How to Make a Maxi Skirt

Made out of knit or cotton fabric and with only three seams to sew, a maxi skirt is a great sewing project for a beginner seamstress. Plus, it's the perfect closet staple for transitioning seasons. Wear it with a tank top and sandals now and with a denim button up, scarf and boots later -- this skirt is versatile enough to wear year round!

Woman wearing maxi skirt
(Image: Jess Abbott)
Simple maxi skirt DIY
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Things You'll Need

  • 2 1/2 yards knit fabric

  • 1 yard of 1-inch elastic

  • Coordinating thread

  • Ball point sewing needle

  • Rotary cutter or scissors

  • Pins

  • Sewing machine

  • Measuring tape

Tip

Cotton/woven fabric can be used, but is not recommended as it will restrict leg movement when walking. If you do choose to use cotton/woven fabric, please use a regular point sewing needle.

Materials needed for sewing a knit maxi skirt
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 1: Measure Yourself

Using a measuring tape, measure the circumference of your natural waist. Repeat for hips, and add 2 inches to your hip measurement. (If using woven fabric, add 6 inches to hip measurement).

Next, measure from your waist to the floor to determine your desired skirt length. Add 1 inch to that measurement.

Diagram for how to measure yourself properly
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 2: Cut Maxi Skirt Front and Back Pattern

Fold your fabric in half so that the selvage ends meet up on the sides. Using your length measurement, measure from the top of the fabric to your desired length. Cut two piece of fabric, selvage to selvage, this length.

Measuring and cutting your maxi skirt front and back
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Divide your hip measurement by 4. With the fabric still on the fold, cut an arced line from the bottom skirt hem tapering up towards the top of the skirt to cut the front and back pattern pieces of the skirt. The top waist of your skirt should be the same measurement as your hip (divided by 4).

Tip

Please note, the top of your skirt is not the same measurement as your waist, but rather as your hips. You want to be able to put the skirt on with ease, and not have it be too tight. We will use your waist measurement in the elastic steps later.

Arc the side from the bottom, tapering up towards the waist
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 3: Cut Waistband

Fold your fabric in half again, and cut two waistband pattern pieces the same width as your upper skirt by 3 1/2 inches.

Cut out the maxi skirt waistband
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 4: Sew Skirt Pattern Pieces

Place your maxi skirt front and back pattern pieces right sides together. Pin and sew the side seams, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance and a small straight stitch or overlock stitch.

Sew front and back maxi skirt together
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 5: Sew the Waistband

Place the two waistband pattern pieces right sides together, pin and sew the side seams.

Sew the waistband right sides together
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 6: Attach the Waistband to the Skirt

Matching up the side seams, slip the waistband over the top of the skirt right sides together. Pin the upper edge together and sew around using a stretch, zig zag, or overlock stitch and a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Fold waistband up, and press seam up.

Sewing the waistband to the skirt
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 7: Create Casing for Elastic

Fold the top edge of the waistband 1/2 inch toward the wrong side and press. Fold waistband in half toward the inside of the skirt, enclosing the raw waistband seam. Pin waistband all around. Sew using a long straight stitch, leaving a 2-inch opening.

Create the casing for the elastic
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 8: Cut and Insert elastic

Using your waist measurement, cut a piece of elastic to size.

Tip

For a snugger fit around the waist, subtract 2 - 3 inches from your waist measurement. This will ensure that the maxi skirt sits on your natural waist when wearing. For a looser fit, use your actual waist measurement.

Cut elastic your waist measurement
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic. Insert safety pin into the opening of your waistband, and slide safety pin all the way through your waistband. Make sure to hold onto the other end of your elastic when slipping the safety pin through.

Insert elastic into waistband casing
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Pin the overlapping elastic ends together, making sure your elastic is not twisted inside of the waistband before doing so. Sew a rectangular box over the overlapping elastic, using a straight stitch to secure. Pull elastic fully into the waistband, and finish sewing the waistband closed.

Sew elastic ends together
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 9: Hem the Maxi Skirt

Fold the bottom of your maxi skirt 1/2 inch toward the wrong side and press. Fold again 3/4 inch and press, enclosing the raw edge. Sew around to hem, using a long straight stitch, double needle, or coverstitch.

Tip

If using knit fabric, make sure you do not stretch the hem when sewing so as not to get 'wavy' fabric. If you do not have a coverstitch machine or double needle, you might consider using a stabilizer or interfacing the wrong side of your hem prior to sewing to aid in this process. It helps, but is not necessary.

Hem the skirt
(Image: Jess Abbott)

Step 10: Press

For a clean professional finish, always press your handmade clothes. This ensures that they look their best at all times!

Press and finish maxi skirt
(Image: Jess Abbott)
Woman wearing a maxi skirt at an outdoor gardening supply store
(Image: Jess Abbott)
Fall outfit on a mannequin
(Image: Jess Abbott)
Woman wearing maxi skirt
(Image: Jess Abbott)
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