A Stripwork Skirt Tutorial

I have been sewing up so many of these adorable little skirts for my daughters, I thought it would be fun to try to do a tutorial for them.  This will be my first tute for anything (besides Italian Rainbow Cookies :-)) so I hope I do it okay!  My version of the stripwork skirt is based upon Pink Fig's "The Girly Stripwork Skirt No. 5", only I use half the amount of strips (2 each of 5 different fabrics, instead of the original 4 each).  My daughters prefer it less gathered, and it lets you see the individual fabrics better, in my opinion!

Step 1:  Have your pattern pieces ready.  The stripwork skirt pattern is basically just 3 rectangular pieces: drop waistband; strips for main skirt; and hem band.  I have been making these skirts for my daughters, ages 6 & 12.

My pattern pieces for size 7, are:

drop waistband (cut 1 on fold): 6" x 14"

strips for main skirt (cut 2 each of 5 different fabrics): 6" x 11"

hem band: 6" x approximately 60"

My pattern pieces for size 14ish are:

drop waistband (cut 1 on fold): 8" x 16"

strips for main skirt (cut 2 each of 5 different fabrics):  8" x 13"

hem band: 8" x  approximately 80"

Step 2:  The fun part is deciding upon your fabric.  I like to pick various prints that are generally within the same palate, and I also like to have at least one lighter fabric and one darker, but the choice is yours!  I also like to sometimes use the same fabric for both the drop waistband and the hem band, but again, feel free to mix it up :).  When you have cut out your fabric, it is a good idea to finish all raw edges with a serger or zig zag stitch, to keep them from fraying.  I have a serger and skip this step at the beginning, but do it in later steps.  I think either way is fine :).  

Step 3:  Lay out your strips for the main skirt in the order you want them.

With right sides together, sew the strips on the long edges, one to the next, until they are all in one long strip. 

Step 4: Finish each raw edge of the sewn strips.  On the back of your skirt, use a warm iron to press all seams down, in the same direction.  Flip over the skirt and topstitch all the seams.


Step 5:  I like to finish the top raw edge of the sewn strips, so it will be nice and even later on, when I attach the hem band.

Step 6:  Make the hem band.  With right sides together, sew both strips of the hem band together at the edges.  Make sure the designs are facing the same way on both strips.  Finish the raw edge with a zig zag stitch, if not using a serger.  Press the seam to one side:

Step 7:  Fold the hem band strip in half down the long edge, wrong sides together.  With a warm iron, press it down to make a solid and firm crease.

Step 8:   With right sides together, pin the hem band to the bottom edge of your main skirt.  You can line up the seams of the hem band any way you like.  I usually pick my favorite strip on the main skirt and use it as my center front piece.  Then, line up the seam of the hem band with the strip that will be on the side seam. Sew the hem band to the skirt.  If not serging, then finish the raw edge. 


Step 9:  Sew the hem band to the skirt (finish the raw edge, if not serging).  Press the hem band seam towards the top of the skirt, and top stitch the seam.  

Step 10:  Gather the top of the main skirt with a double row (very close together) of basting stitches.  You want them close enough together that it makes a nice, tight, even gather.  When you start your gathering stitch, be sure to do a couple of back stitches to secure the thread, so that it doesn't pull out when you gather it.

Step 11:  I use the drop waist band as a guide, on how much to gather the skirt.  I line up the drop waist band seam with the side seam of the stripwork skirt.  Adjust your gathers as necessary, so it will fit into the drop waist band.  Then, sew up the sides of the stripwork skirt to each other (first strip to the last).  You will have a big (hopefully, still gathered :)) circle.  With right sides together, pin the gathered part of the main skirt to the drop waistband.  Center the seam of the waistband in the back and pin it to the gathered skirt.  Sew the pieces together with the gathered side up, so you can make sure you get all the gathers sewn in.  If you didn't serge, you need to finish the raw edge (again, with the gathered side facing up, to make sure you get it all in).  Gently pull the basting thread out of the skirt, if it is still visible.

The main skirt sewn to the drop waist band should look like this:

Step 12:  Fold the drop waist band up and on top of the skirt, press seam down with a warm iron.  Fold the drop waist band down about 1 inch, and iron the crease all around:

Step 13:  I know that this is the non-conventional way to finish the drop waist band, but it is what I've found works best for me!  At this point, I measure the elastic for the drop waist band.  My daughters like to wear their skirts more around their lower waist, so I use that measurement.  I add an extra inch for a seam allowance, and then I sew up the elastic (I serge it together, and then tack it down with top stitching).  I like to use 1" non-roll elastic. :).

You should have a circle of elastic:

Step 14:  I then slip the elastic inside of the drop waist band, and fold the waist band over to where it meets the finished seam of the waist band and main skirt (I hope this makes sense....):

Step 15:  The pattern says to make a casing for the elastic, but I skip this step on mine.  I very carefully sew the top of the drop waist band to the bottom of the drop waist band, making sure I sew right over the waist band seam.  This, in effect, top stitches the seam on the other side.

Turn your skirt right-side-out, and, you're done!  Put it on a sweet little girl, and, voila!  Tres chic :)


  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm a very amateur sew-er and these instructions were very helpful and easy to follow and now I can't stop making them! Pretty soon every girl in the neighborhood will have one.