Make a draped skirt with this easy tutorial complete with pictures
Hey y’all – I hereby declare this the month of skirts! To kick things off I’ve got a draped skirt tutorial for you. This is a lightweight knit ankle length skirt that hangs open to about the knee with an elastic waistband. No zipper needed for this easy to sew skirt! I have worn it both as you see in these pictures and as a swimwear cover, so it’s a great piece to have.
We were lucky to take a trip to Puerto Rico a couple of months ago, and though it was very, very humid and hot, I really loved the architecture and color in Old San Juan. The saturated pinks, blues, yellows and green make my neighborhood look boring by comparison. Wandering the cobblestone streets felt a lot like wandering a European city even though we were still in the United States, and I was glad to have both a breezy skirt and comfortable pair of shoes while we looked around.
This skirt is made with a knit fabric that I used on the cross grain because 1)it had a little vertical stretch 2)I liked the stripes running in this direction. I believe this fabric was a viscose/nylon blend. I also really liked the drape of this stretch fabric.
Draped Skirt Supplies and Pattern
To make this skirt, you’ll need
- Main stretch fabric – at least 2 yards, more or less depending on your size/desired length
- 1/4 yard of knit fabric for the waistband
- 1 yard of 1 1/2 inch wide elastic
Cut 1 or two pieces of fabric so that you end up with a flat piece of fabric that is your desired length and 3 times your natural waist measurement. Make sure that the squarish part of the skirt below is enough to fit around your hips. If you’re pear shaped, you might need to make your skirt piece more than 3 times your waist to make sure that the square part is at least the same measurement as your hips. Also remember you can seam pieces of fabric together to get the width you need if your fabric isn’t wide enough.
Need some guidance about lengths and other skirt measurements? See this post on how to sew skirts – there’s a chart in there you can download. You can make this skirt in any length from mini to midi length to maxi, so that chart might be helpful to figure out lengths.
Once you have your fabric, you’ll want to shape it like the image below, cutting half the skirt into a point and rounding off the other bottom corner.
You’ll also need to draft and cut out a waistband piece. Cut a piece of knit that is 4 1/2 inches tall and the same length and your waist measurement. This piece should stretch lengthwise.
How to Sew Your Skirt
First, you’ll want to hem before moving on. Sew a rolled hem all along the edge with red lines on the drawing of the skirt panel above.
That long triangular extension piece is what we’ll gather up to form the draped front of the skirt. I didn’t bother with gathering stitches, I just hand pleated and bunched the top edge of the extension, pulling it up to be even with the top of the rest of the skirt, as shown below.
When you’re done, that edge should look like the image below. You can either baste or pin these gathers in place. Note that I wore this skirt at my high waist. Depending on where you wear the waistband, you might want to do more deliberate pleats and press them flat with a warm iron before stitching them down to reduce the bulk at the center front.
Now fold the skirt, wrong sides together, so the gathered/draped edge is on top of the flat edge of the skirt and they overlap about 4 inches at center front. There’s a picture of this step above and a diagram below to help make it clear. Pin the front layers together and baste the overlap.
At this point the skirt is still wider than your waistline. Attaching the waistband will gather that in.
Sewing the Waistband
Fold the waistband in half, right sides together, matching the short edges. Sew from the top edge down 2 1/2 inches, backstitch, lift the needle and move the fabric 1 inch, then put the needle back down, backstitch, then sew the last inch of the seam.
Fold that waistband into a loop, wrong sides together and matching raw edges. Press. Pin the waistband at the center front, back and sides to the skirt, right sides together. Stitch through all layers (skirt and both waistband layers) stretching the waistband to match the width of the skirt. Insert elastic through the hole you left in the center back seam.
Use a hand sewing needle and a blind stitch to sew the opening in the waistband closed.
And you’re done! Find some brightly colored walls and go pose like a tourist. Or add a variation – a ruffle detail along the hem edge would be cute, or you might want to turn the skirt to the side so that instead of opening to the front you have a side slit.