In my drive to clear all clutter out of my room in preparation for my move to Wisconsin, I’ve been going through all of the fabric I have laying around from old projects. This particular floral fabric was actually cut from a dust ruffle that my neighbor gave me a long time ago. While I was originally perplexed as to what I could do with such little fabric (it was about four feet long and a foot and a half wide), I realized that it was the perfect amount for a gathered – or dirndl – skirt.
What’s really useful about making this skirt out of a dust ruffle is that the dust ruffle will come pre-hemmed on the bottom (yay!) and will possibly already have a way to attach to itself. I was very lucky and found that my fabric had cute yellow buttons and buttonholes already in place, which made this project ten times easier. If your fabric doesn’t have buttons like mine, you’ll have to either sew your own buttonholes (here’s a relatively easy tutorial on how to machine sew buttonholes) or add a zipper.
- Skirt fabric – the longer this is, the fuller your skirt will be. You want the width to be the length from your waist to your ideal skirt length, plus a couple of inches for hemming. If you’re working with a dust ruffle, disregard the hemming part. You can use many types of fabric for this – I used a cotton but special occasion fabrics would also give this skirt a little oomph.
- Waistband fabric – get fabric in a matching or complementary color. You won’t need much, just long enough to go around your waist and about 6-8 inches wide depending on how thick you want the waistband to be.
- Matching thread
- Optional – interfacing for the waistband (to make it stiffer – I didn’t do this but you could), buttons, and zippers are all optional.
- Gather the skirt fabric – Baste (loosely stitch – I set my stitch width at 4) two lines across the top of your fabric. Pull one thread from each line on each side, scrunching up the fabric as you go. The fabric should slide pretty easily over the thread. Make sure that the skirt is distributed evenly over the thread with the gathering pretty even overall.
- Sew the fabric to the waistband – With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the skirt to the waistband. Sew the two together (back on a normal stitch – I use 2), making sure that you are sewing lower than the two gather threads (so they end up inside the waistband, not visible to the outside world).
- Slipstitch the waistband closed – Iron the free edge of the waistband over about 3/8 in. Fold the waistband in half, and slipstitch the ironed edge to the other half of the waistband. If you’re using interfacing, apply (iron or sew) the interfacing to one half of the waistband before you sew it shut.
- Optional: Hemming the skirt and sewing it closed While I didn’t have to do this, if you don’t start with a dust ruffle, you’ll have to hem the skirt. Fold 3/8 in. of the bottom of the skirt under and sew it. Then, fold it under again until the skirt is your desired length. Pin it in place, and slip stitch the hem. To close the skirt, fold over and hem the two edges, sewing buttons and buttonholes down the skirt’s length. If you’re using a zipper, figure out how long you need the zipper to be (probably 7-9 in., but it needs to be able to open up to fit over the widest part of your hips). Sew the skirt closed up to that point. Next sew in the zipper, following the above tutorial.
I absolutely love my new skirt, and I’m so glad I’ve finally found a use for such charming fabric. Depending on how you style the skirt and what fabric you use, a gathered skirt can be used for almost any occasion – work, leisure, special occasions. I would recommend wearing it with a tucked in shirt, however, since the gathers might look awkward if the flattering waist is hidden. If you use enough fabric (more than I did), you can also wear a petticoat underneath it, and wear it like a classic vintage skirt – there are so many possibilities.