Elastic waistband full gathered skirt sewing tutorial

August 13, 2016

Have you heard about my love affair with elastic waist skirts? If you follow my work on ZanziBach you probably heard about it. This summer I wore only skirts on elastic and not only because of my floating waist circumference, but also they are very comfortable and so easy to dress up.  Usually I have this big problem with skirts with regular waistband or waistband. They tend to rotate around my waist and I ended up walking on the street and arranging them all the time and swearing myself never wore them again. So I solve this problem by wearing skirts on elastic waist and couldn’t be happier.

In this tutorial you will learn how to sew easy full gathered skirt on elastic with hidden seam pockets. Exactly the same skirt as I made for my last collection of Liberty of London skirts. Isn’t this cool!?  This sample skirt we will make will be length 55 cm, but I will show you the formula for custom length too.


Gathered skirt sewing tutorial

  1. Skirt fabric: lightweight cotton or linen will be great. Length = desired skirt length + 1cm (3/8″) waist seam allowance + 3cm (1 1/4″) hem seam allowance. Width 120 cm (47″) – 140 cm (55″).  For our sample skirt  we will need  ~ 59 cm x 120 cm (23 1/4″ x 47″). Cut skirt pattern as showed in the picture. Cut 2x.


2. Waistband = your hip measurement + 10 cm (4″). Our sample skirt will need 107cm x 8cm (42″ x 3 1/4″). Cut 1x.

3. Interlining the same measurement as waistband. Need to be used only for very lightweight fabric. I would use it for Liberty Tana Lawn, but skip it for linen as linen is more structured and more wight.

4. Elastic 2.5 cm (1″) width, length little bit less than your waist measurement.

5. Thread.

6. Scissors.

7. Iron.

If you would like to sew skirt with inseam pockets, than additionally you needed:

  1. Interlining 19cm x 2cm (7 3/8″ x 3/4″) – cut 2 for each pocket, so you will need 4 for two pockets.
  2. Print this pocket tamplate and cut 2 for each pocket you want to make. Seam allowances are included in the pattern and are 1.5cm (5/8″) for pocket side seam and 1cm (3/8″) for pocket seams.

Sew inseam pockets or side seams

  1. If you would like to sew inseam pockets, than follow this instruction to sew inseam pockets on your skit. Take a note, that pockets need to be insert 12.5 cm (5′) from waistline seam.
  2. If you won’t sew pockets, than sew side seams with seam allowance 1.5cm (5/8″) and iron flat.

Prepare waistband

  1. Iron seams 1 cm (3/8″) and 1 cm (3/8″)  and iron in half so that one side is 2mm wider than other as shown in pictures

2. Sew together waistband back seam leaving the opening for the ribbon (leave the opining on the narrowest part of the waistband.

how to sew waistband

Gather the skirt

  1. Set your machine to the stitch length 3mm with loose thread tension (I use maximum loose). Sew two parallel gather stitch rows (0.5cm (1/4″) and 1.5cm (5/8″) from edge) to the top of the skirt.

I usually gather separately front piece and back piece, I stitch 4 rows: 2 on front piece of the skirt and 2 on back piece of the skirt. You have long seam to gather and that way it is easier to gather the skirt and threads don’t break up.

gathered skirt - shirring fabric

2. Mark the center front and center back on the top of the skirt. Mark the sides on the waistband. So that your skirt waist have 4 marks and waistband has 4 marks. Later it will be easier to match the skirt and waistband perfectly.

skirt waistband

3. Pull the 2 back treads together to shrink the fabric. Shrink it evenly so that front of the skirt matches the half of the waistband length, matching the center marks. Tie up the treads and even the gathers.

Do it exactly the same with back of the skirt.

4. Iron the gathered seam on the skirt top.

Attach waistband

1. Unfold the seam on the narrowest waistband half. Pin and sew on the narrowest waistband half to the shirred skirt by placing the waistband front side to the skirt wrong side, sew from skirt side with 1 cm seam allowance.


attaching the waistband to gathered skirt

2. Fold the waistband back and pin from the front side of the skirt. Sew 1mm from waistband edge.

attach the waistband to gathered skirt


If you want you can also sew 1 mm row from the top of the waistband. It will make your waistband tunnel more firm.

3. Unpick the gathered temporary stitch on the skirt.

4. Measure elastic as you needed for your waist and add 1.5 cm (5/8″) for seam allowance. I took 63 cm (25″) elastic for ~75 cm (29 1/2″) waist measurement, but it also depends on elastic quality and skirt fabric you use.

5. Pull the elastic in the waistband tunnel.

elastic waist skirt tutorial

6. Join and sew elastic ends together. I leave opening one waistband open, in case I will need to adjust it one day.

elastic waist skirt tutorial

      1. Ta daa, your waistband is ready!


Fold and iron 1 cm (3/8″) and 2 cm (3/4) on hem and sew 1 mm from edge.

Your skirt is ready to go!

gathered skirt on elastic waist with inseam pockets

Get inspired and make it from lightweight floral cotton or simple basic linen! Make them become your favorite skirt!

Pink Liberty of London floral skirt Liberty of London floral skirt

If  you are not into making them or you truly love what I made, take a look into my shop and get one for yourself!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *