Hey y’all, today I have a SUPER easy skirt tutorial. I’m going to show you how to sew elastic thread to make a stretchy, shirred waist skirt.
These are awesome because they’re easy, you can make them in any size or length, and you only need 2 supplies – your fabric (I used Tree Fleur Voile by Francis Newcombe) and elastic thread (affiliate link).
A note on fabric – you don’t want to use anything too heavy for this – the elastic won’t be able to gather or shirr heavy or stiff fabric enough to hold it up.
I’ve got a video tutorial on how to do this below. If you prefer the written tutorial just scroll on by the video. And if for some reason the video won’t play, you can also watch it on YouTube here.
So first sew your skirt panel into a loop with the circumference equal to 1.5 times your waist measurement. You may use one panel folded in half or two panels sewn together at the sides, depending on the length/width you need. Finish these seams. Then fold the top edge of the skirt 1/4 inch to the wrong side twice to form a very narrow hem. Press and stitch the hem in place.
To sew with elastic thread, first load a bobbin with it. I used this elastic thread (affiliate link); I’ve also heard good things about the Guterman brand elastic thread.
Many tutorials on sewing with elastic thread tell you to hand wind the elastic thread, however I’ve always had better results on my drop in bobbin machine by using the machine to wind the elastic. Some say that side loading bobbin cases are the ones that should be hand wound, and that may be the difference.
Your upper thread will be the regular thread you use, and it should match your fabric since you’ll be sewing right side up.
Next, when you load your bobbin in your machine, you want to make sure you’ve pulled the bobbin thread up through the throat plate. To do this, hold the upper thread in one hand and hand crank the machine. Sweep a pair of scissors under the presser foot if your hand won’t fit.
Finally, lengthen your stitch to the longest one your machine will do and leave your tension set to normal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a technique I really encourage you to practice on a scrap before attempting it on a garment. You’ll want to know which winding method works better for your machine, and also how much your fabric will shrink when steamed. So I would suggest cutting a 10 inch wide scrap and practicing the stitch, then steaming and re-measuring to figure out how much it will shrink.
Then all you have to do is sew lines on the skirt for about 3-5 inches from the top edge. Overlap each line a few stitches and then pick up the needle and presser foot and move the fabric over to stitch the next row. I use the edge of my presser foot as a guide to line up each row.
As your fabric starts to gather, make sure to stretch it flat as it goes under the needle. You don’t want to sew pleats into the fabric, you want the elastic thread to do the work.
Leave long thread tails to tie them on the back side of the fabric.
When you are finished sewing the lines, tie off your thread tails, then steam the elastic thread to get it to shrink up.
Add a hem to the bottom edge and that’s it – stretch and wear!
Get access to my free pattern gallery - sign up for my newsletter!