I get asked a lot what are the best sewing projects for beginners. Generally what I say is that most people tell you to make a pair of boxer shorts or track suit pants or something like that, and though it’s not a bad starting point I think it’s a bit of a silly first project as there are a lot of seams, and you’ll probably never use them, plus pants are hard to fit right. What I generally suggest is some sort of a skirt. I think the best types to start with are a wrap skirt, an elastic waistband skirt or a dirndl skirt.
Honestly, an elastic waist skirt is probably the easiest of them all. There is no pattern needed, and it is made with just one rectangular piece of fabric. That’s it! Just one piece of fabric! And it can be easily adapted for any size or shape- women’s or children. Easily make it above the knee or full length maxi length (or any length in between!). Make it in a lightweight floaty fabric for a drapey look, or in a cotton or heavy weight fabric for a fuller look.
This skirt is seriously a perfect beginner project. Plus I think it looks pretty cute (I totally lived in this one all summer! Remember here and here?). I’m going to walk you through every single (simple!) step to help make your own. So let’s get started….
What you’ll need:
– one yard (or less for a short skirt or childrens skirt) of 60″ wide fabric
-1″ wide elastic
**seam allowance is 1/2″ for simplicity
So you need to cut one rectangular piece of fabric.
Width: the full 60″ width of the fabric. For our plus size babes, if you need more room, you can cut two rectangles and sew them together at the sides. For children, you don’t need a full 60″, for my toddler, I cut 30″ wide.
Length: measure from your waist to where you want your skirt to hit (knee, midi, maxi, etc) and add 2 1/2″ to that measurement for the elastic casing and hem.
Fold your rectangle in half length wise with right sides of the fabric together, so that the two raw side edges line up.
Sew along the edge 1/2″ from the raw edges. Press the seam open.
You now have a large fabric tube.
We need to make the casing for the elastic along the upper edge of your fabric tube. Fold over the top edge by 1/2″ and press.
Fold over the top edge again by just over 1″ (about 1 1/8″) and press. This will enclose the raw edge of the fabric. You can pin in place to prevent the fabric from moving.
Sew together close to the inner folded edge. Don’t sew all the way around though! Leave a gap about 2″ wide open near the side seam. This is where you will thread the elastic through.
Now we need to cut our elastic.
Measure your natural waist (smallest part of your waist). Now subtract about 2-3″ from that measurement.
Waist measurement – 2″ = elastic length.
Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic.
Slip the safety pin end of the elastic into the opening, and start to thread it through the casing, helping it along with your fingers. Keep going all the way around until…
Your elastic comes back out the other end of the opening.
Overlap the elastic about 1″ and sew them together with a zig zag stitch.
Let the elastic slide back into the casing.
Stretch the waist a bit a sew the 2″ gap closed, enclosing the elastic in the casing.
Now its time to hem! Along the bottom edge, turn in the raw edge by 1/2″ and press.
Turn under again by another 1/2″, enclosing the raw edge. Press and pin.
Sew just under 1/2″ from the edge, all the way around.
And now it’s finished!
For my toddler above the knee version, I cut a 33″ wide by 14″ long rectangle, and used the same exact steps.
Easy, right?! So simple, and so cute!