Tag Archives: diy

A simple skirt tutorial

Orange skirt

Want to make a cute super-easy-to-style skirt out of three rectangles (technically four if you count the interfacing, I guess)? I made two versions of this Very Simple Skirt™(blogged here and here) and several people had asked for a tutorial (which I promised ages ago and I apologize for the wait!) so here it is!

This skirt method is pretty simple; it only requires three pieces of fabric, all of which are rectangles. There’s a bit of math involved though (and some eyeballing), which I know is definitely not my best friend so if you’re confused about anything please ask!

I also wanted to introduce my newest sponsor: Moxtra. For someone who learns visually, this app is a godsend. You create “binders” of photos that you can then doodle, write on, and add voice notes to, and then send to friends or share with an audience. You can see my Moxtra binder for this skirt tutorial (with extra notes and doodles!) here.

Let’s do this!

-Fabric (see step 1)
-Tiny bit of interfacing (for waistband)
-Zipper (mine was 7″ but you can use whatever length you like)
-Snap closures
-Some minor math skills
-1/2″ seams, which I realize isn’t a supply but I thought I should mention that’s what my math and I are using

1. Fabric – The amount of fabric depends on two things: how long you want your skirt and your waist measurement. My skirt used about a yard of 60″ wide fabric and I had some leftover. I recommend using something more substantial that can hold the shape of the pleats, although if anyone tries this with something lightweight I’d love to hear how that came out!

Simple skirt tutorialSimple skirt tutorial

2. Measure your waist – Measure your waist where you want the top of the skirt to sit. Add 1″ for seams and 1/2″ for the extended tab. (I usually like to make it several inches longer and then trim down, but if you’re confident about your waist measuring skills then 1.5″ extra is all you should need.) Where I wanted it to sit was 27″, so my waistband piece would be 28.5″ long.

3. Prep the waistband – I like to keep waistbands at around 1.5-2″ tall. If you want to go any taller, you should probably make it curved to accommodate your actual body curves, otherwise it’ll sit funny and wrinkle (unless you’re making something high-waisted or if you’re less curvy). That means my waistband piece is (1.5″ x 2 because of folding it over) + 1″ for seams, which equals 4″ tall, which means the rectangle measures 28.5″ x 4″.

Once you have your waistband cut out, cut out a rectangle of interfacing that is the same length but only half the width of your waistband (so mine was 28.5″ x 2″) Iron that on to one half of the waistband.

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Once you have that ironed on, fold it lengthwise with right sides facing and sew it along the long edge and one of the short edges. Make sure you leave one short edge open! Once those are sewn, trim the edges of the sewn short edge as shown, and turn the whole thing right side out. Iron it and set it aside.

4. Cut the skirt pieces – I love the more polished effect of the pleats, so I did two on either side in the front, and two on either side in the back. To figure out how wide the skirt rectangle will be, we’re going to add the width of the waistband plus the extra width required for the pleats. Since there’s a front and back, we’re going to do the math and then chop it in half to have two rectangles for the skirt (front and back, with side seams).

I did 1.25″ pleats, and since each pleat requires 2.5″ of fabric, 2.5″ x 8 total pleats equals 20″. Since there are two skirt pieces, each is half the waistband (half of 28″ is 14″) + half the extra for the pleats (half of 20″ is 10″), which is 24″. The length of the skirt is whatever you want it to be. I like mine a little shorter so I went with 17″. So my skirt pieces are each 24″ by 17″.

I’m going to be honest though, if you’re off by a little bit it’s not going to make much of a difference. This is moreso to give you an idea of how big to cut your skirt pieces. Also the math part is over. Yayyy!

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5. Sew the skirt pieces – Take the two skirt pieces and hold the right sides together. Sew one of the side seams (the shorter ones) together and then zigzag (or serge if you’re fancy!) to finish. Leave the other side open! Now would be a good time to finish the rest of the edges.

Simple skirt tutorialSimple skirt tutorial
6.  Prep the waistband – Grab the waistband piece. It should be right side out and ironed and one end should be open. Now we’re going to check the fit. Tuck the open end inside itself 1/2″ and pinch it shut. Stick a pin there. Wrap it around your waist, preferably over a top for more realistic fit. It should overlap only 1/2″ over itself but if it’s more, adjust to your liking by tucking more of it inside itself. Mark the other waistband end where it’s overlapping so you can tell where the skirt pieces should start (you don’t want the skirt extending all the way to the end or it’ll overlap too). I mark things with pins, apparently. In retrospect I should’ve used chalk so you could tell which end was the overlapping end (blue pin) and which was simply being held closed (black pin).

Simple skirt tutorial

7. Pin the skirt to the donkey waistband – This is where it gets fun. Fold your waistband as shown (above) and measure/mark the center (make sure the extended tab is extended!). Then find the 1/4 way points and mark those.

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Now pin the skirt center (where the seam is) to the center of the waistband. Fold each skirt side edge over 1/2″ for the seam allowance and then pin one skirt edge flush with the edge of the waistband, and the other skirt edge to where the mark for the extended tab is. I pinned it so the skirt piece overlapped the waistband by 1/2″.

Simple skirt tutorial

8. Pleats! – Once you have the skirt pinned to the waistband in sections, it should be pretty easy to make your pleats just by eyeballing it. They don’t necessarily need to be centered in their quadrants either. I like to have the pleats farther apart on the front of the skirt and closer together in the back. You can also play around with which direction the pleats face. On one of my skirts, I did sets of three smaller pleats in the front and sets of two in the back. Play around with placement and direction until you find something you’re happy with. Make sure it’s symmetrical and pin it down across the entire waistband.

Simple skirt tutorial

9. Ignore my questionable topstitching – Once everything’s all set and pinned, topstitch the bottom edge of the waistband to the skirt at about 1/16″ from the edge or whatever you prefer.

Once that’s done across the whole edge, I like to swoop around and just topstitch the whole edge of the waistband, but that’s optional.

Simple skirt tutorialSimple skirt tutorial

10. Attach the zipper – I’m weird. I like to attach zippers by hand. Attach yours however you prefer, just make sure it starts at the skirt part, not the waistband part. The waistband part will be held together by snap closures.

Simple skirt tutorial

Once the zipper is attached, go ahead and pin the rest of the skirt side under the zipper together and sew it down to the hem.

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11. Hem – As I mentioned earlier, I usually cut skirts a little longer and then hem them to the length I want as the last step, so for this one I hemmed it 1.25″. It tends to prevent scary accidents that leave you wondering why your perfectly measured skirt is showing off your lady bits. Plus this way if you find yourself wanting to become more conservative later on, you can always lengthen your skirts. (I’ve never actually done this, I’m just speculating).

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Now just iron everything! (Or curse profusely at your poly gab for refusing to obey the iron.)

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12. Skirt changes color Attach snap closures – Funny story, I realized as I was nearly done with the skirt that I had either lost or completely run out of all of my snap closures. I wanted to be sure to show the placement so I just grabbed my previous version of this skirt and photographed that. Kind of looks like Halloween when you put them next to each other.

Andddd we’re done!

Orange skirt

Please do comment or email with any questions, especially if something doesn’t make sense. And definitely link me if you decide to make one, I’d love to see!

Happy sewing!



This summer I visited my sister and she handed me a monstrosity of a garment and asked if I wanted it.

I glanced at the bubble skirt, the white and silver buttons that completely clashed with the beigey material, and winced. But then I noticed the adorable collar detailing, remembered that skirts can be de-bubbled, and wondered how it might look with different colored buttons and snatched it up.

The first thing I did was to cut off the bottom panel making it a bubble skirt. I had some navy blue satin lying around from a failed project that I cut long rectangles out of and sewed on as a colorblock panel, wrong side out, since the satin was too shiny and fancy to go well with the beigey material.

Then I removed the buttons (and used them on my minty Kelly skirt, actually) and reattached navy ones to match the color block.

It’s so satisfying making something you love out of something hideous.

Shoe rescue – Part 2

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Don’t you love it when you order something fully expecting it to take 635 business days to arrive or some nonsense and then three days later it’s snuggled in your mailbox just waiting for you?

I do.

When we last left off on the fascinating saga of my Lottas, they both looked kind of like the one on the right.

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I was kicking myself for not buying the silver ones, so when I started looking into how to brighten up my blue ones with shoe polish, it suddenly occurred to me that I could just change the color of mine instead of buying a whole new pair. A few Google searches led me to discover Angelus acrylic leather paint, which I bought in silver.

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Make sure to clean your shoes before you start painting!

Although it does come with a handy dandy brush attached to the lid, I recommend pouring some into a small dish and mixing in a small bit of water to thin it out a little. You do have to apply a few more coats this way but they’ll look more even. I also found it helpful to paint it in sections and dry each section with a hairdryer as I went along. Something about the heat melting the acrylic onto the leather for better hold?

I ended up doing about five coats of watered down paint.

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After the paint dries you’re supposed to polish them but all I had was some leather lotion so I used that. And now they look like this!

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And now I can’t wait for spring so I can wear them with pretty floral dresses. And shorts. And basically everything.

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I think maybe next year I’ll paint them red.

Shoe rescue – Part 1

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You may recall this lovely pair of Lottas that I got last summer. In fact, they’re even featured in my blog header.

Except you might have noticed that they’ve faded quite a bit.

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Yikes! And sad 🙁

What also kind of sucks is that I ordered the wrong size so they’re a bit too big on me, which was fine until I broke them in and the straps became too loose for them to actually stay on my feet. Double sad.

I had toyed with the idea of cutting out a part of the strap and then sewing the ends together to shorten the whole thing, but these are one of my favorite pairs of shoes (although realistically, which ones aren’t?) and I have no experience working with leather so I was very wary.

Today decided to just go for it. Either I leave them alone and pretty much never wear them or I completely screw them up and they become unwearable. Or all goes well and I end up with a gorgeous pair of sandals that actually fit!

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I essentially put the shoe on, pulled the strap outward, and cut the strap right where it hit the center of my heel. I then took a 1″ piece of elastic and sewed it onto one cut side of the strap, then to the other, creating two X shapes when they’re lined up. It would be a good idea to reinforce this with something iron-able or fray check or possible some sort of leather glue.

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This is what it looks like from the back. Not too shabby, right? If you’re really worried about aesthetics, you could even glue something decorative there to cover the stitches.

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Next up, dealing with the color fading issue. But I have to wait for supplies to come in the mail.

I hate waiting.