How To Craft – Sew an A-line Skirt (in 1 Afternoon!)

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It’s hot. I mean, really hot. And I get tired of wearing jeans. And I don’t own any light-fabric, easy-going-long skirts that are perfect for summer. So, I made one. And you can, too! The fun thing about this skirt is you can make it for a toddler or all the way up to women’s plus size. It’s all the same pattern. And, don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of experience. If you can sew a basic line on a sewing machine, you are fully equipped to make this A-line skirt.

A-Line Skirt

Experience level – Beginner
Supplies –

For pattern – Measuring tape, straightedge ruler, pen, paper cutting scissors, tape or staples and 2 paper bags or wrapping paper or brown package mailing paper.

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For skirt – 2-3 yards of washed and dried (to allow shrinking) fabric (depending on how long you want your skirt) (If you’re making a skirt for a small person, measure the length, double that number and add 3 inches. That is how much of a yard you need.) and matching thread, 2-3 yards of matching double-fold bias tape, good fabric cutting scissors, no-fray sewing glue, pins and a large safety pin. EDITED TO ADD – For this skirt, the fabric should be a lighter flowy cotton and not a stiffer fabric like shirting fabric, which holds its shape.

Step One – Take Your Measurements.

Take the tape measure and measure around your waist which is the smallest part of your body above your hips. Don’t suck your tummy in, just stand normally. Write that number down. Now, measure your hips/bum. Really, we want the biggest part of your lower half, so if it’s your bum, do that, hips, do that. Write that number down. Place the measuring tape at your waist on either your left or right side going downward and measure the distance from your waist to where you took your hips/bum measurement. Write that number down. Last, measure your length. If you want a floor length skirt, measure from your waist to your ankles. If you want a knee skirt, measure to there etc. Write that number down.

And now for a little math. (Don’t worry, it’s not hard and you can use a calculator if you want. I’ll do an example for you below.
-Take your waist number and add 3″. Then, divide that number in 4ths.
–If my waist number is 38, then 38+3=41, divided by 4 = 10.25 or 10 and a quarter inches.
-Take your hips number and add 3″. Then divide that number in 4ths.
–If my hips number is 43, then 43+3=46, divided by 4 = 11.5 or 11 and a half inches.
-Take your skirt (knee or floor) length number and add 2″.

Those are your pattern numbers which means now you need a pattern! Which is super easy! Yay!

Step Two – Make Your Pattern

Roll out your wrapping paper (plain back side up) or brown packaging paper or tape/staple two opened brown paper bags together width-wise and create a large rectangle.

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You need enough paper to go a little longer than your skirt length. Using the straight edged corner of the top and top left side of the paper, measure in with the straight edge and place a mark for your waist. Measure down the left edge of the paper using the number you measure between your waist and hips and make a mark. Measure in from that mark with the straight edge and make a mark for your hip number.

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Last, measure down the left edge of the paper until you reach your length measurement and mark it. Using your straight edge, measure in 28″-30″ and mark it. This is about half the width of a yard of fabric, which come in 45″ or 60″.

Looking at your paper, you should see a slant forming with your marks along the right side of the paper. Using your straight edge, connect those dots and make a nice slanted line. Mark the left long side with the word FOLD. Look! You made a pattern!! So, cut it out and get ready to roll!

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Step Three – Cut Your Fabric

Lay your fabric out flat, keeping it folded in half like it comes off the bolt, with the fold on the left. Now bring the bottom up to the top, creating four layers of fabric in a large rectangle. (IF YOU HAVE A PATTERN ON YOUR FABRIC that only goes in one direction, cut your fabric in half at the bottom and make sure to turn one panel over so both panels go the same direction, keeping the folds on the left.) Place your pattern on top of the fabric with the FOLD side snug along the left side and pin in place, putting pins through ALL layers of paper and fabric.

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Cut along the pattern, saving fabric remnants for another craft. (Which will be coming in the next few weeks!) Put all the paper clippings in the recycling bin, because we are earth-friendly that way. Unpin the pattern and SAVE the pattern for later. We’re going to be doing a few more skirts with some fun variations and you don’t want to have to make that pattern all over again. Phew.

Step Four – Sew, So Easy

A. With RIGHT sides of fabric together, place one panel on top of the other one, matching up waist and bottom edge. Pin along panel sides, placing pins about 6″-9″ inches apart.

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Hopefully, your machine is threaded and ready to go with a matching thread, because I really can’t help you there.

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B. Place fabric under foot with raw edges on the right, keeping sides lined together as you go. TIP* Run the fabric back and forth a few times at the beginning and end of each seam to make your skirt stronger and less likely to fray. Keep the raw edges of the panels in the same place all the way down the seam, about 3/4″ in. Cut threads.

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Now, bring the side back to the same place you started the last seam, and go along it again using a zig-zag stitch. This will secure the threads and help your seams stay put. Do the same for the other pinned side.

After removing all the pins (as you sew or afterward), look at your seams and give yourself a little pat on the back. You win! You did it!

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C. Let’s move on to the waist. for this edge, we’re going to do the zig-zag stitch first. Place the fabric, raw edge to the right, with just a scant 1/8th of an inch beyond the needle. We want that stitch to be as close to the edge as possible without going off. Cut threads.

Making sure the skirt is still RIGHT sides together (you should see all the seams on the outside) turn the top zig-zagged edge down towards you about 1″ or so and pin all the way around.

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With fabric under the foot, folded edge to the right, sew a straight stitch completely around the waist. Unpin. Turn fabric right-side out (all seams should be on the inside now). Sew another seam about 1/4th of an inch away from the other seam towards the top edge of the waist. This strengthens the sewn edge of the waistband, so when you slide the drawstring back and forth a million times over the life of the skirt, it won’t come undone or fray.

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D. Grab your no-fray sewing glue and some sharp pointy scissors.

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Using the side seams as a guide, find the exact center of one panel, declare it the front, and cut a tiny slice in JUST THE FRONT OUTSIDE PANEL big enough for your bias tape and safety pin to go through. Put some drops of no-fray around the hole you just made, pushing it around all sides of the hole until ALL threads have been glued.

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It doesn’t need to be thick, but it does need to reach every thread. You can wait for the glue to dry before proceeding, but I never do. It dries clear, so if it gets on the bias tape, it’s not really a big deal to me.

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Slide on end of the bias tape on the safety pin, close, and push it into the hole.

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If you’re right handed, you’re going to want to push it to the left side, scrunching as you go to work it all the way around. If you’re left handed, go to the right. When the pin makes it all the way around and back to the hole, push it out and pull the bias tape until both sides are the same length.

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Tie a few knots on the ends to keep the tape from accidentally going back inside the waist casing.

Try it on! Dude! Did you know you rock? Way to go! At this point, you want to make sure the waist fits well (it should gather slightly all the way around) and that your drawstring is a good length (not too hangy, not too short). After that, check the length. Man, I need a pedicure.

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E. Stand flat footed in front of a full-length mirror and see where the bottom hits you. If it’s about an inch or so too long, that is perfect. We’re going to use that much in the bottom hem. If it’s longer than that, You’re going to need to chop some off, leaving about an inch longer than you want the finished length to be. Go ahead if you need to do that. I’ll be here when you get back.

All good? Great! This is our last step before you look cute as a button. (Except you already do, I know that. The skirt just enhances your button-cuteness factor.)

F. We’re going to put a zig-zag stitch all along the edge of the bottom, just like we did for the waist. When that is finished, pin the bottom edge under about an inch all the way around. With the right side facing up and the folded edge on the right, sew a seam about 3/4″ inch in. Then go around again about 1/4″ towards the bottom.

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Snip those threads, and YOU ARE DONE! Grab a drink and relax for the evening. Maybe watch the sunset. And then do the dishes. Or is that just me?

Take a photo, if you want, and send me a link to post!

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6 Responses

  1. Thank you for this! I made a skirt for my 5-year-old granddaughter who will wear nothing but dresses/skirts–and they must be FULL and twirl when she spins. Soooo, I adapted it and made four panels (seams in the front and back as well as the sides), and she LOVES it! I edged the hem with vintage lace, and it looks adorable. Will send pics, if you wish.

    Trish

  2. Great tips on using paper bags too for creating the pattern. I’d also suggest to add a few extra inches to the ‘back panels for us larger gals out there. By doing so, you will avoid the hem raising due to it going ‘over the hump’ of our rears… I too added elastic to mine, and added an allowance of 1.5″ for the use of an elastic band to go through. Thank you Leah!

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