July 4, 2016

My ultimate summer skirt: elastic back skirt tutorial

In the summer I just want to wear super-comfortable cotton skirts… but if you’re anything like me, skirts with a waistband are just a bit pinchy when you sit down. Yep, I spread – and my waistbands need to, too. So, I decided to use some of my precious large gingham seersucker cotton from Japan and make a comfortable pull-on skirt with an elastic back- and I have an free elastic back skirt tutorial download for you!

Navy Gingham Skirt 2

The awesome thing about using elastic just on the back of the skirt is that you still have a flat front waistband, which is a touch more sophisticated (though don’t get me wrong, I can manage elastic all the way round, no problem), while you still have max comfort. I also have a technique for stopping the elastic twisting around that you can check out in the tutorial download.

Navy gingham midi skirt

To make this a super easy project – and to avoid having to pattern match gingham on diagonal seams – this is a really simple gathered skirt, with a rectangular waistband. But you could certainly use the same waistband approach on a more shaped skirt if you’d rather.

Navy gingham midi skirt

I managed to whip this up in less than 90 minutes, and I have a queue for more already…

Navy Gingham Skirt 4

If you want to make your own, click here to download the free PDF: Cashmerette Elastic Back Skirt Tutorial


45 thoughts on “My ultimate summer skirt: elastic back skirt tutorial

  1. Louisa says:

    What fun! Thanks so much for sharing! I am all lightweight-knit-cotton circle skirts with exposed elastic waistbands for the summer. I might tend towards being a lazy seamstress so they are perfect for me, but I have been wishing for a pattern that would work nicely with woven fabrics.

    1. Kathleen Frederick says:

      I’d love to see some you’ve made! I’m a plus size and intimidated with wearing the full circle skirt. Do you use smaller elastic or the 2+ inch? I think the larger would fold over on my waist.

  2. PsychicKathleen says:

    Will we receive this even if we’re already signed up to receive your newsletter? I love the idea of a back elastic only. I think it’s a great way to improve fit, comfort and style 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      You have to enter your email address again here to receive it (but you’ll only get the newsletter once)

  3. Mary in AZ says:

    The fabric is beautiful! Did you actually go to Japan to buy the fabric? Or is it available in one of the onlne stores? Thank you so much for everything you do Jenny. You are making an impact in the world.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Mary – I did buy this in Japan but I’m doing a post soon on where to buy Japanese fabric in America so keep a look out for that!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Brilliant! Can’t wait to try making one (or a few) for myself!

  5. Diane says:

    I received the tutorial, but can’t open it. Is there anyway this could be put in a pdf format? I don’t use Outlook or Windows Media mail to open my email, and this file wants to use one of those programs.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Diane – it is a PDF. If you save it to your computer then open with Adobe reader it should work

  6. Susan says:

    This looks so smart and I love the fabric also. Thank you for all you do.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Received your tutorial, can’t wait to try it. Thanks. Love your skirt. I am always trying to figure out the issue of being able to sit down without the garment fitting too loose. I came across a pair of Eileen Fisher plus pants that really intrigued me. They had a zipper, darts, (two in the back and one in the front) and an elastic. I thought this was brilliant. Easy to get on with the zipper, fitted with the darts and you can sit down with the elastic. I went back to the store a second time to see how the waist was made. The waist was part of the pants and the darts were sew into the “waist band”, the fabric was thin enough to accommodate folding the dart over without too much bulk. The elastic was sewn into the folded over waist band. I guess you could also do this with a separate waistband. I am going to try this too.

    1. Cat says:

      I came here looking for advice on sewing a skirt with both a zipper and an elastic

  8. sewinsteady says:

    YES! Thank you for sharing this, I’ve been wanting to make everything I own into elastic-back waistbands, after buying a pair of retro shorts from modcloth that feature an elastic back band. It’s SO much more comfortable!

  9. Pamela says:

    I did not get the download at all. Bummer.

    1. There’s a link to download it in the “welcome” email that you get, after you confirm your email address.

  10. Suzanna says:

    Your skirt is stunning! And I’d have happily paid for the pattern, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

  11. ladycampbell says:

    Looks so easy,but I’m at a loss as to how to work out the amount of fabric I will need..

    1. Well it will vary depending on your size and the length you want, but assuming that your skirt is less than 45″ wide (your hips are less than 85″ or so), and you make it around 29″ long, you will need under 2 yards.

  12. Kate says:

    I used this tutorial today. I really need to learn to read instructions better. Used my waist measurement for both the front and back waistbands so I ended up having to cut a second back waistband. That said – such a cute skirt! I love skirts with elastic backs. It came together so quickly and I will definitely be using the tutorial to make a second one. Thanks Jenny!

    1. Glad to hear it worked well for you after the little snafu!

  13. Marsha Ratzel says:

    What I appreciate most about a pattern like this is the flat front and the comfort of the elastic back. With my shape, it will make wearing it very possible. I also love the fact that I can customize the length for this plus-petite shape of mine. Thank you for creating this idea, sharing how you thought through the process and made it possible for someone to follow in your path.

  14. Gillian says:

    This will be a great stash buster. Add your flat lining technique and I have a couple of new skirts for work. So perfect! Thank you.

  15. claudia says:

    Hi, thank you so much for your skirt pattern and tutorial.

  16. Carol varcie says:

    Thanks for sharing the drafting information! That outfit looks really smashing on you !!!

  17. Bea says:

    This is great. Can’t wait to try it. Any advice on adding pockets? I can’t live without pockets!

  18. I love this skirt! Would quilting cottons work well with this do you think?

  19. Laura says:

    Hi – I signed up to get the tutorial and got the email to confirm my address but didn’t receive the welcome email with the link. I tried signing up for the newsletter too and haven’t received it yet. can you help me get signed up for the tutorial and newsletters? Thanks!

  20. Erin says:

    I just received the welcome email, but I don’t see a link to the tutorial. Is there another way to get it?

    1. Jenny says:

      The link is in the email where it says “download here”.

  21. Juno Beyer says:

    I signed up but can’t get the download. I checked my PDF file

    1. Hi – you’ll be sent an emailing asking you to confirm subscription, and then a welcome email – in that email there’s a link to download the tutorial.

  22. Barbara says:

    Thank you for the tutorial! A sewing newbie question: what kind of elastic did you use? I made a skirt last night and struggled because when cut according to the formula in your tutorial, the elastic I used (Dritz 1 inch wide “knit non-roll”) would not stretch to the full length of my skirt back. I had to add 2-3″ in order to get the elastic to fit. The skirt still looks good, but it’s loose around the waist. I’d love to make another one that’s a bit snugger, and am wondering if there’s another kind of elastic that stretches more? Thanks!

    1. There isn’t a particular brand of elastic I use, but I’d expect most elastic to stretch at least 25 – 30%. The elastic I use for these types of skirts is capable of stretching quite a lot further than it is in the skirt.

      1. Barbara says:

        Hmm, in the tutorial it says, “to calculate length, measure your front waistband width, multiply by 0.75, then subtract 2 inches”. My front waistband is 21.5″, and my back waistband is 28.5″. When I take 75% of the front waistband and subtract 2, that gives me about 14.25″. That ends up being only 50% of the back waistband, and the elastic won’t stretch that much.

        Should I instead be taking 75% of the *back* waistband, and subtracting 2 inches?

        1. Barbara says:

          I of course don’t need the elastic to stretch that much for wearing purposes, only for sewing it onto the fabric 🙂

        2. Jenny says:

          You’re adding those 2 inches back in with the woven tabs you attach at each end of the elastic, as described in the instructions. Second, it’s correct that ultimately the back waistband will be the same length as the front, when the elastic stretches.

          1. Barbara says:

            Ohhhh! Thank you so much for explaining. I completely misinterpreted the woven tabs bit and attached them to the elastic in such a way that they weren’t adding any length at all. I was a confused as to what exactly I was accomplishing, but figured that I should just trust the instructions. D’oh! I’ll give that a go when I make my next skirt. Thanks again 🙂

  23. Margaret StashEmpress says:

    So first of all — I probably did get the link back whenever it was I first subscribed — but can’t find it now — what’s the name of the pdf file? (I should probably have renamed it “Cashmerette Elastic Back Skirt” so I could find it LOL) So I’m trying now to “subscribe” to get it again, like you say — but when I do — well your website “thinks about it” and then the email box reappears with a red line around it — and I’ve got nothing by email — so I’m assuming the site recognized that this email is already subscribed & not interested in duplicating????? Suggestions????

  24. Evelyn says:

    Is it too late for this? I subscribed and got the email that said
    ‘Cashmerette Elastic Back waist tutorial. Subscription confirmed.” but the rest is very brief. There is nothing else that looks like an invitation to “click here” for the pdf. There are just two boxes. One says “Continue to our website” and the other says “manage your preferences”

    1. The email you were sent contains the info shown at the bottom of the blog post (if you check it again), and has a link to click for the download.

  25. Sandra says:

    Is it possible to add a stretch (elastic inserted into waistband) curved waistband to a curved waist on a skirt? I refer to Tessuti’s Eva Dress hack of the skirt portion. They use lingerie elastic but I would prefer something more substantial. Would appreciate your thoughts. Regards, Sandra

Let me know what you think!