fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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!

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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…

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

…and melon and a berry varieties in sizes 4T and 18 months!

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial
the variable measurement is the body of the fruit, which i switched up based on what i had in my stash to result in four skirts ranging in size from 18-24 months to 4T.  since i’m donating these, i made whatever length i could based on the fabrics i had, then measured waistbands to fit.  this sizing chart is a good reference for skirt lengths, though i cut elastic about 1″ shorter than the waist measurements shown.  i would rather have the skirt be a bit too long than falling off, and those waist measurements just seemed big to me.

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

sew the short ends of each of the colors right sides together, so you have three tubes.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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).

fruit stripe skirt tutorial-1

sew, then finish, then press toward the darker fabric (here it’s the fruit).

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

fold your rind in half lengthwise wrong sides together, and press so your raw edges align.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

this is what your skirt will look like from the right side and wrong side.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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!

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

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!


40 thoughts on “fruit stripe skirt tutorial

  1. Jessica at Me Sew Crazy says:

    I am so in love with these Kristin!!! That watermelon skirt?! I mean, how awesome is that?!! I love it!

    If you have a chance, I would be honored if you would link these skirts, and some of your other tutorials, into the SewSet directory. Your stuff is just so amazing!!!

    Thanks again, and hope you are having a great day!

    – Jess

    • kristin says:

      thanks, but really, they are fast! i sewed two per naptime and probably could have made even more – it’s the tutorial that takes me all week. haha.

  2. kim says:

    Such a great project and such beautiful skirts. Choosing colors (for anything) intimidates me, but I always love your choices. Hope you’re doing well!

    • kristin says:

      oh thanks, kim. colors are so fun to play with, i think. i tend to spend a lot of time just putting fabric next to each other to see what i like together.

  3. anna says:

    fruit striped gum, it’s the yummy fruity one, stick a stripe of gum. I love these skirts so much!!! My girls would love them. seriously,clever.

    • kristin says:

      oh there ya go – always looking for emily-natalie pleasing homesewns! you could make two in an evening, so there’s not much risk involved if they don’t. 😉

  4. carolyn says:

    What a perfect skirt for summer and I love the tip about sewing 1/8″ around the top of the skirt b/c twisted elastic is the bane of my existence. And I have to say that I LOVE this cause. I worked with kids in foster care for several years and they certainly have a special place in my heart!

  5. Laura says:

    They are amazing, so inspired and so so cute. I absolutely love them. I think you might mean yard not inches in the materials section though, otherwise they’re going to be some very short skirts 🙂

  6. Danielle says:

    Such a cute idea! My sister and I had watermelon dresses when we were little that my mom made and these make me totally nostalgic! Plus they are neat and tidy and perfect as usual. Great tutorial!! I am so bad at tutorials.

  7. Amber says:

    This is my favorite tutorial so far for this cause, love it! And thanks for posting the Portland list, I’m in Salem so that’s helpful!

  8. Lucinda says:

    amazing cuteness. Thanks so much for taking the time to share a tutorial for these. And really – what an awesome cause!

  9. Haylee says:

    These are so freaking cute! This is seriously the most brilliant idea ever. I want to make one for my niece now but I can\’t for the life of me decide which one I want to make more, the watermelon one or the orange one. Thanks so much for the tutorial, this really is the cutest idea ever.

    By the way I am in love with your blog! I am so happy you commented on mine not because of the super nice things you said, but because it led me to yours! ha, I\’m definitely subscribing and look forward to future posts.

  10. Jessica says:

    Love the mornings when choosing what to feature on SewSet is totally easy, this morning was one of those days. Fruit stripe skirts? Check!

    Thank you so much again, you are awesome!

    Talk soon!
    – Jess

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