Ellen March

How to Make a Strip Skirt

Ellen March
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Duration:   13  mins

Homemade strip skirts are great projects for sewers of all ages and skill levels. The technique isn’t too challenging, and there’s plenty of room to get creative with your fabric and pattern choices. In this free video lesson, expert seamstress Ellen March teaches you how to make a fun and elegant strip skirt with an elastic waistband that can be worn on any woman, regardless of shape or size. She demonstrates each step of the easy process from the initial pattern layout to the final hem, and discusses all the ways you can improvise to make your strip skirt beautiful, unique, and comfortable!

Creating the Strip Skirt Pattern

First things first, Ellen shows you how to draw the pattern for your strip skirt, which can be done on pattern tissues, newspaper, cardboard, or whatever else you want to use. To do so, you’ll begin by measuring your waist and dividing by 6. This will give you the length of your skirt’s top, adjusting as necessary up to 2 inches for seam allowance. Then measure the length, which will depend on your skirt type. Ellen is making a maxi skirt for a toddler, so her top is 8 ¼ inches and her bottom is 13 ¼.

Cutting, Finishing, and Sewing the Strip Skirt Segments

Once you have your pattern, go ahead and cut six segments. These can be the same fabric and design, or you can experiment with variations to create a truly unique strip skirt! With your pieces cut, you’ll finish each of the edges with a serger, cutting off a ½-inch from each side. Although finishing with a serger simplifies the seaming process, you can also use a zigzag finish if you don’t have or don’t want to use a serger.

Next, sew your segments together. Ellen recommends sewing the front three together and the back three separately and then sewing these pieces at the side seam, but you can do this step however you’d like. By this point, you’ll have the body of your skirt complete!

Attaching the Waistband

When you’re ready to sew in the elastic waistband, Ellen says you have a couple of options to consider. You can certainly opt for elastic with casing and account for seam alignment, but she prefers fold-over elastic. This type of elastic is great for woven and strip skirts, as it’s a super soft and comfortable material that’s used in baby diapers.

Ellen likes to use the widest available width of elastic to simplify the process of zigzagging. In addition to width choices, you’ll also decide whether you want to have the matte or shiny side of the elastic showing on the outside. Totally your call.

Whatever you decide, when you head over to the machine you’ll want to match the top of the fabric with the center fold of the elastic (which is already created for you if you choose fold-over). Ellen shows you how to stretch the elastic as you sew between the seams of each segment, which will give the strip skirt a snug-but-not-tight fit. Always remember to put the needle in the down position as you adjust, if your machine doesn’t automatically do so.

What’s Left?

The only thing left to do after you’ve fully sewed on the elastic is to hem the bottom of the skirt. Hemming a skirt is also your preference, and is another opportunity to get creative. You can choose to double-turn the hem, which is what Ellen tends to do, or you can add accent fabric or any other hemming solution you like!

If you enjoyed this project and you can’t wait to get going on another, we recommend learning how to make a circle skirt. And once you’ve nailed both of these, dig back through our archives to discover so many more great projects!

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12 Responses to “How to Make a Strip Skirt”

  1. Chrisan

    I can make a strip skirt. Can you show how to make a Mermaid dress?

  2. Bjr5457

    Just read the comments on this video. As I am a beginner at sewing, some measurements seem to be missing. How do you REALLY get correct measurements to make your own pattern? I really want to do this.

  3. Bjr5457

    How would you make a tie waste? What I mean is; I don't want to use elastic but I want to be able to tie the skirt in the front. Do you fold the top over and thread a tie thru the top? Not sure how go about it.

  4. Janet

    Oh dear, these instructions are poor on so many counts! As already discussed it is the hip measurement you should start with, also just stretching your elastic as you sew will give an unprofessional and obviously homemade result - it should have been marked at the quarter points and pinned onto the skirt at each quarter of the waist measurement. Would anyone really want to wear such a thrown together garment as this would turn out to be!?


    I can't understand how this video is still available when so many have commented that this skirt is not usable for a grown up woman... (And I can't understand why I watched the full video when it started with a ninja drawing of the pattern, no lining up the center or anything...guess I was hoping the zipper would come eventually, but sadly no...)

  6. Melody Lanier

    If making and elastic-waist skirt for someone who actually has hips, you should use the HIP measurement for the top of the gore or you won't be able to pull it on. Or plan to put in a zipper and waistband. Instead of trying to turn down a casing for elastic you can use wide bias tape to make the casing. If using fold-over elastic (Or wide elastic as a band) you should still divide and pin the elastic to the skirt so that the gathers will be fairly even. Beginning seamstresses (and who started that awful word "sewers" anyway?!) probably can't guess how much to stretch the elastic while sewing to make the gathers even and the elastic match up. I think you should encourage the use of pins for beginners; as they improve their skills they can go without if they wish. I've had too many seams slip to go without pins on anything I want to look nice.

  7. Dorothy Yuki

    Sorry that your instructions are incorrect. You should be measuring your hips, not your waist as the base measurement. If you are a beginner sewer, you are not instructed about cutting, grain of fabric, and reason for your sewing. Very disappointed in your instructions to give to my young teenage Granddaughter who wants to learn to sew.

  8. Karen

    The instructions for this skirt leaves vital steps out like hip measurement which is really important along with the grain line down the centre of the pattern. Measure out from the centre grain line (which is the length of the skirt) half the gore width plus ease plus seam allowance and if the gore width at the waist just fits the waist when finished then a zipper should be inserted. A seam and hem allowance must be added to the waist and hem before cutting out pattern depending on the desired waist finish. Test pattern in calico or cheap fabric before making in your real fabric. It is also helpful to cut the required gore patterns out of paper so that you can lay your patterns out economically not waisting fabric. In a nutshell this video should be redone with no steps missing as a beginner would be very disappointed with the result they got from following these instructions.

  9. Rosemary Kask

    This is a very simple project, thus appropriate for beginners. However, the instructions given are some of the worst I've ever seen, thereby ensuring an unsatisfactory result for any beginner. BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!

  10. ann.withers@btinternet.com

    I'm wondering how you would get this skirt on! As long as your hips are not too much bigger than your waist it will be fine and stretch enough. But if you are pear-shaped there is no way a skirt with a waist, even when stretched, which is only 2-3 inches bigger than your waist will go over your hips; and I doubt you would be able to get it on from the top over your shoulders. For most people this skirt really needs a zip, or for the top (waist) to be made quite a bit wider. Also, Ellen suggests putting a strip around the bottom of the skirt if you have made it too short. This is much more easily said than done. A straight strip would not work as it would not lie properly - it would need to be curved (the hem of the skirt should be trimmed slightly to make a smooth curve rather than six straight lines) to match the curve of the hem; or you could cut six pieces using the pattern and matching the bottom width of each pattern piece to the width of the top of the additional piece and continue the widening to the bottom of the new pieces.

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