woman in blue gathered skirt

This is one of the easiest things to make. What I love about those skirts is elastic in the waistband. It can be so much more comfortable than zip, especially if your waist tends to change or you if you often get a bloated stomach.
If you’ve never made one, here’s how I do it. It’s really simple. You can make it from woven or knit fabrics. Mine is woven but I will also help you make one with knit fabrics so keep reading 🙂

Woman wearing gathered skirt

Use light to medium fabric. For example, cotton poplin, lawn, polycotton, jersey. Heavy fabric would create too much bulk around the waist. You can use both woven and knit fabrics. For knits, you don’t have to use as much fabric as it stretches. I will show you how to make both types.

For the calculations, you need your hip circumference. If your waist circumference is bigger than hips use that number instead. You will also need approx. distance between your waist and hips (vertically).

My hip measurement is 96cm and waist-hip distance is 19cm. These are the values that I used for the calculations below.

My skirt has got two tiers and a flat waistband. All these are cut from rectangles, you don’t need any special pattern.

The front of the skirt is the same as the back so we will divide everything by 2. In total, we will need 2 identical pieces of the waistband, tier 1 and tier 2. Total 6 pieces. Cut all the pieces on the grainline.

See the calculations below. Your values might be different than mine of course.


Cutting your waistband:

My whole waistband is made out of two rectangles for the front and back, with sides sewed together and folded in half lengthwise.

Length of the rectangles:
Take your hips circumference, add 10cm and divide it by 2. In my case it was 96cm+10cm=106cm 100cm/2=53cm. Each side needs seam allowance (1cm) so add 2cm: 53cm+2cm=55cm.

You need your skirt to have a circumference equal to your hips circumference+ease to pull it up.
10cm is the ease. I divide it by 2 because the front and back are separate pieces.

Width of the rectangles:
Check the width of the elastic that you plan to use. Add 2cm to that value, multiply by 2.
For example, my elastic is 3.5cm so 3.5cm+2cm=5.5cm, 5cm*2=11cm.
From the 2cm that we added 1cm is ease for elastic and 1cm is for seam allowance for each side.

Cut two rectangles. In my case, they’re 55×11. One will be front and the other back.

waistband dimension calculation

Cutting 1st tier:

The length of each rectangle is exactly the same as your waistband.

Width of the rectangles:
Waist-hip distance -(elastic width+1) + 2cm. In my case it is 19-4.5+2=16.5cm.
4.5cm is the final width of the waistband when attached to the skirt.
You can change this value to make this tier longer (or shorter). Mine tier finishes at the hip line.

TIP: If you make it longer make sure that you’ll still be able to walk! You need more fabric around your knees and ankles when walking. For example, your hips are 90cm. 100cm is fine around the hips but when you walk you move your legs. 100cm around your ankles would restrain you.

Cut two rectangles 55×16.5.

1st tier of skirt calculation

Cutting 2nd tier:

Length of the rectangles:
Approx. 2x width of the 1st tier rectangles.
You can make it a bit less or more. 2x is my preferred ratio. That gives us 110cm.

Width of the rectangles:
Any height you want 🙂 my skirt is mid-calf length. So I measured myself from hip to mid-calf and added seam allowances. This is your personal choice. Just remember to add seam allowance to the top and hemming allowance to the bottom edge.

Cut two rectangles.

2nd tier calculation for gathered skirt

Last thing is to cut your elastic. I cut it slightly shorter than my waist circumference. Whatever feels comfortable.


You can make your skirt exactly the same way but you can also make your rectangles shorter to reduce the bulk around the waist because it’s stretchy. You can make it as fitted as you like but make sure you can still pull it on.

Take your fabric and figure out its stretch capacity which is basically the amount of stretch. You can use a stretch gauge or just stretch it against the ruler. Simply mark 10cm of fabric (or a different amount) when the fabric isn’t stretched, then stretch it and measure what is the length of that fabric now. For example, the new length is 15cm. That means that your fabric has got 50% of stretch which is a moderate stretch.

What this tells us is how much shorter our rectangles can be. In other words, we’ll be using negative ease to figure out the width of our pieces. Remember that the most important value is our hip circumference.
The amount of stretch is different for different fabrics. Let’s assume that we’re working with a moderate stretch jersey for now with 50% of stretch.
The minimum length of a first-tier rectangle would be 37cm. Why? Because 37×150%=55cm. 100% is original length and 50% stretch.

Cut your elastic in the same way.

1. Cut all your pieces: 2x waistband, 2x 1st tier, 2x 2nd tier & elastic for the waistband.

Gathering method shown

2. Gather your 2nd tier pieces and sew to the 1st tier with right sides facing. Overlock or zigzag to protect edges. For gathering tips look here:
Repeat for the other side.

Sew sides together

3. Sew sides together of your skirt and your waistband. Overlock or zigzag for neater finish.

folding the waistband

4. Press your waistband with iron (lengthwise).

Sewing the waistband to the skirt

5. With right sides facing sew your waistband to the top of the skirt.

Feeding elastic through the waistband

6. Fold the seam allowance and press. Fold the waistband and topstitch. I recommend sewing from the outside as that’s where the seam is visible. If you’re struggling to catch the fabric underneath you can tack it first. Leave a 4-5cm gap for pulling your elastic through.

sewing elastic

7. Overlap the elastic and sew together. Close the gap.

Hemming the skirt

8. Hem your skirt.

And that’s it 🙂 wasn’t too bad, was it? Let me know if you would like to see more tutorials like this!

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