I like my skirts fast and cheap: a tutorial | Polka Dot Cottage

I like my skirts fast and cheap: a tutorial

Posted April 14th, 2008 by

So, I went ahead and did it. It only took about 1/2-hour, and used up 1/4 of a sheet I had thrifted for $4. Quick and inexpensive – just the way I like it :-D

Would you like to know how to make your own fun and full Spring skirt? It’s pretty easy.

Here’s what you need:

  • twin-size flat sheet (72″x104″)
  • yard stick
  • washout cloth marker
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • thread to coordinate with the sheet
  • iron
  • 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch elastic to fit comfortably around your waist

New skirt

Cut out the fabric:

Determine how long you want your skirt to be, and add 1.5 inches to that number. Mine was 21 inches, but let’s refer to that number as X.

Fold the sheet in half lengthwise and spread it out. We will be using the hemmed edge of the sheet as our skirt hem, saving us the trouble of doing it ourselves. Measuring from that hem, use the yard stick to mark off X inches in several places along the length of the hem. Connect the marked dots, and cut along them.

You should now have a single piece of cloth, 72″ x X”.

Sew it together:

Fold in half, right sides together, so the two selvage edges meet. Stitch together along the selvages, leaving a 1/2-inch seam allowance. You should now have a tube with a 71″ circumference.

New skirt

Make the elastic casing:

Fold the raw edge at the top of the tube over 3/4″ and press. Fold down another 3/4″ and press again.

Stitch along the inner edge of the fold all the way around the top of the skirt, leaving about a 1-inch opening near the seam.

Thread the elastic into the opening, through the casing, and back out the opening again. Stitch the elastic together and close the opening in the casing.


Try on your skirt, pose for a picture, and tell everybody you know that this skirt only cost you $1 and a half-hour of your time :-)

Things to note:

  • This makes a very full skirt.  If you prefer something less full, you can always cut thirty to forty inches off of the width.
  • I’ve never tried to explain how to sew anything before, so there may be some confusing bits. If so, please let me know and I’ll do my best to clarify!

2013 Update:

It’s been five years since I wrote this little tutorial, and it’s still one of the most popular posts on my blog! I’ve gained a lot of sewing (and photography!) experience since then, and so I’ve decided to put it to good use. If you would like to see this tutorial fully-illustrated with step-by-step photos and additional instructions (how to make it a more fitted version, how to deal with fabrics that don’t have a built-in hem, etc.) then you might like this ebook. You can order below, or get more details here. Thanks, and enjoy!

I Like My Skirts Fast and Cheap
I Like My Skirts Fast and Cheap

BEGINNER level, step-by-step tutorial.

Fully illustrated, 6-page PDF.

Price: $2.99
Format :
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  • Cindy says:

    Thank you for sharing your skirt tutorial! I’ve been wanting to make some cute skirts and I like them fuller than what I’ve seen elsewhere, so this is perfect!

  • I totally made this skirt. I used a vintage Raggedy Ann sheet for mine. Thank you so much for the reminder of how to make an easier skirt. I also have your printed sheet you used to make yours. Your blog rocks the socks! XOXO

  • Steph says:

    It looks so pretty and hangs perfectly. Thanks for this, I think I’m off to hunt out a nice sheet.
    .-= See Steph’s latest blog post: Embroidery transfer freebies =-.

  • Nadia says:

    That is a really pretty skirt. Could you make another tutorial but with pictures? I `m not that great at sewing but this looks like a very easy project.

  • mocha says:

    wow! so easy! i just made a skirt that looks great! I cant wait for spring to wear it. Thanks for posting this.

    if you ever decide to have another thrifted sheet swap, im all over it!!

  • Bina says:

    I made this skirt in a shorter length. Looks great and was so easy to make! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  • Andi says:

    I have a question. When you measure up from the bottom the length you want, do you cut strait accross or in a curve? Also, do you not measure your waist to make the top the right size or do you just measure the elastic and let the fabric bunch up? Thanks!

    If you could post more pictures and link it to this blog that would be really helpful.

  • Shauna says:

    I’m so confused. This tutorial wasn’t that clear. :( Which is a shame because this is the EXACT skirt I’m looking to make! I guess I don’t understand where to cut or what to mark.

    • Lisa says:

      For the cutting and measuring, you basically want to decide the length you want your skirt to be, and then cut a strip off of the bottom of the sheet. You cut all the way across, so that you have a strip that is as wide as your sheet, and as long as you want your skirt to be plus 1.5 inches.

      Does that clear it up any?

  • Marelis says:

    I just made my first skirt ever with this tutorial. I found a really pretty sheet at the thrift store and went to town. Everyone keeps complimenting me on the skirt and no one believes it’s from a sheet. :) Thanks for this awesome tutorial, I will make many more skirts with it.

  • Liza says:

    Hello! Writing to thank you for the really great tutorial! I’ve just made this skirt, and it looks very pretty.
    It took me about an hour to make it (bear in mind that I’m a beginner in sewing and that i had to stitch the steam at the bottom).

    So, thanks thanks thanks!

    p.s. BTW, I’m from Russia, just for you to know that your tutorial helps girls from different continents to have nice cheap skirts (:

  • Hannah says:

    I love this tutorial. I can’t wait to try it out!
    Thank you!

  • jen says:

    Hey! I tried making this skirt this weekend, and love the way it looks on the hanger, but not on me. I’ve got serious hips, and this just makes me look about a mile wide. Any ideas on how to fix it? I already chopped a whole lot off the width. Is it the elastic?

  • Leisha says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this!!! I bought an arm load of sheets at a yard sale 2 days ago for $5 and now have an adorable spring skirt for literally pennies!!! Woo Hoo!!
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Leisha: Builders- Take Heart!

  • I love the skirt :) perfect for summer. With your tutorial here, even an amateur sewer like me can do this, thanks for the inspiration.

    ✿ Enjoy this post from Lea@ girls jewellery: Girls Jewelry Boxes – a Guide to First Jewelry Boxes

    • Lisa says:

      Glad to hear it! And if you do have a problem, come back soon because I have a more detailed tutorial in the works – one with step-by-step photos. I hope to get it posted within a few weeks.

  • Desi says:

    So, I just made this skirt… well I made 3 of them: 1 for me and 1 for each of my girls… and did it in less than 30 minutes!! That’s my kind of skirt! <3

  • So this is my second attempt at the skirt, and again, it’s way too wide. I know you said to take width off, but 40 inches off? So, if you were to indicate measurements again, would you do around your hips plus 3 inches? or something?
    (p.s. I have no problem with the skirt having fabric, but the elastic doesn’t pull it all in, therefore the skirt just falls off)

    • Lisa says:

      I wonder if maybe your problem is more with the elastic than with the amount of fabric in the skirt. If the elastic is pulled tightly enough, it should hold the skirt up, even with a large excess of fabric. You should try opening up the elastic casing, cutting off a few inches of elastic, and trying the skirt on again. See if that helps.

      If you do need to cut off more fabric, 3-4 inches wider than your hip measurement should work, but it will result in a much less full, less swingy skirt.

  • thank you for your response! when i do the elastic, am i pulling it tight around me, to measure before i cut? maybe that’s my problem–i was just measuring around, normal (elastic not stretched) so maybe that was part of my problem. I did cut some width off and cut the elastic shorter–just need to finish the ends :)

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, definitely that is the problem – I’ve made that mistake, too :-) You need to pull it tightly. Not so tight that it cuts off your circulation, of course, but tight enough that it will stay put. It might take a little experimenting, which is why I suggested trying it on the existing skirt first :-) Hope this helps!

  • Leila Maisonneuve says:

    Holy moly…that was easy!!! I will be scouring my local Goodwill for more vintage sheets. If I find enough of them, I may wear nothing else this summer. Thanks so much for the fabulous idea!
    P.S. – My husband said that he could have even made this skirt.

    • Lisa says:

      High praise from the husband! :-) So glad you had luck with the tutorial – hope you find more fabulous sheets to play with (I think finding good sheets is the hardest part of the whole thing!)

  • hi lisa,

    i love the pattern, i think i will sew a lot skirts this summer :).

    greetings from munich!

  • down_under says:

    Thanks heaps for this tutorial–I am making a skirt for a cosplay that doesn’t need to be ultra fancy as the top portion is covered by a corset, but needs to be full bodied and this is perfect!

    I bought a sheet from the salvo’s the other day hoping I could whip something up on my own and you’ve saved me the time of having to think about how to do it.

    Thanks a bunch!

  • Thanks for posting this. I used this tutorial to make a skirt the other day and it hardly took me thirty minutes! It was a little full for my taste, so I’m going to try again cutting some of the width out of the sheet.
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Photosarah Crafts: simple skirt from a sheet

  • Carol D says:

    Wow, this looks like it’s easy enough for me to make! I have a thrifted sheet in mind, will make this tomorrow! Thanks!

  • Rachel says:

    You might try using a skirt you already own and like for shaping the new skirt. Fold the fave skirt in half lengthwise and put the fold where the fold is on the sheet. Then you can cut the selvage side to match the fave skirt before sewing. This will make the shape closer to how you want it if the typical tube shape seems too full for you.

    You can do this with shirts too. I am going to try this with a dress but I’ll have to keep in mind that the width from the chest to the hips will have to be as big around as the chest to put the dress on without having to add a zipper to the side. I can stitch elastic to the inside around the waistline or wear a belt to define the waist.

  • Rachel says:

    Just realized I goofed in the directions. If you have a full size or queen size flat sheet and fold it lengthwise twice then you can follow my directions above. Otherwise you probably want to fold a twin sheet in half and then fold lengthwise (the dress will only be so long though). If you don’t do that first you’ll have only one side of a dress. I would recommend using a full or queen sheet and fold it lengthwise twice, then folding your fave dress in half lengthwise and place it on the sheet’s lengthwise fold before cutting it out. Make sure to leave a seam allowance when cutting. By using a larger sheet you get more choice on the length.

  • Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based on the same ideas you
    discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.

    I know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Red Bottom Shoes: Red Bottom Shoes

  • Hassie says:

    Hi there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really
    appreciate your content. Please let me know.
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Hassie: Hassie

  • Hilda says:

    Hi! Don’t have a blog nor a website. I’m an accomplished seamstress but like “fast-and-cheap.” Need a white skirt this weekend for a ceremony and this should fill the bill without breaking the retirement bank. Thanks

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