Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 3: Knit Yoga Skirt

Sorry this is late! Yesterday was beyond crazy, so I'm playing catch-up today. Day 4's skirt will be posted later today, and if you missed them earlier, be sure to check out Day 1 and Day 2.
I've recently become obsessed with yoga pants. As a cheer and tumbling teacher, they are a great wardrobe option for long days at the gym. Comfy, breathable, and way-cuter-than-sweats yoga-inspired wear may just take over my closet. Like, this week.

Here's a great tutorial for a soft, knit skirt with a yoga-style waistband. With only seven steps in the whole process, you'll be able to whip these up in an afternoon. The thing I love most about these skirts, though, is that you can make them from big t-shirts and polos (I actually used one of Adam's shirts for the tutorial) that are super inexpensive on clearance at stores like Kohl's, Old Navy, etc. You can add embellishments, a contrasting waistband like I did here, or pockets and have a darling, comfy look in a short amount of time. That sounds good to me!

1/2 - 3/4 yard knit fabric (2-way stretch or jersey are best, but regular knit will do just fine)
Thread to match
Ball point needle (you can find these anywhere regular needles are sold and they make sewing knits so much easier. Buy some.)

Step 1. Measure your model.
Measure around the waist where the skirt will be worn. My model has an 18" waist. Then, measure from the waist down to where you want the skirt to hit on the leg. I need a 14" length for this skirt.

Step 2: Cut your fabric.
I like a full skirt on little girls, so I'm going with a ratio of 1:2, meaning my skirt panels will have a circumference of 2 times the waist measurement. If you're making the skirt for an adult, try a 1:1.5 or 1:1.75 ratio to minimize bulk around the waist and hips.

Cut two pieces of knit that are your skirt length +1" to allow for hemming. Be sure the stretch of the knit is going along the long measurement, so the skirt will stretch to be wider, not longer. This makes it possible to pull the skirt over the hips later.

Now cut your waistband. Before you cut, do a stretch test with a small scrap of fabric. Hold the scrap on a ruler or grid with the left edge of the fabric lined up with the end of the ruler. Pull the fabric until it's stretched comfortably and note how much it stretches.

My fabric starts out being 5" long...

...and stretches to 6 1/2" long. It has 1 1/2" of stretch power. That, by the way is a very scientific term. Ha ha. One other thing: I originally cut out a white waistband for this skirt, but my daughter decided yellow would be cuter (and she was right!). So the waistband will be yellow further down in the tutorial. I hope the change isn't too confusing.

Take your waist measurement and add 1/2" for seams. Mine was 19 1/2" at this point. Then subtract the amount of stretch power your fabric has. This took my measurement down to 18". Cut your waistband (with stretch going the long way) this length.

To determine the width of the waistband, first decide how wide you want the folded-over portion to be. I wanted it to be 2 1/2". Since the waistband will be doubled AND folded over, you need to multiply this measurement by 4. That gives me 10", plus 1/2" for seam allowance. That gave me a waistband measurement of 18" long (with the stretch running and to end) by 10 1/2" wide.

Step 3: Sew the seams.
With wrong sides together, stack your skirt panels and sew the two side seams. Then, take your waistband, fold it in half with right sides together, and sew the two short ends together.

Step 4: Hem the bottom.
Fold the bottom edge up 1/2" on the inside of the fabric. Iron it down and sew around it. Be sure to set your stitch length to normal. You can use a double needle to make it look extra-polished, or you can just cut your skirt panels from the bottom of the shirt and use the existing hem. Easy! If you want to add embellishments to the skirt, now is he time.

Step 5: Gather the top.
Turn the skirt portion right side out. Set your stitch length to the longer setting and make a running stitch all the way around, 1/4" from the top edge of the fabric. Be sure not to backstitch so your thread will gather. Pull one of the bobbin threads to scrunch up the top of the skirt, distributing the scrunches evenly around the skirt, until it's the same size as your waistband.

Step 6: Attach waistband to skirt.
With wrong sides out, lay the waistband flat. Fold it down so the seam is on the inside and you see the right side of the fabric in every direction. Now, with your skirt right side out, slide the waistband down over the top of the gathering stitch. Make sure to center the seam on the waistband between the two side seams of the skirt. Pin the waistband to the skirt, aligning all the raw edges, and sew all the way around.

Step 7: Finish it off!
Flip the waistband up and hold a steamy iron over the seams to shrink all the knit back into shape. Do the same thing to the hem; don't wiggle the iron back and forth, just press straight down and let it steam. Clip threads and make sure everything looks nice. Ta-da! Finished.

Wasn't that easy? I'm so ready to make me one (or seven) of these skirts. I think the adult version would look great with a pair of tall boots and a sweater, and I can't get over how much I love the gray/yellow combo of this little skirt. I think my daughter Karli has s bright future in textile design!


  1. such cute projects Natalie! I want to make all of them.

  2. I LOVE this one! There is a pile of old t-shirts begging to be made into these skirts. I think Mom will even get one of these...well done!

  3. What a great upcycle, and lovely tutorial too!

    I would love if you came and linked this project to my clothes upcycling project page. It has a long term linky, so your project would stay there for more than just the week of a usual linky. We have over 400 projects linked up now – some fantastic ideas.
    Do come and take a look!