Child’s Skirt Tutorial for Sewing BEGINNERS! :)

                CoupleJones Skirt tutorial

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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.

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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.

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Next, fold your fabric in half as shown below, with the inside out.

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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.

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Always make sure your presser foot is down before you start the machine. CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial4

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Once you get the elastic through as shown below, pin both edges together so that they lay flat.

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Pull the elastic clear of the fabric and stitch a line on each edge of the elastic so the extra doesn’t flap up.

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Now close the gap that you left open for the elastic.

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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.

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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.

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Sew along the hem

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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.

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Matched with a spunky pair of cowboy boots, this is a pretty cute skirt! :)

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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!

Leave a comment


  1. Carol McMillan

     /  January 18, 2013

    Emily, you’re amazing! I love your sewing lesson for beginners! Way to keep it simple and explicit enough to take away beginner’s fears. Very inspiring!

  2. Thank you Carol! That is so sweet! I hope I made it simple enough to encourage others to give it a try! :)

  3. Kelly

     /  January 18, 2013

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff
    from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

  4. Anonymous

     /  January 20, 2013

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great
    author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back someday.
    I want to encourage you continue your great writing, have a nice day!

  5. Great!!!

  6. Kim

     /  March 12, 2013

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I am just waiting for my daughter to get home to measure her waist for the elastic. I am SUPER excited! This is my very first article of clothing that I have sewed for my children and so far it looks great! I’m so proud of myself and now have more confidence to continue making more projects for them! Thanks again!!

  7. new follower, thanks for the pattern!

  8. This is really good tutorial! I’ve tried to make mine myself and it’s really easy to follow your instructions! Thanks & good luck :)

  9. Great and simple. Are we supposed to finish the seams.

    • Thank you! You can finish the seams if you would like to. My goal with this tutorial was to create an easy starting place for the most beginning sewer so some of those steps are left off in favor of keeping things as uncomplicated as possible :)

  10. MWHenleu

     /  July 26, 2013

    This is great! I have sewn a few simple skirts but I still get intimidated, especially when tutorials use complex terms and numerous steps. I would rather have a simple understanding, then “fine tune” my work as time goes on. For me to enjoy sewing, I need the freedom to “go” without a ton of constraints and steps to follow. Otherwise it feels too constricting instead of creative and fun. This is exactly what I love! Thanks!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you like it! I am the same way – lots of rules kind of ruins the fun for me :) I thought maybe just giving people a basic first step would help instill confidence and give them the encouragement they need to take that first leap into sewing! :) Thank you for your feedback!

  11. Heidi

     /  August 5, 2013

    Is that a knit you’re using here? I’ve never been adventurous to sew with knits because I’ve heard it can stretch out of shape on the machine. Curious to know if you feel it’s easier than that.

    • Hi! It is knit….if you are sewing something for the first time, I would recommend starting with a basic cotton with less stretch than knit so that you can get the feel of sewing first. But sewing knit isn’t too hard, you just have to make sure that you aren’t giving resistance against the pull of your machine when the fabric is being pulled through the arm. Start simple and then get more adventurous as you feel comfortable! :)

  12. blaanca

     /  August 10, 2013

    well done, a cute result. thanks for your work!

    maybe you’s dike to sew a dress for you, this may be your inspiration

    warm regards

  13. Dawn Nelsen

     /  August 14, 2013

    I’m confused by leaving all the edges raw that they would unravel after being washed or tugged on? I tried to cut my fabric with my pinking shears but i guess the fabric was too thin so it didn’t work. I am hand sewing it; but I don’t mind a extra step if it will help it last. Any help would be great. Thanks

    • Hi! I would definitely double over any of the seams that you are able. When I wrote this, it was geared for someone who had never sewn before and just needed a simple, quick place to start. So I included just the most basic steps needed to get a project successfully finished. For what it’s worth, I used a cheap cotton fabric and didn’t do anything differently than what you see and I haven’t had any problems with unraveling. But you are completely right, it depends on the thickness of the fabric and if you feel comfortable adding the step of the extra seams you should go ahead and do that. Hope that helps!

  14. Twila

     /  September 2, 2013

    This was soooo very helpful….thank you!! :-)

  15. Kirsty Milne

     /  January 16, 2014

    I am about to try this as my first piece of clothing. If my daughter’s waist is more than 18″ (1/2 yard) do I still make it with half a yard or measure to her waist? I wasn’t sure whether the elastic would sort this or not.

  16. Kirsty Milne

     /  January 16, 2014

    I cut my material and there is no way this is going to fit my girl. Even if I left a huge slit down the leg it still wouldn’t go round her, and that;s with me adding a few extra inches. It would be a super tight straight skirt. Where have I gone wrong?

    • Oh i’m sorry! Without seeing it, I’m not sure what happened. My daughter was 6 when I made this for her and there was plenty of fabric to go around. Possibly you cut down the wrong way of the fabric. I had my fabric laid on the table with the fold on the short length of the material on the far left of the piece. Sorry it’s not working out…the fabric circle should be around 1.5 the width of the person you are sewing for. Hope that helps!

      • Kirsty's Milne

         /  January 17, 2014

        Thanks for your reply. I have since learned that the yard measurements relate to off the roll. I did not realise until I read up on it. Haha beginners eh. Sorry for confusion. I did not know what I was doing.

  17. Chrissy Dilley

     /  January 25, 2014

    I just made my first skirt ever, and I only had to pull one seam! Thank you for such clear instructions, they were very easy to follow.

  18. Kori

     /  February 13, 2014

    Hello, will you clarify the exact measurements of a half yard of fabric? I’m a confused beginner. Thank you!

  19. My 8-year-old granddaughter and I just completed our first skirt. A wonderful way for me to share my interest in fabrics, color, and easy fashion with a very motivated young lady. We used a lightweight paisley corduroy that Grace loved at first sight. She’s actually wearing the skirt to school tomorrow, paired with a roomy sweater and leggings. For most of the process, I guided the fabric under the needle while Grace controlled the pedal. Thanks so much for this easy-to-follow project.

  20. kleine kleinigkeiten

     /  April 20, 2014

    looks a million dollars!


  21. orla malone

     /  May 9, 2015

    made this skirt for my 3 little ladies, it looks so good on, im delighted with them, thanks so much for a fab clear tutorial :)

  22. Tracey Roberts

     /  January 1, 2016

    When measuring the waist elastic, do you stretch the elastic to git the waist comfortable? I know it sounds dumb, but I am new to sewing clothing. Thanks so much!

  23. mary

     /  May 27, 2016

    Making a skirt on monday using your instructions. I think this seems simple enough for me. Thanks for the direction, I am excited!

  24. Alma

     /  February 13, 2017

    How do u know the width? Does it matter what size it would be?

  25. C

     /  June 21, 2017

    Hi! I know this is an old tutorial, but it’s so cute! I’m super new to sewing, and I don’t quite get where you are leaving the gap for elastic? In the middle of the skirt? How does it wrap around? I’m so confused! 😬

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