How to make a simple skirt, with pretty ribbon trim, from a fat quarter and attach it to a bodysuit (onesie). Or you could leave it a plain skirt or attach it to a t-shirt or even leggings.
- fat quarter, or larger piece of fabric for a larger skirt (2 fat quarters would probably work for a 4-6ish girl.)
- bodysuit, t-shirt, leggings (optional)
- elastic (I used 1/4″ braided)
- ribbon (I think mine was 1/4″)
- thread, pins, scissors, and that kind of good stuff
- sewing machine and iron
I was going to make a little dress from a hand-me-down bodysuit and some heart print fabric. But, when I was out shopping I found this bicycle fabric. My dad is an avid cyclist and I couldn’t resist. I found a cute pink bodysuit to match.
Step 1. Cut the fabric in half. The fabric is a fat quarter (16″x22″) and because of the pattern, I had to fold and cut the fabric in half the long way. My pieces are 9″ by 21″ (after trimming the edge.) I would have preferred 11″ by 18″, but this works, too.
Step 2. Fold down 1/4″ of the top of the fabric (onto the wrong side) and sew it down. Repeat for the other piece. Note: You could just press it down. I sewed it.
Step 3. Fold about an inch the fabric over again (onto the wrong side) and sew a seam 5/8″ from the folded edge. Note: I realized later I should have just sewed the seam on the back piece. The front piece should have been just folded and pressed.
Step 4. On the back piece you are going to sew your elastic between two rows of stitches. Leaving a little bit sticking out of the end, put the elastic under the folded edge of the fabric up against the seam you just sewed. It’s good to secure the end with a few stitches so it doesn’t get lost. Then sew another row of stitches outside the elastic (no more stitches should go through the elastic) so the elastic is in a little sleeve, but able to slide freely. Set aside the back piece.
Step 5. On the front piece, sew a row of basting stitch about 3/8″ from the bottom of the folded edge. I used white thread for this. You can also hand sew a row of stitches. These will be used to gather the fabric, so you don’t want them very small or very tight.
Step 6. Gather the fabric by pulling on the threads of the basting stitches. You want the skirt to be 1/2″ to 3/4″ wider than the bodysuit. When you get it right, run a row of regular stitch down the same line as the basting stitch to hold the gathers in place. Then press with the iron. Note: if just making a skirt, you want to compare your width to the desired waist measurement, not the a shirt, because it will end up too loose.
Step 7.Place your ribbon over the rows of stitches and secure in place by stitching down both sides. I used white thread to match the ribbon.
Step 8: Tie a bow and sew it to the center of the ribbon. Or you could use some other embellishment, like a fabric or crochet flower. I tried to get fancy with my bow. It kind of worked. I sew it on with a short row of vertical stitches on either side of the center knot.
Note the line of stitches visible just above the ribbon. This is why I shouldn’t have done the 5/8″ hem on step 3 on the front piece.
Step 9. Take the back piece and gather it, by pulling on the elastic, until the width matches the front piece (read step #15 “elastic surgery” below before finishing this step.) Secure the end of the elastic with a few stitches, and cut off the excess. Now you have both halves of the skirt, with just the side seams and bottom hem to finish.
Step 10. Put the two skirt pieces together, right sides facing, so the tops, sides, and bottoms of both pieces align. Sew a seam about 1/4″ in on both sides, through both layers of fabric. Finish the edge with a zigzag stitch to keep it from fraying too much.
Step 11. Sew the bottom hem. I sewed a quick zigzag around the edge and then folded it under about 14″ and stitched it down. I am sure I have fancy stitches on my sewing machine which could do a better job, but I didn’t feel like figuring that out today.
The skirt portion is done! You can leave it as is, or attach it to some kind of clothing. I used a bodysuit.
Step 12. Pin the skirt in the desired location. I lined up side seams on the bodysuit and skirt. I looked at another of Miss C’s dresses to figure out the waist height. I folded the bodysuit in half to make sure the two sides were even. They were, even though the photo looks a little off. I put another 3 pins on the front and 3 on the back, evenly spaced.
Step 13. Sew the skirt to the bodysuit (or t-shirt.) I started at a side seam and sewed along the stitches above the elastic in the back and just above the ribbon in the front. Note: when sewing along the back you want to stretch the elastic and the bodysuit as the machine sews so there will be plenty of stretch when you are done. The front piece, with the ribbon, does not stretch.
The bodysuit dress is done!
Right about this point Miss C woke up, crying, from her short nap. At the exact same time, the toddler stopped playing quietly and told me “Mom, you need to change me. I pooped.” He knows how to use the potty. One of these days he’ll finally decide he’s ready to use it all the time.
Step 14. Try it on. Hmm. It seems a lot looser around Miss C’s waist than I would like. Time for elastic surgery.
Step 15. Elastic surgery. I took the dress off of Miss C (that’s important!) I found the center of the back of the skirt and then lifted the skirt so I was working underneath it (wrong side.)
I used my seam ripper to very carefully make a hole, between the two rows of stitches, without nicking the elastic. I pulled the elastic out through the hole.
I snipped off the center 3″, and sewed it back together.
I took the two side seams of the skirt, gave a gentle tug, and the elastic slipped back into the hole. It’s barely visible, even if you lift up the skirt and look carefully.
The bodysuit dress after elastic surgery. The back is now narrower than the front, so the ribbon wraps around to the back a little. I actually really like it this way.
Step 16: Try it on again. It has a much more fitted shape now. I like it.
I love that this opens up all kind of color and pattern possibilities which usually aren’t available for girls. It would be fun to make some little dresses from boys’ t-shirts (of which I have plenty) so her wardrobe can have some dinosaurs, monsters, vehicles, etc. Obviously it would be fine for her to just wear boys’ clothes without any modifications, but after four boys I’m enjoying cute skirts and getting to make things for her.
Hopefully the directions make sense. I have gotten far too little sleep recently.