Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY: Maxi Skirt

This relatively simple (though a bit time-consuming) maxi skirt features a ribbon waistband and inverted box pleats.

What You'll Need:
sewing machine
optional: serger, liquid stitch glue

When you buy..
1. A wide, sturdy ribbon would be easier to sew with, in a color that would easily match your thread (e.g. black, white). Grosgrain would probably work best because it's sturdy, but I couldn't find any in the width I wanted.
I ended up using a 2" satin ribbon from Michael's.

2. I would recommend using an opaque, non-stretchy fabric. If your fabric is see-through, you'll need to make a lining. If your fabric is stretchy, you may want to instead use elastic for the waistband (for a much easier skirt alternative, click here)

1. Measure the approximate length of your skirt, adding at least a few inches for the hem and anything you trim off (better too long than too short!) Make the width of your skirt at least 2x your waist measurement, so that you can walk comfortably; otherwise you might want to make a slit up the skirt.
If you make a small incision across the lengthwise grain, you should be able to rip neatly down the fabric; I find this less time consuming and more accurate than cutting with scissors.

2. Sew the two ends together to form a tube. Leave an opening at the top about an inch or so shorter than your zipper; you'll ultimately use and remove a basting stitch (temporary stitch to hold things in place) down this area.
I tested out my new serger on the seam, but any sewing machine will work perfectly.

3. Mark off where and how long you want your pleats. The width of my skirt was 60" and my waist is ~28", so I measured 4 inverted box pleats that take up 8 inches of fabric each. I put 2 in the front and 2 in the back.
FYI: I used a Clover "pen style chaco liner"; because it uses loose chalk, it wipes off cleanly and doesn't snag.

4. Iron the pleats down, and sew in place; this way, they'll be easier to work with.
OPTIONAL: The waistband was a little uneven, so I hemmed it with a serger. Again, any sewing machine will work.

5. Cut two pieces of ribbon, each a couple inches longer than the waist of your skirt. One piece will be behind the fabric on the inside, and one piece will be visible on the outside.

6. With the right side of the fabric facing up, sew a few stitches securing the waist to the inside ribbon. It doesn't have to be pretty because it won't be visible (it'll be on the inside facing your stomach)

7. Sew the top ribbon on; I did one stitch on top and one stitch on the bottom. You might want to mark your sewing machine with tape or a rubber band, to ensure a straighter stitch.

8. Flip inside out. Measure the width of your skirt to ensure a snug fit, and run a basting stitch to close off the area where your zipper would be.

9. Flip fabric right side out and place the zipper in that location; secure with pins and sew in place. Fold the excess over, or trim it off. You could manually sew in a hook and eye, but I didn't feel I needed one.

10. Remove the basting stitch, and trim or hem any excess fabric so it doesn't get caught in the zipper. Clean up any loose threads, iron, etc.

11. Hem the bottom of your skirt to the length that you want. I used a 3-stitch rolling hem on a serger, but again any sewing machine will do; if you opt for a regular hem, I find it easier to iron the fold of the hem before sewing.

Aand you're done!

OPTIONAL: You might want to run a liquid stitch on INSIDE seams (that stuff is very visible when it dries) to secure any loose threads; you could also use some on the zipper to help keep it flat against the fabric.

TIP: If the fabric happens to pucker when you sew a seam, iron it flat. I ironed down every seam and fold, for a cleaner look anyway. Remember to always test your material with the iron--some fabrics tend to scorch easily.

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GRAPHIC INSTRUCTIONS (click to enlarge)

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As a time-saving alternative to pleats, use a basting stitch to gather fabric.
a. Follow steps 1-2, leaving room for the zipper
b. Run one or two basting stitches through the top of the skirt.
c. Pull the ends of the thread to gather/scrunch the fabric up. 
d. Proceed to step 5.

A much easier alternative is to use an elastic waistband.
a. Follow steps 1-2; when you sew up the two sides together, form a complete tube (DON'T leave room for a zipper)
b. Hem the top of your skirt, with enough room to stick elastic in between.
c. Make a small incision and insert the elastic to the top hem.
d. Sew the two ends of the elastic together, and close off the incision.
e. Hem the bottom of the skirt. And you're done!

I apologize for not updating earlier--I've had a busy few months, and although I've done a few DIY's here and there, I didn't bother to take photos. Everything I've done, including this skirt, I just made up as I went lol. I did make a paper tape dress form, so my next post will probably be a few tips and how-to's on that.

Stay tuned, and don't forget to subscribe! 
  1. la floresta desordenada said... August 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    wow, this is really pretty ! I wish I had time to do some DIY's like this myself .. :)


  2. tightsandtea said... August 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    @Franzi thanks so much :)

  3. Rebecca Strickland said... May 26, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Very cute and easy. Use light weight fabric, a cute top,sandals and you are ready to go anywhere.

  4. thomas morrison said... April 15, 2014 at 2:47 AM

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  5. Karen Shannon said... June 23, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Wow! This looks like pretty easy. I love the actual result and now I'm etching to create my own DIY maxi skirt. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial!

  6. jowdjbrown said... March 6, 2016 at 12:50 AM

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