One of the many reasons I love having a daughter is because I get to experiment and make her fancy outfits. Mama has huge hips which make it a bit difficult to fit into otherwise adorable clothing. But with a 6-year-old frolicking about I can just make everything for her and feel satisfied.
I’ve been slacking on the family traditions department, so for Easter this year I decided we would all dress up and head to a rather large egg hunt at our local church. I have been wanting to make Miss Gaia a patchwork skirt for quite some time, so when I stumbled on the perfect fabrics for such a task I knew it was meant to be. You guys voted, so a stripwork skirt it came to be.
I am in love! This is one of my most prized creations to date, folks. It wasn’t too much trouble, the measurements were nearly perfect (I did have to rip a few seams and add more ruffle), and it’s the perfect balance of colorful and unique that my daughter likes when it comes to her elementary fashion demands.
And yes, it was easy. If you’re new to sewing this would be a great project after your pillows and pillowcases! Just pick up a copy of Sewing School 101 and arm yourself with simple tips to save you time. Sewing School 101 starts at the beginning, coaching readers in a friendly way through easy lessons in learning the basics of sewing. It’s a great resource to add to your arsenal!
I forgot to take photos of the stripwork skirt process, but the steps are fairly simple to piece together once you have your measurements. So here’s the breakdown:
Step 1: Gather supplies.
Depending on who you’re making the skirt for and the length you’re comfortable with, you’ll need about 1/4-1/2 yard of each fabric. I made mine reversible (meaning the skirt is just as pretty inside out), so I used nearly an entire yard of my floral print. All patchwork skirts look better with at least 4 different coordinating fabrics. Choose fabrics that speak to you, ones that reflect your style. Pre-wash and dry. (This is for two reasons: 1. Your fabric is easier to work with and 2. Your finished product won’t warp when laundered.)
You’ll also need 1″ non-roll elastic.
Tools include sewing machine, thread, ironing board, iron, scissors, and pins if you choose.
Step 2: Get your measurements.
Measure around your subjects waist. For reference, my 6-year-old daughter had a 24″ waist.
Measure the length. For reference, I wanted a knee-length skirt so I got 13″.
Step 3: Cut the fabric.
Add an inch to your waist measurement and cut the elastic this long. I cut 25″ of elastic.
Multiply your waist measurement by 1.5. Using my measurements I got 36″. I then cut 36″ by 3″ of a fabric I thought would be suitable as a waistband. Set aside.
Now, for the strips first decide how wide you want them. I cut 28 strips (8 of each of my 4 fabrics) of fabric that were 2.5″ by 13″. This gave me 70″ of stripwork fabric before seams. I wanted to take into account seam allowances for all sides and still wanted rather thick strips. Since I was also going for a super fun ruffle, I figured twice of my waistband would suffice. I simply rounded to have a complete stripwork pattern.
You’ll have to play with your numbers. If you’re making a skirt for a bigger waist, consider making the strips wider.
If you’re going to be making yours reversible like I did, measure and cut those pieces later. I cut two pieces that were half the length of my finished stripwork body (before joining the ends together) plus one-half inch for seam allowance.
Step 4: Sew.
- Begin by sewing your strips of four fabrics together in whichever pattern you desire, lengthwise. TIP: Alternate busy fabric with simple patterns. For my skirt I started with a busy floral fabric, then a coordinating dot followed by a damask, and finally the diamonds. You can do it however you want, but keep in mind how patterns and colors match up. It helps to lay them out and plan ahead.
- Join your stripwork body into a circle by sewing the first piece to the last piece.
- Once you’re finished with your stripwork body, decide if you want your skirt to be reversible. If so, lay the stripwork body flat and measure it. Then cut two pieces of the underside fabric adding about one-half inch to the width for seam allowances on each piece. (I use a fat 1/4 inch seam for most of my projects. I’m just that kind of gal.) Sew those pieces together lengthwise on either side.
When you have two circles of fabric 13″ long (using my measurements for reference) stuff one inside the other right sides together. Sew the bottoms using a basic top stitch. Then turn them inside out and press flat. Sew again along the bottom with a top stitch, this side along the right side of either side. This creates a nice solid hem.
If you’re not making your skirt reversible, simply fold the bottom edge under and press. Fold it under again and press (hiding the raw edges). Sew along the top of your hem to create a nice, neat finish.
- Now you’re going to create the waistband. Fold the waistband strip in half and press wrong sides together. Fold up on each long side about 1/4″ and press. Sew the raw edges of the short sides together.
- Take your waistband and pin the back to where you want your back to be on your stripwork body. Then pin the front. The waistband is smaller than the skirt body, so it’s normal to be confused or frustrated. Simply continue to pin opposite sides into the waistband to create the ruffles of the skirt. Start with the front and back, then each side, then between each section, and between those sections, etc. until you have pins about an inch or two away from each other and the raw edges of your skirt body are all completely hidden and secure within the waistband.
- Starting about an inch to the side of your back-center pin and along the pressed hem of the waistband, sew a top stitch all the way around, stopping an inch away from the back-center pin on the opposite side. You should be left with a 2″ gap in the back. This is for the elastic.
- Feed your elastic through the back gap. I secure a safety pin to one side and feed it through that way. One you make it completely through, take both ends of elastic and overlap about and inch (maybe a little more) and pin. If your model is available check the fit. Make the elastic more snug if necessary. Secure the elastic overlap by sewing a topstitch back and forth (using the reverse button) several times. Remove the pins. Tuck the elastic inside, reposition any ruffles, and finish the waistband seam making sure to backstitch over the original beginning and ending stitches.
Hopefully that was clear. If you feel lost, don’t fret! Remember, I wing most of my projects and am always improvising. Focus on the outcome, take breaks, and don’t lose hope. Also, seam rippers are handy little tools…
Step 5: Finish.
Put your skirt on, or hand it off to your intended subject, and prance around! Not only to you (they) look fabulous, but you made this! Super easy, super fun! Also, if you managed to get the measurements down you’ll have a great skirt for twirling!
Don’t you just love the fabrics? I got the featured prints from Marie Madeline Studio as part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle bonus offers. You can find out more about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and the included perks by visiting my introduction post (opens in a new window).
Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this post, nor was I compensated. This post does contain affiliate links and I will generate income if you make a purchase by clicking links in this post. Thank you for supporting Atta Mama!