Sunday, January 29, 2012

echino bird skirt

i've recently discovered echino prints and i'm really quite smitten...they're so whimsical and i love the bold colors and patterns!!  i ordered a couple fabrics a while back from Hart's Fabrics and i finally decided to make something.  the fabric is pretty expensive but the prints are fun and the quality of the fabric itself is good too.  the fabric i used for this project is a cotton/linen blend; it's little rough (compared to the cotton gauze prints they also make) but it has a nice give to it and it's linen so it's nice for hawaii.  

sooo...the cost break down:
the echino fabric cost me $20 (for one yard)
the lining was $4 (for one yard)(i kinda felt like wal-mart was ripping me off at $4/yard for the world's thinnest cotton broadcloth but whatev lol)
the elastic was $2 (i only used about 1/3)

and i still have some scraps of echino left, probably enough to make a small coin purse or something along those lines...

okay, so on to the tutorial...about halfway through i realized i was making the whole process a lot harder on myself so i'm going to write about the faster way.  since the way i'm writing about isn't the way i actually sewed it i have limited photos but i'll try to be as specific as possible.

first decide what length you want your skirt to be then add 2 inches for seam allowances-i wanted mine to be 15", add 2, so i cut 17".  i cut 17" up from the selvaged edge of the fabric so you should end up with a rectangle 17"x36" (technically 2 rectangles).  now repeat for the lining fabric (if you want to line your skirt) but make it one inch shorter-16" instead of 17".  so you'll basically cut along the white lines-the top and bottom pieces will be the front/back of your skirt and you can use the strip in the middle for the waistband later.

now lay the two pieces on top of each other, right sides facing in, and sew along the 17" edges forming a large tube.  
1.  press the seams open
2.  fold the unfinished edges under, and 
3.  sew along either side of the seam.  
i don't have a serger so this is one of my methods of avoiding unfinished seams.  
4.  this is what your seam should look like from the right side
5.  now press the the bottom (selvaged) edge up 1".  fold the unfinished edge under and sew along the edge forming the bottom hem.  
6.  your large tube of  skirt

*if you are lining the skirt, repeat the above steps to your lining fabric.  then line up the skirt and lining fabric exactly how you want it to be when finished (right sides facing out) and sew the two tubes together along the top.  you don't want this to show later so try to keep it as close to the edge as possible.  

7.  now the pleats:  so this involves a little bit of math...and it sounds pretty complicated, but once you start it's actually pretty easy.  i like my skirts to sit pretty low on my hips so i made the waist 36".  divide by 2=18" and that's the width of the front of my skirt.  now, just kind of eyeballing, i decided i wanted the pleats to be 5" from either side which means the center area will be 10" wide (18-5-5=10").  now mark 5" from left and right seam (the mark should be closer to the front center of the skirt).  from the front center of the skirt, mark 5" away from the center to the left and right (this should form a 10" section centered on the front of the skirt).  you should now have 4 marks along the top edge of the front of your skirt.  now measure the distance between the  2 rightmost marks (roughly 7-8") and place an X in the center.  the 2 original marks should now be roughly 4" to either side of the X.  pull the the 2 original marks inward toward the X and pin in place.  repeat on the left side.
8.  this step isn't really necessary but i just like the look-sew down either side of your pleat about 1 1/2".  

just a side note-this is my first attempt and 'collage' type photo tutorials and i think i like them...they're much easier than loading a million separate photos...

so now the front of your skirt should be pretty much finished (except for the waistband).  for the back, (place a mark in the very center of the back for later) just baste along the top edge and ruche it together until it's rough 18" (or 1/2 of your desired waist size).

now for the waistband:
cut your elastic about 1/3 of your waist (mine was 36/3=12").  now stretch your elastic along your tape measure to determine it's max stretch-mine ended up about 22".  for the back of the waist band, you should cut (2) 2"x23" strips.

the front of the waistband should be 18" (or 1/2 of your desired waist size) plus seam allowances-this part can be kind of tricky if you don't have a pattern.  in order for the waist band to sit smoothly there should be a slight curve.  first, fold your fabric in half.  and i basically just took my tape measure at 9", laid one end against the fold of the fabric on the bottom edge and curved it so that the other end was about 1-2" up from the bottom of the fabric.  mark and cut along this line.  then, checking every few inches, i cut 2" up from the original cut.  you should end up with a 2" strip with a slight curve upward curve.  cut another so that you have 2 curved pieces.  you can also cut a piece of thin interfacing to give the front a bit more structure.

now, if you have patterned fabric, pick the 2 front/back pieces that look the nicest and these will go on the outside of your waistband.  the other two will be on the inside.  take the 2 outside pieces, right sides together, and sew along the 2" seams.  repeat for the inside fabric.  press the seams open.  you should now have 2 thin loops slightly larger than your waist.

now you are going to form a fabric sandwich-from the top down:
the outside waist band (right side down)
the skirt fabric (right side up, lining side down)
the inside waist band (right side up)

the bottom edges of the waistband should be lined up with the top, unfinished edge of the skirt.

make sure the front/backs are lined up and pin along the seams and center.  the front should be pretty easy because they should be about the same length.  for the back, line up the mark you made in the center of the skirt with the back center of your waist band.  now sew along the edge and press the waistband up away from the skirt.  the only open seam should be the very top of your waistband-press the unfinished edges down and in about 1/2".

now the elastic-line the ends up along the back of the waistband as close to the side seams as you can.  sew a big X over the ends to secure them.

now sew along the top edge of the waistband where you pressed the edges in...and that's it!!

sorry i don't have better photos of the actual skirt construction-let me know if you have any questions!!

a note on the sizing-i wear a size 6-8 pant size and all the above measurements reflect this.  however, my skirt ended up being a little bit loose so size-wise it is probably closer to an 8.


  1. Love this! Thanks so mich for the tutorial!

  2. where did you get that beautiful fabric?? I just know that isn't from JoAnns.

    1. this is the site i ordered it from:

  3. Love the fabric and the pleats and elastic in the back. Pinning for later. :)

  4. Lovely fabric indeed. Thanks for the tutorial, I'm going to try make this skirt for winter.

  5. Love the skirt, especially the fabric you picked. I do have one question. 18 - 5 - 5 ≠ 10, it equals 8. Did you mean 20 - 5 - 5 = 10?

    1. Hi Adrienne

      Yes it should be 20-5-5=10. I forgot I rounded it up a bit to make the calculations easier. Sorry for the mix-up!



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