How to Sew a Pareo

Become a Tahitian beauty at the beach with a short pareo skirt.
Become a Tahitian beauty at the beach with a short pareo skirt. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Pareo is a Tahitian term for a wraparound skirt. You can make your own pareo skirt for your next trip to the tropical islands or for just your next trip to the local beach. The skirt is incredibly simple to make, and it can incorporate your choice of regular or luxury fabrics. Choose a thin cotton fabric with a printed design or pattern, or choose a soft silk fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread

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Measure from your waist to the top of your feet for a long pareo, and from your waist to just below mid-thigh for a short and flirty pareo. Measure around your waist, and multiply the circumference by 2.5.

Cut a rectangle from your fabric according to the above measurements.

Fold over 1/8 inch along each edge and iron.

Fold over another 1/8 inch and sew a loose zigzag stitch to make an elegant rolled edge border. If you are new to sewing, you can create a simpler edge that requires a bit less skill. Fold over 1/2 inch all the way around the rectangle, and sew a simple running stitch to keep the folds.

Wrap the pareo around your waist, and tie the ends in a tight knot over top of one hip.

Tips & Warnings

  • To embellish a solid-colored pareo, hand or machine embroider a decorative scroll design all the way around the outer edges.
  • For an easier embellishment, cut four pieces of fringe border -- one for each side of the pareo -- and sew the border to the edges.


  • "Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics"; Francesca DenHartog; 2006
  • "Tahitian Costume Making"; Vicki Corona; 1989
  • "200 Sewing Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets"; Lorna Knight; 2010
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