Elastic waist skirt pattern

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Do you have 20-30 minutes to spare? That’s all you need to make this simple elastic waist skirt pattern, perfect project for beginners as well as kids starting to learn sewing!

Elastic waist skirt pattern

Simple skirt pattern with elastic waist

Hey, guys! Today I’m going to show you a very simple but adorable project I made in collaboration with Ellie, my 8 years old daughter: an elastic waist skirt pattern, in her size. This tutorial can easily be adapted to fit your own size, be it for kids or adults!

I’ve started to teach Ellie a few things about sewing last summer, after she turned 8 and as she approaches 9, I thought it’s time for her to start working on projects that are a little more advanced. This gathered skirt with elastic waist is the perfect project to take your beginner skills to the next level as it’s super simple to measure, cut and sew, it’s not scary at all and although a little more advanced than the basic beginner projects, it won’t let you feeling overwhelmed or tired.

Other skirt ideas you will love:

How to sew an elastic waist skirt

How do you make an elastic waist skirt without a pattern?

This lovely elastic waist skirt pattern is super simple to figure out, you don’t actually need a pattern. All you need are the measurements for waist and the length of the skirt. That’s all! From these measurements you’ll calculate the width of the fabric panels (front and back) and the length of the elastic.

This project involves a zig zag stitch over the elastic though so if you’re not comfortable sewing these, I’ll show you an alternative method. For our elastic waist skirt pattern we opted to use the zig zag stitch because I find this option looking a little better than the other, at which point Ellie took a break and I took over the sewing machine.

What is the best fabric for skirts?

Our elastic waist skirt can be sewn in all kinds of fabric, from cotton, to linen, knits or lightweight fabrics like chiffon, silk or Georgette. But for beginners I would advise using cotton as this fabric is fuss free and the easiest fabric type to work with.

That’s what we used and Ellie was able to handle the fabric with so much ease ! If the fabric is not suitable to your skills you will have troubles sewing it and you’ll end up hating sewing. So resist the urge of sewing with anything flowy and slippery for now, there’ll be plenty of time to upgrade to these materials as you make progress in your sewing journey.

Gathered skirt with elastic waist

How much fabric do I need for an elastic waist skirt?

As for the amount of fabric needed, here’s what I do:

  • Measure the waist
  • Use this number to calculate the width of each skirt panel (front and back)
  • Add seam allowance (for the 2 side seams; typically 1″ for each panel).
  • Measure the desire length of the skirt
  • Measure the width of the elastic.
  • Add seam allowance for the elastic waist, elastic width x 2 plus 1/4″.
  • Add seam allowance for the hem (typically 1″)
  • Cut 2 rectangles using these measurements.

As an example: Ellie’s waist is 23″, the measurement from waist to above knee is 17″ and the elastic width is 1″. We cut 2 rectangles of 24″ by 20 1/4″ as illustrated in the diagram below.

Elastic waist skirt diagram

How do I make a simple skirt elastic waist?

This skirt is probably the easiest you’ll ever sew! It ‘s all coming down to just a few steps:

1. Measure your body as mentioned above: at the waist, then for the skirt length, measure from waist down, adding seam allowance for elastic waist, for the hem and for the side seams.

2. Cut the fabric into 2 panels, for the front and for the back of the skirt.

3. Sew the panels at the sides, right sides together.

4. Hem the skirt.

5. Attach elastic to the waist, sewn with a zig zag stitch.

How do you measure elastic for a waist skirt?

Measure the waist and then subtract 2″- 3″, depending on what feels comfortable. If you’re planning on overlapping the ends of the elastic you need to take that allowance into consideration too. This method is the simplest but will create bulk at the joining seam. To avoid that, use this tip for joining elastic ends or simply join them with a zig zag stitch, sewn 2-3 times. The tip mentioned is also great to use when you’re running short on elastic as it will extend the elastic a bit.

Gathered skirt pattern

How do you gather an elastic skirt?

You see, this is the real beauty of this elastic skirt: you don’t actually need to gather the skirt in advance! Once the elastic is added to the waist, the skirt will naturally form beautiful, even gathers! The trick is to join the elastic and the top of the skirt perfectly and find the right zig zag stitch. I typically use a medium wide zig zag stitch.

Ready to make your own skirt? Here are the full details on how to sew an elastic waist skirt!

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Simple skirt pattern with elastic waist

Elastic waist skirt



Prepare the fabrics

  • Measure your waist.
  • Use these measurements to calculate the width of each skirt panel, adding 1″ allowance to the width of each panel.
  • Measure from waist down to where you want the hem and add 3 1/4″ (1″ for the hem and 2 1/4″ for the elastic waist)
  • Place the fabrics right sides together and draw a rectangle with the fabric marker, using the above measurements.
  • Pin the fabrics together and cut out the rectangle with your scissors.
  • Cut a piece of elastic that is about 2″ smaller than your waist measurements.

Sew the skirt

  • Take the pinned panels to the sewing machine and sew the sides only with a 1/2″ allowance.
  • Take the skirt to the serger and finish the side seams. Alternatively, use a zig zag stitch to finish the raw seams if you don’t have a serger. Other methods for finishing the raw seams are highlighted in this tutorial.

 Hem the skirt

  • With the seam gauge or the measuring tape and the fabric marker, mark 1/2″ along the hem line, on the right side of the fabric.

  • Turn the fabric wrong side out.
  • Fold the hem up at the 1/2″ marks and press well with the iron on steam.

  • Fold again and press.


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  • Take the skirt to the sewing machine and sew the hem about 1/8″ away from the inside fold.

Attach the elastic

  • Join the elastic ends with a zig zag stitch or using this method.

  • Divide the elastic in 4 and add a pin at these marks.
  • Repeat for the top of the skirt.
  • With the skirt right side out, attach the elastic to the top of the skirt at the 4 marks in both the elastic and the skirt. Then add 4 more pins in between these marks.

  • Sew the elastic to the skirt with a wide zig zag stitch, about 1/4″ away from the raw edge.
  • Fold the elastic down.

  • Fold the elastic inside the skirt.

  • Then fold again inside the skirt.

  • Pin and sew with a zig zag stitch, close to the inside fold.

Alternative method for attaching the elastic

  • For this method you don’t need to join the elastic ends before so leave the elastic as is.
  • To insert the elastic you’ll need to create a casing in the top f the skirt.
  • For this, fold the top of the skirt inside 1″ and press with the iron on steam.
  • Fold inside again 1″ and press.
  • Sew around the casing, about 1/8″ away from the inside fold. Leave a small opening, about 2″.
  • With the help of a safety pin, insert the elastic through the casing until the ends meet.
  • Join the elastic ends as indicated above.
  • Top stitch the gap in the casing and even out the gathers.

And that’s pretty much it! Have fun wearing your comfortable elastic waist skirt!

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Elastic waist skirt pattern

about petro


Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…

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One Comment

  1. Diane Anthony says:

    Hi Petro, This skirt is just what I was looking for. When pinning the elastic to the skirt, do you keep it even with the top edge, or 1/4 inch below?

    Thank you.