... April 10, 2013 at 1:17 am

    wish I had a sewing machine so that I could do this project. absolutely gorgeous on you too. hope I can do something like this sometime soon! xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @ http://www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

  • Joanne Ku April 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    so talented jean! love the print you chose and i will def try this project on the weekends 🙂

    xx, joanne


  • Dee April 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    You make it look so easy!!! I know for sure that I can't even get the pockets right!!


  • Maria April 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for this tutorial, it's really useful! I tried it on an old dress I didn't wear anymore and I sewed a wonderful skirt with elastic band!

  • Alexa Gao April 14, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Hi Jean, thank you for the tutorial! Should I make the back piece slightly larger then the front piece considering our nature curve?

  • gebe1 April 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I love the purse in these photos! What is it?

    Also, have you heard of Miche bags? (I'm not selling them or anything) I just discovered them and LOVE mine and thought you might be interested.

  • Gabby April 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I used this tutorial and made a really great skirt for summer! I posted about it on my blog and linked to this tutorial. Thank you so much!


  • Gabby April 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    The blog link is to the post that I linked back to this post in! (Sorry I just saw your blog link disclaimer and didn't want you to think I was being obnoxious!)

  • Surf Jewels May 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Thanks, I just made a great skirt with this pattern. Much easier than I had anticipated to make pockets, so thank you.

  • Anonymous May 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I just made this and it worked out great – the first piece of clothing I've ever attempted. Thanks for the excellent tutorial!

  • Amanda Ellenberger June 4, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I have already made this skirt and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it! It's such a nice and easy project. I'm planning on having a sewing day with some friends and having them each make this skirt. Thank you so much for the great tutorial. I mentioned your pattern on my blog here: http://browniesandburgers.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/happy-quilthappy-me/

  • Anonymous June 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  • Erin @ Sassin Southern Style July 7, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Jean, thank you so much for this tutorial. I saw it last night and made it this afternoon. Here is an Instagram pic. Thanks again, I love it!

  • Anonymous August 4, 2013 at 8:20 am

    This is great, but I would've loved to have seen the actual waist as you tried on your skirt and not have it covered with a belt. Just to see how it looks when one's wearing it.

  • Anonymous September 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm


    Though I wouldn't be described as "petite" by a long stretch, this guide was most helpful as I have a skirt I used to wear when I was (MUCH) heavier. I'm basically re-cutting it, and I needed a reference for the gathered elastic waistband. I'm leaving out the pockets, the original skirt had ones like your guide, but I didn't care for them. THANKS FOR THE GREAT HELP!!!

  • Anonymous November 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Hiya on step 10 were you sewing on top of the elastic or under it?

  • Anonymous March 9, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for the posting! I found some great material that I want to make into a skirt that already has an elastic waste band, so hopefully I can follow your steps to add pockets!

Comments are closed.