Panel Knit skirt tutorial

This project was inspired by a favourite skirt that I bought at a market in Spain nearly 20 years ago !

Here's how to make one like it:

First choose some pretty knit material (you need around 1 metre or 1 yard) and some wide elastic (mine was 4cm (1.5") wide) for the waistband:

Whoever the skirt is for, measure their waist or hips - depending on where you want the waistband of the skirt to sit!
As a general rule for the waist of a skirt, you cut the elastic 5cm (2") shorter than the waist measurement.
(I had wide very firm, tight elastic and my girls don't like their skirts to be tight, so I just cut the elastic the same measurement as their waists. The overlap when I joined the elastic into a circle made it snug enough when they wear it)

Join the elastic into a circle with a couple of rows of zig zag stitching on your machine.

Now for the panels of the skirt.
Here are the measurements you need.

Measurement A
Measure from the waist down the length you'd like the skirt to be.  Add the additional width of your elastic to this measurement. 

Measurement B
Divide the waist measurement by 6
This will the width of the top of each skirt panel.

Measurement C
Double measurement B and add around 5 cm (2"). For a wider base to your skirt add a few extra cm or inches. This measurement is very flexible depending on how wide you want the base of your skirt to be!

Now you need to cut 6 rectangles of your knit fabric 
measuring A by C like this:

With the stretch across the narrow width (side C) of your rectangle.

Now you need to take each rectangle in turn and fold in half along the long edge.  Then measure in from the folded edge, HALF of measurement B and place the top of your tape measure or a ruler at this point and diagonally down to the bottom outer edge like this:

Then cut along this line:

Once cut, you should then have 6 panels narrow at the top and wide at the bottom with sloping sides:

Now take these panels and stitch them right sides together along the long sloping edges. Keeping all the short edges at the top.  Join all the pieces together to make the main skirt:

If you have an overlocker (or serger) you can neaten the edges of all the seams at this point.  Don't worry if you don't, knit fabric doesn't fray so it doesn't need to be finished!

Now you're ready to attach the elastic loop you made.

Pin the elastic to the top of the waist of your skirt piece on the inside of the fabric like this:

Then stitch all the way around.  As you stitch you need to stretch both the elastic and the fabric by pulling both behind and in front of your needle as you go. This will prevent the stitching from ripping when you pull the skirt on and off as the elastic stretches!
I couldn't stretch and take a photo at the same time - so pull the elastic and fabric in the directions of the arrows as you stitch!

Now fold the elastic in on itself so the fabric covers it on the inside of the skirt.  Then secure the fabric on the two sides of the waistband by stitching along the seam onto the elastic:

Almost there!

To finish off the bottom hem of the skirt, I used a rolled hem.  My sewing machine has a special foot for sewing rolled hems. It just requires a little patience, but the foot really does the work for you:
Check if you have a rolled hem foot with your machine. Mine is quite a basic machine and did come with one .
(it took me 7 years to realise I had one!  Check your manual!!)

It does make the hem look nice and pretty!

And here's a couple of the finished skirts!

I made one each for my girls - and one for myself too!


I decided to try the same skirt again, but using ribbing for the waistband.
So I cut the panels and made up the main skirt. Then cut ribbing 5cm (2") narrower than the waist and 12cm (4.5") wide.

I folded the ribbing in half right sides together and stitched to form the waistband:

Then I folded the band in half - this time wrong sides together and pinned it to the top of the skirt - onto the right side of the fabric:

Then stitched it all together - stretching the fabric and ribbing as I stitched, just as I had with the elastic.
And here you have - another new skirt !

This is my first time trying ribbing for a waistband. Apparently you can add elastic inside it for extra support but I didn't.
My daughter tried it on and it holds up fine, plus she likes it better than the elastic one - she says it's softer and more comfy!

You could also sew this panel skirt and simply turn the top edge over to form a casing which you thread narrower elastic through for another different type of waistband!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I hope you liked this tutorial.
I welcome any comments, feedback and suggestions!
And there are many more tutorials for all levels of sewing ability on My Tutorials page.
Do go and take a look!


  1. Super cute skirts, Jill. Love the effect the rolled hem gives. In all my years of sewing, I have never done a rolled hem. It's about time I did!!! Off to see if my machine has one.

    1. Thanks Pam! When I got my overlocker a couple of years ago I started doing rolled hems - then later discovered I could have been doing them for a lot longer with my sewing machine! Hope you've got one of those feet for your machine - they're great!

  2. So cute! Jill, I love your sewing tutorials! Need to try this for my nieces :)

  3. Superb tutorial, J! I love the flippy silhouette of this skirt!

    1. Thanks Mich!! I've not done a lot of clothes making - but my girls are always appreciative of my efforts and I'm slowly getting better!

  4. Jill, thank you very much for this tutorial, you made me remember that I bought a foot to make rolled hems and never used it. After reading your tutorial I think it is time to take it out of the box. Your skirts are beautiful, I love the movement they have. You did a beautiful job, thanks for sharing. Marisa

    1. Thanks so much Marissa! And have fun with your rolled hem foot!!


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