So I’ve been hard at work coming up with projects for my students as usual. Things that I try to keep in mind: how to foster developing sewing skills and keep the projects interesting and appealing. Projects that utilize the same techniques help kids to improve and develop skills, but no one wants to sew the same project 5 times. Well, some kids may want 5 new pillows for their room, but most don’t want to wear the same style skirt everyday of the week. We like variety and we like our stuff to have a unique character.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to come up with several skirts that my students could make instead of the easy beginning skirt that we start with. Embellishments and added flair are always a good idea. While brainstorming ways to embellish a skirt (besides the obviously pocket idea or adding lace to the hem idea–been there, done that as they say) , I spotted this fat quarter bundle in my stash. Tucked away neatly in its ziploc bag. I had bought it online for a specific project, but when it came, it screamed at me, ” don’t make me into that!!” So it decided to cure and age a bit in the stash.
The bundle reminded me of my Country Skirt pattern for American Girl Dolls. Slightly modified, that would be a very good project for girls to make and build their sewing skills! Maybe they’ll want to make a matching doll skirt, too.
The country skirt is a knee length skirt, but this could easily be made longer. It could also be twirly or not-so-twirly. Your choice 🙂 I’ll add those tips in the cutting steps.
So here it is, a country skirt modified using a fat quarter bundle.
What you’ll need:
A fat quarter bundle, of course. Mine had 7 fat quarters
1/2″ wide non-roll elastic
some pretty lace (I like to use cotton crochet lace or picot lace)
Cutting mat and ruler. Rotary cutter is helpful, but optional. I will be having students draw the cutting lines with a non-permanent marker and scissors.
Note: the example skirt fits my very petite 13 year old daughter as a moderately gathered, above the knee skirt.
Let’s make it!
Press any creases or folds in the fabric
Line up the fabric along a line on your cutting mat. [You can cut more than 1 fat quarter at a time, too] I always trim the selvedges off first and stash them away for a amazing project someday, which I have no idea what it will be yet. [I’m not the only one who saves selvedges, am I?]
Square up a side, perpendicular to the first cut.
Now you either can use the 18″ length or the 20″ length. 20″ will give you a longer skirt or a short skirt for an older child who need more length. Measure the child! Decide on the length and add about 1 1/2″ to the length for the casing and hem. That’s the length your strips need to be. Make your 3rd cut to that measurement.
I’m using 18 inches. This is just an example for my classes to see and help the students decide whether to make one or choose another skirt design. So I trimmed the 3rd edge at 18″ and I’m ready to make the strips.
With the 3 sides of the fabric lined up straight along the lines on the mat, I start by placing the ruler at the lower corner. Then angle the ruler at the top over 1″. Make the first cut.
For the other side, I line the ruler up 4″ from the cut edge along the top edge, and the bottom of the ruler 1″ over from that (which is 6 inches from the cut edge on the lower edge). The top edge (which will be along the waist of the skirt) should measure 4″ and the lower edge should measure 6″.
Here’s more photos of the process. You can see the shorter side measures 4″ and the longer edge measures 6″.
If you are making a shorter or smaller skirt, you could move the ruler over 1/2″ instead of 1″. That will work, too. Don’t fret if the measurements are off a bit. It will still look great. Just make sure all the lengths are the same 😉
You can cut 2 from each fat quarter (or more if needed) by flipping the shape upside down. You have the first cut already done for you. Just move the ruler to 4″ from the bottom cut, and angle the ruler 1″ over from that line.
Cut about 10 -15 of these. You should be able to get 3 strips from each fat quarter if you want to. I am doing 13 strips and 7 different fabrics. The waist was about 40″ around before adding the elastic. You can do less for a less full skirt, closer to the look of the country skirt for dolls. Just make the waist measure a little bigger than the hip measurement of the child, so she can put it on easily.
Or you could add more strips for a very twirly skirt.
Arrange the strips in an order you like. Start sewing them right sides together with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Finish the seam allowances with an over cast or zigzag stitch. Remember: when sewing garments, sew widest to narrow and be consistent. This means sew from the hem edge to the waist on this project.
Keep sewing up until you’ve sewn all the strips together.
Press all those seam allowances to one side. [You could also press as you sew] It’s best to press the seam allowances all in the same direction. This will help when you insert the elastic.
Fold the top edge toward the wrong side of the fabric 3/8″ and press.
Fold again 3/4″ toward the wrong side and press. Mark about 5-7 inch along the top-this will be left unsewn, so you can insert the elastic. Sew all the way around, leaving that opening you just marked. Sew close to the lower fold.
I like to stitch the top edge. I like the look and it seems to give more stability to the waistband.
Insert elastic, using a safety pin. Measure the child and subtract 2-4″ from the child’s waist measurement. That is how much elastic to put in the waistband. Some kids like those waistbands tight, and some don’t. I put the elastic around the child’s waist instead of a tape measure. Then ask the child how the elastic feels. Once it’s a comfortable measurement, I mark it for her with a marker.
After you work the elastic through the casing, sew the ends together using a zigzag stitch, or sew in a box shape with a straight stitch. Sew the opening in the casing closed.
Finish the lower edge with a zigzag stitch or an overcast stitch. [you may want to have the child try the skirt on and make sure she likes the length. You can always trim it shorter if needed]
Pin lace upside down and on the right side of the fabric.
Flat eyelet lace: [make sure to fold over the end as shown]
For small crochet lace, place it 1/4″ inch or so above the edge of the fabric:
Sew it in place. I like to use a narrow zigzag for this step.
Flip and press the hem toward the wrong side of the fabric and allow the lace to peek out along the hem as shown. Sew across the lower edge to hem. Work with the right side facing up.
And there you have it. What a cute use for a fat quarter bundle! You may even have enough to make 2 from one bundle 🙂 If interested, you can purchase the doll Country Skirt Pattern her in my AveryLane Etsy shop.