I’m beyond thrilled to introduce you to the 30 Minute Skirt! She’s a lovely gathered skirt with band and hem variations, and can be made to fit any girl or woman. Its totally customizable, and its a super quick project! And the best part is, its fully lined- the seams are totally enclosed- making this skirt a polished wardrobe staple. I dare you to make just one. :) Just kidding. Make all the skirts! Its the easiest article of clothing you’ll ever make!
note: if you’d like to make your skirt reversible, check out “making my 30 Minute Skirt Reversible” where I give notes to use alongside this tutorial.
Here’s what you’ll need for both skirts: Elastic x your waist measurement (maybe minus an inch). I like a nice thick band to accentuate my waist, so I am using 1.5″ for mine, and 1″ for Layla’s. You’ll also need coordinating thread and a safety pin. another note: I recommend polyester thread as opposed to the cotton pictured here. Cotton will wear and disintegrate quickly, even with minimal washing. Preserve your garments and sew with polyester or even rayon thread.
You may or may not prewash your fabric. I am working with Liberty and voile which do not shrink so I never prewash them. They sew better when they are not prewashed. If you are using quilting cotton, I would recommend prewashing because it will shrink. Your lining should be the same quality as your exterior fabric to avoid uneven shrinkage or wear, so don’t cut corners on the lining.
For the banded version of the skirt, you’ll need an exterior fabric, lining (my go to is Free Spirit Solid Voile), and a contrast fabric for the bottom band.
How much you need is up to you. For this skirt, I wanted a full skirt, so I used a half yard of Liberty which has a 54″ width. NOTE: you will lose 3/4″ of length in the seam allowance. The band will add 1.5″ to the length. To give you a clear example of what you are aiming for, if your waist is 25″ and the largest part of your hip is 40″, you’ll just want the width of your fabric to be greater than your hip by a few inches. If your hips are fairly wide, simply get more fabric and sew it together until you have the width you want. I like my skirts to hit right above my knee, so a half yard works perfectly every time. Get more or less depending on the length you want. You’ll need the same amount of both the exterior and lining fabric. I do not cut off the selveges because they make a great guide for wear I want to sew, and they will be hidden, so there is no need. The band should be 4″ x skirt width.
For the hemmed version of the skirt, you will need an exterior and lining fabric. These will follow the above guidelines for the amount needed, except you may want to add length to this version because it does not have the band. You will need whatever length + 1 1/4″ for seam allowance. This skirt is for Layla, so I cut 13″ x 44″ width of fabric, making her finished skirt length 11 3/4″.
NOTE: if you are making a skirt for someone else, especially a child, I recommend going to a reputable shopping site and looking at their size chart. This will be a great guideline for the width and length you are aiming for.
Once you have figured out how much you need, which sounds way more complicated than it is, you are ready to start. And this is the fast part. Both versions of the skirt are assembled the same way until the end, so follow these instructions until separate ones are noted.
1. To begin, place your exterior and lining right sides together, and sew a 1/4″ seam along the top of the skirt. This will be the top of the waistband. Press seam toward the lining.
2. Now fold your skirt in half so that the exterior is right sides together and the lining is also right sides together. (selvedges should be together). Sew a 1/2″ seam (or so that the stitching is just to the left of the selvedge) all the way down the exterior and lining. Press this seam open.
3. Now put the lining into the skirt and press along the waistline, being sure to keep the lining from showing on the outside. Edgestitch along the top, either overlapping your stitching by and inch or so, or by back stitching at the beginning and end of the seam. This line of stitching will help your elastic not to twist and will keep the lining from peeking out.
4. Now you we will create a casing for the elastic (shown above). For my skirt, I used 1.5″ elastic, so I sewed a seam about 1.75″ from the edge using tape as a marker on my machine. For Layla’s skirt, I used 1″ elastic and sewed a seam 1.25″ from the edge. You will absolutely want to back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam, leaving about 3″ or so to put in the elastic.
5. Cut your elastic to your waist measurement or an inch smaller, and attach a pin to one end of the elastic. Separate the lining and exterior of the skirt, and begin threading the elastic through the open channel with the safety pin. Adjust the gathers as you go, and be sure to leave a tail so you can sew together the ends of the elastic. Once the elastic has reached the other side, get the skirt out of the way and sew the ends of the elastic together by overlapping by at least 1/2″ and sewing a rectangle to secure it. 6. Adjust the gathers at the waistband, and sew the opening at the waistband shut. Begin by back stitching and sew until you have closed the gap in the seams, and back stitch at the end.
You are ready to finish your skirt!
For the banded version:
7. Sew together the short ends of your band so that you have a circle. Press that seam open. (I had to join a few pieces to get my band to be the same width around as my skirt. That’s totally okay!)
8. Sew a line of basting stitches 1/2″ from the edge all the way around. This will serve as a folding guide.
9. Fold your fabric in half and press. After you have folded in half, fold again along that 1/2″ line of stitches, pressing that seam to the inside. See above photo.
10. Align the unfolded edge of the band right sides together with the skirt. Pin in place, and be sure you are pinning through all the layers- band, exterior, and lining. Sew a 1/2″ seam along this line. Press seam down toward the band.
11. Refold the band so that the folded basting line is meeting the stitches you just made, and the raw edges are enclosed in the band. Using thread that coordinates with the band, edgestitch (1/8″ seam) all the way around the skirt at the top of the band. Overlap the stitches or back stitch at the beginning and end.
You are all finished with your banded version! Your skirt is polished and clean, and looks quite professional!
For the hemmed version:
7. Baste together the exterior and lining using a 1/2″ seam.
8. Fold along the line of stitches and press, then fold down once more and press.
9. Using a scant 1/2″ seam and working from the exterior, sew all the way around the skirt being sure to catch the folded fabric underneath.
You are all finished with your hemmed version! All edges are enclosed within the skirt, and you can be proud of your simple, but very polished skirt!
No need to tell anyone how little time and effort it took! Now go make all the skirts! Use #30minuteskirt and #oliviajanehandcrafted on social media so I can see yours!
those fabric pairings are spot on!
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Hi Meredith this is a fantastic tutorial! I love that it’s 30 minutes to skirt heaven! I’ve vowed to sew myself some skirts this Spring and I think this one is one that I will try. The only thing I’m wondering is I would really like side pockets on my skirts. Do you see an easy way to modify this skirt to add pockets? I guess that would make it the 1 hour skirt. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
You could cut your outer fabric in half so that you are sewing one of the sides together (adding in some pockets using an existing pocket template) before you assemble the skirt according to my tutorial. :) rather than having a single back seam, you would be sewing up one of the side seams which is pretty much the same thing except that our could be stitching around the pocket on the outer layer. I think it would still make for a quick project!
Thank you! I will give that a try! I’ll use #30minuteskirt on my instagram once I get it done, but I have a few other projects to finish up before I start the skirt making :-)
Hi ~ I wanted to thank you for this tutorial. I hadn’t sewn in decades and was a bit timid about cutting into some lovely Liberty London Lawn (LLL). Your tutorial and your blog post with tips for sewing with LLL were immensely helpful! My skirt is quite polished and professional looking. Thanks so much! :-)
If you make a reversible skirt using coordinating fabrics, you could cut one piece longer than the other to make a band on the bottom, too.
You could certainly do that!
Thank you for this tutorial! Took me longer than I thought it would (I have 2 little distractions, and I’m not super adept at sewing), but the end result looks quite nice.
That makes me so happy!! One must always allow extra time for littles! I have four of them and everything takes me longer these days.