DIY Sewing Tutorial

DIY: Easy Cotton Skirt Tutorial

Originally published 7/28/2017

I love sewing. It’s legitimately one of my favorite things to do. I hardly do it as much as I’d like because of two main reasons: 1) it can be time-consuming and 2) it can be costly. Since I reeeeallly broke my sewing machine back out of the box last year a month before my little one was born, I’ve learned so much more about constructing clothing and the different types of fabrics best suited for it. Others who have been in my shoes are probably all too familiar with this phase of learning–scouring Pinterest and Google for tips, tutorials, and free patterns. There are so many Facebook groups for PDF patterns and fabric, so many fabric creators, sooooo much I never knew existed. But let me tell y’all…these prices!!! I see some of the most gorgeous fabrics in regular groups and destash groups, but can never seem to accept the $16+/yd plus shipping (and I think I’m lowballing a little on the starting price there). There are groups that run their knits around $7/yd plus shipping, but they’re usually very feminine, and I’d like to shop affordably for both kids, not just one.

JoAnn’s is the only fabric store local to me that I have easy access to. They carry a line of knit for kids called Doodles, which is mostly interlock (if I recall correctly). In my experiences with it, it shrinks a crap ton, but as long as you buy a little more than you need and prewash it, it’s alright for kids clothes that will be worn 6 months or so before they’re outgrown or destroyed. I have purchased a few of these prints, but my store still feels very limited and the prints get a little played out seeing everyone in my sewing groups with the same (read, cheap) mindset as me cycling through the same 10 fabrics.

One thing I’ve always noticed in JoAnn’s is their abundant supply of quilting cotton. There’s a wide range of quality throughout, some being thicker, having a greater weight and hang, and a nice stretch. Others are thinner and more see-through. The thing about this cotton is that there are SO MANY OPTIONS. Some are printed with licensed characters, novelty prints, baby prints, floral prints GALORE and I always find that I’m drawn to them. So, when I have some extra money, I buy a few yards of my favorite prints with my 50% coupons (which is a bonus) and hope I can come up with something adorable to make.

When I get home (and prewash…always prewash your fabric before starting a project), I start looking through my patterns to figure out what I want to make with said fabric. Aside from a few special occasion dresses I have purchased (but haven’t yet made) from Violette Field Threads and the Samantha Suspender Skirt from Made for Mermaids, ALL MY PATTERNS ARE FOR KNIT FABRICS!!! Every now and then I can modify parts of patterns to use solid knit (very easy to acquire) and complete the look with a woven fabric. That doesn’t always work, though, depending on the pattern type.

I promise, the back story was necessary to get to the point of the tutorial. I wanted to make my daughter a Super Mario Bros. skirt and either kept finding knit I couldn’t justify the price for or the licensed woven they sell at JoAnns. I went ahead and grabbed a yard this past weekend and after not finding a pattern or tutorial to suit my needs, decided to just make my own skirt from scratch based on my knowledge of how some of my dress patterns construct the skirt portion. I love how simple it was to make and decided to make another one to photograph the process and share! Soooooooo, let’s get started!



  • 1 yard of 100% cotton fabric (novelty, quilting, whatever you like)
  • 3/4 OR 1 inch elastic cut to your child’s waist measurement
  • coordinating thread


  • sewing machine (with zigzag stitch function)
  • tape measure
  • rotary cutter or scissors
  • iron
  • safety pin or elastic threader
  • ruler or hem guide
  • serger (optional)
  • pins or clips (optional, I like to live on the edge, haha)

-To know

  • 1/4 inch seam allowance
  • my daughter’s waist is 21″ and I wanted the skirt length to be roughly 16″

Prior to starting, my fabric was already pre-washed and ironed to make sure that the finished product won’t shrink and to ensure that the fabric is smooth for cutting. I left my iron on so that it was ready for pressing in a couple steps. The iron thing is rare. I’m a short-cutter, so when sewing for my kids, I RARELY iron while sewing. Gotta look more pro for this tutorial and whatnot.

I wanted this skirt to be a little full and have a gathered look, so I used the entire width of fabric (WOF, which is selvage to selvage and 42″ in my case. If you want the skirt less full or are making it for a smaller child, use less of the WOF). Since a yard is already 36 inches, I folded it in half and simply cut on the folded edge to have two rectangular pieces that were (roughly) 18 inches in length. The length can always be trimmed, but keep in mind that hemming and creating the waist band will cause you to lose another 2-3 inches, depending on your methods and elastic size.

I trimmed off the selvage edges before continuing. (Okay…I trimmed off a selvage edge…only the one with the writing. The other will be covered by serging.) Putting my two fabric pieces right sides together, I serged straight down the edges to close them on each end. You can zigzag or use an overcast foot to finish it off if you don’t have a serger.

Serge around the waist and bottom to finish the edges (or again, zigzag).

Since I’m using 1 inch elastic, I measured from the waist 1.25″ and folded over, ironing all the way around to create what will be the casing. If you’re using 3/4 inch elastic, fold over 1 inch.

Straight stitch the casing closed, with the exception of an inch or two that you leave open to feed the elastic through. I always like to do this in the back, just in case I don’t get 100% lined up with the previous stitch it won’t be super noticeable. You will close this after you have finished sewing your elastic closed.

Go ahead and thread your elastic through, bunching your fabric up as you make your way through the entire casing.

When you arrive back at your starting point, overlap the elastic about 1/2 an inch and zigzag over it a few times, making sure the elastic feels secure.

Finish stitching the gap you left open earlier in the casing.

Time to hem. Depending on the overall style you’re attempting to achieve, this can be done in a couple ways. Sometimes I serge around the raw edge and leave it exposed, like I did on my daughter’s Emoji dress and the Super Mario Bros. skirt. For this floral fabric, I felt it would be prettier to actually hem it by serging the raw edge, folding over, pressing, and topstitching around. You can also double fold & press, then topstitch. The choice is yours!

Grab your super adorable model, have her twirl, and snap some pics. You’re all finished!

Did you use this tutorial to make a skirt? What fabric did you choose? I’d love to see what you came up with! Tag me on Instagram @sincerely_shantelle

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