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!
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  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Super thrilled to see you in the windows at LOFT Times Square!!! You're famous! Sorry about the poor picture – was trying to take it quickly before all the tourists got in the way.


    Posted 8.19.13 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Wow this is stunning!! Absolutely beautiful!
    I saw another person asked what bra you used and you said you used the Sasha, can I ask what size you wear in tlbc? In one post you mentioned 30a but you also had a review of the angela in 32a so I was getting confused. So do you wear 30 or 32a in tlbc? The reason I'm asking is it seems I'm quite similar sized to you and I've been wondering about tlbc bras. Also, just in general, with your outfits do you usually use pushup bras or just plain ones?

    Posted 8.18.13 Reply
  3. Hi Jean,

    I think I read about 2/3 of your blog yesterday after stumbling on it… yesterday. Your blog is awesome and very unique. I love the emphasis on fit and you illustrate it so well with your before and after pictures. Your graphics are really helpful too. And you're super pretty and have a great figure. I think you can definitely do some professional modeling like someone else said in the previous comments!

    And of course, your style is super classy and classic but modern, stylish, unique, creative, and awesome. I enjoy the before/after alterations posts the most, especially the Burberry ones cuz I'm a Burberry fan even though I own no clothing from them (one… day…). I'm really glad you post so detailed about your struggles with the tailors because I know it's really difficult trying to tell someone to do something exactly how you want it without feeling bad. But I've been inspired by you to not be a pushover, insist on getting what I want, and… get my clothes tailored.

    To actually reply to this post: Awesome maxi skirt tutorial. You look so long and lean wearing it! And the third top is definitely the best. Your sewing skills are great!

    — Thoa

    Posted 8.17.13 Reply
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    But what is the point? No one really stands like that in real life.

    Posted 8.17.13 Reply
  5. An Nicole wrote:

    Congratulations Jean on being the face of Loft Petites! You look amazing in the photos and outfits!


    Posted 8.16.13 Reply
  6. PER-FE-CT!!

    your sewing tutorials are the best!!
    now please, please, please do a skater skirt tutorial!!

    Posted 8.16.13 Reply
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean, what did you wear under the skirt to make it look so smooth. Thanks

    Posted 8.16.13 Reply
  8. I'm a photographer and always pay attention to how Jean poses. I find her posing to be very similar to how I coax my clients to pose during a photo session. I love the photography on her blog for many reasons including her posing. I think her boyfriend (forgot his name) does a great job and she could definitely be a professional model. She is a natural in front of the camera and believe me, it's harder than it looks and there are plenty of people who can't do it.

    Posted 8.16.13 Reply
  9. peony wrote:

    Gorgeous outfit!! I was wondering how you generally use the zig-zag method with a straight stitch on the edges of your non-stretchy fabric (I just started sewing). Do you zig-zag all of the edges and do a small fold-over hem which you sew with a straight stitch? That is what I have been doing but the fabric continues to lose small amounts of thread unless I am able to zig-zag the very, very edge of the fabric. Thanks so much!!

    Posted 8.16.13 Reply
  10. Amazing job Jean! I love the option you chose best – seems to fit with the laid-back beach scene best. The material is very eye-catching as well!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    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..







    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.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  12. 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!


    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  13. 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!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  14. 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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  15. rosanne wrote:

    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!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  16. Jackie wrote:

    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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  17. Would love to see a tutorial for that top too!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  18. Isabella wrote:

    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!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  19. this is gorgeous on you! xo


    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  20. Jessy wrote:

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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  21. Bytesize82 wrote:

    Can you do a tutorial on the top?

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  22. Jean wrote:

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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  23. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  24. Jean wrote:

    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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  25. Jean wrote:

    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 : )

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  26. Jean wrote:

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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  27. Jean wrote:

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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  28. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  29. Olivia J wrote:

    Great post Jean! Love your DIY projects!

    Corporate Catwalk
    Facebook Page

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  30. GORGEOUS and the fact that you included the tutorial…I LOVE IT!!!!!

    7eventh Letter

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  32. It’s amazing. I love this skirt. Your instructions are very clear. I want to make this pattern.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  33. Anonymous wrote:

    How did you make the crop top?

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  34. Jane wrote:

    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.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  35. gorgeous.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  36. GEMMA wrote:

    You look so stunning! Nice combo:)

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

    Love, Gemma

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  37. Carol Li wrote:

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


    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  38. That's amazing! I wish I could put things together like that! I love all three different tops and that fabric is beautiful!

    A Petite Treat

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  39. Justine wrote:

    the far right is definitely my favorite of the bunch!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  40. Lydia Chew wrote:

    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…


    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  41. Anonymous wrote:

    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! (:

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  42. this is beyond amazing!! i absolutely love it!


    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  43. 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.

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  44. Mary Ann wrote:

    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!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  45. yennie wrote:

    wow, u look great! love it!

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  46. Anonymous wrote:

    Just marvelous! you looks so amazing….

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  47. What type of strapless bra do you use?

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  48. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  49. Valerie C wrote:

    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

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply
  50. Mimi wrote:

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

    <3, Mimi

    Posted 8.15.13 Reply

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