The Elastic-Waist Flirt Skirt (inspired by J.Crew)

I am SO excited to be sharing this project with you. Not because it’s so crazy amazing (I’m a newbie sewer, so it’s actually rather basic), but because it is the very FIRST article of clothing that I’ve ever sewn for myself. Honestly, I never expected to make myself anything–I started sewing to make things for our home and the boys, and never expected to do much else. Adult clothes have to fit, and the idea of making that possible intimidates me. Not to mention that I actually enjoy getting out and doing a little shopping for myself on occasion. No gripes there, you know? I think that in my mind I pictured sewing clothes for myself as a sure path to having strange, out-of-style outfits (like the ones I often see on pattern packages) with uneven hems and mismatched arms (the latter due to my ineptitude). Or maybe worse–something in calico, a la Little House on the Prarie. It didn’t occur to me that I might actually make something attractive.

Then, a few weeks back, I purchased this little number at J. Crew (I couldn’t find it online, where it would probably look much more special sans the wrinkles:)). It’s a chino, elastic-waist miniskirt. No zippers, no gathering, no darts; just elastic, cotton, and thread. It cost too much for what it is ($58–ouch), but it fit so well and seemed so perfect for momming around with the boys on hot summer days that I convinced myself to buy it anyway. On one condition: that I would use it as a pattern for making a few more just like it. And so, the Flirt Skirt (a.k.a. the J.Crew Copycat Skirt) was born.

Before I go any further, let me tell you this: making this skirt is EASY. Easy enough to be the third or fourth thing you ever sew, in my opinion.

Ironically, though, the construction isn’t obvious. When I convinced myself to make one, I thought it was just a simple elastic-waisted skirt–made basically the same way as Basic Boy Shorts, plus pockets, minus a crotch. I found this tutorial from Freshly Picked and this one at What a Nerd Would Wear, and figured that I could copy the pattern pieces from the J. Crew skirt and then use their instructions to put them together. But there were a few details I missed.
See, the first step in copying any piece of clothing (or, in other words, using a piece of clothing to make a pattern) is turning it inside out. And when I did that, I found this:

Rectangular pockets attached up underneath the elastic casing. My guess is that this makes the pockets less bulky and more streamlined–overall more flattering than the semicircle version.
There is a seam on top of the elastic, which gives the top of the skirt a cute little ruffle. Seemed easy enough, and I liked the detail.
The elastic doesn’t go all the way around. EEK. My first thought was, “well, mine will.” And then I realized that the flat (no elastic) sections, which are about three inches wide around either side seam, have much to do with the look of this skirt. Because of those flat places, you get the cute, full look in the front without the pouf at your hips. Yeah, I admit it. I love J.Crew.
So I was left to figure a few things out by myself again. And it turned out that it wasn’t very hard at all–in fact, the finished process (detailed below) is really easy, even for a novice like me! As you use the tutorial, though, please do be careful to read the text. Now that I’ve done this once, I have a few ideas about ways to make it even quicker–and I’ll share those, too.

I love my new skirt. It’s not chino, so it’s probably a little less versatile than it’s older sister (I wouldn’t sit down in the dirt in it), but the fun, summery pattern makes it more festive, and a bit more dressy. And the price? Well, I bought 1.5 yards of Scarf Stripes in Scooter Grey/Sherbet Pips by Anela Hoey for Moda from Whipstitch for $15 and one package of elastic for about $1.50. So, even after buying designer fabric, I saved over $40! Results like that have a bit of a narcotic effect–they make you want to sew more, try more, make more…
So, lookout friends, there may be more copycat tutorials on the horizon:). Read on after the jump (meaning, click that little link called “Read more” after the StumbleUpon icon) for the full tutorial.
Happy Weekend!

p.s. In case you’re curious, the necklace I’m wearing in these pictures was made by women in Uganda who support their families by creating and selling magazine beads. My friend Melissa bought this one for me while she was in Uganda to adopt her sweet son, Charles Tucker, but you can buy your own (and support Ugandan orphan adoption) at 147 Million Orphans. My thong sandals are made by Steve Madden and are available here.


1.5 yards of skirt fabric (find mine at Whipstitch, here)
1/4 yard of contrasting fabric (if desired) for pockets. I used red Kona cotton from Whipstitch, left over from Little Brother’s Reversible John-John
1 yard of 1.5 inch wide elastic
Basic sewing supplies
Disappearing ink fabric pen
Two safety pins

1. Cut your pattern pieces: two skirt pieces and four pockets. Start by measuring your natural waist and deciding how long you want your skirt to be. Determine the width of your skirt pieces by subtracting 4-5 inches from the size of your waist. Determine the length of your skirt pieces by adding 6 inches to your desired skirt length. I wanted the finished length of my skirt to be 18 inches and measured my waist to be about 29 inches, so I cut TWO pieces that were 24 inches wide by 24 inches long. I cut four pockets 9 inches long by 6 inches wide, although you could easily make them bigger and keep the same proportions.

2. With right sides facing, pin two pockets to each skirt piece, four inches from the top of the skirt.

Sew pockets to the skirt pieces with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

3. Press pockets to the outside of the skirt, and place skirt pieces on top of each other with right sides facing and pin pockets and side seams.

Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew ONE side seam* from the top to the bottom of the skirt, going around the outer edges of the pocket.

4. Create your hem. Open the skirt and lay it down on its right side (the sewn side seam will be in the middle).

Create a hem by first turning the bottom edge of the skirt up 1/2 inch, pressing, and then turning the edge up 1.5 inches.

Sew the hem up as close to the inner edge of the hem as possible.

5. Close the skirt with right sides facing, lining up the raw edges and pockets exactly. Sew the second side seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, and STOP 1/2 inch ABOVE the top of the pocket (note that in my pic, I stopped at the end of the pocket. Do as I say, not as I do!)

6. Now, create the elastic casing. With the skirt still turned inside-out, fold the top edge of the skirt down 1/4 inch, press, then fold down 2 inches and pin.

Using a disappearing ink fabric pin, mark the pinned casing 1.5 inches from each side seam on both sides of the skirt–see those purple marks? (Nighttime lighting is so ugly, sorry folks).

Create the cute ruffled top edge of the skirt by stitching into the casing the entire way around the skirt using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Now, sew down the casing between the fabric pen marks ONLY on each side of the skirt. Place the seam as close as possible to the inside edge of the casing.

Cut your piece of elastic in half. Attach a safety pin to the end of one half and use it to push the elastic through one of your two sewn casings. Once the elastic has passed under the fabric pen mark opposite to your entry point, pull it about an inch further, and pin through the pen mark.

Now gather the fabric on your elastic until the distance between the two fabric pen marks is about 11 inches (you might change this significantly after trying it on, but it’s a good starting point). Pin at the second pen mark, flip the skirt over, and repeat on the other side.

With the elastic pinned this way, try your skirt on (and try hard not to stab yourself with a pin–I wasn’t successful:)). With the skirt on, take some good hard looks in the mirror. Adjust the fabric on the elastic and make sure that fabric is lying down nicely at the pins and around the side seams. If the fabric is pulling, take the skirt off, flip it inside out, and increase the distance between the pins.

Stitch vertically along the pins/purple marks.

Trim the elastic beyond the vertical stitches, then tuck back under the open casing.

Sew down the open casing around each of the side seams. Be careful to line up your stitch with the casing seams that are already in place.

And that’s it! Now, put on that pretty skirt, stick your hands in the pockets, and ask someone you love (or someone you’re itching to flirt with:)) out on a date. Eat your heart out, J.Crew price tag!

A final note: If I were to do this again (and I will!), I would make one change for efficiency’s sake. I would sew both side seams (including the pockets) all the way up at the same time, then sew up the hem with the skirt closed, as well as the front and back sections of casing (as discussed above) and then thread the elastic through the un-sewn bottom edges of the casing around either side seam. Just like Basic Boy Shorts.

Posted by Elisabeth at 2:24 PM
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Labels: diy, elastic waist skirt, j.crew, sewing, women’s clothes
Lindsey said…
ummm, sell this…to me, please. thank you.

May 13, 2011 2:36 PM
Catherine said…
Total genius! Would you believe I have already bought the elastic to make a similar skirt on Burda Style, but I’m so glad I found your waist-slimming side panel version first. (And btw, saying that I’m buying something to copy it myself is my very favorite shopping justification – not that I’ve actually done it yet!)

May 13, 2011 5:19 PM
casserole said…
I am so impressed! Your skirt is fabulous!! I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:

Tutorial: Elastic-Waist Flirt Skirt


May 13, 2011 10:14 PM
Chris said…
Great tutorial! I love that you included the pockets.

May 13, 2011 10:46 PM
Miriam said…
Wow! Lovely!
I don’t like my knees. Can i made this longer? What do you think?
Thanks! Miriam

May 14, 2011 2:54 AM
[email protected] said…
I love how your skirt turned out, the pockets are a great and useful addition.

May 14, 2011 8:10 AM
[email protected] said…
also I can’t believe you are a newbie sewer!

May 14, 2011 8:11 AM
Elisabeth said…
Thank you all for your kind comments! Miriam, I think you could make it knee length, but I wouldn’t go longer than the bottom of your knees–after that point I think that the shape might become a little awkward.

May 14, 2011 9:03 AM
Anonymous said…
wow, I love this. yours is even better than the J. Crew version!

May 14, 2011 9:23 AM
Anonymous said…
Can’t wait to make this. Thanks!

May 14, 2011 10:11 AM
southernscraps said…
I’m gonna have to try this! Full elastic waistband skirts make me feel fat, but I love the look of this! Thanks so much for sharing.

May 14, 2011 10:33 AM
.Jen said…
love this & pinned it! This is exactly the kind of skirt I want for my summer fun!

May 14, 2011 10:33 AM
Michelle said…
Love it!! You did a great job copying! Thanks for sharing

May 14, 2011 8:50 PM
Angela said…
Great tutorial. My daughter has been asking for a skirt just like this and I can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

May 14, 2011 10:08 PM
Nichole said…
Great skirt!! I had to swing by your blog and poke around, after you commented on mine (bluebirdandtheboy)…I love it! I’ll be back! 🙂

May 15, 2011 5:27 PM
Soffy said…
I like it! It is simple, but great skirt for wear every day!

May 16, 2011 8:47 AM
melissa said…
LOVE this. also love the fabric you used and might have to get some to make my own. i haver a question though. would you mind sharing what size the jcrew skirt is?

May 16, 2011 12:31 PM
Elisabeth said…
Hi Melissa, not at all! Mine was a size 4, although I’m typically on the large side of 4, small of 6. This skirt is very forgiving in the backside, which is my bigger part. If that size works for you, you can follow my measurements exactly, but I also tried to provide enough direction to accommodate any size. The two skirt pieces should EACH be your waist size minus 4-5 inches by your desired length plus 6 inches. I hope that helps!

May 16, 2011 1:02 PM
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