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I like my skirts fast and cheap: a tutorial

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Things to note:

  • This makes a very full skirt.ย  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!

166 thoughts on “I like my skirts fast and cheap: a tutorial

  1. Great Skirt! I haven’t made a skirt in probably 15 years – this seems so easy I might just have to go do it!

    1. You totally should! And if it doesn’t work out, what have you really lost?

  2. great job lisa! it’s wonderful

    1. Thanks, Erin! Welcome back from your vacation. It sounded so nice.

  3. Too dang cute. Now I want to go thriftshopping…. but then, I pretty much always want to go thriftshopping.

    1. Heh, yeah, that’s true! Didn’t you say Nell was learning to sew? I bet she’d have a blast making herself a bunch of skirts. And at her size, she could pretty much just cut the tops off of pillowcases and make them that way!

      1. Bought a sheet today–bright yellow dandelion motif. Just looking at the sheet makes me smile, so I hope the skirt works out…

        1. Oh, that sounds like fun. And the great thing about sheets is that there’s so much material. If you screw up the first project, there’s usually enough left for a second ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I have the perfect sheet for this! I was just lamenting that the fitted sheet from the set has a hole…

    Not that I’ve sewed a dang thing since high school but hey, I’ll worry about that later.

    And when you started in with let the length = X I broke out laughing.

    See what Elaine has been blogging about: Upcoming Shows!

    1. Well, you can take the girl out of algebra class, but you can’t take the algebra out of the girl, apparently ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Love this! You have inspired me to 1) go thrifting AND 2) dig out my sewing machine and fix the tension AND 3) make myself some skirts for Spring ๐Ÿ™‚

    We’ll see how my time pans out this week and how many of those things I actually get to. I may just get to the planning stage…

    That pattern is really fun and springy! Thanks for sharing.

    See what MelissaS has been blogging about: Hoppy Birthday!

    1. Well, I’m glad you were inspired, even if you don’t actually manage to act on the inspiration (and believe me, I know that phenomenon all too well, LOL!)

  6. I love this tutorial! I don’t have any thrifted sheets, but you’re giving me the urge to go to goodwill. =] I’ve tried to follow the fitted skirt directions in the Sew What Skirts! book without much luck, but I suspect that’s partly because it’s difficult to make a ‘full’ fitted aline. Clearly, this is the skirt I’ve secretly been wanting to make, before even knowing it existed!

    Also, I love using the hem of the sheet as the hem of the skirt. It’s a silly little thing that, yes, saves time, but also makes it look just that much more awesome. I can’t wait to make one!

    See what Lia has been blogging about: 2-at-a-time review! part 1

    1. Yeah, I’m not really sure how you would go about making a full fitted a-line. Seems to me it would just end up being super triangular. Of course, the fabric makes a lot of difference. Quilting cotton makes a nice “crisp” skirt, but a sheet drapes so much more nicely, and definitely does “flowy” better.

  7. Very nice Lisa. SImple and clear (to me) tute on how to make a skirt. I have a feeling there is going to be a run on sheets at thrift stores.

    1. Thanks – I’m glad it made some sense!

  8. i swear i had this pattern in my bedroom in the 70s!! :^D

    1. LOL, yeah, it’s great in the hideous way that only a relic of the 1970’s could be ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Yeah! I know how to make this type of skirt. I’m going to whip up some cute ones for my girls for the summer. thanks for the inspiration! (I’ve made a ton of these in a tiny version for dolls.)

    1. My pleasure! Wish I had a girl to make some skirts for. For some reason my boys don’t want me to make them anything out of the rest of this sheet ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. […] to point you to an idea I had last night. Penny emailed me a picture of the skirt she made using the tutorial I wrote, and it occurred to me that if we shared bits of our sheets with each other, we could each have a […]

  11. […] I Like My Skirts Fast and Cheap ~ Lisa […]

  12. Your skirt is simply to good to be true! I’m away to strip the bed – don’t know what we’ll sleep in tonight but need to try it!! LOL!

    1. Oh, you are funny! I read this comment to my husband and his response to me was a very dry, “I can see you doing that.” Heh.

      I hope you make a lovely skirt, and that you don’t end up sleeping on a bare mattress as a result, LOL!

  13. I love this…bookmarking it! I cannot wait to try it out!

    1. Good luck with it! I’d love to hear how it goes ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I love the title of your tutorial…

    (and your tutorial, too!)

  15. I love this skirt. I’m a fan of ‘full’ skirts like this, and I wanted to sew one, but lack of good tuts, I couldn’t. Yours looks like the one for me! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, good! I’m glad it found you ๐Ÿ™‚ This is the first full one like this that I have made, but I think there may be more in my future! Have fun.

  16. […] I found this GREAT tutorial for a cheap, quick skirt.ย  Check it […]

  17. I have this VERY sheet and FROM a thrift shop…

    Maybe you are me….. hmmmmmmm

    Great tute! I’m writing one too for SMS. Good luck!

    1. Oh, how funny! I love it – it’s hideous in a really cool kind of way, I think ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. I would love to join the swap this sounds like so much fun! I wear skirts every single day so I could always use a few more.

    1. I wear skirts an awful lot in the nice weather, myself, so this is going to be great for me, too!

  19. I love this! So easy and so many possibilities! Since I am a pear my first thought was I would do inverted pleats to take in some of the fullness at the waistline – thanks for the tutorial and inspiration! I need to find a good thrift store now.

    (@Beth – I am working my way up to this! I want to do my own skirt/dress every day challenge.)

    See what Lorraine has been blogging about: Skirts. 2 of them. Both black.

    1. I’m such an inexperienced sewer, I wouldn’t know the first thing about making inverted pleats – I’d be interested to see what you come up with!

  20. Thank you so much for a wonderful tutorial. I have been wanting some inexpensive skirts so badly and just hadn’t had the time to figure out a pattern. Bless you!

    1. Hope it works nicely for you! I’m off to a new thrift shop this morning – I hope I can find another really nifty sheet to try this with!

  21. I have made skirts like this before for little girls, but never made one for myself because I could picture it looking right. Thanks for showing that it does!

    I am going to use regular fabric though. No sheets Julie Andrews!

    1. The only potential problem I would see with regular fabric is in the drape. I’d be afraid that it would be too stiff and turn out somewhat “triangular.” I like the sheets because they are soft and “flowy.” I’d love to see how it turns out, if you do try it – particularly if I’ve got it all wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. This is so simple and fabulous! Thank you!

    1. My pleasure – enjoy!

  23. Hi Lisa,

    I tried your skirt idea! I posted a picture here:

    Thanks for the tutorial!!!

  24. […] change in my pocket) I decided to head over to a local thrift store for some sheets (yes, I had this tutorial from the tutorial contest over at SMS in mind and can’t wait to try it out).ย  When we got to […]

  25. I made this skirt tonight! I started about an hour ago and now I’m sitting here typing away while wearing it. This is the first thing I’ve ever sewn for myself, and only the second piece of clothing ever (the first one fell apart in the wash) so I am extremely proud!

    One thing I wish I’d done was taken the advice to cut away some of the width. This is a really, really full skirt. At first I didn’t like it very much, but then I took some pictures and and fell in love with it. (They’ll be posted on my blog as soon as wordpress lets me put pictures up again, grrr.) Also, my elastic waist is a little too big, since I just kinda guesstimated, but it shouldn’t be too hard to fix later. For right now I’m leaving it alone.

    The only thing I did differently was I finished the long seam by using my pinking shears on it (I don’t have a serger so this is how I finish all my seams). Thanks for the brilliant tutorial, I can’t wait to find some more sheets and try again!!

    See what BethieB has been blogging about: If I wasnโ€™t so lazyโ€ฆ

    1. Sounds great! It *is* quite full. I don’t think it works on every sheet, but the older, really soft ones are perfect for this. I’m looking forward to seeing your picture!

  26. Hi Lisa!

    I just blogged about your skirt tutorial and showed my new skirt!! It is the first article of clothing that I have ever made and fear that I am now addicted to skirt making!! I may give you a run for your money with the number of skirts you make!! Thank you so much for the easy and inspiring tutorial!!


    See what Kelsi has been blogging about: Spring Skirt

    1. I love it! And yes, skirt-making is *totally* addicting. I now wear a skirt any time I would normally have worn a pair of shorts ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. […] purchased atย the thrift store.ย  It’s my new favorite skirt!ย  Seriously.ย  Iย followed this tutorial to make […]

  28. Hi there.

    I saw your tutorial over at Sew Mama Sew! and decided I just had to make my own skirt. I posted the pictures at my blog:

    Thanks for the great tutorial!! It really was fast and inexpensive. What’s not to love!?

    See what Sarah has been blogging about: On Being Green

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! Your skirt looks very nice, and it’s fun to see what kinds of thrifted linens other than sheets can also be used successfully ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. […] here’s the whole thing! Isn’t it great? This tutorial was awesome. Easy instructions, easy idea, and so fast it’s not funny. I whipped this thing up […]

  30. I was able to put pictures up!! Yay!

  31. Oh my goodness, that is so cute! I would have walked right by that sheet in the thrift shop but I absolutely love the skirt! I’ll have to give it a try.

  32. I LOVE skirts like this! I usually use a wider elastic, because it’s comfy for me. Yours turned out so cute!

  33. Dude….. ugliest skirt ever.

  34. That’s pretty amazing. You can’t get much for $1 these days! Not even a litre of gas for your car.

  35. Very creative. Thank you for sharing your idea=)

  36. lovely! i have that sheet somewhere!

  37. The best thing about this is that there’s no need to measure your hips! That’s always a painful situation…

    1. LOL, you’ve got that right!

  38. FINALLY…. a skirt I can actually make and love. This is so clever and cute. Thanks so much for sharing.

  39. Very cute! I will definetly have to give this one a try! Thank you so much for this tutorial!

  40. […] I like my skirts fast and cheap (I’ll buy enough fabric for both of us if someone makes one for me!) […]

  41. Just found your blog via Craft Magazine. Thanks for the tutorial.

  42. I love this! S’cuse me while I go rifle through my closet…

  43. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m usually a jeans and t-shirt girl, but it’s mostly because I have a really hard time finding skirts that fit that perfect combination of length, pattern, and price. I’m a little intimidated by sewing, but this looks like something even I could accomplish.

    I can’t wait to try it!

  44. This is way beyond cute. I’m inspired. sigh. Now to find TIME! (But I will, lol.)

  45. […] use flour paste to achieve a batik-like effect on fabric. (via craft:) -polka dot creations shows how to transform an old sheet into a funky new skirt (also via […]

  46. […] just started sewing. I made these two skirts last week: Polka Dot Creations

  47. Thanks for such an awesome tutorial! I’ve made 2 skirts already using your technique and they turned out really cool! I linked your blog with mine in case anyone else wants a really quick and easy skirt tutorial. Thanks again!

  48. This is a great tut…I’ve never sewn clothes before, only bibs, blankets, & quilts. I this will be great for my 11 yr old daughter for some new one of a kind skirts for school this next year!!! (*She’s tall and store skirts can be to short if bought from the store*) I’m so excited! YAYYY!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. DOH I could kick myself as this is such a simple and effective way to make a simple skirt and I forgot all about it. I’m going to show this to my daughter and she can finally make herself the sort of skirt she wants.

    PS I love your simple aprons as well I’ve already got the material for making myself some. I think theres going to be a fight over the sewing machine soon.

  50. But how will I ever find such a cute sheet????

    See what brenda has been blogging about: Fitness Friday: The Add and Subtract Edition

    1. Good question! I totally lucked-out with this one. Usually my local thrift shop has less-than-exciting choices.

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