How to Make an Elastic Waist Skirt

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Learn how to make an elastic waist skirt. This skirt is easy to sew and comfortable to wear and can be made for any size or age!

My daughter has started some small and simple sewing projects, but she keeps talking about making skirts. I let her try whatever she wants with her fabric, but when she’s ready I’ll teach her how to make an elastic waist skirt.

An elastic waist skirt is a great beginner sewing project and a great projects for kids to sew. You can use so many different fabrics, and it’s so comfortable to wear. My daughter has already been traipsing around the house every day!

elastic waist skirt pattern

Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! I made this skirt for my wife to surprise her for her birthday, turned out perfectly thank you!


What fabric should I use for an elastic waist skirt?

A lightweight to medium weight fabric should be used for this skirt. If it’s too lightweight it could be transparent, so you want a fabric that is opaque. You can use quilting cotton, chambray, cotton lawn, rayon challis, tencel twill, and woven polyester blends.

If your fabric is too thick or heavy the fabric will won’t gather nicely, and it will be really bulky. Anything that is 100% cotton will wrinkle easily and will need to be ironed.

If you are using a slippery fabric you can use these tips for sewing lightweight fabric.

Should I prewash the fabric?

Yes, you should prewash the fabric. Treat the fabric the same way you’ll wash and dry the skirt once it’s finished. Remove any shrinkage before you cut and sew.

fabric for elastic waist skirt

How much should my skirt be gathered?

The best gathering ratio for an elastic waist skirt is 1.5 or 2. If your fabric is on the lighter side you can do a ratio of 2:1. If your fabric is a medium weight fabric you can do a ratio of 1.5:1. Be careful to not have too much gathers and fabric in your skirt or it can become bulky.

How to Make an Elastic Waist Skirt

Do you love to sew? Try some of these sewing projects:

How to Make an Elastic Waist Skirt

How to Make an Elastic Waist Skirt


  • 1-3 yards of light to medium weight fabric like quilting cotton, chambray, and polyester blends
  • 1 to 2 yards of 1 inch non-roll elastic
  • Sewing tools
  • Sewing machine
fabric and elastic for skirt

Measure Yourself

Measure your waist.

Multiply by 1.5 or 2. Add 1.25 inch. This is the width of the fabric that you will need to cut. If it is wider than the width of your fabric, then you will need to cut two wide rectangles.

Measure the length.

Measure from your waist down to how long you want the skirt to be. Add 1 inch for the hem allowance. Add 1.5 inch for the casing at the top. The total will be the length you will cut.

Sewing instructions

Cut out the rectangle (or rectangles) using the measurements you found. Reuse the selvedge edges on the short ends if possible.

cut out one or two rectangles

Match up the short ends of rectangle and pin.

pin short ends right sides together

Sew a straight stitch along the short end 5/8 inch from the edge. Backstitch when you start and end.

Finish the seam allowances separately.

sew short end

Press the seam allowance open.

press seam open

Press the hem up .5 inch.

press hem up 1/2 inch

Fold up the hem up another .5 inch.

press hem up another 1/2 inch

Fold the top down .25 inch and press. Fold it again 1.25 inch and press.

press top down 1 1/8 inch

Sew the hem in place 3/8 inch from the bottom.

Sew the casing in place 1.25 inch from the top. Backstitch when you start and stop. Leave a 4 inch hole to insert the elastic.

sew hem and casing and leave hole

Cut the elastic to 2 inches smaller than your actual waist measurement.

Put a safety pin on one end of the elastic and insert it into the casing. Push the fabric onto the satefy pin and push it along the elastic. Don’t let the other end of the elastic get pulled into the casing.

insert elastic into casing with safety pin

Slide the elastic all the way through the casing until both ends are sticking out of the hole.

pull out elastic ends

Overlap the elastic by .5 inch and sew a rectangle to secure it together.

Pull the elastic into the casing. Pin the hole closed and sew in place.

overlap elastic and sew

Sew a stitch in the ditch on the casing seam to keep the elastic from twisting.

sew hole closed

You finished!

How to Make an Elastic Waist Skirt
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If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

How to Make an Elastic Waist Skirt
heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather

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Thank you so much for this tutorial! My daughter and I followed it to make her a skirt and it was straightforward and her skirt turned out so cute! She’s going to attempt another one more independently with your video in the next couple weeks!

If I want to add in seam pockets how far down would from the waist band casing would I add them?

Thanks Heather for all the lovely projects.