Easy Elastic Waistband for a Little Girls Skirt

by Destri on January 16, 2010

I hate elastic waist bands.  I don’t know why for sure, but even on my little girls skirts they bug me.  I think it has more to do with how they make the skirt lay on her.  So I was going through all my clothes the other day and had a handful of old undershirts that were slightly stained or had lost there shape.  Not wanting to throw them out I threw them in with my scrap fabric to come up with something later.

Here’s what I came up with.  The fabric is extremely stretchy, so why not use it as elastic?  Then I can make it so the skirt hangs lower on the waist, and it will grow with the little one, she can wear it for years!  I’ll show you how I made the skirt, but it’s the waistband that I am mostly excited about, the skirts just a basic pieced, gathered rectangle.

Supplies:

  • All your sewing stuff
  • An old stretchy undershirt
  • Fabric cut out to fit whoever is going to wear it (I intended mine to fit a 3T, I used another skirt to help me) more on that below…

Start with the main body of your skirt.  Really any pattern will work for this but I wanted my skirt to be really poofy for a 3 year old, so I made it twice as wide as a standard 3T skirt.  I also made it twice as long so I could double it up for more fullness.  Sorry ladies, no specifics here!

After I pieced my fabric together I folded it in half right sides together and sewed the sides together with a ½ inch hem.  Of course you don’t need to use a pieced body, that just happened to be what I was doing.

Now press that seam down as shown.  How do you like that ironing board cover now?  Little easier on the eyes ‘eh?

I turned it right side out and folded in half to create the skirt.  You may not have this step if you will have a single layer, hemmed bottom.

Now because I wanted this to be really full I made to basting stitches (really long stitch) along the top of the skirt, just in case one breaks as I gather.  Glad I did, one broke.  Remember you don’t need to back stitch here, just a running long stitch.

Gather your skirt, aren’t those colors great?  I love them.

Now cut off the bottom of your stretchy shirt.  I made mine a wide waist band so it would grow with the little one, and her shirt should cover it just fine, so I cut down 5 inches.  I then used another skirt as my guide for the waist measurement.  Keep in mind that you want it to be fitted, it’s stretchy.  Sew up the ends, right sides together with a ½ inch seam.  The lovely part is you don’t need to worry about the top hem, it’s the bottom of your shirt!  Sweet.

After you have sewn up the side, leave it right side in and pin to the skirt as shown.  You will want to pull it over the skirt, top hem down and pin the raw end to the top of the skirt.  Loosen the gathers out to fit the circumference of the skirt and pin.

Now carefully sew the two together, leaving a ½ inch seam.  If you have a serger, now would be the time to use it, but you knew that right?  If you don’t you can use a zig zag stitch around the ends of the seam so when it is washed, it looks pretty.

You’re done!  I tried it on my kiddo and it is perfect.  It will hang just right so that the skirt swings from her hips, and her shirt will cover the waist band.  The best part is the way it lays, and it will grow with her so she can wear it for a couple years, hopefully.

Happy sewing!

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate January 16, 2010 at 8:22 am

Oh I wish I had a girl. The skirt is beautiful and your waist band is a fab idea…. it reminded me of the waist bands of preggie ladies! And we all know how comfortable they are now don’t we!

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Destri January 16, 2010 at 10:01 am

That was the idea!!!! How receptive you are….My little one has this cute little pot belly and it fits perfectly right over it, hmmm….now you have me thinking….I should make a maternity skirt!

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Suzanne January 16, 2010 at 10:35 am

What a great idea Destri. The skirt looks so adorable too!

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Jennifer January 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I love this! I just made my first skirt for my daughter using this waist band, I was so dreading fighting with elastic but this made it so easy!

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Destri January 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Yay!!!! Send me some pics!! Isn’t so easy? I seriously have ten under shirts I have saved for this. Thanks for letting me know!

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Jennifer January 18, 2010 at 6:49 am

I would love to, but how? haha :0) I ended up using the sleeve of one of my husbands shirts he was getting rid of! Worked perfectly for her little belly :0)

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Destri January 18, 2010 at 7:30 am

Just email me!!! destri at themotherhuddle dot com
sleeve!!! Brilliant!

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candace January 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I picked up that skirt when I was at your place, and was just admiring how darling it was– had NO idea you made it. I should have known;)

I think I’ve decided to scrap the ole broken down sewing machine and just go get a new one. Have no idea what it’d cost to get it fixed but think I’d end up spending more on the repairs that it was worth to begin with. Any suggestions on what brand I ought to get? What would your sister recommend?

I am soooo ready to do some projects and this one seems like it’d be a cinch. The fabric you chose is precious.

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Destri January 16, 2010 at 11:14 pm

So If you asked my sister, she’d tell you to buy a Bernina, but unless you have upwards of $700 laying around….
I myself am still on my kenmore, not even kiddin. And it works ok, but one day I will have a Bernina, you know, when I’m famous or something.
If you watch Dave Bernina’s will have refurbished machines for a pretty good price I hear.
That would be so fun if you got one, oh the fun we would have!

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Aubrey January 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm

So so cute Destri!! I’m excited to see it! :-)

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tammy January 18, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Wonderful.. now why didn’t you post this last week when I made her skirt and hate how it hangs..Oh well I will just have to make another one won’t I?
love it.
tammy

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Destri January 18, 2010 at 10:48 pm

You know the sad part is it was supposed to post last week…but see now you have another reason to sew!

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gigi January 19, 2010 at 9:04 am

thank you!!!! i really LOVE this idea, will make the skirt so comfy. my girls hate stuff binding around the waist (& i hate all that threading & such :)

have a great week!
gigi

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brandi January 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

this would work for little boy shorts too. when i get around to making a pair from upcycled mens shorts, i’ll do a tutorial! what a great idea!

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Papgena January 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

well, that is clever!
I’ll have to try it!
Thank you so much!

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luvinthemommyhood January 20, 2010 at 8:35 am

Love the tute and the site! This tutorial is featured in our link luv roundup today, come by for a peek: http://www.luvinthemommyhood.com/2010/01/link-luv-roundup-its-baaaack.html
Thanks for a great project!

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Natalie January 20, 2010 at 4:15 pm

What a great tutorial!!! Thanks so much for sharing it! Does it stay up well even though there is no elastic? I would loooove to see a modeled pic!!

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Destri January 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm

You know funny you should say that….
I made this for Aubrey’s little girl and she is in another state, so I had to try it on my little boy who is the same age, there was no way my hubbs was letting me post that!!
But yes, it stays up great because the fabric itself is very elastic, it was from a form fitting undershirt. And the nice part is you don’t have that elastic cutting into their tummies.
I will see if we can get Aubrey to take some pictures so I can post them!

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aubrey January 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Of course I will send a picture! But, I need to get the skirt first! :-) I’m excited to see it myself.

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Natalie January 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

LOL! I know the feeling – I just have a boy at home, but I sew for my nieces. :) Thanks for the reply.

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Megan January 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Great idea! I love the skirt design too! Did you use a fat quarter or something to find such adorable coordinating fabrics? Love it! Love the whole thing! With our first little one on the way, on not knowing the sex yet, I’m just stockpiling all these wonderful tutorials! Thanks!

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Destri January 31, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I did use a fat quarter bundle…and it was perfect for two skirts! Congrats!

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pinksuedeshoe February 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Such a great idea! I knew there was a reason I was keeping all those old shirts in my scrap bag! Cute Cute CUTE.

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Rene' February 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Destri, what a great idea for a waistband. I don’t make skirts for my daughter, but may change my mind now. This is brilliant. Love your fabrics too. Thanks for sharing.

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Becky February 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Brilliant! My nieces and daughter are going to get some great skirts. :D

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Nina @ mama Roux February 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Brilliant idea! I just might have to try it on a skirt for me! Thanks for sharing!

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Jana February 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

Great idea! I love the fabric you used — so cute!

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Leslie February 20, 2010 at 9:27 am

what a clever idea…great finish

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Kolleen February 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Excellent idea–nice work.

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Andrea February 25, 2010 at 7:32 am

I featured you on Make it Wear it this week! Thanks for sharing this!

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KaronM February 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Hi I also use a technique like this for MYSELF way more comfortable !!

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Anissa February 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I stumbled onto your blog today and was so excited about this tutorial. I had to try it out right away! You can see the pictures of my result here:
http://tocraftortocook.blogspot.com/2010/02/girl-skirt-without-elastic-waistband.html

Thanks for such a great tute! I’ll be checking your blog as a regular now. :)

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melissa May 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Genius!!

I am going to try this!

thanks

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Meredith May 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

What about sewing them together so the band folds over and doesn’t have any exposed seams, like a double layer of the t-shirt fabric or sewing it right side/wrong side together – so when the band is up the t-shirt seams are exposed but when you fold the waistband down it is concealed?

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Destri May 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I think I know what you mean, I will have to try that!

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Polly @ Helping Little Hands May 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Awesome idea! I want to try this.

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Michelle May 26, 2010 at 6:27 am

This? This is brilliance.
I too hate the bunchy elastic waistband. I too have t-shirts I don’t wear anymore.
Woohoo!
Thanks for the tutorial,
Michelle

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Jennifer J June 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Oh!!! do I love this concept! I just made sundresses and now want to make skirts for my two girls and with this I will be able to size up for my 8 yr old and down for my 4 yr old. I have collected fun fat quarters too!
Thanks for the idea
Jennifer

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onedeepblue July 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

I have some tank tops I cut the tops off of to make tshirt dresses. Now I know what to do with the bottoms!

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Allison Leach August 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

was looking for a tutu tutorial and stumbled upon this brilliant post! what a terrific idea! I’ve never made a skirt before, but this gives me the inspiration to do one for me and my girls! Love this! Excited to be a follower of your blog now!

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Clover@farrbetterlife August 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

THis is sooo cute. It is just like the maternity pants. I will have to give it a try. I hate elastic waistbands because I had threading the elastic through the band. It is a pain!!!

thanks!

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Christine November 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I know an easier way to gather the skirt- just hold a piece of string or dental floss along the top edge of the skirt and zigzag over it. Then you can gather the skirt along the string and you don’t have the risk of the thread breaking (like with traditional basting). I have used this method a lot and it works great.

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Teresa February 3, 2011 at 8:41 am

I love this idea!!! I will also try the zig zag over the dental floss idea for gathering. Thanks for the tips and ideas!

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joanie August 31, 2011 at 9:38 am

Destri, I just read your tutorial on this skirt-I love it being not a sewer, but a player. I like that its not bulky around little waists. I had a pair of stretchy-Garanables brand ( spelling-?) stretchy pants put away for cooler weather for my grandaughter and thought this is what I needed. I’m cutting about 3 or 4 inches below the folded over top waistband and then following your directions. I got the pants on clearance for $1.00–it doesn’t get any easier than that! I’ll be looking at the clearance rack at Walmart again. Thank you and Take care, joanie

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Destri August 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Joanie that is a great idea! I was just about to throw away a bunch of stretch pants my little one has outgrown in length, but now I think I will hang onto them! Thanks so much, for the suggestion and the compliment :)

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christi September 20, 2011 at 9:03 am

FINALLY I found this again after losing my bookmarks! I ADORE this skirt, and I would really love to know what kind of undershirt you used for the waistband. is it a seamless?? just a stretchy tee? Please msg me back & let me know, I am in love with the whole skirt, but the waistband is precisely what I’d like to copy for my daughter. thank you ;o)

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Destri September 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Hi Christi, first thank you!
I really should have been more specific in the post about the material I used. It came from an undershirt that had a little spandex in it. Really, I think any knit would work, but if it is 100% cotton it may stretch a little until the next washing. So if it has a little synthetic in it, it usually holds up a little better. That skirt actually still fits my little girl, I should get a picture of it on her!
Let me know if this helps, or if you have any more questions,
Destri

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Emily @ Make It Happen Mama September 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I mentioned this article on my blog today! Thanks for such an awesome tutorial :-)

http://makeithappenmama.blogspot.com/2011/09/tale-of-three-tees.html

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Ms Kate December 1, 2011 at 11:24 pm
Destri January 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

Shoot, I can’t seem to get the link to work, I would love to see it!

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Ms K January 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm
Pamcakes January 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Thank you so much for sharing! I am a beginner sewer so awesome tutorials like this can really help a gal out! I used a tutorial from http://www.danamadeit.com/2008/07/tutorial-a-simple-skirt.html and then morphed it with your fabulous waistband idea! My daughter loves it! See the end results at
http://txrockstarlibrarian.blogspot.com/2012/01/sew-much-fun.html

Thanks again!

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Becki February 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

I love this skirt the waist band is a brilliant idea!
Just had a go and it turned out really well,Becki

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خياطة وتفصيل February 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

So so cute Destri!! I’m excited to see it! :-)

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Betty Grove March 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

I dislike elastic waistbands with a passion. I made pants for my son when he was small and no matter how I tried they would curl or twist. When he started wearing pants with zippers we went to the store. This is a terrific idea and now that I’m sewing for my great nieces I want the waistband on the skirts to be perfect. Thank you so much for showing us a great idea.

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Debbie Bradfod July 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Will this work for women as well as children? If so as soon as I get your answer I’m gonna make me one!!

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Destri July 21, 2012 at 5:41 am

Yes! Actually since I posted this, many have used it even for maternity shirts. I have been wanting to make one for me just for the comfort factor! Make sure you pick a shirt that has a little more than cotton – like an tight fitting undershirt.

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Samantha September 13, 2012 at 1:28 am

You could also use the top of those too small tights that you might have thrown away just remember to slightly stretch the fabric as you sew so the seams wont bust when stretched.

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