Ode to a Simple Skirt

Over the last 3 years I’ve sewn a lot of things for Miss E.  While she happily wears pretty much anything I make her, there is one pattern that gets worn more than any other.  It’s not really a pattern, it’s Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial.  Her skirt tutorial is one of my all-time favorites!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve made nine simple skirts for Miss E over the last few years.  She loves them.  They’re comfy, colorful, easy to put on, and given the choice they are what she will wear on any given day.  In the summer she wears them with t-shirts and Salt Water sandals.  In the winter she wears them with leggings, sweaters, or long-sleeved shirts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are so easy to make, easy to embellish, and they require very little fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe simplicity of the pattern allows you to add little details and make variations to the basic pattern.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis patchwork version of the Simple Skirt is Miss E’s favorite among favorites.  I made it on a lark at the beginning of the summer.  I had a bunch of scraps leftover from some projects I had completed and I decided to patch them together to make her a skirt.  It ended up being a little shorter than I wanted, so I finished the hem with bias tape.  It was a happy accident because I like the bias tape even better than a plain hemline.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis skirt was washed and worn every week for the entire summer.  It seemed like a good time to make her another.  While I was at it, I thought I would write up a quick tutorial for turning a Simple Skirt into a Patchwork Simple Skirt.

Start by reading Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial.  She does and excellent job of explaining how to draft a pattern and construct the skirt.  Before you begin, use Dana’s formula to figure out the length and the width of your skirt.  This tutorial will simply show you how to assemble the patchwork part of the skirt.

Next, go through your scrap fabric and choose a handful of fabrics that look good together.  I’m using 14 different fabrics but you can use as few as 7. Using 7 fabrics will mean that you will have to use each type of fabric twice, maybe more depending on the size of the skirt.   As you can see, I chose a wide variety of patterns in green, orange, and purple hues. With one pop of turquoise, because turquoise is always a good idea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to the fabric you will need a sewing machine (obviously), a cutting mat, with a cutting ruler, a rotary cutter, 3/4 inch elastic, bias tape, and pins.


Start by ironing all of your fabric.  While this might seem obvious, it’s actually an important step.  When cutting with a mat and rotary blade, it’s important to have smooth, crisp fabric.  Otherwise your lines will be wobbly.  Wobble lines = not good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALay the fold of your fabric along one of the horizontal lines on your mat.  Using your ruler and rotary blade, trim the edge of the fabric so that it is straight and perpendicular to the folded edge.  You’re just getting a straight edge so you can begin to cut your fabric into 3.5 inch strips.  After you’ve trimmed the vertical edge of your fabric, move your ruler 3.5 inches to the left (line you ruler grid up with the grid of the mat) and cut.  Continue to cut 3.5 inch strips with the rest of your fabric.   We aren’t going to worry about cutting the length of each strip at this point.  Just be sure that each individual strip is several inches longer than you want  your skirt length to be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to know how many pieces you need to cut, just take the waist measurement, double it, then divide that number by 3.  That will give you approximately the number of strips needed for your skirt.

Miss E’s waist is 19 inches, double that and I get 38 inches.  Divide 38 by 3 which (when I round up) means I need to cut 13 strips.

This is what your fabric will look like once you are done cutting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext I lay them out in the order I want them to be sewn.  Right now we are only working on making the width of the skirt.  I’m not going to cut the length of the skirt, until all of the strips are sewn together.  By waiting to cut the top and bottom edges of the skirt, it will give me a more accurate rectangle.

I begin by sewing the strips from left to right.  I take the two strips that are on the far left, I pin them right sides together, and sew along one edge of the strips using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI use my serger to sew the fabric together.  A regular sewing machine works just fine but be sure to zig-zag the edges of the fabric before you sew them together, to prevent fraying when the skirt is washed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Once the fabric strips are sewn together, press them gently open.  Don’t be too aggressive with your pressing or you will warp you strips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAContinue to take the next strip to the right and pin (right sides together) to the raw edge of the last strip you sewed.  Be sure to press each strip as it is added before adding another. Keep adding strips until you have reached the length you need for your skirt.  As you can see from the picture, when I pin the strips together I try to keep the top edges of the strips sort of even.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what it will look like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the picture above you can see that the top edge of the strips are sort of even but the bottom edge is very uneven.  That’s okay.  We’re going to straighten out the top and bottom edges next.

Now you want to fold your skirt in half right along one of the seam lines. Line that seam up with one of the horizontal lines on the cutting mat as shown (at the back) below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALining up your cutting ruler edge with one of the vertical lines on the mat, trim up the edges, making them even.  Be sure to get all of the edges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now your ready to cut the length of the skirt.  Cut the left side of the rectangle to the length of your skirt.  Using Dana’s formula, I know that I want Miss E’s finished skirt to be 13 inches long.  So I add 1.5 inches for the elastic waist band which means that the width of my skirt will be 14.5 inches.  So I measure 14.5 inches to the left, line up my ruler and cut.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what the finished rectangle will look like.  Use the rest of Dana’s tutorial to assemble the skirt.  Last, add the bias tape around the bottom of the hem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here’s the finished product.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaking the patchwork version is more work, but I think it’s worth it.  Miss E certainly thinks it’s worth the work :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course you could always turn a polka dot into a daisy.  Miss E thought it was a pretty neat addition.

15 thoughts on “Ode to a Simple Skirt

    1. April Post author

      You really should Shannon! The mat and cutting ruler is such a time saver. I think you’ll be surprised how ofter you end up using them.

  1. Beth

    lovely easy tutorial….should make on for Sarah…scraps abound at my household, and sometimes I seem to get them airmail from Del Rio….hehe =)

  2. Michelle

    This is absolutely darling! I love seeing patchwork things like this and always shrink in fear when it comes to put things together. My confidence with fabric patterns is completely lacking. Maybe that’s why I have boys. :)

  3. Amber

    i must say every time I see one of your seeing projects I tell myself I’m going to learn to sew!

    someday…. someday! :) ))

    adorable, as always.

    1. April Post author

      You are a busy momma! But when you do learn to sew I know you are going to be a natural. You have such and eye for color and design Amber!

  4. Shelley Smucker

    How LOVELY! You are so talented. Of course that might not mean much coming from me, a VERY inadequate seamstress.:( But I have big hopes and dreams to learn to sew some day, and I would love to sew for my two little ladies! Maybe this will motivate me to try. :) Thanks for sharing!!

    1. April Post author

      I hope it does!! This really is so simple, especially the plain Simple Skirt. Thanks for visiting Shelly! I had so much fun scrolling through your blog the other night!


Leave a Reply to Shannon Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>