Quick Weekend Project: How to Make a Simple Knit Skirt

Whenever I find a knit fabric I like, I purchase 2 yards, without a specific item in mind. Most times those knit fabrics become a top or T-shirt, and consequently there’s a small amount remaining — just the right amount for a simple pull-on skirt.

And just like that, I have a mix-and-match outfit that looks like a dress but has the versatility of separates:

stripe outfit mix and match

Read on for step-by-step directions for making a simple elastic-waist skirt with minimal knit fabric.

Step 1: Create the pattern

For this pull-on skirt, no pattern is required. Happily, making your own is very simple! 

  • Decide on the length of your skirt: Measure from your waist to that length and note the measurement. (Most knee-length skirts are between 18″ and 30″ long.) This will be the length of your fabric.
  • Determine the width: Measure your hips and divide this number by 4. Add 1″ to that number, which will take care of the 1/2″ seam allowances and the fit ease. This will be a close-fitting skirt, with 2″ of total ease above your hip measurement. Remember that every fabric behaves differently and if you want it to be a fit less fitted then add a little more to this number, perhaps another ½” to 1″.
  • If your waist measurement is substantially smaller than your hip measurement, taper slightly to the waist to reduce bulk around the elastic waist. You can taper in about 2″ at the waist going to zero at 10″ down from the top, using a curved ruler to get the right shape.

Step 2: Cut out your skirt

cut out skirt

Most knits are 60″ wide, so take advantage of that and fold both selvedges toward the center of the fabric, creating two folds. Place the skirt pattern on the fold, cut out one, and then flip it to the other fold and cut a second one. This creates your skirt front and back. 

Step 3: Press the waist edge

press waist edge

The channel for the elastic will be 1″ wide, so fold the upper edge of each skirt piece down 1¼” inches and press a crease. It is easier to create this crease when the skirt front and back are not sewn together.

If you want to serge the upper edge of the skirt you can do that now. I find most knits don’t fray and serging is not needed. 

Step 4: Sew the front and back pieces together

sew and trim waistband seam allowance

Stitch the two skirt pieces together at the side seams, with the right sides together using a ½” seam allowance.

Since the top edge will fold over and create the casing where the elastic will go, I like to trim the seam allowances down to about 1/8 in the waist section. This makes it easier to thread the elastic through once the channel is sewn.

Now the side seams are sewn together, so the skirt is basically a tube.

Step 5: Sew casing for elastic

Next, fold the waist edge down along the crease you made before. Stitch all around at ¼” from the cut edge. Leave a small section unstitched, about 3″, which you will use to thread the elastic into the casing.

I like to put pins with different colors or pinned in a different direction to remind me where to stop and start the stitching. It helps to remind you not to sew all the way around and leave no opening.

Step 6: Thread the elastic

insert elastic

Because we used a 1″ width for the casing, so I used ¾” wide elastic. I recommend using an elastic width that’s smaller than the channel — otherwise it is difficult thread the elastic through.

To determine the length of elastic to use, measure your waist and then add 1″. In the next step, you’ll use a bit of that extra inch, and the rest allows for the bulk of the gathers around the waist to fit comfortably. If you prefer a very snug waist, you can cut the elastic shorter. 

I use a big safety pin on one end of the elastic and just work it through until it comes out the opening. Try to keep the elastic flat and not twisted as you thread it through.

Step 7: Connect the ends of the elastic

stitch ends of elastic together

Once the elastic is threaded through the channel, pull it out a bit on each end. Pin the ends together, overlapping slightly, and stitch them together. Stitch over it multiple times to make a strong seam — you might find that using a zig zag stitch works well here. 

Step 8: Stitch the waistband channel closed

 sew waistband channel closed

Now that the elastic is threaded through the channel and the ends are stitched together, stitch the small opening by connecting the existing stitching .

Step 9: Hem the skirt

hem the skirt

The last step is to hem your skirt! Turn, press and machine stitch. There are many ways to do this — here are five different options to consider.

green knit outfit
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