Gathered Skirt for All Ages
Have you heard of that sociological exercise where everyone’s asked to sketch his or her idea of a simple chair, and everyone’s idea is totally different? In a variation of that experiment, at a recent Purl Bee meeting we each imagined the quintessential summer garment, but in this case, when we revealed our thoughts, it turned out we were all picturing the exact same thing: an elastic-waist, above-the-knee skirt with big side pockets, aka this Gathered Skirt!
This Skirt’s simple elastic waistband makes it easy to pull on and comfortable to wear, while its deep inset pockets are a useful (and stylish!) detail. And, because I knew we’d all be clamoring to make a few, I designed three pocket variations (Contrast, Cross-Cut, and Bias-Cut), picked a handful of favorite fabrics and wrote up instructions for eleven (!) sizes from kids to adults… exactly how we imagined it! -Corinne
Update: New Fabric
May 2, 2016
We’ve made this quintessential skirt in Purl Soho’s exquisite new Mineral Linen! Check out our Gathered Skirt for All Ages in Mineral Linen post to see this simple summer skirt in one of our most unique fabrics!
You will also need . . .
- 3/4-inch Braided Elastic, White
- 1 yard for Kids
- 1 (1, 1, 1, 2) yards for Women
- A 274-yard spool of 100% cotton thread to match the fabric
- A safety pin
For the Skirt with Contrast Pockets we used . . .
- Main Fabric: Kiyohara’s Fine Solids in Light Beige
- Contrast Fabric: Kiyohara’s Kokochi Double Gauze in Pink
- Gutermann’s 100% Cotton thread in color 1040
For the Skirt with Cross-Cut Pockets we used . . .
- Main Fabric: Robert Kaufman’s Oxford in Small Black Stripe
- Gutermann’s 100% Cotton thread in color 1006
For the Skirt with Bias-Cut Pockets we used . . .
Recommended tools . . .
To fit ages 2-3 (4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12) with finished waist sizes 18 ½ (19 ½, 20 ½, 21 ½, 22 ½, 24) inches in circumference, unstretched. (Instructions are given for adjusting this waist size.)
To fit hip sizes 33-34 (35-37, 38-40, 41-43, 44-46) with finished waist sizes 25 ½ (28 ½, 31 ½, 35 ½, 40 ½) inches in circumference, unstretched. (Instructions are given for adjusting this waist size.)
Prewash all fabric before starting.
Main Panels, Side Panels and Waistband
Use the measurements in the charts below to cut the pieces for the Main Panels, Side Panels and Waistband from the Main Fabric.
The shorter sides of the Main Panel pieces and the longer sides of the Side Panel pieces should run parallel to the selvage edge.
Use the measurements in the chart below to cut 2 Pocket pieces. The style of Skirt you are making determines how exactly to cut the Pocket rectangles. Specific instructions for each style of Skirt are listed below the chart.
Cut the Pockets from the Contrast Fabric. The long side of the rectangles should run parallel to the selvage edge.
Cut the Pockets from the Main Fabric. The long side of the rectangles should run at a 45-degree angle to the selvage edge.
Cut the Pockets from the Main Fabric. The long side of the rectangles should run perpendicular to the selvage edge.
For the most accurate fit, measure the circumference of the true waist (or where you would like the Skirt waist to fit) and add ½ inch. Cut the elastic to this length.
If you are making this Skirt for someone who is not available for measuring, you can use these lengths as a guide . . .
For Kids, cut the elastic to 19 (20, 21, 22, 23, 24 ¼) inches.
For Women, cut the elastic to 26 (29, 32, 36, 41) inches.
Piece the Waistband
For Women’s Hip Sizes 41-43 and 44-46 inches in 44-inch Fabrics Only
Stack the two Waistband pieces with right sides together matching up the raw edges on two short sides. Pin the pieces together along this short side. Sew along the pinned edge with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Open the Waistband and press the seam to one side. Sew it down with an edgestitch.
Prepare the Waistband
Fold one long raw edge of the Waistband piece ½ inch towards the wrong side and press.
Repeat with the other long raw edge.
Now, fold the Waistband piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, so that the two long folds meet and the raw edges are encased in the fold. Press the fold.
Open up the folds at the two short ends. With right sides together, stack the ends together, matching up their raw edges. Pin in place. Sew along the short edge with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Press the seam to one side and sew it down with an edgestitch.
Refold the Waistband and press if needed.
Mark the Center Points
Note: The fabrics that we used in this project are non-directional and have no clear top or bottom. If you are using a directional fabric, please take this into account when you make your markings.
Main and Side Panels
Fold one Main Panel piece in half so that its two short sides meet. Use a fabric marker or pencil to mark the center point along one raw edge. This is now the Top of the Main Panel.
Repeat with the other Main Panel piece.
These marks will represent the Center Front and Center Back of the Skirt.
Now, fold one Side Panel in half so that its two long sides meet. Use a fabric marker or pencil to mark the center point along one raw edge. This is now the Top of the Side Panel.
Repeat with the other Side Panel piece.
These marks will represent the Center points of the Skirt sides.
For Women’s Hip Sizes 41- 43 and 44-46 inches in 44-inch Fabrics Only
Your Waistband has two seams, which will align with the two Center points of the Skirt sides. Here’s how to find the Front and Back Center points of the Waistband…
Fold the Waistband loop so that the two seams are stacked on top of each other.
The two resulting folds represent the Center Front and Center Back. To mark these points, open up the pressed folds of the Waistband and use a pencil or fabric marker to mark one raw edge. Make sure that you mark the same raw edge at both the Front and Back Center points.
For All Other Sizes
Your Waistband has one seam, this seam marks the Center Back.
Fold the Waistband loop at the seam. The other fold that results represents the Center Front.
At the Center Front, open up the pressed folds of the Waistband and use a pencil or fabric marker to mark one raw edge.
Now, lay the Waistband loop flat so that the Center Back and Center Front points are stacked on top of each other. The two resulting folds represent the Center points of the Skirt sides. Mark these points as described above. Make sure that you mark the same raw edge as you marked for the Center Front.
Piece the Side Panels and Pockets
With right sides together, stack one Pocket piece on top of one Side Panel piece, lining up one short raw edge of the Pocket with the bottom edge of the Side Panel. Pin along this edge. Sew along the pinned edge with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Press the seam toward the Side Panel. Sew the seam allowance to the Side Panel with an edgestitch.
Fold the two pieces along the joining seam so that the wrong sides are facing. Press to create a sharp crease. This is now the Pocket Panel. Orient it as it is in the above photo, with the top edge of the Side Panel at the bottom and the seam at the top.
Fold the Side Panel piece up so that its right sides are together and its top edge is now above the Pocket piece. Adjust the placement of this fold so that the long side of the Pocket Panel is equal in length to the short side of one Main Panel.
Press this fold to create a sharp crease.
Repeat with the other Side Panel and Pocket pieces.
Here’s a short video that may clarify this step…
Piece the Pocket and Main Panels
With right sides together and top edges at the top, stack one Pocket Panel on top of one Main Panel, lining up the raw edge of one short side of the Main Panel with the raw edge of one long side of the Pocket Panel. Pin along this edge. Sew along the pinned edge with a ½- inch seam allowance.
Sew along the raw edge of the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch and press the seam toward the Main Panel. Sew the seam allowance to the Main Panel with an edgestitch.
Repeat with the other Pocket Panel on the other short side of the Main Panel.
Now, sew the other long sides of the Pocket Panels to the two short sides of the remaining Main Panel in the same manner.
You have one long loop of fabric, which is now the Skirt.
Hem the Skirt
Fold the bottom edge of the skirt ½ inch towards the wrong side and press.
Now, fold the bottom edge in toward the wrong side again, 1 inch for Kids or 2 inches for Women. Press and pin.
Sew the hem down with an edgestitch.
Baste the Top Edge
Note: If you are working with the Oxford Stripe fabric, I recommend sewing along the top raw edge of the Skirt with a zigzag stitch before you begin this section. This fabric frays easily, and the pulled threads can get in the way as you work.
Sew a series of basting stitches 1/8 inch from the top edge. Start and stop the basting stitches at each seam line (the ones that joined the Panels) and leave a 3 or 4-inch tail of thread at each end.
Now, sew another series of basting stitches ¼ inch below the first in the same manner.
Gather the Skirt Top
Tie the thread tails together at one end of each pair of basting stitches. First tie the two top threads together and then the two bobbin threads. Trim the threads about ½ inch from the knots. Leave the threads at the other end of the stitch lines loose.
Working one section at a time, pull the loose (unknotted) top threads to gather the fabric. Pull gently so that the thread does not break.
Gather the Side Panels so that they measure 3 (3, 3, 3, 3 1/2, 3 1/2) inches across the top edge from seam to seam, for Kids, and 4 (4, 4, 4 1/2, 4 1/2) inches across the top edge, from seam to seam, for Women. Knot the threads again, as described above, and space the gathers evenly.
Next, gather the Main Panels so that they measure 9 (10, 11, 12, 12 1/4, 12 3/4) inches across the top edge for Kids, and 13 3/4 (14 3/4, 16 1/4, 17 3/4, 19) inches across the top edge for Women. Tie knots in the top and bobbin threads, as described above. Space the gathers evenly.
Attach the Waistband
Turn the Skirt inside out.
Open up the fold of the Waistband that you marked with the Front, Back and Side Center points. With the right side of the Waistband facing the wrong side of the Skirt, line up the top raw edge of the Skirt with the raw edge of the Waistband. Match up the Center Front, Center Back and Side points of the Skirt and Waistband and pin together along the raw edge.
Sew along the pinned edge with a ½-inch seam allowance, using the crease in the Waistband as a guide.
Now, turn the Skirt so that its right side is facing out. Fold the Waistband over the Skirt’s raw waist edge and pin in place.
Edgestitch along the bottom of the Waistband’s bottom fold, leaving a 1 ½-inch gap.
Attach a safety pin to one end of the Elastic. Insert this end into the gap. Pull the pin through the Waistband, exiting out the other side, Make sure not to pull the Elastic’s other end into the channel.
Checking that the Elastic isn’t twisted, overlap the two ends by ½ inch. Sew the two ends together widthwise with a zigzag stitch.
Tuck the elastic into the Waistband and close the gap with an edgestitch.
At the approximate center point of one side, make a ¾ inch long vertical seam through all layers of the Waistband. Sew the seam forward, then backstitch over the seam, and sew forward again.
Repeat at the approximate center points of the other side, front and back.
These seams will prevent the Elastic from twisting as the Skirt is worn.
Pull out any basting stitches that show below the Waistband edge and you’re done!