Short and Sweet: A Lovely Shirred Skirt Tutorial

Say hello to spring with this pretty and oh-so-simple shirred skirt tutorial. For garment sewers, now is the time we set our sights on making clothes for vacations to warm weather destinations. Our projects shift away from the heavy fabrics of the winter to lightweight and sheer fabrics, like chiffon, charmeuse, georgette and all kinds of flowy, drapable fabrics.

Here’s a lovely shirred skirt tutorial perfect for the approaching warmer weather!

Shirred Skirt: Tutorial on

This softly gathered skirt is done in a feather-light georgette that transitions beautifully into spring and summer. It’s uber-easy to make, needs no pattern, and, depending on body size and desired length, can be made with less than a yard of fabric.

It’s a great way to use of some of that fabric you have stashed away and is so simple you won’t need more than a couple of hours to complete it, making it a great evening or weekend project.

Another plus, it can be adapted to an endless number of variations. This one reflects the most basic style, but with a change of fabric, perhaps a longer length, it becomes an altogether different look. Add some side pockets, eliminate the top ruffle or add a ruffle to the bottom hem, and more variations emerge.

How to make a shirred skirt

Step 1:

It starts with two simple body measurements: your natural waist and desired length measurements. Where do you want the skirt to land? Above the knee, way above the knee, or somewhere below the knee? You get the picture.

The skirt is designed to rest at your natural waist, so measure from the waist to your desired length. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’re going to assume your waist measurement is 26”, and your desired finished length is 18”.

Step 2:

Now gather everything you need to make the skirt: approximately 1 yard of fabric, thread and 1” wide elastic that’s long enough to fit your waist.

Step 3:

Next, determine the fullness you want. The pictured skirt reflects a fullness of 2 times the waist measurement or 52”. Anywhere between 2 – 2 ½ times the waist measurement should suffice, but you can make it as full as you want.

Step 4:

Determine the working length of fabric, which in this case starts at 52” (2 times the waist measurement) and then add 1” for seam allowances which brings the working length to 55”.

Step 5:

Now determine the width of the fabric. Take your waist-to-desired length measurement, which in our example is 18”. Add 2” for a 1” double hem. Add another 5 ½” for the header, which includes the casing (1 ½” x 2), plus a 1″ header (1” x 2 ), plus a ½” hem. The total working width is now 29.5”.

Use Pattern Weights for Cutting Fabric

Step 6:

Cut out the required fabric based on the length and width measurement. For lightweight fabrics, pattern weights work best to keep the fabric from shifting about. Since you are cutting straight pieces, a rotary cutter is fast and also keeps the fabric shifting.

Sewing the Back Seam - Use a French Seam for Lightweight Fabric

Step 7:

Sew the back seam. Since we’re working with very lightweight fabrics, a French seam is best, but a serged seam will work just as well.

Make the Header

Stitch Top of Skirt, Leaving Room for Elastic

Press Top 1/2 Inch of Skirt in Place

Step 8:

Make the header. Turn the top edge of the skirt down ½” and press in place. Turn the top down again 2 ½”, press and pin in place. Stitch close to the fold leaving a 2” opening for sliding the elastic through.

Complete the Casing for the Elastic

Step 9:

Sew a row of stitching 1” from the top edge. This completes the casing for the elastic to slide through.

Optional: Create Rolled Narrow Hem Using Serger

Step 10:

This step is optional. If you want the top edge of the heading to feature the rolled narrow hem as featured in the photo, complete that task with your serger.

Step 11:

Wrap the elastic around your waist, give it a very gentle tug and mark the length. Using a large safety pin, slide the elastic through the casing till it comes out the other end.

Match up the raw edge to the marking. Overlap the two, stitch together, trim off the excess and slip into the casing. Close up the casing, and evenly distribute the elastic.

Stitching the Hem of Your Skirt

Step 12:

Hem the skirt. Turn up the hem 1” and press in place. Turn up another inch and press that in place. Pin in place and either hand stitch or machine stitch the hem.

Voila, you’ve sewn your own pretty gathered skirt!

If you loved making this skirt, then you’ll have even more fun making your own skirt patterns. Check out the Craftsy class Patternmaking Basics: The Skirt Sloper and become your own skirt designer!

What pattern fabric will you choose for your shirred skirt? Floral? Polka dot? Striped? Share in the comments section below!

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