today i’m posting a tutorial for skirting the issue, a campaign by liz and elizabeth of simple simon & co. to donate at least 100 skirts to girls in foster care by the beginning of august. i’m so happy to join in the effort!
the simons asked a bunch of bloggers to create simple skirt tutorials to share and inspire others to sew for this great cause (or anytime, really). since my little gal is only 4, my first thought was little gal skirts. a skirt is the first thing i sewed for her when she was just 15 months old, and remains a favorite thing to sew. my tutorial today is pretty simple, but it’s got some fun style. i’m also sharing a few general skirt making tips i’ve picked up over the past few years.
for the design, i was inspired by fruits – citrus, berries, and melons – the type of summertime fruit that my sisters and i sat outside and snacked on as kids, juice running everywhere, until we decided the best way to clean off was to run through the sprinkler. well…all but the lime, which was probably adding some flavor to mom ‘s icy cold beverage as she kept an eye on us.
i created an abstract color blocked skirt that gave me that summery feeling. i’m calling it the fruit stripe skirt!
we’ve got citrus in sizes 3T and 2T…
…and melon and a berry varieties in sizes 4T and 18 months!
the colors are interchangeable; once you know the method, you can make your skirts in whatever style you’d like. best of all, these take very little time and require no hemming! let’s get sewing.
- three cuts of fabric – you can make them fruitlike, like mine, or just pick any fun color/print combo in your stash. depending on your size you’ll need about 1/4 yd for the rind (green/yellow part), less than 1/4 yd for the pith (white part), and about 1/2 yd for the fruit (pink part). scraps work well here – use what you have!
- for the seedy skirts: fabric paint (i used black for the watermelon and metallic gold for the strawberry), regular pencil with intact eraser, x-acto knife
- 3/4″ elastic for the waistband
- safety pin, water soluble marker, and a clothespin
TUTORIAL – printing the seeds
i thought it’d be fun to add seeds to the strawberry and watermelon skirts for a little extra dimension, so i’ll start with a quick how-to on those.
trim a teardrop shape out of your eraser with your x-acto knife. dip it in some fabric paint (i like to use a scrap of freezer paper as my paint palette – i dab off excess and practice on the paper before stamping the fabric). start stamping in a random pattern, with the point of the teardrop facing up. allow to dry, then heat-set with an iron.
TUTORIAL – sewing the skirt
seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise specified
i prefer to cut toddler/preschooler skirts selvage to selvage and have just one seam in the back, but if you need to cut two pieces like i did on a couple of these, that works too – you’ll just have side seams. just make sure all fabric widths are exactly the same – even if you cut the strips selvedge to selvedge they may differ slightly, so square them up and trim them all to match.
you’ll lose about 2″ of the pink fruit stripe to waistband and seam allowance, so for a 13″ finished skirt (4T), cut a 12″ pink (fruit) strip. add or subtract an inch per size larger/smaller (so for the fruit strip, cut 11″ for a 3T or 14″ for a 5). no matter the skirt size, i cut all of my cream strips at 2″ and my rind strips at 5″ (aside from the two-color strawberry, where i cut just a 6″ rind piece). finished, the cream stripe will be 1″ + 2″ green rind + 10″ pink fruit = 13″ 4T skirt.
sew the short ends of each of the colors right sides together, so you have three tubes.
press the rind seam allowance open. for the pith and fruit, serge to finish the seam allowances or trim to 1/4″ and zigzag. if serging, feed each new strip right in after the last to save time. press finished seams to the side.
slide the pith tube over the bottom of the fruit, matching seams. here i like to “bisect and pin.” pin at the side seams, then pull both layers taut. align edges and pin in the center. then hold at a side seam and the center pin taught, and put a pin in the middle. repeat for the other side, working around the skirt until you’ve pinned all the way. this distributes any extra fullness along the entire skirt rather than starting to pin on one side and finding out you were off somewhere along the other end (it also works great for knit neckline binding).
sew, then finish, then press toward the darker fabric (here it’s the fruit).
fold your rind in half lengthwise wrong sides together, and press so your raw edges align.
slide the rind over the skirt, aligning the seams and pinning the raw edges as you did with the pith to the fruit. sew, then finish. press toward the rind.
this is what your skirt will look like from the right side and wrong side.
either serge the raw top edge or fold under 1/4″ then another 1 1/2.” press and pin. i like to use a green and red pin along the center back to mark where to leave the gap for my elastic. sew at 1 1/4″ (just within the serge seam), leaving about a 1.5″ gap in the center for the elastic. i also like to stitch about 1/8″ all the way around the top waistband to prevent the elastic from twisting.
cut a length of elastic to size (child’s waist measurement), then shape into a circle like it will sit in the skirt and mark arrows at each end with a water soluble pen. the parts at the edges of the arrows extend upward and will help you align them later. attach a safety pin to one end, and a clothespin to the other. feed the elastic through the gap using the safety pin – the clothespin will prevent you from losing the tail on the other end. when you get back to the gap, remove the pins and match up your arrows, making sure they haven’t twisted. overlap the elastic about 3/4″ and sew a square in it to secure, then spread out the waistband so it retreats up in there.
insert a ribbon or size tag into the gap, then sew closed. distribute the fullness toward the back of the skirt.
you’re DONE! fresh and fun and ready for summer! with no hemming, these really are very quick to make. if you make a skirt using this tutorial, please add it to the skirt as top flickr group!
if you make any skirts to donate to foster care, be sure to add them to the skirting the issue flickr group for your chance to win prizes (as well as the general “warm fuzzies” you get for doing a good deed)!
here are a few foster care agencies in the portland area for those looking to donate (thanks to kat for helping find these!):
please call first to make sure you’ve got the proper address before sending your skirts; i didn’t verify them and we want our skirts going to the right place! some also have specific donation wishlists for you to consider.
happy sewing, all you do-gooders!