DIY: Simple skirts for little girls

When I was in Amsterdam with Esther last month, we sat down one evening to make some cute stripy skirts for the girls. (I should clarify – I did a bit of ironing, and Esther did everything else!!). She whipped up three skirts in one evening and I was so super impressed with how quickly you can have results! The girls were wearing their new skirts the following day! Esther explained the simple steps to me… but of course, like with anything else, you can’t fully learn how to do something unless you really sit down and do it yourself. So I was determined to come back to London, buy some cute fabric and learn by doing.

My mom is here visiting us so I figured it was the perfect timing to do so. Together we set up my sewing machine and sat down one evening for a little sewing session. It is surprisingly easy! And I must say, quite addictive!

I thought I would share the steps for how to make a super simple elastic waistband skirt (taught to me by Esther). My sewing lingo is very basic, so I’m not even sure if I can properly explain it… but I figured my basic steps might be helpful for other beginner sewers.

  1. Cut the length of fabric you think will be suitable for your child’s height. (I’ve made a few skirts now for Ivy and I think my favourite length began with a 46cm length of fabric. The length of the pink skirt in the photo below is longer, roughly 52cm). Remember to wash the fabric first so you know how much it is going to shrink (or allow for shrinkage if you don’t wash it first).
  2. The width of the fabric will become the waist/width of the skirt (the elastic will determine the size of the waist, determining how much fabric gets scrunched by the elastic). Widths of fabric differ – the wider the fabric, the fuller the skirt will be. (The floral Liberty print skirt pictured above has a 135cm or 54″ width.)
  3. Fold your fabric width-wise with the inside of the fabric on the outside, matching up the two outside edges. Sew a basic seam along this edge (about 1.5cm from the edge). Now you will have a loop of fabric with one seam. (You can iron the flaps of the seam down so they are flat against the fabric – this help keeps things looking tidy and also helps when sewing the hem and waistband over the seam.)
  4. Create a hem at the bottom by folding the bottom edge up (about 1cm) once and then folding again (about 2.5cm) to create a neat hem (where you don’t see any of the unfinished edge). Iron the folds, and pin the folding down so that it stays straight and in place. (You can measure while you do this to ensure the hem is straight and remains the same thickness all along the bottom). Then sew the hem in place.
  5. Create a waist band by doing roughly the same thing as the bottom hem (only it can be thinner, about half the width of the hem). I’ve been using elastic which is 9mm wide, so I just need to make sure the waistband is wide enough for the 9mm elastic to fit through easily). Iron the folds and pin down so that it stays straight when you sew it. Sew it together, leaving a small gap at the seam of the skirt for you to get the elastic band into the waist.
  6. Insert the elastic into the waistband using a safety pin pinned to the end of the elastic. Work the elastic all the way around the waistband and cinch up to your desired waist size (make sure the elastic doesn’t get twisted). Sew the elastic together so that it makes a loop within the waistband.
  7. Finish the skirt by sewing shut the gap of the waistband.

And that’s it! It’s so basic. The skirt consists of one seam, one hem and one elastic waistband. Easy peasy! I hope my instructions haven’t confused you. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments section below.

x Courtney


Comments (8)

May 10, 2013

Beautiful! I love it, thanks for sharing! can’t wait to try myself….

May 10, 2013

Wonderful!!! Thank you so much! They look fabulous!

May 10, 2013

Brilliant, thanks Courtney! x

May 10, 2013

Thank you so much Courtney! I definitely try it, this sunday it’s my birthday and I will recive a sewing machine. Happy weekend to all of you! xx

May 10, 2013

Thanks Courtney for the instructions, I’m passing them on to my sister who is mum to a two toddler girls.

May 10, 2013

Oh my gosh, these skirts bring me back. My girls are now 10 and 13, but I used to make these simple skirts all the time. They had so many…and always wanting to match them with the strangest choice of tights. I loved those days. Enjoy! And thanks for the nostalgia 🙂 xo Bar

Esther in Amsterdam
May 14, 2013

I’m so happy you tried this yourself now, because it is truly easy, isn’t it? (I actually think the ironing is the hardest part!)

April 16, 2015

I love this post (found the link from your recent post). I am new to sewing and would love to make this skirt for my 4yr old who loves a skirt that spins. Thank you for the clear instructions for a beginner.

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