tutorial: folded waistband skirt with lovely layered hemline

Ok, here’s another sweet and simple two-panel skirt for fall….soft, comfy as can be, and a slight update on the Layered Hemline skirt in our Improv Sewing book:

This version has a soft folded over waistband, like your fave yoga pants. I stitched it up on one night last week, wore it to work yesterday, and am really kind of in love with it!! Especially since it is made from a super unremarkable stretch poly jersey that you can buy for way less than $10 a yard. I got mine a while ago at G Street Fabrics, in my ancestral homeland of Rockville, Maryland, but have bought similar stuff online and at our local Jo-anns here in Western Mass.

You will need:

1.5 yards of prewashed jersey

Chalk or vanishing ink pen

Rotary cutter (recommended for jersey!) or scissors and ruler

Contrasting or coordinating thread

Your trusty machine

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Measure

Measure yourself at your preferred low waistline (where you usually like to wear your skirts or pants, usually a little lower than your actual waistline). Next, determine your desired length, then add 2 1/2 inches. Fold the fabric right sides together so it stretches horizontally (from hip to hip–where we all need that stretch!).

2. With chalk or vanishing ink pen, mark and cut the front and back panels:

Waist: Draw a straight line near the top edge of the fabric that equals half your waist measurement. Mark the center of that line.

Length: Draw a line from the center marking on the waistline to your calculated length (the one you figured out in step 1).

Hemline: Draw a line marking the skirt’s bottom edge, adding 3 inches on either side of the center, for a line that’s 6 inches longer in total than the waistline you drew up top. This gives the skirt  6 inches of flare. (You can adjust for more or less flare…take a skirt with a fit you like, then measure its waist and bottom edges to use as a rough guide).

Side seams: Draw lines connecting each end of the waistline to each end of the bottom edge. Curve the bottom edge slightly so the hemline is 1/2″ shorter at the side seams than the center of the hemline. This gives the skirt a more even line.

Cut along the marked lines through both thicknesses of the fabric.

3. Cut the layer strips

Leaving the cut panels stacked in place, measure and mark a line 2 1/2 inches above the bottom edge, the cut along this line through both thicknesses of fabric.

4. Attach the strips

On each panel, pin the strip to to the wrong side of the panel, overlapping them by 1/2″. Topstitch the strip in place with a line of zigzag,  just a little less than 1/2″ from the edge of the panel.

5. Assemble the skirt

Align the panels right sides together, patting out any wrinkles and bumps. Add a few pins to secure them, if you like. Stitch along the side seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance and a zigzag or straight stretch stitch.

6. Make the waistband

Turn the skirt right side out and try it on. Fold over about an inch at the top, or whatever feels comfy and right, but doesn’t make your skirt too short. Add a pin along the folded edge, as shown above, to hold it in place. Next, fold under the waistbands bottom edge just a 1/4 inch or so, and pin along this edge. Starting at one side seam, stitch the waistband in place along the band’s bottom edge with a line of zigzag, being careful to hold the seam allowances flat as you stitch past the side seams.

7. Now for the really fun part — improvise some embellishment

If you like, change your thread color…I was feeling cool and autumnal and switched from black to charcoal gray. Loosen your presser foot pressure to 1  — here’s how it looks on my Janome  (check your manual if you don’t know how this works on yours).

Do some practice stitching to figure out which decorative effects you like. I do a ton of this before starting to embellish, just to make sure I like what I’m doing, and to figure out how much I want to move the fabric around and what stitch settings look best. I can’t stress this part enough–playing around on scraps is key to getting comfy with improv embellishment, and it’s helluva good time too. (Especially if you drink a beer while doing it).

I decided to add a couple of simple meandering lines of straight stretch stitch around the waistband.

Then I added another straight stitch line around the skirt’s bottom, about an inch or two above the layered hemline. I made this one with  interspersed squiggles, like you see in the practice scraps above. This is such a fun thing to do. I set a medium stitch length, and I grabbed the fabric like this to control it, moving it in tiny circular motion to make each squiggle as the needle moves along:

And here you see the whole thing (I know the blues look really different here! The light wasn’t the greatest that day…)

When I put it on, I saw that this improv touch added a ruffly look to the bottom of the skirt…I would have been happy with just the stitching, but the added softness was a happy accident.

This might just be my new favorite skirt.

This entry was posted by Debra.

7 thoughts on “tutorial: folded waistband skirt with lovely layered hemline

    • Amylynn, so glad to hear that the book has inspired you! And Creativebug too…what a really great site, right? I’ve learned so much from watching videos there. Please do post pics of your projects to our Flickr group (link in the sidebar) because we’d LOVE to see them!
      xo,
      Debra

  1. Debra,
    Somehow I forgot to read the top part of your blog post. I just saw that you got the fabric from G Street! I live right down the road from the one in Arlington! I just bought some 3.00 a yard grey knit that I made a shirt from. Love the heavier knit fabric but a pain to sew, my machine wasn’t too fond of it. I promise I will post when I get the embellishments done. Every think you guys could teach at G Street and do a book promotion? Just a thought I would sign up in a min.

    • Oh, and Amylynn, if you have a minute or so and want to give us a review on Amazon, we would love that! Debra is originally from the DC area and I have family, so it isn’t a far fetched idea to head that way again sometime this year. You can hear about what we are doing on our facebook page if you are interested. Thanks for the kind words!
      :{ nicole

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