Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.stretch-yourself-logo

It’s not hard to see why maxi skirts and dresses have infiltrated fashion over the last couple of years, and are still a staple and going strong–they are comfortable, functional, and versatile. And if you ask me, the knit fabric variety are all of those things to the MAX (ee).  They shine in all seasons, and are a dream to whip up. They are so simple and basic, and a great first knit sewing project.  Today I’ll show you how to draft your own pattern (it’s easy!) and construct an a-line and gathered maxi (the most common styles).  Hop on over to Miranda‘s to learn how to draft and construct leggings, another wardrobe staple!


Let’s start with the a-line maxi, and you’ll need to take a few quick measurements. Before you do, let’s talk a bit about ease. Ease is the space between the garment and your body; without added ease, this pattern will be fitted at the waist and hips because the measurements of the skirt will equal your body measurements. The skirt I made has no ease added, but if you want a little more room, then you’ll need to add some ease—I suggest 1-2 inches.  For this skirt you would only add it to the waist and the hip measurements, and I strongly suggest just the hip IF you decide to add ease.  Always add it in before you divide (i.e. hip measurement plus 2” ease divided by 4). 

  1. Waist to desired length:distance between the waist and desired length.
  2. Waist to hip: distance between the waist and hip.
  3. Quarter waist: true waist plus optional ease, divided by 4.
  4. Quarter hip: fullest part of your bum plus optional ease, divided by 4.
  5. Quarter hip measurement plus 8-10″, depending on how flared you want you skirt. TIP: Slight fullness would be hip measurement X 1.5, medium fullness would be hip measurement X 2, and considerable fullness would be hip measurement X 3. Considering that guide, my quarter hip measurement plus 8 equals medium fullness. Another way to determine this is to lay out a tape measure and then to step into the center of it in order to visualize  what the fullness looks like. 

Draft the Pattern:

Cut a piece of paper that is plenty longer than your waist to desired length measurement (give yourself at least 6”). One edge needs to be completely straight, as it will become your center front and fold line.

  1. Starting a couple of inches from the top, measure down the length of number 1 and mark. This is your Center Front as well as as the length of your maxi skirt.
  2. Starting back at the top again and measure down the length of number 2 and mark. This will be your hip point.
  3. Once again from the top, measure out perpendicularly your quarter waist (number 3).
  4. At your previously marked hip point, measure out perpendicularly your quarter hip (number 4).
  5. To finish plotting, start at the bottom of the CF line and measure out perpendicularly the quarter width of your bottom hem (number 5).
  6. Now to connect the dots by starting a 1/2 down from your CF line, and drawing a gentle curve that ends at the point of line 3.
  7. From there you’ll continue down with another gentle curve to the end point of line 4.
  8. Complete your side seam by continuing with an almost straight line (very slightly curved towards the top) until your reach about 3/4’s of an inch above line 5.
  9. Finish the pattern by drawing another very gentle curve to meet with the CF point.

Add a 1/4″ seam allowance everywhere except the bottom hem where you’ll add 5/8″ for turning (more or less depending on your planned hemming).


Cut and construct:

  1. Cut 2 (front and back skirt pieces) from fabric, making sure that your width has the greatest degree of stretch.
  2. Serge/sew the side seams together.  Check out Miranda’s construction a knit tee post for tips on construction stitches for both a sewing machine and serger.
  3. Cut a rectangle of fabric for the waistband that has a width that is your waist measurement minus 2″ (negative ease for a snug fit), and a length that is your desired waistband thickness times 2 and plus 1/4″  seam allowance. Fold in half widthwise, right sides together, and serge/sew side seam. Just a note, I made both of my bands smaller because I planned on belting my skirts. For a true yoga waistband you’ll want a length of about 10 inches, which folded over will be about a 5 inch band that hug your hips.
  4. Fold in half lengthwise now WST, encasing the seam allowance within the band. Be sure to try your band on at this point to ensure a nice snug fit (take note that it will likely stretch out a bit during sewing).

5. Fit the waistband over the right side of your skirt, pin–matching side seams, and serge/sew. Now flip up the band, finish the bottom hem, and you’re ready to rock.

mad mim_stretch yourself_aline skirt DIY_03b mad mim_stretch yourself_aline skirt DIY_04 stretch-yourself_gathered-maxi-skirt


Cut and construct:

  1. Cut a large rectangle that has the width of your waist measurement times 1.5, and is your desired length long plus a 5/8″ for turning. Fold it in half widthwise, and serge/sew the side seam. mad mim_stretch yourself_gathered maxi skirt DIY_01
  2. Gather the top edge using your preferred gathering method. I like to zig zag over  cording or string, and then cinch/gather by pulling the string tight. This is SO much easier than two rows of basting threads, and it produces nice, even gathers. I also love to gather using the serger, it’s also much faster and accurate then the double row basting method. Gather it to your waist circumference (doesn’t have to be exact yet).
  3. Cut another rectangle that is the width of your waist circumference minus 2″, and the length of your desired waistband thickness times 2 plus a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Fold in half widthwise and RST, and  sew/serge. Then fold again lengthwise, encasing the side seam within the waistband. Try out and check fit; remember that it will likely stretch a small amount during sewing, so you want it fairly snug. mad mim_stretch yourself_gathered maxi skirt DIY_02
  4. Gather your skirt top to match the circumference of your waistband and pin matching side seams, raw edges and make sure it’s RST.
  5. Serge/sew. If you used the cord gathering method I suggest first basting, then removing the cord before you serge/sew.  Flip waistband up, hem bottom edge and wear!
mad mim_stretch yourself_gathered maxi skirt DIY_04 mad mim_stretch yourself_gathered maxi skirt DIY_05

(Fabric for this skirt came from the Fabric Fairy–isn’t it fantastic??. )

Remember to check out Miranda‘s post about drafting and sewing leggings!

More Stretch Yourself:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM




Hey Elise, it depends on your measurements, but I used about a 1 1/2 of 45″ fabric for the gathered, and I think about the same for the a-line, but it was 55″ wide. I suggest drafting your pattern, and then figuring it out from there!


I’ve really enjoyed this series! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge about sewing with knits. That’s one area of the sewing world I haven’t experimented with much, so I’m excited to give it a try!



Your work is soooooooooooooo beautiful, the pretty clothes you’ve made and the web portrayal is clean, pretty and professional. You look so gorgeous. I’ve been thinking about you and I come and look expecting you just getting started into your week to find awesome resource after awesome resource. Drop the jaw line.

Well, good work sis.


Women look so dang beautiful in skirts, why is it we keep wearing jeans? And maxis (and specifically knit maxis) are totally the way to go for comfort. Thanks for this oooooh la la post!


Thank you so much for doing this series! I have absolutely no confidence when it comes to drafting patterns, but with the detailed instructions you’ve done, I’m going to give it a try again. Patterns can be so expensive, so learning to do this is a huge money saver!


Bernice Beeslaar

Loving your series. My selfish sewing list is growing rapidly! Also enjoyed your Victory pattern review, the first time I heard of them. Cannot wait to try some of their patterns.


Thank you SO much for these! What a fantastic teacher you are, and so generous to share. I absolutely love the gathered one, and can not wait to make one. And yes, I adore that fabric. I’ve been sewing for the kids, but this may get bumped up to the top of my list.


Thank you for posting this tutorial. I used the knit maxi tutorial tonight, and it went together so fast! Except for the hem. I have a hate/love/hate relationship with my sewing machine when it comes to knits and finishing them. But I was able to use my serger and it worked awesome.
Thank you so much for taking time to post this series. I can’t wait to try another skirt!


Thanks so much for the tutorials!
I just started making the gathered skirt, I used the string/cord method and I am not sure if I should pull out the cord after sewing the skirt part to the waistband? I feel like maybe I would have a hard time pulling it over my hips with the cord in?

Carolyn Van Dyke

I am waaay confused. Similar to Michelle’s question about the cord being removed, my dilemma is that once the waistband is sewn to the gathered skirt, it will not go past my hips. My thread is not stretchy; is there a stretchy thread I’m supposed to be using? I want a smooth unruffled waistband, but still have gathering for the fullness in the skirt. Any help is appreciated!


Ok, you don’t have to have stretchy thread, but you DO have to remove the cord before you complete the project. I removed mine after I had serged it, but I think it would be easier to first BASTE the band to the skirt, remove the cord, and then stay stitch it with a zig zag stitch or serger. Does that make sense? I’ll go back through the instructions and clarify. Thanks for the question, hope this helps!


I have the same question….the issue isn’t taking out the cord or attaching the skirt to the waistband…it’s that after you’ve done the attaching, the original stitches that we used to make the ruffles have no give (especially since we gathered the dress to the exact size of the waistband)…are you supposed to cut off the original basting/zig-zag stitches that encased the cord so the whole dress can stretch out?

Kasren Winters

Hello, I was reading through the instruction on the A-line skirt and was wondering if Step #5, you also divide that number to get desired width?


Sorry that is a bit confusing, I just went back and specified that it’s your quarter hip measurement that you add 8-10″. So no, you don’t divide it, as it’s already been divided. Hope that clears it up!

Karen Winters

i realized my e-mail address was wrong after I sent my question about step #5.


I am unsure how the two rectangle pieces for the gathered maxi skirt combine with one another and onto the skirt. It seems there should be another step batwing 3 and 4. Please help. Thanks!


I’m working on the A line version of this skirt right now, and the measurements/numbers have me really confused. For example, when you say “Starting a couple of inches from the top, measure down the length of number 1 and mark,” do you mean #1 as in the first thing in the numerical list of things we measure (quarter waist), or #1 as in #1 on the chart we fill in (Waist to Desired Length)?

Am I understanding these numbers right? #1 on diagram with the legs is in fact #3 on the chart next to it?


Danielle, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. OMG! I can’t believe I made that mistake!! I have had so many people make this skirt, and NOBODY has bothered to tell me that I screwed up that numbers until now! I can’t believe I did that, seriously! I fixed it, I apologize for the confusion! And thank you for taking the time to let me know!


No worries! And thanks for letting me know I wasn’t losing my mind. I’d never drafted a pattern before, so I thought there might have been some secret I just didn’t know about 🙂 Anyway, the skirt turned out like a dream. Thanks again!


I’m confused about the numbers, too. It sounds like the two lists for taking measurements didn’t match & you corrected that problem.

But the diagram numbers don’t seem to match up to the list numbers.

For example: “1. Waist to desired length:distance between the waist and desired length.” but in the diagram with the legs and the dotted measuring lines, #1 circles the waist.

It looks like diagram’s #1 = list item #3 (quarter waist)
#2 = #4 (quarter hip)
#3 = #2 (waist to hip)
#4 = #1 (desired length)
#5 = #5 (hip measurement plus 8-10″)

I am not too surprised that others haven’t commented on this, as even with the mis-match, it’s easy to see what you mean. It just would be nice if it matched.

Aside from this, your tutorial is lovely! Thanks for sharing!


Yes, you’re right. I’m gonna go back and change the graphic when I have time, thanks for bringing it to my attention!


It shouldn’t since the cut is a-line, and it flares out from the waist. While drafting I would make sure that your skirt is as wide as your widest measurement. i.e. if your thigh measurement is 38, then make sure the skirt is at least 38 around in that area. Good luck!


I love this tutorial! I do have a question about the diagram for the A-line skirt. On #2, do you sew the front and back piece wrong sides together or right sides together then flip it inside out to continue? I’m asking because the pick and colors threw me a little since it shows the side sewn wrong sides together.


Thank you…. this is the best complete before lunch project I have seen in a long time… and my daughter will be happier once again!

Kate C

Wow, this is amazing! I just ordered the last of my drafting tools and I cannot wait for this project. Thank you so much.


This is a great pattern. I saw this skirt all over the beach when I went to S California. (March 3, 2014) It keeps pale legs warm in the winter/spring season and protects against sunburn early in the season. It looked really great. I think it would be great to lounge around the house in the evening.


I loved your tutorial. Have made both skirts love them. You look beautiful in yours. Thanks


I am very new to sewing, and I didn’t see this noted anywhere. What is WST and RST? All that came to mind was “wrong/right sides together.” Am I even close? Thanks for the tutorial. Can’t wait to try it!


I am planning to make a maxi skirt for my mother and have been checking out tutorials on blogs and Youtube. This is the simplest and most easy to understand tutorial I have come across yet on how to make a maxi skirt with both the pattern and the tutorial. Thank you.


Thanks for this. I saved it for a year now I get to make this skirt this week.


Did you make the t in the pics with the maxi skirt? If so do you remember the pattern? Thanks!


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