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I have several friends who are learning to sew right now – and I LOVE it! Sewing is such a fun skill to have, it opens so many possibilities creatively. My mom taught my sister and I and a bunch of my friends to sew when I was in the 5th grade. She ran a little sewing school in our basement as a way to make a little extra money as a stay at home mom. My sister and I still talk about the culottes we strutted proudly in the fashion shows we had at the end of each sewing session. I made a nautical themed vest and culotte matched set once…yeah…and THEN I wore it to Jr High. I was SO cool. If only the other 6th graders would have realized it.
Through the years I’ve been so thankful for the skills I learned back then and I’d love the chance to be able to help someone else learn.
I thought I’d do a quick tutorial on a SIMPLE girl’s skirt. This is a basic skirt, no frills or extras but it’s a great place to start. Once you get this skirt down, you can start mixing it up – this is the same style of skirt that I made when I made my New Year’s Sparkle Skirt. Same skirt, more extras! :)
OK, First, you will need a half a yard of a basic cotton fabric. Don’t go fancy with your first few projects. Stay away from knit. Once you get these skills down and are more confident then you can go for it with whatever fabric you feel up to trying – but for now – let’s stick to the basics.
Because this is a child’s pattern, you should have enough length with a half a yard to go around the child’s waist completely with enough to have some gather. The smaller the child, the more full the skirt will be.
You will need a yard of elastic – I would recommend at least a half inch wide elastic so that your waistband will be less likely to roll. Also, scissors, straight pins, and thread. I will be using dark thread so you can easily see my seams but you should use thread that matches your fabric.
Start by trimming the selvage edge off the sides of your fabric. This is the edge that has been treated so it won’t fray and usually it will have the brand info on it and sometimes it has little holes in it and is a different texture than the rest of the fabric. So we want to get rid of those suckers.
Next, fold your fabric in half as shown below, with the inside out.
A few things to make sure you know before sewing the first seam. You should use a straight stitch for your first few projects, until you get the hang of it or are directed otherwise by your pattern. AND every time you start or end a seam, you should reverse a stitch or two and then continue on your way. This makes it so the seam won’t unravel. Again, there are exceptions to this rule later on in sewing but for beginners, it’s a good practice.
Sew a straight line on the side of the fabric that is opposite and parallel from the fold. You want to sew at least a half inch away from the edge so that you give yourself a little space to work with.
Next, fold over the top of the fabric circle in a fold wide enough to encompass the width of your elastic with a little wiggle room. Pin in place – make sure you only pin the fold to the first level of fabric and not completely through both layers.
I laid my elastic on top of the fabric so that you can see below that I made my fold wide enough to fit the elastic as well as give myself enough room for my seam. Sew along this line, but do not close the seam completely around the waist. Leave about a 3-4 inch opening so that you can slide the elastic into the waistband.
Now you should measure the waist of the child you are sewing for and cut your elastic to size, adding a half inch extra so that you have room to stitch the two ends together.
This is a trick I use to thread my elastic through – USUALLY I use a safety pin, but I couldn’t find one and had to use a paper clip instead. Not as “official” but whatever works. Use the safety pin to thread your elastic through…make sure you don’t let the other end of the elastic to slip into the waist band. Hold it or pin it to the fabric so that you can sew the edges together when you are done threading the elastic. Be careful that you don’t allow the elastic to twist as you thread it.
Once you get the elastic through as shown below, pin both edges together so that they lay flat.
Pull the elastic clear of the fabric and stitch a line on each edge of the elastic so the extra doesn’t flap up.
Now close the gap that you left open for the elastic.
You should now try the skirt on the child…I can’t tell you how many times I try to eyeball things because it’s a pain to try clothes on kids, and whatever I am working on ends up weird. It’s better to actually see it on and see how it hangs so that you know for sure what length you want it to be.
Leave the skirt inside out so that you can just fold up and pin one pin at the length that you want the skirt to be when finished. Don’t try to pin more than that when the child is wearing the skirt. Pins & kids do not go together.
Once you have the length figured out, take the skirt off and pin it the whole way around the hem. It might be helpful to iron your fold at this point so that the fabric lays flat.
Sew along the hem
Your skirt is finished! Way to go! Once you get this style mastered, you can add ruffles or color blocking to the hem or use more adventurous fabric, whatever you want.
Matched with a spunky pair of cowboy boots, this is a pretty cute skirt! :)
I hope this tutorial helps – if you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will help as I can. Have fun!