DIY: Elastic Waist Skirt

I finally have a new DIY project to share with you, but I can't claim credit for it! My lovely friend and sorority sister, Laura, is really crafty and wonderful and she has an awesome tutorial to share with you. It's perfect for summer and I'll probably make at least one for myself in the next few months! So here she is . . . Hello all! I’m Laura, Marissa’s former college roommate and today I’d like to share with you a simple tutorial for an elastic-waist skirt. This type of sewing project is one of the simplest and easiest to start with if you’re a beginner seamstress, or if you’ve got a few hours at the machine under your belt, you can whip up a skirt like this in under an hour!

When I start any craft project for myself, it has to be something fabulous and something functional. Being a fellow teacher and thrift store queen, I like to get the most I can for my time and money. Making elastic-waist skirts fits both of those categories! This fabric stood out to me for its bright color and pattern (all of my skirts are literally black or gray), as well as its draping quality. It’s a rayon blend from Walmart. I believe it was on sale for $4.00 per yard. I bought 1.5 yards and have enough left over for another project!

Elastic Waist Skirt 1


Now, onto the tutorial!

You will need:

  • Fabric of your choice, 60” wide, minimum 1 yard for a knee-length skirt
  • Coordinating thread
  • Non-roll elastic, I used ¾”
  • Fabric scissors and/or a rotary cutter
  • Iron and ironing board

To begin, wash and dry or line dry your fabric, and then iron out the wrinkles.

Take the following measurements:

  1. Where you want your skirt to sit, measure around your waist.
  2. How long you want your skirt to be, measure from where your skirt will sit to where the hem will fall.

You will be cutting two rectangular panels for your skirt. Take your waist measurement and divide it by two. (Example, mine is 36”, so divided by 2 would be 18”).

Take that number (in my case 18”) and add 4” if you want a more A-line skirt, or 8” if you want a fuller, fluffier skirt. I added 4” to mine. That answer is your width measurement (mine was 22”).

The length of the panel is simply the length you would like your skirt to be plus 6” to account for the elastic casing and hem.

My panels were 22” x 26”.

Cut your panels.

Take your two panels and put them right sides together. Be conscientious if your fabric has a pattern with a specific direction. My fabric is mostly floral, but does have pineapples, so I had to make sure my pineapples were upright!

Sew your two panels down the sides with ½ inch seams. This creates a skirt-like tube that will not stay up on your hips.

Iron your seams flat.

Next, you should orient your skirt so that the top of it is in your hands. You will now be sewing the casing for the elastic. Take your iron and fold down the top ¼” and press the whole way around. Then fold it down again 1” and press the whole way around. I used lots of spray starch to help secure it in place because I try to avoid pinning fabric in place when possible. Now sew this 9/10ths of the way around, as close to the edge as possible. This creates the casing for your elastic and keeps all fraying ends out of sight!

Make sure you do not sew the whole way around just yet! Leave about a 3-4” gap so you can insert the elastic into the waist.

The best way to cut exactly how much elastic you need is to take it and hold it around your waist, slightly stretched, and mark how long you need. (This generally comes to your waist measurement minus 2-4 inches.) Be sure to add two inches for sewing purposes later.

When threading in elastic, I like to hook a huge safety pin to one end to help speed along the process. Thread that through the casing you just made, making sure you don’t lose the other end!

By now you should have your elastic threaded and ready to be sewn together. Squish your skirt together to be as out of the way as possible, and then overlap your ends of elastic by 1”. I prefer to sew a square over that inch to keep the elastic from bunching or puckering after it’s done. You can see in my picture that it’s not a perfect square, but it works just the same!

Once that’s finished, you can tuck the elastic back up into the skirt and smooth it out to sew the little gap you left undone. You’re almost done with the casing!

One issue I found in this trial-and-error process was that my elastic band slid around too much while I was wearing it. Solution: Sew one line of thread around the waist of your skirt. To do this, get ready to sew. Put your presser foot down and insert the needle into the elastic band. Stretch the elastic as you sew. It sounds like it would be an epic disaster (at least that’s what I thought would happen!), but since the elastic is stretched as it is sewn, it bunches up after on its own while keeping the elastic in place. It’s the best idea ever!

Lastly you need to hem the bottom of the skirt! Go ahead and try it on first, to double check the length. Remove the skirt, fold up the bottom ¼” and press, then fold it up again to your desired length, press, sew the whole way around, and you’re done!

Don’t worry about imperfections, either! My skirt has a few loops and crooked stitch lines, but you can’t tell!

Elastic Waist Skirt 92

Once you’re all finished, it’s ready to wear!

Laura Skirt

Isn't it great?! Thank you Laura for writing such a detailed and easy-to-understand post! Love you!