Free Pattern, Sewing

Easy Knit Gathered Skirt Sewing Tutorial

front view of a gathered skirt with elastic waist

Are you looking for a new skirt to add to your wardrobe? Do you want something that is stylish, comfy, and quick? Then this gathered skirt tutorial is for you. It’s the perfect skirt to wear anytime. There’s no pattern needed; you just take some measurements and follow the directions to make it in any size. The original inspiration for this skirt came from this tutorial, but it seems like it no longer exists. So here is my version of it.

Easy Knit Gathered Skirt


  • Knit fabric – it needs to stretch; woven will not work
  • Sewing thread to match fabric
  • 3/4″ wide elastic for waistband
  • Sewing needle


Cutting the fabric

To make this gathered skirt, you will need two measurements. Start by measuring from the waist to the desired hemline, and make a note of it. For me, 23″ was just right for a knee-length skirt. The other measurement you’ll need is the waist measurement. Write it down for later.

Lay out your fabric, folded in half. This fabric is 60″ wide, which makes for a lovely skirt of varying fullness, depending on the waist measurement; more full for a smaller waist, and less full for a larger one. Take your skirt length and add 1″ for the hem and 1/2″ for the waistband seam allowance. Example:

  • Skirt length: 23″
  • Added 1″ hem: 24″
  • Added 1/2″ for waistband: 24 1/2″

Measure your fabric and cut a rectangle measuring 24 1/2″ by 60″ (full fabric width).

fabric laid out for skirt

After cutting out this rectangle, cut down the folded side to get two pieces, each 30″ wide.

scissors cutting the fold of knit fabric

For the waistband, take your waist measurement and reduce it by 2″-4″. Divide it in half and then add 3/4″ for a seam allowance of 3/8″ on each side. Example:

  • Waist measurement: 24″
  • Reduced by 4″: 20″
  • Divided in half = 10″
  • Added seam allowance: 10 3/4″

The width of the waistband will be 1″. Since the band will be folded, we double it, and then add 3/4″ for a seam allowance of 3/8″ on each side. The total width of the band will be 2 3/4″.

Now cut out 2 rectangles that measure 10 3/4″ by 2 3/4″.

fabric rectangles cut out for gathered skirt

Finally, our fabric is cut out and ready for sewing.

Sewing the skirt

A note on sewing stretch fabric: Since this fabric stretches, the seams need to stretch too, otherwise the stitches will break. So the zigzag stitch is the stitch of choice for knit fabric. That being said, I’ve found that it’s not necessary to sew every seam with zigzag stitches, only the ones where the fabric will be stretched along the seam. Since the side seams of the skirt will not be stretched in normal wear, they don’t need to be sewn with a zigzag stitch. In fact, doing so will cause unnecessary bulk at the seams, and this can be undesirable, or even problematic. So I prefer to just use a regular straight stitch for the side seams. The waistband, however, will stretch, and so it must be sewn with a zigzag stitch.

waistband for gathered skirt

Start by sewing together the two pieces of the waistband with a 3/8″ seam allowance and a straight stitch. Sew one end all the way down. Sew the other end, leaving a 3/4″ gap for the elastic. Be sure to reinforce both ends of each stitching line.

sewn seam of waistband
sewn seam of waistband with gap for elastic

Press open the seams and fold the waistband in half. (See why the straight stitch is better for this part? Nice and flat.)

waistband seam pressed open
waistband folded in half lengthwise

Pin together all along the edges. Then using a long straight stitch, machine baste about 1/4″ from the edge.

finished waistband for gathered skirt

Using the regular length straight stitch, sew together the two pieces of the skirt with a 3/8″ to 1/2″ seam allowance, as desired. Make sure the allowance is wide enough so it hides the selvage. Press open the seams.

side seam of skirt
side seam of skirt pressed open

Gathering the skirt

Now for the fun part! It’s time to gather the skirt. Using a long straight stitch, sew two lines 1/4″ and 1/2″ from the top edge. Don’t reinforce the stitching. Instead, leave long threads at both ends.

gathering stitches at top edge of skirt

Now before you gather the skirt, you’ll want to make sure that the gathers will be evenly distributed. In order to do that, you’ll place pins to mark corresponding places on the skirt and the waistband. Start by marking the side seams with pins. Line up the pins together, then line up the edges. Place a pin along each fold to mark halfway between the seams. Continue lining up the closest two pins, folding the fabric, and then placing a pin along the fold. Repeat until you have a decent number of evenly spaced pins. I used 8, but for a larger waistband you may need 16. Do this on both the waistband and the skirt, making sure both have the same number of pins.

pins marking halfway points on waistband edge

Now place the waistband inside the skirt, right sides together, matching up the seams. Make sure the gap in the waistband seam is on the opposite side.

side seams on skirt and waistband lined up
pinning waistband to skirt

Match up the pins on the skirt and waistband. Remove the pins and pin both pieces together in the same spots.

waistband pinned inside skirt with 8 evenly spaced pins

Now you’re ready to gather. Grab the two long threads you left from sewing the lines at the top edge of the skirt, on the side facing you. Gently pull both threads while sliding the fabric over with your other hand. Keep pulling and sliding the gathered fabric all the way around the skirt. It’s easier to do it in halves; gather the other half of the skirt pulling on the long threads from the other end.

gathering top edge of skirt
gathers evenly distributed between two pins

Distribute the gathers evenly between the pins, then pin in place.

top edge of skirt evenly gathered and pinned to waistband

Here is where you need the zigzag stitch. Set it to an appropriate width so that the leftmost part of the stitch will be 3/8″ from the edge of the fabric. Go slow, and be super careful not to hit any pins with the needle! Sew all around, then remove the basting and gathering threads.

gathered edge sewn securely with zigzag stitch

Finishing the skirt

We’re almost finished; only two more things to do. First, an invisible hem. You need an invisible hem foot and special machine stitch for this. If you don’t have one, you can just do a zigzag stitch, or however you prefer to hem it. Fold the hem up 1″ and pin in place. Using a long straight stitch, sew a line about 1/4″ from the raw edge.

hem pinned up
hem sewn with a straight stitch

Using the invisible hem foot and special machine stitch, sew all around. The leftmost part of the stitch should just catch the edge of the fabric fold lined up against the foot.

machine sewing an invisible hem
invisible hem stitch

Unfold the hem and press it. There, nearly invisible on the right side.

other side of invisible hem stitch
invisible hem from the right side of skirt

Finally, all that’s left is to finish the waistband. Cut a piece of elastic that measures 1″ to 3″ shorter than the waist measurement. Use a safety pin to pull the elastic through the waistband. Overlap the ends by 1″, making sure the elastic isn’t twisted.

inserting elastic in casing
overlapping ends of elastic

Now pin and carefully sew the ends together. I like to do this little envelope-shaped thing so it’s extra secure.

machine sewing overlapped ends of elastic
ends of elastic sewn together

Adjust the elastic inside the casing, and then get out your needle and thread. Hand sew the gap closed by going back and forth between the two sides. I think this is called a ladder stitch. I like to start at the top and end near the bottom seam.

needle and thread for hand sewing
starting hand sewing gap in casing
hand sewing gap in casing
hand sewing gap in casing
finishing hand sewing gap in casing
gap in casing sewn up

Fasten the thread securely at the end, then cut the thread. Yay, you’re finished!

finished waistband of gathered skirt

Now wasn’t that easy? I’ve made this gathered skirt in three different colors for myself, including the blue one I wore with my first corset attempt many years ago. I also made one for each of my younger sisters. It’s a simple, yet elegant skirt, easy to make and easy to wear. I think I’ll be making more of them in the future.

side front view of a knit gathered skirt with elastic waist

1 Comment

  1. […] We went with this design which is essentially a rectangle. The shape is actually the same as the knit gathered skirt, except it’s not as […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *