Book Report Skirt : a tutorial

FREE DIY book report skirt in any sizeI am so excited about this project! I’ve been bursting to share it with you. My latest tutorial for Janome is the Book Report Skirt. Its a project that is perfect for anyone with basic sewing experience, and while it is a garment, I want all my quilters out there to know, this is as easy as it gets, and YOU can do it!The Book Report Skirt is a fancy version of my 30 Minute Skirt. You’ll be using scraps to piece together a row of books along the bottom of the skirt, and from there, the assembly is basically the same. So get your daughter, niece, neighbor, or yourself, and start raiding your scraps for the prettiest books you’ve ever seen.Use this free tutorial to make a skirt featuring your favorite book in any size. This pattern makes great use of loved fabric scraps!
Free DIY book skirt in any sizeHere’s what you’ll need:

  • plenty of fun scraps 5-8″ in length, widths can vary
  • main skirt fabric- for a child, a half yard or so should do, you’ll want a bit more if you are making for an adult. You may also want a 54″ width if you are making for an adult. I recommend using a solid fabric. I’m using this gorgeous Pigment fabric in Raven from Hawthorne Threads. 
  • Lining fabric- You will need half a yard or more depending on the length you want. I recommend using a lightweight fabric like lawn or voile here so that your skirt isn’t too bulky. I’m using a Liberty print, but my go to lining for all garments is Free Spirit solid voile in Toast which is great nude that goes under everything. 
  • Pellon SF101- 1.5 yards (or more if you have a skirt with great width)
  • braided elastic for the waistband- 1″ width for kids, and 1.5″ for adults. Length should be whatever the waist measurement is.
  • an embroidery hoop for adding some book titles (totally optional)
  • a safety pin, coordinating thread, and the other essentials like a rotary cutter and matI made this skirt for Layla who is 7. I used a full 44″ width of fabric as my guide, which results in a full skirt. That’s double her waist measurement, but know that you only need maybe 5″ more than your largest part here. She has been growing upward for a few years versus in width, so I gave her plenty of length for when she inevitably has another growth spurt. Note: If you would like a more exhaustive explanation on planning a size, see the 30 Minute Skirt Tutorial

To begin, get your main fabric and cut the top part of your skirt. I cut 8.5″x44″ because the book portion of the skirt will be 8″ long and I knew I would need 15-16″ inches in length for Layla’s skirt. So if you need a 20″ total skirt length cut a 13″xWOF (width of fabric).Alright! On to the fun part! Grab your scraps and start cutting strips that are between 1-2.5″ wide and 5-8″ in length.

Lay them out along the top piece of your skirt, so you have an idea of how many pieces you need. Keep in mind every piece you cut will lose 1/2″ in width, so the strips ought to extend beyond the full width of fabric.

Once you have plenty of strips, you’ll need to sew pieces of your background fabric to the tops of them so that they all equal 8″ in length. This step goes much faster than you would think. I separated all my strips by width so that I could cut some black fabric to the same width and chain piece. I trimmed them down to 8″ after that.Press your strips then lay them out in an order you like. Sew them together two at a time. You can chain piece here by sewing two, then another two without cutting the thread until all of them are sewn.After that, sew them together in fours, eights and so on until they are all together. Press the whole strip.Fuse your Pellon SF101 to the back of the strip. This will prevent your strips from fraying. You can take this opportunity to mark some titles on some of the books and embroider. My Janome M100 doesn’t have embroidery capabilities so I added some fun titles by hand.Once you have embroidered the titles, you can sew your book strip to the top of the skirt using a 1/4″ seam. Finish the seam with an overlock stitch or serger if you have one, and press the seam toward the top of the skirt.Cut your lining fabric to the same length and width as your main piece. With right sides together and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew your main fabric and lining together at the top . Press seam allowance toward your lining.Now fold your skirt right sides together so the side seams line up. Put a pin where the lining and main fabrics are sewn together so that that intersection stays lined up and crisp. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the side seam closed starting at the bottom of the lining and ending at the bottom of the main fabric. Finish the seam allowance with an overlock stitch or serger. Press the lining seam allowance and main fabric seam allowance in opposite directions to reduce bulk.

Put the lining on the inside of the skirt and press along the top. Using an edgestitch, sew a line of stitches all the way around the top of the skirt about 1/8″ away from the edge. Overlap your beginning stitches by about 5 stitches to keep them in place.Now we will sew the casing for the elastic waistband. If you are using 1″ elastic, you will be sewing about 1/4″ from the top edge of your skirt. If you are using 1.5″ elastic, sew 1 3/4″ from the top edge. Leave an opening a little larger than the width of your elastic. I didn’t backstitch here because I think overlapping stitches while closing the opening leaves less bulk. You are welcome to backstitch if you prefer.If you haven’t done so already, cut your waistband to the size of your waist, or wherever you want your skirt to hit. Attach a safety pin to the end, and separate your lining and main fabrics. Insert the safety pin into the channel, and and thread it through, gently gathering the skirt until you have reached all the way around. Be sure not to pull the elastic too hard, or you may lose the end in the channel. To prevent this, when you begin to run out of elastic, pin in place at the beginning of the skirt.Be certain that you have not twisted your elastic, and then overlap the ends by 1/2-1″ and sew around it a few times to secure it. Adjust the gathers on the skirt, so that the ends of the elastic are fully in the channel, then sew the opening closed. Overlap the beginning and end stitches by 5 stitches or so if you didn’t backstitch.Free DIY book skirt in any sizeYou are almost done!

From your main fabric, cut the width of fabric (width of your skirt) x 1.5″. Cut it on grain. The bottom of the skirt is straight so there’s so need to cut on the bias here. With right sides together, sew the short ends so that you have a circular strip. Fold it in half and press, then fold the raw edges toward that center line and press.

Open up the binding, and attach to the right side of the main skirt. Note: you can attach to both the lining and main fabric, but I finished my separately so the skirt wouldn’t be very stiff. Sew along the first fold (3/8″ seam allowance).Press the binding away from the skirt, and following the fold lines, fold it around the bottom of the skirt and press well. Using an edgestitch, and sewing from the right side, slowly sew all the way around the binding with 1/8″ seam allowance being careful to catch the binding on the back side to secure it. This isn’t difficult, just go slow and be careful.If you didn’t finish the lining with the main fabric in that last step, let’s go ahead and finish the lining. I think finishing them separately makes for a flouncier skirt. This is the same hemming method I talked about a couple week ago. Either serge around the bottom of your skirt, or sew a lining of basting stitches 1/4″ from the edge. Use that as a folding guide. Fold it toward the wrong side once and press, then fold again and press. Edgestitch 1/8″ from the top fold to finish your skirt.

Layla spotted a butterfly she thought needed rescuing.Free DIY book skirt in any sizeFree DIY book skirt in any sizeFree DIY book skirt in any sizeAnd you’re all done! Isn’t it the cutest??? It would make my day to see your version, so please tag me @thefooshe on social media and use #bookreportskirt and #janomeamerica ! Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Just a reminder, I used my Janome M100 to make this skirt. I’ve done a couple of reviews here and here. I love this machine!


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Welcome to Olivia Jane Handcrafted! I'm Meredith and this is my creative journal. Here you'll find loads of inspiration for a handmade wardrobe, home decor, bags, and quilts. I even have plenty of projects and tutorials to get you started or help you along the way.

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