A knit maxi skirt is a summer staple. Learn how to draft a maxi skirt to your measurements and sew it up in an hour or less!
by Ellen March
Nothing says summer quite like a long stretchy maxi skirt. It’s comfy enough to wear on a plane with a tank and flipflops when leaving for summer vacation or dressed up for the office paired with a fitted tee and sandles. The best part is that it takes less than an hour to complete, including cutting time! This style has a nice waistband that keeps the skirt from shifting down as you wear it.
When looking for fabric for your maxi skirt, choose a knit that has some spandex in it for the most stretch and comfort. A two-way stretch fabric will work, but four-way stretch is best to ensure you have enough room to groove. If you want an extra full maxi skirt, add 5” to 10” to the skirt lower-edge width measurement; keep in mind you will need more fabric for this type of maxi skirt.
Check the opacity of the maxi skirt fabric under natural light. If you can easily see your hand through the fabric, consider choosing a different color or print for more coverage.
If using stripes or chevron print, purchase a bit more fabric in order to match the print at the side seams. For any other nondirectional print, the matching isn’t necessary IMO. Consider using a solid or coordinating print for the skirt band for a different look.
If you have less than two yards of a favorite fabric, make a knee-length maxi skirt in the same way; simply measure the length from your waist to your knee plus 1/2” for the hem allowance.
During sewing, make sure that the bulk of the maxi skirt fabric doesn’t hang off of the sewing table or the skirt will stretch out of shape. Sew slowly and don’t stretch the fabric while you sew, unless otherwise indicated for the waistband application. For more knit sewing tips, check out Sew Your Own Activewear.
When cutting the waistband, try it on before attaching it to the skirt to ensure it fits snugly. I needed to cut my waistband an additional 8″ in order to achieve the right fit. Keep in mind that the fabric may stretch out over time, too, so a tighter waistband is preferred over a looser one. Make sure your fabric has a good recovery rate so when stretched it bounces back to it’s original shape. If not, you’ll have a saggy waistband that will need elastic inserted into it.
- 2 to 2 1/2 yards of 4-way stretch knit fabric
- Stretch thread (such as Coats & Clark Eloflex stretch thread; optional, if using standard sewing machine)
- Ballpoint needle (optional; if using a standard sewing machine)
- Serger thread cones (such as A&E Maxi Lock stretch thread; optional, if using a serger)
- Pattern tracing cloth or paper
- Rotary cutting system
Take the following measurements:
- Waist (divide by 2)
- Waist to Hip
- Hip (divide by 2)
- Skirt Length: Waist (or where you want the skirt to sit) to floor (or desired hem), plus 1/2”
- 15”-20” for the lower-edge width (or hip measurement)
Create the maxi skirt pattern. Using pattern tracing cloth or paper, draw the half skirt, marking points for each measurement taken for the maxi skirt. Curve the lower-edge width slightly opposite the fold, using the length measurement on the diagonal along the side-seam edge. Draw the maxi skirt outline, connecting and trueing the marks.
Notice that no seam allowances are added. This is to end up with negative ease so the maxi skirt fits snugly and won’t fall off.
Create the maxi skirt band pattern. Draw the band pattern by drawing a rectangle measuring the length of measurement one minus 4”-10” (super stretchy fabric = 10”; moderately stretchy fabric = 4”) and 6” to 8” wide. Adjust the width to create a wider band, if desired, keeping in mind it will be folded in half.
Fold the fabric in half with right sides together, matching the selvages. Cut out two maxi skirts and two maxi skirt bands, using a rotary cutting system.
Place the skirt back over the front with right sides together. If using a standard sewing machine, set it for a stretch stitch and thread the needle with stretch thread. Install a ballpoint needle. If using a serger, set the machine for a 4-thread overlock stitch.
Sew or serge the skirt side seams from the upper to lower edges.
Sew or serge the skirt band side seams. Fold the band in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Quarter-mark the skirt using pins, placing two pins at each side seam, one at center front and one at center back. Repeat to quarter-mark the skirt upper edge.
Place the band raw edges along the skirt upper edge with right sides together, matching the seams and pins; pin generously, slightly stretching the skirt to fit the band.
Sew or serge the skirt band to the skirt upper edge. Fold the band away from the skirt; press the seam toward the skirt.
Serge-finish the skirt lower edge or leave it raw, if not using a serger. Fold the lower edge 1/2” toward the wrong side; press, and then pin. Stitch close to the serged or raw edge using a standard sewing machine and stretch stitch.
Fold the waistband in half, if desired, or leave it as wide as you like!
If desired, cut out the maxi skirt on the bias for even more drape. You’ll need at least one extra yard of fabric. Cut the maxi skirt band on the straight or crosswise grain, depending on degree of stretch.
For 10 more summer sewing projects and a slew of patterns, check out the Sew Daily Summer Sewing Inspiration ebook!