How To Make A Gathered Summer Skirt | Madam Sew

How To Make A Gathered Summer Skirt

Don’t you love it when you get some new fabrics in your hands?  I made a gathered skirt for my 7 year old daughter. We both love it! She loves yellow and I like stripes :-) 

You can find the fabric on And I found this beautiful free pattern on I love it because it’s simple and has two big pockets. Another big plus is: You don’t need to print the pattern. Just measure and cut the rectangular pieces and you can start sewing. How to put the different pieces together is what was most difficult but then again, I know that is not my talent. Maybe it’s a piece of cake for all you sewing experts :-) So, if I made it, you surely can too!


  • Your favorite cotton fabric (for the yards → check table) 
  • 1 yard of ¾” white braided elastic 
  • Matching threads

I didn’t use different fabrics but you can choose to use a different fabric for the pocket pieces. This fabric table from Purl Soho helps you to find out how much fabric you’ll need for what size.


Prepare The Waistband 

Cut a long rectangular strip of fabric. Determine the size you need using the table below I used a piece 3” wide and 29” long. In INCHES (table from Purl Soho)

Fold the long edges of the waistband ½ inch towards the wrong side and press. I use a little cardboard to help me iron straight seams, just draw the lines you need (½”, 1”,...) and fold along the lines. For me it’s a great help for straight seams..

Now, fold the waistband in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press the fold. Open up the folds at the two short ends. With the right sides together, put the ends together. Pin in place. Sew along the short edge with a ½-inch seam.

Watch the video below for step-by-step instructions!

Press the seam to one side and if you want, sew it down with an edgestitch. 

 Mark the the front, back and side center points of the waistband.

Cut And Prepare The Other Parts Of The Skirt 

 For the size I am making I cut: 

 2 main panels (24 x 14.5) 

2 side panels (6 x 17) 

2 pocket panels (6 x 10.5) 

The shorter sides of the main panel pieces and the longer sides of the side panel pieces should run parallel to the selvage edge. A selvage is the tightly woven edge of a fabric. It prevents the side edges of the fabric from raveling or fraying. 

 Use the measurements in the chart below to cut the size you need.

Mark the top middle of all panels. It will help you to position the panels, to attach the waistband and also to gather the fabric evenly.

Piecing The Skirt Panels 

I found that piecing the panels was the hardest thing in this project. So I drew you a little diagram with the 4 steps to follow (below the steps for the seams). 

Watching my video can also help.

Follow the next 3 steps for all seams of the skirt panels: 

1. Sew the edges together, ½” seam, with a regular presser foot 

2. Finish the edges, with a serger or an overcast foot & overcast stitch. I used my overcast foot because I didn’t have white thread for my serger. In the picture below you see the overcast stitch in a contrasting color and my overcast presser foot. The special presser foot helps to wrap the thread around the edge of the fabric as you stitch and prevents the fabric from curling.

MadamSew Overcast Foot

3. Press and topstitch with an edgestitch. I used my edge joining foot with my needle in the left position. This way I get a neat finish. In the picture below you see the edge joining foot and an example of an edge stitch in a contrasting color.

1. Pocket piece & side panel together Into 1 long strip 

     a. Put the pocket piece (green) on top of the side panel (blue). How? 

               -Right sides together 

               -Bottom edge of side panel and top edge🔺of the pocket piece together 

     b. Pin and sew along this short edge with a ½” seam (- - - line) 

     c. Use your overcast foot or serger to finish this edge 

     d. Press the seam towards the pocket piece & edgestitch(red - - - line) 

     e. Press the wrong sides together and press the seam again to create a sharp crease. I will call this long strip the             “pocket side panel” from now on. 

     f. Repeat with the other pieces. 

Steps A & B

Steps C, D, & E

2. Fold the pocket side panel 

Put the main panel next to this pocket side panel to get the folds in this panel right. 

Put the bottom edge of the pocket side panel on the same line as the bottom edge of your main panel and the top edge 🔺as well. 

Your strip is too long for the skirt. You use this to make the inside of the pocket. Fold the fabric behind the pocket piece so the pocket side panel is the same length as the main panel. The seam in the short edge you made is the top of your pocket (red line). Press. 

Repeat with the other piece. 

My pocket starts 2 inches from the top, which is high. The Purl Soho tutorial puts it a lot lower. I tried to match the fabric of the front panel with the side panels. That’s why I had to move the pocket higher and I cut off a bit of fabric at both sides.

3 & 4. Side Pocket Panel To Main Panel 

Put the right side of the pocket side panel on the right side of the main panel. Pin & sew along the edge (- - - line). Lock the threads with your serger or overcast foot and overcast stitch, press the seam to one side and edge stitch on top with your edge joining foot. Repeat with the other pocket side panel.

Sew the other side of the pocket side panel to the main panels (- - - line). You need to attach all sides to get a long loop of fabric. You finish the edges using the same 3 steps.

Hem The Skirt 

Hem the bottom edge of the long loop. I used my ½” wide hemmer foot for the first time and it went really well! 

The start is a little hard and going over seams needs a little attention, but with a little help from google and youtube, I managed. In the next weeks (or.. months :-)) I will try to make my own instruction video about these wide hemmer feet but for now, I leave you with an expert :-)

Hemmer Foot Instruction

Or with your regular presser foot: 

  • Fold the bottom edge of the skirt ½” towards the wrong side 
  • Press 
  • Fold the bottom edge in towards the wrong side again, 1” 
  • Press and pin 

Sew the hem down with an edgestitch

The Gathering 

 To ruffle your fabric, you need to baste the top edge of your loop. Set your stitch length the biggest possible (5 or more) and without backstitching you stitch 2 parallel lines (½” apart). You will have to remove these stitches afterwards.

Start and stop the basting stitches at each seam line and leave a 3 or 4-inch tail of thread at each end so you can gather each panel separately. 

Tie the thread tails together at one end of each pair of basting stitches. First tie the two top threads together and then the two bobbin threads. Leave the threads at the other end of the stitch lines loose. 

Now pull the unknotted top threads to gather the fabric. Start with the side panels until they measure about 3 inch. Gather the main panel to about 10 inch. If you’re making it in size 8 yrs or more gather the side panels until they measure 3 ½” and the main panels 12 inch. 

Check if your skirt has the same width as your waistband, if not, gather some more or un-gather a little.Tie knots in the top and bobbin threads. Space the gathers evenly.

Attach the waistband

1. Open up the fold and place the waistband over the skirt, with the right sides together. Match the raw edge of the bottom side of the waistband to the ruffled raw edge of the skirt. Match the center points of the loop (the skirt) to the marks on the waistband. Pin in place. Sew around the skirt using your regular presser foot and a regular stitch and use the crease in the waistband as a guide ( ½” ).

2. Fold the waistband over the raw edge of the skirt. Press the raw edge of the waistband under by ½” (you have that crease already), wrong sides together. Pin it to the inside of the skirt, ensuring the fold line overlaps the waist seam.

 Now insert some pins in the right side of the skirt, exactly within the seam line – where the skirt joins the waistband, the little valley between the waistband and the skirt. Then look at the inside of the skirt and check if the pins are holding down the seam on the other side. If they’re not, adjust, press and repin as needed.

3. You have to stitch in the middle of the ditch, the little valley, and hope that your stitches vanish from sight :-). The stitch in the ditch foot is a great help for this precision job! Place the little guide in the ditch and stitch all around. Don’t forget to leave a 1 ½-inch gap to insert the elastic.

Stitching in the ditch is the method of stitching very close to a seam so it is nearly invisible. In this picture you see my stitch in the ditch foot or the edge joining foot. The blade and the needle are on one line and the blade helps you to run along the stitching line, in this case, the ditch.

Pull out any basting stitches that show below the edge of the waistband

4. Cut the elastic to your waistline measurement. Test before cutting what you feel is comfortable and take 1” extra. 

Insert the elastic with a safety pin 

Check if the elastic isn’t twisted 

Overlap the 2 ends ½” and stitch widthwise using a zigzag stitch 

Tuck the elastic into the waistband and close the gap with a stitch in the ditch Make a little vertical seam through all 4 layers at the 4 cent center points to prevent the elastic from twisting

Your skirt is ready to wear! 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or mail me at 

I also love to receive pictures of your projects to see what all of you are making! 

Have a nice day! Don’t forget to subscribe to our Newsletter for weekly free sewing tutorials!

Download the printable PDF of this tutorial HERE

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