This is one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote, well over a decade ago. I was new to blogging and new to photography (as in I had no idea what I was doing.)
I have shared the original post, exactly as it was written back then for your reference.
This post was originally written in 2006.
A couple years ago, I had had a discussion with some ladies in an online forum, about how simple it was to make a modest wrap skirt with no pattern. Some of the ladies asked me to post a tutorial the next time I made one. I did, and these instructions were later published in “Making It Home” magazine.
I am no seamstress, and don’t sew a whole lot, so if *I* can do it, you can!
How To Make a Wrap Skirt – Part 1: Cutting
First of all, you want to purchase 3 yards of 58-60″ fabric. The fabric pictured here is a green denim.
After purchasing your fabric, take it home and launder it the way you will your finished garment. I washed it and dried it in the dryer. You do this so that the colors will not bleed, and the fabric is now “pre-shrunk.”
I have received several requests for information regarding the size of this skirt, and how to make a larger version. After some thought and a little geometry here are the updated instructions with additions for a larger size. This skirt shown fits approximately a size 8 – 16. It allows for 43″ of waist length, and this INCLUDES the portion that will overlap. The instructions for the larger size will have up to a 75″ waist length, including the overlap.
For the larger size skirt, you will need 3 3/4 yards of 58 – 60 inch fabric. You will also see a sketched diagram of the cuts for the larger skirt, below.
Step 1: Iron!
You have to start with smooth, wrinkle-free fabric.
Step 2: Now you want to lay out your fabric, folded across the middle (cut edges matching). Lay it smooth, edges lined up.
Step 3: Marking fabric.
Now, take a measuring ribbon and measure from one folded corner, along one side 50 inches. ( Measure 58-60 inches for the larger size.)
Mark it with a pin. (If you don’t have a measuring ribbon, you can use a measuring tape, or even a 50″ piece of yarn.)
Keeping the measuring ribbon at the corner, move the other end over a few inches, and mark again. You will continue to do this, and will essentially be forming a perfect curve, using the ribbon like a compass.
Now, from the same corner, you are going to repeat this process. This time you will measure 14 inches in, marking again with a pin.
(24″ for the larger skirt)
These pin lines are where you are going to cut. You will basically be doing nothing more than “connecting-the-dots.”
Step 4: Now you are going to cut along these two curves. If you are nervous about cutting a pinned line, you can mark your fabric with a fabric marking pen, or even a piece of chalk.
Here you can see the smaller portion cut out and removed.
After you have cut the two lines, you will have a large, folded wedge-shaped section, with the smaller wedge cut out. If you were to unfold the entire piece, it would be a half-circle with the middle cut out, like a big, thick rainbow. The distance between the two cut lines should be 36 inches. This is the same for both sized skirts.
Step 5: Waist-band/belt Now with the remaining fabric, you will measure from the still-folded line, 48 inches, and mark it with a pin again. You will cut out a long, straight strip that is 48″ from the folded edge, and 4″ wide. Unfolded, this will be a long strip 4 x 96 inches.
If you are cutting the larger size, you will cut TWO strips across the fabric, 58-60 inches long, and 4 inches wide. You will end up with two long rectangles. You will sew one end of each together, right sides together of course, creating a strip 4 inches long, and about 119 inches long. ***Before going any further, wrap the belt around you from the back, centered, crossing in front, and tying in the back. If this is not long enough to tie easily, you can cut a third strip and sew it to one end of the other two. Then follow the directions continued.
Now, take one end of the strip and fold it in half the long way, matching the corners.
With your scissors, cut from the edge to the folded corner at a 45º angle.
After it is cut, open it up, and you will have a pointed end. Repeat on the other end.
Guess what? You are done cutting!!! See how simple that was!
(The finished skirt will be approximately 36 inches long from the waist. If this is too long, you can adjust the length by changing the first measured cut, by reducing it from 50/60 inches.)
My daughter and I both wearing wrap skits a couple years ago.
Part 2: The Sewing
Step 1 – Side edges
Take the skirt and lay it on your ironing board right side down. Along one side, you will fold the edge up and over 1/2 inch and press it in place, then fold it over again, press, and pin it.
After you have folded, pressed and pinned the first side, repeat this on the other side.
Once you have both sides ready, you will sew it in place, about 1/2 to 5/8 inch from the edge of the skirt.
When you have completed the sewing on both sides, you will repeat this process on the bottom edge of the skirt. (That is the largest side.) Once you are done with those three, only the top (shortest edge) will be unsewn.
STEP 2: Waistband/Belt
Take your long strip, and fold it in half, right-side IN, and press it into place.
Take the belt, matching the pointed ends and fold it in half. From the center, you are going to take your measuring ribbon and measure 25 inches from the folded center, and mark it with a pin. You will do this for both ends. Each will be pinned 25 inches from the center.
(If you are making the larger sized skirt, you will first sew the two halves, right sides together. The sewn part will be the center of the waist/belt and you would measure about 45″ from the center.)
The middle will be left open. You will sew about 1/4 -3/8″ from the edge.
Now you have a nice corner…but you will need to take your scissors and trim off the very tip, close to the beginning of the sewing, but without cutting off the sewn portion. Do this on both ends.
Step 3: Attaching the Belt
Now you will take both of the ends and hold them together, folding the belt in half to find the center. Mark it with a pin, but don’t pin the belt together.
You will do the same with the top edge of the skirt. Mark the center with a pin.
Now, you will lay the skirt right side up. Open the unsewn portion of the belt/waistband and match the two center pins. You will lay the belt on the skirt right side down. Then line up the edges and pin them together, right sides together.
You will sew these together along the pinned edge, about 3/8″ from the edge.
The belt will now be attached on one edge, and still open where the skirt is. Turn the ends of the belt right-side out. This is a pain in the hiney….would be easier if I had one of those handy turning tools…but for now is a lesson in patience.
Now that the belt is right-side out, press it smooth.
Now you will take the open edge of the belt and fold the edge under, and press into place all along the top of the skirt. You can pin it if you need to.
This will be sort of like sewing closed a pillow. Once it is pressed in place, stitch very close to the edge, from one end of the opening to the other.
Now the skirt itself is finished! All that is left, is to make the button holes to feed the tie through when wearing it.
Take the skirt and hold it behind you, centered.
Wrap it around you, pulling one side close to your body.
Note where the edge of the skirt meets the other, outer side, and mark it with a pin. The side that is wrapped around the front of you will go to the inside of the other. Below you will see the lower/outer side is marked with a pin. The top/inner side will come through a button-hole at that pin.
This will be where you make the button hole.
To make the skirt a little adjustable, you will measure 3 inches on either side of that pin, and mark two other spots.
Using the button-hole feature on your sewing machine, make three 1 1/4″ button holes, one at each pin mark.
YOU ARE DONE!!!!!!!
This particular skirt was made with a heavy, stiff denim, so it flares out a little at the bottom. However a softer fabric will hang a little easier. The blue skirt I am wearing above, where I demonstrate marking the waist, is also one of these wrap skirts, and is made in a softer, more light-weight fabric.
Here are some comments I received from a lovely lady on the MIH list. I thought they might be helpful for those wishing to make this skirt.
I just wanted to make a comment on this, ok, two comments – firstly – GREAT JOB, Constance!! Step by step instructions are great! You did a fabulous job!! I’m very appreciative!
Second, you can order extra wide fabrics, either online, or you can ask at your local fabric shop (JoAnn’s has ordered it before for me) Simply adjust your measurements a bit, and make your outer cut longer and as well, make your inner, smaller cut (which will serve as the waist) longer as well. Oh, and the long fabric strip that serves as the waist wrap will need to be a bit longer. But this skirt is very flattering and slimming, no matter what size you are…I usually wear a 24 on the bottom and was able to easily adjust Constance’s pattern to accommodate my larger waist (Thanks to having children!)!!
PS…I don’t usually jump into conversations very often, but I just had to comment on this. Constance did such a beautiful job putting together these instructions. I was very impressed and blessed! Thank you again, Constance!
This is a great photo that was shared with me by a reader who used my instructions to make a couple of the skirts. I love this picture!
Here is a photo that was sent to me of a 13 year old in her skirt that she made.
From her mom:
I think this pattern is perfect for a young seamstress because it is so easy (practically instant!) and the end result is so nice looking.
Personalizing the Pattern
I have had several requests for a child-sized version of this skirt. As I have said before, I am not a seamstress, and really don’t have a ton of experience sewing. I don’t have any little girls to sew for anymore, so I truly don’t even know where to begin. BUT, if you were wanting to create this skirt for a different size (like a child) this is probably the best way to do it….
This is how I enlarged my original instructions (that were published in Making It Home Magazine) a little to make a pattern for “fluffier” ladies. I would imagine the same steps could be used for making a smaller version as well.
Here is the basic directions for adjusting the size of this pattern.
To determine the cutting radius of the waist (smaller arch) use the measurement of your waist, times about 1.5. That gives enough wrap for overlap to make sure there is no exposure. Then you do a little simple geometry to find the radius of a circle that will give you the circumference (for HALF of a circle.) That is how you know how far to cut the waist from the center fold corner.
Geometry: Circumference = Pi (3.14) x Diameter
so 1/2 of the circumference (which is what you need) here is what you do:
First measure the waist of the person the skirt is for. And substitute the “32” below with your number. For example, let’s say I am making a skirt for a 32 inch waist. I am going to plug 32 into my equation:
“Waist Size” x 1.5 = wrapping waist measurement
32 x 1.5 = 48 inches (Don’t forget this step, or your skirt will not wrap!)
wrapping waist measurement / 3.14 = radius of waist (round to the nearest inch.)
48 / 3.14 = 15.29 inches (round to the nearest inch.) Giving you a cutting radius of 15 inches.
This gives you the radius of the circle (arch) to cut for the waist. Take that number, and measure from the corner fold of the fabric and mark the arch. This is the measurement you would use for this line/cut.
Now because this is a wrap skirt, and because you will measure yourself to determine where to put the button holes, this has A LOT OF WIGGLE ROOM. This measurement will fit a range of sizes near and around a 32 inch waist.
Then for the bottom arch (hem/length of skirt) I simply measured from my waist to the point I wanted the skirt to go down to, and added an inch or so for the hem. That told me how far from the inner arch to cut for the outer arch.
OR add that number to the number you came up with for your waist-cut radius and measure from the same corner. Either way you will come to the same location.
I hope this is of help. Like I said at the beginning, I am NOT a seamstress, just a mom who took Home Ec in 7th grade, and knows a little geometry :-)