Saturday, March 19, 2011

Smocked Maxi Skirt

     I love maxi dresses and skirts. I can't ever buy them, because tall people are not considered in the mass production of clothes. ( I'm sure short people would say the same thing!) Bless you if you are average height and can buy whatever you want. The long length of maxi dresses and skirts in stores nearly always falls several inches above my ankle. This drives me batty! I like it short at the knee, or long at the ankle but not some weird in between! So, when all else fails, head to the fabric store.
     When I saw this fabric in the store it just screamed spring to me.  I had planned to make a maxi dress out of it, but I wanted to be able to wear it more than just for the next five months. I settled for a maxi skirt instead. The fabric is a soft cotton/poly mix that has a lovely drape to it. I used some white satiny feeling stuff (have no idea what kind of material it is) for the lining that I had laying around. Since smocking looks like summer to me, I used that for the waist.

     Here is how you can make your own. Measure your waist = (A).  Measure the length you want your skirt to be = (B). I added a gather at the bottom just for fun.

      If you want this gather than you need to decide how long the top portion should be (C) and how long the bottom gathered portion should be (D). Cut out these pieces. (optional: I cut the lining a couple inches shorter than my total length...I didn't want it to peek out the bottom at all)

     The first thing I did was gather the bottom strips. If your material has a pattern on it, make sure everything is going in the same direction. Mine had me confused, because it had flowers facing up and down. To gather, set your stitch length to the longest it will go and your tension to the tightest it will go.

     Attach the gathered portion to the top skirt portion. You will have two pieces that look like this.

     Sew up the sides of your skirt. Also, sew up the sides of your lining. Now, attach the lining to the skirt at the top. Your skirt should be right side out, lining inside out. Put the skirt inside the lining. Sew or serge around the top.

     Flip your lining into your skirt and then top stitch close to the edge around the top. It would help to iron it first and then top stitch...but my iron and I are not good buddies. I only use it in extreme circumstances.

      Next, make a casing for elastic. I made it wide enough for half inch elastic.

     Don't forget to leave an opening to thread your elastic into.

     Don't put the elastic in yet, we will do that in a bit. Now is the fun part. Smock as many rows as you like around the top. I did 12.  To smock, hand wind your bobbin with elastic thread. Sew evenly spaced lines with the elastic thread on the inside of your garment. You can draw lines as guides or use your pressure foot as your guide. When finished, spritz with water and pat with a hot iron. Here is what you should have so far.

      See why we are going to need that elastic around the top? I don't think that little ruffle would do any one's waist any favors! Measure your elastic and thread it through the casing. Use a safety pin to speed up things.

     Sew the casing shut. Last step is to hem the bottom. I just serged the lining and left it since it won't show anyway. My preferred method of hemming is to serge, fold over and sew. All done!

     Time to throw on some flip flops and soak up some sunshine!

Linking to:
The Freckled Laundry
Be Different Act Normal
Funky Junk Interiors


  1. This is awesome - and a brilliant tutorial. Thank you o much for sharing it!


  2. Cute and looks so comfortable! I am featuring this at Grab my "featured' button.

  3. Hi Abby, just found your blog when visiting Michelle at Southern Somedays. Love this darling skirt & your tutorial was great. I do sew but it's always nice to get some fresh ideas. Also looked at your post on pillowcase dresses. Liking that idea for a couple of my youngest granddaughters. I'm a new follower, & I hope you might check out my blog and follow back if it looks interesting to you.

  4. This is such an adorable skirt. Thank you so much for your cute idea!

  5. Thank you this is great, I had no idea how fabric got smocked, wow, do I have to set my sewing machine tension or stitch length to anything special?? I just love wearing long skirts i wore one to the flea market last weekend and would love to make more. I bookmarked this project, the best compliment a blogger can get!


  6. What a pretty skirt!! Skirts are my fave for warmer weather!

    I linked to yourtutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  7. Thank you so, so much for posting the instructions for making the smocked waist! Like you, I love these skirts but they are rarely long enough! Plus, this type of waist is totally comfy, not constricting. They work wonderful for maternity skirts too. I am now your newest follower!

  8. Caroll,
    Thank you so much for your kind comments. To answer your question about smocking...I do set my stitch length to the longest it will go but I do not change my tension. Good luck!

  9. I'm super-tall and love, love, love this! I'm posting your tutorial on Educating Mother's facebook page!

  10. Gorgeous fabric! Very Spring-y. Love the tutorial. Thanks for linking with air your laundry Friday!


  11. Oh, I love this, I will defiantly try to salvage the maxi dress I was trying to make into this.

  12. featured this on my blog today!

  13. There is truly no way that I could ever undertake such a project. I am such awe!!!

  14. I'm still a newbie to sewing, but I would definitely love to tackle this! I adore maxi skirts, but I don't like shelling out the money for them! I think some vintage sheets I have would be great for some of these! Hopefully I can get it!

    Thank you for this!

    -Many Smiles!

  15. You're right - short people do say the same thing about mass-production! Stuff I find in "regular" length drags on the ground, but if I wear petite, the length is just above my ankles! Why is there such a difference? And no one can get it right, so I make stuff for myself. Thanks for the directions and photos!


  16. I finally got it posted. I actually made it, not long after I commented (craftedbymama). However I just finally got it posted. Thanks for the tutorial. I love it.

  17. Hi.

    Great Tutorial. Can I check what is measurement A. Earlier in the tutorial t says A = the waist size then on your diagram A = waist plus 10 inches.

    Just want to clarify as the lining is measurement A and the ruffle is A plus 20 inches.

  18. Sorted now lol. A is waist plus 10". I was not having a lining so missed it. I can crack on now.

  19. thanks for the a new sewer..and i made my first skirt from your tutorial..thanks again..:)


  21. I know I'm reading this late, but is A half your waist measurement +10 or your full waist measurement +10? It seems like it will be really wide if the final skirt is twice your waist measurement +20.

    1. My apologies for the confusion. "A" in the diagram is actually waist measurement divided by 2 + 10 inches. That same "A" number is used for how wide you should make the lining. I'm going to try to fix the diagram to make better sense. I hope that helped!

  22. Hey, I just stopping by and wonder if anyone needs some ideas on what to wear with their DIY maxi skirts. I just discussed about it in my blog, feel free to visit..

  23. yey...this is exactly what i have been searching for!!! thanks so much..can't wait to try it out...

  24. good production good hand work Gorgeous fabric thanks.

    Authentic Pigment

  25. wonderful lace dress. specially i like this color. thanks for sharing this.
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  28. Gorgeous Collection of Fabrics. I just love it. I buy some excellent fabrics from Fabrics World USA in NYC near me which was a nice weight, not too beefy.
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