Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Sew a Ruffle Skirt from a T-shirt and Fat Quarters

I've been wanting to make a ruffle skirt for myself for a while now, but I'm always a little afraid of making something for myself the first time, lest I make a mistake and waste a ton of fabric.  So I decided to make a practice one for my niece with some fabric and things I had in my stash.  This was my first time ever making a little girls skirt.  It's about a 3T and will fit a 19" waist nicely.  I'm so excited with how it turned out!  It's so stinking cute!  I really want to make one for myself...but I might wait until I get a ruffler foot for my sewing machine.  

Here's how I made it.

Waist - 19"
Waist to knees - 10"

Instead of sewing an underskirt, I found on old t-shirt, and made sure I didn't mind the color and that it would match my other fabric a little bit.  The width needed to be twice the waist (19"x2 = 38) and the length needed to be a bit more than 10" to take into account the elastic casing.  The width was 20x2 (close enough) and there were about 12" of the t-shirt under the underarms = perfect.  I sewed the elastic casing (just folded down 1.5 inches and straight stitched a quarter from the edge, making sure to leave an opening to slip the 1" elastic through).  I didn't have to overlock the edges because it's t-shirt fabric.

Then I dug out a little bundle of matching fat quarters.  There were 5 pieces of roughly 16x19" rectangles.  I cut each rectangle into 4 equal strips (4x19") and sewed them together to make one, long, strip (4x76" or so).  To hem the edges, I eyeballed a quarter inch, folded it down and ironed it for the whole strip.  Then I went back and folded the quarter inch over another quarter of an inch, and ironed it.  Then I pinned it, and straight stitched the whole long strip.  I did this for all 5 long strips.

Now it's time to ruffle the strips and sew them to the underskirt.  I just sewed with a very long stitch (5) down the long strip.  As you can see in the picture (above), I didn't overlock/zig-zag the other side of the ruffle strip to keep it from fraying.  This may have been a mistake.  I think this skirt will have to be washed delicately. 

Next time I might overlock the edge first, then sew the long stitch right next to the zig-zag, making sure it doesn't overlap, so that it will still ruffle when I pull on the string.

To ruffle the strip, just cut a bit of the string, and gently pull on it.  It's best to do this every 15 inches or so.  The longer the better, otherwise you'll be pulling your threat right out and be left with zero ruffles.

The fabric will bunch up.

You'll have to spread it out how you like it.  I wanted mine super ruffly.  You can also make ruffles by sewing the straight line with a high tension, like 9, and the sewing machine will make ruffles for you.  I tried that, but it was not nearly ruffly enough for me, so I did it the old fashioned way.  This takes a bit of time.  You have to cut the string, ruffle it, spread it out, pin it down, and all the while, make sure you have enough to go around.  It probably won't take you that much time if you don't have a little cutie crawling around trying to climb up the sewing table.  This little guy is just too cute to ignore.

Here I pinned the ruffled strip down.  Oh, before you start pinning, you might want to mark on the underskirt where you'll be placing the ruffled strips.  I just divided the skirt up and drew lines with a washable pen.  It helps to place the strips on the skirt to see how they lay.  I wanted my ruffles pretty close together (2.5") to make thick, bouncy, ruffles.  You must sew the strips down upside down, so that the unfinished edges don't show. 

Here I'm just sewing down over the ruffles.  Make sure you sew just to the right of the thread that you pulled to create the ruffles.  That way you won't see it after you flip and press the ruffle down.  You can also pull the thread you used to create the ruffles out after you're done sewing.  But this is all up to how much of a perfectionist you are.  I don't mind little threads here and there.  It gives it a cute, shabby-chic look.

Last but not least, iron all your little ruffles down a little, string the elastic through, close the opening, shake it out, and send it to the recipient.  I think she'll love it.

Here's a picture of my niece wearing it.  Isn't she so cute??


I'm sharing this post with: made with love, motivate me monday, making the world cuter monday, market yourself monday, made by you monday, party time, mad skills, life made lovely, crafty blog stalker


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  1. We need to get together and sew before you leave the area!

  2. So Cute!!
    I can't wait to see the one you make for yourself. ;-)
    Have a great week!

  3. Oh Elisa, it is gorgeous. I may have to try one for Amelia.

  4. Adorable, what a great project, so sweet!!!

  5. I have been wanting to do this too!! LOL, great idea about making a smaller version first!

  6. I have just started sewing again myself, just last week! And I have two girls so I have made A LOT of skirts already. Yours is darling!

    I would love, love, love to see the grown-up version. Please post when you do it!!

  7. Those are some intense ruffles! You really packed them in there for the maximum effect! It turned out great. You should be proud! Thanks for sharing with us! :)

  8. I am featuring this today on my blog! Yay! Have a wonderful week!

  9. You make this look so doable! I am SO making this. :) And giving you credit. :) Thank you very much!

  10. Love it. Thanks for sharing

  11. This is such a cute skirt! My girls would love this. Thanks for the tutorial!

    I would love if you would share with my Blog Stalking Thursday Linky Party.
    See You There!

  12. Hello
    Just letting you know that I have mentioned this post on my blog Please let me know if you wish for me to remove any content.

    Cheers Jennifer

  13. This is great! I love how it is a repurposed shirt!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing with Blog Stalking Thursday! I have featured you on this week's party! I would love for you to come grab a featured button to post on your blog. I can't wait to see what other great projects you come up with!

  15. Oh my goodness, did this post go up almost 2 months ago? I was inspired and made one almost immediately for my 4-year-old, but she's small for her age and the ruffles were huge and it swallowed her. I've been procrastinating trying to figure out how to alter it to fit her.

    Today I was determined to cross this project off my list. I tried it on my 6-year-old and it's perfect for her! So, problem solved (and could have been solved two months ago if I'd thought of it sooner!)

    Thanks for the tutorial. Your niece is adorable and looks very pleased with her ruffles!

  16. Found this tutorial on pinterest, and am amazed at all the great stuff on your blog. It looks like my to do list - sew your own cloth pull up, make dishwashing detergent...and a Catholic too? So exciting. I'll be following you a lot! Thanks for what you do! -Erin

  17. I never seen this post :/ But the skirt is super adorable and your niece is so sweet wearing it. Great job sweets :)

  18. Thank you so much for putting together this tutorial! I'm going to try it using tulle to make a super ruffley tutu for my daughter's first birthday photo shots. This is also a great way to use up scrap fabric taking up space in my stash. Thanks again!

  19. That skirt is just adorable. I'm going to follow your pattern and make one as well. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Found this on Pinterest...great tutorial!

  21. An Answer to my prayers!! Thanks for sharing. Now time for me to bust out my stash and sewing machine and get to work. The little girls birthday is in 3 weeks!!!! Again thanks!!! I love it!

  22. I made this skirt for my 11 yr old with some cute musical note fabric that she picked out. Your tutorial help tremendously! I loved using the t shirt. However, I did two big ruffles instead of multiple layers

  23. so beautiful thank you so much;)

  24. oh my goodness, this adorable. Just finding this now thanks to Pinterest!

    I hope you will consider uploading a photo of it into SewSet, a new on-line sewing pattern & tutorial search engine, so others can find it in the future when searching.

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    - Jess &

  25. I have been practicing my sewing on my niece and granddaughter too. Makes working out the project much easier and faster, and they are always happy with the little packages I send.


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