In this article, I would like to show you how to sew a simple skirt according to my skirt pattern RACHEL. I have published a total of three tutorials for this pattern and the one you are looking at is the easiest and therefore recommended for beginners (and those who are sewing a RACHEL skirt for the first time)...
You can explore the pattern for women’s skirt RACHEL here:
- This pattern is suitable for beginners. The only tricky part is sewing the zipper. However, if you don't try, you'll never learn, will you... :)
- When sewing the skirt, I mainly used a regular sewing machine. I used an overlocker to clean cutting edges of the side seams, but you can do this with a regular sewing machine (and zig-zag stitch, for example).
- If you need help, please visit this section of our sewing forum:
If you are sewing a skirt according to this pattern for the first time, I recommend a good quality light cotton canvas (American cotton canvases are great) or cotton poplin...
Other suitable fabrics (for the outer part of the skirt):
- Light and flowing woven fabrics such as:
- American cotton canvas
- (the skirt featured in this article is made from American cotton, specifically cotton from Michael Miller: Miller - American cotton canvas)
- Cotton poplin
- Blouse fabrics (airy and flowing)
- Laces - High-quality lace makes a beautiful lightweight skirt, but you need to add a lining to the mix. I generally like to use natural materials, so I highly recommend viscose linings for example - they wrinkle easily but are breathable and so very comfortable to wear. (If you use synthetic lace & lining, you may feel uncomfortable and sweaty in summer…)
- Chiffon - Great for summer skirts. I recommend you try this material at least once. Working with chiffon requires some practice and patience, so I do not recommend this material to beginners. But with a little effort, you can sew incredibly beautiful chiffon pieces. Instructions on how to work with chiffon and other fine fabrics can be found in this article: How to sew fine fabrics
- American cotton canvas
- A huge selection of quality materials suitable for this skirt can be found at Dumlatek.cz
- Not all cotton canvases are suitable for skirts. Avoid cheap and poor-quality canvases - they are usually too rigid (not flowing), bleed color, and become faded after just a few washing cycles. Fibers of low-quality canvases tend to break during washing, creating permanent creases.
- Cotton canvases aren’t as flowing as poplin, or blouse fabrics and chiffons. That's why cotton canvas skirts are not so flowing and look a bit bulkier. If you are afraid that your skirt will look "boxy", choose a poplin, blouse fabric, or chiffon. In the photos below you can see photos of skirts that are sewn according to the same pattern, but I chose a different material for each one. You can see how changing the material can significantly affect the overall look of the skirt.
How to sew women’s skirt RACHEL
I have published a total of three sewing tutorials for this skirt pattern (you're reading the third one right now). You can explore the first tutorial here:
And the second one can be found here:
Cut the pieces on the fold, but not lengthwise - cut them on the bias. This will make the skirt more flowing.
If you want to sew a short version of the skirt and don't want to cut or copy your pattern, you can use your tracing wheel to simply mark the line of the shortened skirt on the fabric.
If you have a firm fabric, you can also cut the belt on the bias. This will give it a bit of slack so that it doesn't pinch your waist.
So now you should have 1x front piece, 1x back piece, and 1x belt. To tell you the truth, there is no need for a zipper overlap on the sides of this version of the skirt. You can simply cut both main pieces so that they have 1.5 or 2 cm (5/8” or 3/4") wide seam allowances along the entire length of both side seams. Don't ask me why I cut out the pieces with overlaps, I must have forgotten to engage my brain... :)
In any case, I recommend reinforcing the zipper overlap with a thin one-sided fusible interfacing, in my case about 5 cm wide, in your case a narrower strip may do – it must cover the width of the seam allowance and 0.5 cm (0.2") extra. If you have 1.5 cm (5/8") wide seam allowances, cut 2 cm (3/4") wide strips of fusible interfacing.
Also, reinforce the entire belt and prepare it for sewing. Fold it in half (lengthwise) and iron it. Then fold the seam allowance (not all of it *) of one of the long sides to the “inside” of the belt and iron the fold. * If you have a 1 cm (0.4") wide seam allowance, you only need to fold an 8 mm (0.32") wide strip of fabric.
Now clean both sides of both main skirt pieces (you can use your overlock machine).
Mark the side seam stitching line in the zipper area. The stitching line is 1.5 or 2 cm / 3/8” or 3/4” (the width of your seam allowances) from the edge of the fabric.
Now let's sew in the hidden zipper. It's not that hard, so don't worry. This trick could help you a lot - gently iron the zipper (the iron must not be too hot) from the tooth side so that the teeth of the zipper sort of curl towards the face of the zipper tape.
Then place the zipper exactly where you have marked the seam (RS to RS). There are many rules and theories as to which side the zipper should be placed on, but I'm not a fan of any of them - I follow common sense. This means, if you're right-handed, place the zipper on the left side so you can comfortably unzip it with your right hand. If you are left-handed, place the zipper on the right side. But that's just my tip, place the zipper on whatever side you want. :)
Baste one side of the zipper tape to the front piece (or back piece).
Sew this side to the skirt. Open and close the zipper a few times to make sure it is sewn correctly.
Then baste and sew the other side of the zipper tape.
Now fold the two skirt pieces RS to RS so that you can finish the part of the side seam below the zipper.
To make the seam smoothly follow the hidden zipper, I recommend starting it about 1 mm (0.04") from the zipper seam (1 mm towards the skirt) and 2 mm (0.08") above the end of the zipper seam.
It should look like this:
Iron the seam and press the seam allowances open.
Now get ready to sew the second side seam - align the edges of both skirt pieces.
Before sewing the second side seam I recommend basting it (temporarily stitch it) and performing a fitting test. After all, every material is different, so make sure the skirt fits you well.
Since the skirt doesn't have a belt yet, expect it to be a bit lose. I decided to make my skirt a bit narrower, so I moved the side seam about 1 cm (0.4") inwards. This change reduced the circumference of the skirt by 2 cm (3/4").
If you are happy with the seam placement, sew it, iron it, and press the seam allowances open.
Let’s work on the belt now.
Find the midpoints of the back and front skirt pieces and mark them on the top edges of both pieces.
Pin the belt to the skirt (RS to RS) so that the long side with the fold stays loose. One of the shorter sides of the belt should extend about 1 cm / 0.4" (seam allowance) beyond the skirt pieces...
...and the other side should extend about 3 cm (1.2") beyond the skirt pieces. The 3cm wide overhang is enough room for a button/buttonhole.
Baste the belt to the skirt. Now is a good time to perform another fitting test.
I realized after the fitting test that I could have made the belt tighter, after all, so I pulled out the temporary stitches and repeated the process - so my overlap is larger than the recommended 3 cm (1.2"). It's also because I narrowed the skirt itself a few steps earlier...
Sew the belt to the skirt.
Fold the belt in half (lengthwise, RS in). The free side of the belt (with the fold) should reach below the already sewn side - we did not make the fold exactly 1 cm / 0.4" (width of the seam allowance) from the edge.
Extend all folds 3 cm 1.2” beyond the zipper as shown below.
Sew both ends of the belt and grade the seam allowances - trim one of them to about 0.5 cm (0.2"). You can also cut the upper corner of the belt - the edge of the belt will have a nicer shape without any bulges.
Turn the belt RS out and smooth it out.
Fold seam allowances of the skirt and belt towards the belt.
Fold the inner part of the belt over the seam allowances.
Baste the belt in this position - sew from the inside of the skirt. The thread should appear a bit below the belt from the face-side view.
If you are very careful, you can perform one more fitting test, but everything should already be fine.
Sew the second part of the belt to the skirt (sew on the face side of the skirt). If you are comfortable with a zipper foot, you can use it. Guide the seam exactly where the skirt meets the belt. When sewing, it can help if you pull the pieces apart with both hands so that you can get exactly into the original seam.
This is what it looks like from the other side:
The seam should not be visible at all from the face side. You can see in the photo below that the zipper foot didn't do a great job, but you won't see the seam after ironing.
The part of the seam that runs along the overlapping part of the tape can be sewn by hand.
If you find a place where the inner part of the belt is not sewn, attach the belt to the skirt with a small hand stitch.
Speaking of details, I recommend sewing a tack below the zipper (several wide zigzag stitches in one place) to keep the side seam from tearing.
Now you have to finish the bottom edge of the skirt. Fold the edge of the skirt to the inside (twice). Baste the folded part, iron it, and topstitch it.
If you want, you can finish the bottom hem with two parallel seams, but feel free to sew just one...
Now, all that's left to do is sew a buttonhole on the overhanging part of the belt and then sew the button to the other end of the belt.
You can explore the pattern for women’s skirt RACHEL here:
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PS: Did you know that there are other FREE PATTERNS available on my blog?