The gathered skirt is an easy, quick, and fun entry point to sewing. Its basic shape and simple construction allow beginner sewists to practice important skills. Once you have a few gathered skirts in your closet, it is time to move on to a more challenging version of it.
We are going to use the same principles you have mastered and sew a gathered skirt with a lining and a triple-elastic waistband. This garment will look more polished since it has a lining, and it will fit better because of the triple elastic waistband, but it is as easy as its simpler version.
Gathered Skirt with a Lining and Separate Waistband Tutorial
What You Will Need
- Measuring tape
- Woven fabric such as cotton, linen, or rayon for the skirt
- Woven fabric such as cotton, linen, or rayon for the lining
- 1/2-inch wide elastic
- Polyester thread is the same color as your fabric
- Universal needle 80/12
- Sewing machine
For this sample, I used a VERY light grayish green (or greenish gay?) rayon for both the outer skirt and the lining.
Skills You Will Learn
- Lining a garment
- Sewing a waistband
If you have been following along, you should have your measurements from the gathered skirt project. If not, go back to the previous post in this series to get all the guidance you need to measure yourself. There is even a helpful spreadsheet to make the math less painful.
One- or Two-Panel Skirt?
If you are working with fabric that is wide enough to go around your waist and then some, you can simply sew the ends and have a one-panel, one-seam skirt. I prefer two seams because they give the skirt shape and a better fit. You can decide for yourself.
The rayon I am using is 60 inches wide, and I am using every inch of the width. These are my final measurements for the skirt panels:
Top skirt: two panels, 24″ long by 30″ wide
Lining: two panels, 23″ long by 30″ wide
The Waistband Piece
This time around, we will have a separate waistband piece. The waistband will be wide enough to accommodate three rows of ½” wide elastic. I’m adding ¼” per casing (total of for ¾” for the whole waistband) for wiggle room. There are also two seam allowances of ⅝ ” each. The waistband will be folded in half to create the elastic channels. Each side of the waistband will have:
1 ½” (½” for the width of each elastic piece x 3) +
¾” (¼” of wiggle room per elastic casing x 3) +
⅝ ” (seam allowance) =
2 ⅞ (I’m rounding it up to 3)
3 (total for EACH side) x 2 (because you will be folding the fabric to create the waistband)=
The length of your waistband will be your waist measurement plus some ease so that your waistband can gather and seam allowances on both ends.
My final waistband will 6″ wide by 48″ long. I wanted to save the width of the fabric for the skirt panels, so I cut my waistband on the fold.
Cutting the Pattern Pieces
You can use the same pattern you created for the gathered skirt (if you do not have your pattern, go to the previous post in this series). This skirt will be longer as we are adding a separate waistband. If this bothers you, you can subtract three inches from the length of the skirt pattern piece—but you will have to add ⅝” back as the seam allowance. It is easier to just leave things as they are.
You are going to use the same pattern for the lining but will subtract 1” from the length. The lining is not meant to be seen; this is why you are making it one inch shorter than the top skirt.
The Main Skirt
You are going to use the pattern you created to cut your pretty fabric. Fold your fabric widthwise, right sides (the “pretty” side or the side everyone will see) together. Make sure that the salvages align properly. Place the pattern piece on the fold and pin it in place. Cut around and very close to the pattern piece. If you are sewing a two-panel skirt, follow the same process to cut the second panel.
Your lining is going to be shorter than the main skirt. The lining is not meant to be seen—this is why you are making it one inch shorter than the top skirt. Follow the same steps you did to cut the main skirt to cut the lining pieces.
For the waistband, you have a few options.
- Place the pattern piece parallel to the salvage. You will be cutting it on the straight grain on one layer of fabric.
- You can fold the fabric widthwise, salvages together. Fold the waistband pattern, and cut the piece on the fold. You will be cutting it on the cross grain.
Sewing the Main Skirt and the Lining
Open each fabric panel, right sides up. Put one panel on top of the other, right sides facing each other. Make sure to align all edges properly. Use pins to keep the two panels together.
The default setting for your machine should be a straight stitch, but it is worth checking to make sure. Use a universal needle size 80/12 for quilting cotton and linen or 70/10 for rayon, batiste, or voile.
Line your raw edge with the line that reads ⅝”. You can use a piece of tape to make the line more obvious, or you can buy a magnetic seam guide—I have one and would be lost without it.
This is the best time to hem your skirts. For more info on how to hem, take a look at the previous post in this series.
Gathering the Skirts
Our first skirt did not need to be gathered because the waistband did that job. Here, the waistband is separate, so we will need to gather both skirts before we sew them to the waistband.
Gathering is the process we use to bunch up fabric, giving it lots of volume. The amount of fabric and its stiffness will determine the volume of the gathers.
To gather fabric, you will set your machine to the longest straight stitch possible (also known as a basting stitch). You will start by pulling out 5-6” of thread from both the needle and the bobbin threads. Then, you will sew one row of basting stitches very close to the raw edge of the fabric. Once you get to the end of the fabric, make sure to leave a 5-6” thread tail before cutting the threads. You will repeat the same process 1-2 more times, leaving a small space between the rows.
Now, it is time to gather. Holding the thread tails, gently pull on the thread to start bunching the fabric. You want to bunch the fabric until you can match the waist of the skirt to the length of the waistband.
What I Do When Gathering
- Instead of sewing basting rows that go around the whole skirt (starting and ending on the same side seam) , I prefer to sew rows on each panel of the skirt (from side seam to side seam of each panel). This way, I have more control of each side of the skirt, and the side seams look the same once I’m done gathering.
- I like to work with three rows of basting stitches because this gives me more control when I start gathering, and I suggest you do the same. This is one of those not-so-fun practices that pays off with nicer results.
- Place pins marking center front, center back, and each side seam of the skirt. Quartering the skirt helps create more even gathers.
- Once you are happy with your gathers, use the thread tails to tie knots at each side of your rows of stitching.
Preparing the Waistband
With wrong sides together, bring the shorter ends of the waistband together and sew with ⅝” seam allowance. Press the seam open.
Fold the waistband in half widthwise with wrong (the “ugly” side or the side no one will see) sides together and press.
Press one side of the waistband in by ½”. This will be the inside of the waistband. Using the side seam as the guide, mark the other “side seam” with a pin. Bring the sides seams together and mark the center front and the center back with pins.
Sewing the Skirt
Mark side seams, center front, and center back on both skirts with pins. The pins will work as notches—points where both skirts have to meet.
Take the gathered lining and slide it inside the main skirt, wrong sides together. Using the pins, match the waist of the main skirt to the waist of the lining. If they don’t match right away, use the basting rows of stitches to get them to match.
Take the skirts to the sewing machine and sew a line of basting stitches to keep them together. Clip any loose or hanging threads. Place the pins back to mark the side seams and front and back centers.
Pin the side of the waistband that has not been pressed to the waist of your skirt. Make sure that the four pins on the skirt match the pins on the waistband. If not, play with the gathers until they match. Put a few more pins to keep everything together.
Take your skirt to the machine and place it with the gathers on the sewing plate and the waistband facing you. Sew the waistband in place with ⅝” seam allowance.
Press the waistband seam towards the waistband. If the seam is too bulky, you can trim it.
Fold the waistband over the seam allowance, making sure that the ½” fold covers the line of stitches you just sewed.
Go back to the sewing machine. You are going to sew from the right side of the skirt, so do your best to catch the raw edge that you cannot see by feel. You have to leave an opening big enough to allow you to thread the elastic. I leave 4-5 inches open because my hands don’t like to be cramped.
Starting from the top of the waistband, sew a row of stitches ⅛” away from the top, all the way around and overlapping at the beginning. Use the markings on your machine to guide your seam. This will be the top of your first casing.
For the next seams, you can either use an erasable marking tool or the seam guides on your machine. You will draw a line that is ⅝” away from the first line of stitching. Draw a second line ¾” away from the first row of stitches, another one ¾” from the second one, and one more ¾” from the third one.
Sew on top of each line to create the elastic casings. Make sure that you leave an opening for each row of stitching.
To figure out the length of the elastic, take your waist measurement and subtract 2. Cut three pieces of ½” elastic with this measurement.
With a safety pin, thread one piece of elastic into the top casing. Bring the two ends of the elastic together overlapping by one inch. Go to the sewing machine and using a zigzag stitch, sew the two ends together.
Repeat this process for the other two pieces of elastic. Pull each one to distribute into its casing. Sew all openings close.
Your Finished Skirt
Using the skills you learned last week, you have created a much more professional looking skirt. This is the perfect project for beautiful, flowy long skirts. For a more goth, edgier look pair a long black lace top skirt and a short lining. Let your creativity be the guide for lots and lots of fun skirts!