Thursday, March 22, 2012

{Sew} Get Started: Easy Girl's Skirt Tutorial

I hope you've all recovered from the St. Patrick's Day and Mother's Day weekend festivities, and are ready for this week's tutorial. Seeing as how Ceri makes the cutest things for her little girl Felix, I thought that she would be the perfect person to ask to do a tutorial for an item of clothing for a little girl. And how right I was! This week's tutorial is as lovely as ever and I am so in love with these little skirts. You should pop over and say hi at her blog Inspired by Felix, where she blogs not just about cute makes for Felix, but her lovely quilts, cushions and other projects! I can't tell you how much I just adore this mini quilt:

This tutorial is part of the {Sew} Get Started: Beginner Sewing Tutorials series. To go to the master page with a full list of tutorials and links to past tutes, please click on the link.

FairyFace Designs

So, Ceri, it's over to you!

The lovely Sarah asked a while back if I would do a straightforward kids clothing tutorial for her {Sew} Get started: Beginner sewing tutorial series.   I've picked one of my favourite, most worn makes!

This tutorial is for a little girl's skirt that can either be made by recycling a jersey or cotton t-shirt or, if you prefer, quilting cottons from your stash.   I think this skirt would be suitable for tiny babies up to probably girls aged 7 or 8, and it does not require a pattern, just a different size rectangle (or recycled top) depending on the size of the child.  In this tutorial we'll be making the two skirts at the top of this picture.

 To begin:

 1) Equipment and fabric.  You will need:
  • Either one ladies fit adult T-shirt or vest top or various strips of quilting cotton (see sizes below)
  • 3/4" waistband elastic which you can get from most haberdasheries
  • A sewing machine, and thread that coordinates with your fabric choice
  • Fabric scraps and wondaweb (or equivalent product for fusing fabrics together) for an applique design and a little piece of ribbon or label for a tag at the back (both optional)
  • Scissors or a rotary blade
  • A safety pin

2) Let's get started (the recycled version):

For the recycled version, I have chosen this navy and white ladies vest top (size 18) that came from a charity shop (50p!). 

Lay the top flat on your cutting mat, and cut straight across the vest top at the desired length for your skirt, allowing an extra 1.5" for the waistband. Suggested lengths depending on the age of your child are shown below, but you can also hold a tape measure up to your child to make sure you are happy with the length.

 Note the width of your top decides the fullness of the skirt, so a size 18 top will result in a fuller skirt than a size 10. Since this pattern uses a gathered waist it is quite forgiving, so don't worry too much, just make sure that the top is larger than the child's waist or there will be no gathering! The hem at the bottom of your top will become the hem of the skirt (saving us some work here!) I am making for my daughter Felix, who is 21 months old, so I have cut the top 11" from the bottom.

We now have a fabric tube, handily hemmed at the bottom.   Skip forward to instruction number 4 now.

3) Lets get started (the quilting cotton version).

This version of the skirt requires you to cut a rectangle of fabric from quilting cotton.  This could be one piece of fabric, or you could choose to join a number of strips together to create a patchwork skirt, as I will do here.  See the table below for a size guide (Don't panic, this is very straightforward - I just wanted to include all the measurements).

 As I am making for Felix, I have cut my strips 12" long. The width of each strip is up to you.  You just need to make sure you cut enough so that when they are all sewn together, the rectangle will be long enough to form the skirt (see table above for recommended sizes).  The longer your rectangle, the fuller the skirt will be when finished.  I have cut 8 4" strips, enough to make a rectangle that will be over 26" when all the strips are sewn together.

To join the strips, place two strips right sides together, and stitch along one side using the standard straight stitch on your machine (I used a 1/4" seam allowance).

 Remember to back-stitch at the start and the end of the stitching, so the seam doesn't come undone.  Keep joining strips together until you have one long rectangle of fabric, as shown below. 

To prevent my seams from fraying, I used my pinking shears to cut a zig-zag into the seam allowance, but if you prefer, you could stitch a line of zig-zag stitch down the seam allowance instead.  Press the seams flat, and join the two ends of the rectangle together, by putting the ends right-sides together and sewing, using the same straight stitch, to make a fabric tube.

OK so far?  Right, onto Number 4, but it's optional so skip it if you wish!

4) Adding embellishments (optional!): It might be that your fabric tube (recycled or quilting cotton) already has a design...but if not and you wanted to embellish it, now is the time.  I have added an applique heart to the recycled version of my skirt.  I found a suitably sized fabric scrap, ironed Bondaweb to the reverse, and then drew a freehand heart shape on the back. 

I cut this out and then ironed the flower to the front of my skirt,

and then using the straight stitch stitched round it a few times.  To make sure your stitching doesn't come undone, thread any loose ends through to the back of the design and then tie them in a knot before trimming the ends.

Other ideas for embellishments include buttons or ribbons, or a pocket or some embroidery.  This is your chance to go wild... Done with the wildness?  Let's get this skirt finished!

  5) Adding the waistband (this step is the same for both the recycled and cotton versions): Turn your fabric tube inside out, and fold over half an inch of fabric, all the way round. Iron the fold to help it stay in place. 

Then make a second fold, one inch down from the first fold.  This gives you a neat waist-band that we will be able to thread elastic through.

Iron that second fold and pin it all the way around.  Use a specific pin to mark the centre back of your skirt. I've used the yellow headed pin in this picture.

Right, keeping the tube inside out, stitch round the waistband you have just created.  Line your needle up with the lower fold, and stitch just a little way in from that fold.   Start stitching just after the pin that marks the centre of the back of the skirt and keep stitching all the way round the waistband until you find that pin again.  Stop about 1" before the pin, leaving a little gap to thread the elastic in (see photo below).

OK. Done that?  Right, next cut yourself a piece of elastic long enough to sit comfortably around your child's waist.  I used standard white waistband elastic (3/4" wide) and I have given approximate waist sizes in the tables above.   For Felix, I cut a 20" length of this elastic. 

Pin a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it into the waistband of your skirt, starting at the hole you left open. Holding the pin through the fabric, keep feeding it round until you've threaded it all the way round and are back at the hole.  Hold on tightly to both ends of the elastic now, you don't want one of them pinging back inside the skirt! Right, give both ends of the elastic a tug, pushing the fabric back so you've got a little bit to work with.  We need to stitch those ends together.  Overlap the elastic by about 1" and then stitch a square with a cross though it, through both pieces of elastic - securing them together.

If you prefer, you could do this by hand, just make sure those two ends are going to stay together (to save any playground embarrassment!) We're almost there!

  6) Finishing touches:

To finish off that waistband, all you need do is close that gap where the elastic was threaded in.  Put the waistband back under the needle and keep stitching from where you left off, past the centre pin to the start of the stitching.   I also chose to fold a 2" length of ribbon in half and put it into the gap before stitching over the top, so there is a handy hanging loop, and marker for the child to know where the back of the skirt is! Right, if you're making the recycled version, you're done!  Sit back and admire your handiwork!

If you're making the cotton version, you still need to hem your skirt, but it's pretty straightforward.

Keeping the skirt inside out, get your iron out again and fold over 1/2" of the fabric at the base of the skirt.  Iron this flat and then fold over another 1/2" so you have a neat finish on the hem.  Iron again, pin this hem in place and then (in the same way you did for the waistband) stitch all the way around your skirt, close to the fold line.'re done

Well done!

Thanks Ceri for that fab tutorial - what a great way to recycle old tshirts, or use up big scraps of fabric! And Felix looks so cute in it! If you make something from Ceri's tute, please add to the Flickr group. Next week we are moving onto quilting, and I have 2 tutorials for you. On Monday I have a tutorial on a simple mug rug, to get you started with quilting, and on Thursday Sheila has a tutorial for a lovely pot holder....lots to keep you busy so!


Mrs Flying Blind... said...

Oh I am a mean mummy - should make some I suppose, before the girls get too old!

Archie the wonder dog said...

Oh, cute skirt!!

Amy said...

very cute and good instructions. I am going to make one for my grandbaby,, as soon as I get back from thrift store to find some more shirts to cut up.thank you for the tut. :)

LisaG said...

I'm loving this tutorial. I haven't made clothes since I was at school!!!! Will have to make a couple for my almost 4 yr old :)

Many thanks.

LollipopsDaydreams said...

Going to have to try this out, what pretty skirts! Thank you for the tutorial!

Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane said...

Great post- such good info. Just made two skirts this weekend and it was so fun!

Cherie said...

Cool tutorial! It's great to see simpler ways to make clothes!

I've nominated you for an award please head over to my blog for the details =D

felicity said...

Very fun idea! LOVE the thought of thrifting the t-shirt so the skirt is already hemmed. WIN!

Joan said...

I love both ideas, especially the one using the recycled shirt. Can't wait to make one with my 5 year old granddaughter! Thanks for the ideas!

Halina said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! It's such a cute and easy way of making a little skirt.
Here is my first attempt on it:
Thank you so much again for sharing this tutorial!!!