Sewing a Gathered Skirt

Sewing a gathered skirt

Becca has been sewing a gathered skirt for her schooling over the past few weeks. This is her second major project using her sewing machine, after completing her Flower Fairy quilt just before Christmas. Becs has taken to sewing like a duck to water – I so love watching her enjoyment and obvious understanding and joy at creating something with her hands. Continue reading to see how she did created her skirt and tie-dyed to make it uniquely her style.

Sewing a Gathered Skirt: Learning the Skills

As Becs is new to the whole sewing and textile business, I try to teach her the skills she needs to learn on scraps of material before starting a project. I have found that this increases her success, and decreases her worrying (Becca is a perfectionist by nature, meaning even the smallest mishap can ruin her enjoyment). To complete this skirt, Becca needed to know how to measure, cut and iron material; how to make a casing for the elastic and how to create a hem at the bottom of the skirt. Her previous learning has included measuring and cutting as well as making a casing for elastic (see her drawstring bag). However, she had never ironed anything or sewn a hem.


Becca has been using a book called ‘My First Sewing Machine’ by Alison McNichol to learn the basics of machine sewing. She read the lesson on hemming. I gave her a square of cotton to pin, tack and sew hems onto. She focused on a double hem (turning the material up twice so that the edge is completely hidden and thus very neat):


For Christmas we bought Becca a travel iron because she really didn’t like using our large one. However, as she was using 100% cotton for this project, ironing was a must, and our large iron was the only one going. Becca is a very sensible and careful young lady so I was not concerned at all, and she did a great job!

Learning to iron before sewing

Sewing a Gathered Skirt: Making a Pattern

We measured around her waist and multiplied it by 2. Then we measured from her waist to just above her knees (the length she wanted), added 4cm for a hem and 7cm for a draw-string waist. I helped her measure and cut out the rectangle. Becs ironed the cloth:

Sewing a Gathered Skirt: Making the waist casing

Becs had only just finished her draw string bag before moving on to sewing a gathered skirt. So, how to make a casing was still fresh in her mind. She measured the width of the elastic. Next, she folded over the top of the skirt to make the casing, measuring it a quarter of an inch wider than she needed. Finally, she pinned it in place a sewed over the pins to create the casing:

Sewing a Gathered Skirt: Making a Hem

Becca turned the bottom of the skirt over half an inch and over again, just as she’d learnt to do previously. She ironed this in place and sewed it, using a straight stitch:

Sewing a Gathered Skirt: Threading and sewing an elastic waist band

I’d bought Becca a bodkin needle threader, which she used to thread the elastic through the casing she had made. She tacked the two ends of the elastic together in a square for strength and then sewed over her stitches on the machine. After, she unpicked her tacking:

Sewing a Gathered Skirt: Joining the ends of the skirt together

To finish off the skirt, Becca pinned the two edges of the material together and sewed them on her machine. I showed her how to use the zigzag stitch to prevent the edges from fraying too much:

The final skirt

In total, it took a couple of weeks to make this skirt, and she was so proud!

Tie-dying the skirt

Becca had wanted to dye her skirt straight away. Unbeknown to her, we had bought her a tie-dying kit for Christmas, so I kept telling her she just needed to wait until Christmas and then we’d dye it!

She watched a few videos on YouTube instructed her how to tie-dye, and we read the instructions together. The rest she did herself:

As per the instructions, Becca left the dye in over night. She then rinsed it out, and washed it on the hottest machine wash.

The Final Skirt: Modelling Her New Skirt

Sewing a gathered skirt

Homeschooling rocks!

Further Reading

My Sewing Page

Blog She Wrote


  1. Please tell Becca what a beautiful skirt she made. I LOVE it!!!! This is a great skill to have. My skills are where she is now, so I know if she keeps at it, she will be blowing us away with her creations.

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