How to Make a Gathered Skirt with Knit Waistband

Gathered Skirt with Knit Waistband - Front
Gathered Skirt with Knit Waistband - Back

Knee-length skirt with 4" (10 cm) knit waistband (shown folded over) and gathered cotton voile skirt body. The circumference of the finished skirt body (ungathered) is twice the hip circumference, and the length of the finished skirt body is 18" (46 cm).

Materials

  • Knit fabric with at least 40% stretch for waistband
  • Lightweight woven fabric, like cotton lawn or voile, for skirt body
  • Optional lightweight woven fabric for lining

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

  • Waistband: Cut 1 rectangle from your knit fabric as shown in Diagram 1.
  • Note for the Length (L): The waistband length of 9" (23 cm) used in Diagram 1 creates a finished waistband that is 4" (10 cm) thick. For a different waistband thickness, multiply the desired thickness by 2 and add 1" (25 mm) for seam allowances. For example, for a 3" (76 mm) thick finished waistband, cut a length of 7" (18 cm), and, for a 5" (13 cm) thick finished waistband, cut a length of 11" (28 cm).

    Note for the Width (W): For the best fit, you can figure out exactly how wide to cut the fabric for your waistband. Wrap a folded piece of your knit fabric crosswise around your waist where you want the waistband to be, stretching it for a snug fit. Mark the width and add 1" (25 mm) for seam allowances.

  • Skirt Body: Cut 2 rectangles from your woven fabric as shown in Diagram 1. To determine the skirt body length, measure from where you want the bottom edge of the waistband to hit on you hips down to your desired hemline, and add 1" (25 mm) for seam allowances.
    For example, I cut the skirt body 19" (48 cm) long for a knee-length skirt.
  • Skirt Lining (optional): Cut 2 rectangles from your lining fabric as shown in Diagram 1. For a very long skirt, this lining won’t be suitable; you’ll need an A-line version for greater hemline sweep.
  • Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing the Knit Waistband

  1. First we’re going to sew the waistband into a tube that will fit around your waist; it will have only one seam, which will be at the center back (CB). To do this, fold the width of the waistband in half with right sides together and sew the lengthwise raw edges (i.e., the edges that are 9" in length) together, as shown in Diagram 2.
  2. Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  3. Now fold the waistband in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, as shown in Diagram 3, and pin in place.
  4. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3
  5. Divide the waistband into quarters by marking the raw edges at center front (CF) and at each side.

Sewing the Skirt

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the skirt body. Repeat with the lining.
  2. Divide the skirt into quarters by marking the top edge of the skirt body at CF and CB. Repeat with the lining.
  3. Sew a gathering stitch (i.e., a long, straight stitch with the tension loosened) with contrasting thread 0.375" (10 mm) from the top edge of the skirt body, starting and stopping with each quarter section of the skirt body and leaving long thread ends. Sew a second row of gathering stitches in the same manner 0.25" (6 mm) from the top edge of the skirt body. Repeat with the lining.
  4. Pull the thread ends on each row of gathering stitches to gather the skirt body to the width of the waistband, distributing the gathering evenly across each quarter section of the skirt body. Repeat with the lining.
  5. Place the skirt body around the lining with wrong sides facing, matching quarter markings. Pin in place.

Attaching the Waistband to the Skirt Body

  1. Pin the top of the skirt body to the (raw-edged) bottom of the folded waistband, with the right side of the skirt body facing the waistband and with quarter markings aligned. With the skirt body on top, sew the skirt to the waistband using a stretch stitch, as shown in Diagram 4 (if you have a lining, the lining will be on top with the skirt body directly underneath it and the waistband on the bottom).
  2. Diagram 4

    Diagram 4
  3. Remove the gathering stitches from the skirt body and the lining.

Finishing Up

    Hem the skirt by folding the hem edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice, as shown in Diagram 5. Sew along the upper edge of the hem. Repeat with the lining, making sure the lining is about 1" (25 mm) shorter than the skirt.

    Diagram 5

    Diagram 5

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