DIY Prairie Maxi Skirt
Learn how to make a DIY, prairie style maxi skirt without a pattern. This long flowy skirt will be perfect for wearing in the garden this summer. It is also beautiful paired with a knit sweater and some leggings to keep warm in these cold winter months. Follow my tips below to make your own handmade maxi skirt!
Wearing a full length skirt gives me feelings of being back in Anne of Green Gables times, strolling down the Avenue (White Way of Delight) with my skirt swaying in the breeze. It is funny how a piece of clothing can make you feel so joyful, historic and elegant.
Although long skirts often remind me of the olden days, I have recently seen more of them on Pinterest and in modern wardrobes. I have been searching thrift shops for just the right skirt to add to my closet but have not found the right piece, so I decided to make my own!
The prairie style maxi skirt in this tutorial is inspired by the Christy Dawn Ida skirt. Christy Dawn is a sustainable and ethical brand that creates BEAUTIFUL clothing, however this skirt is no longer sold.
If you want to make your own custom maxi skirt that has historic notes with a bohemian and modern feel, here are all the steps you need!
3 Meters of fabric (cotton or linen works best)
Thread to match
Fabric marker (or I just use a pencil)
Pins and needle
Do not use a stretchy fabric, it will be much more difficult to sew.
I used linen for my plaid skirt, it has nice movement. I was able to make mine from 2.5 meters but used every scrap. I recommend getting at least 3 meters to be safe, or if you are making a larger size get a bit more fabric.
I have also made this skirt from a thrift store bed sheet and it worked great!
Wash and dry your fabric BEFORE starting if you are using a new fabric. It would be a shame to make your handmade skirt just to have it shrink in the wash.
STEPS TO MAKE A MAXI SKIRT
Step 1: Measurements
Waist: Wrap the measuring tape around your waist, wherever you want your skirt to lay. I did mine slightly above my belly button. It is best to do this under your clothing so it is a true fit. Write down your measurement.
Length: Measure from that spot on your waist down to where you want your skirt to end. I did mine about an inch off the ground. To do this, hold one end of your tape on your waist, drop the other end to the floor, step on it, then pressing it tight to your leg, bend down and see the tape measurement.
Use your measurements to calculate the size of your skirt panels.
This skirt is made up of 4 panel pieces, two larger and two smaller. The front and back panels are wider than the side panels. Together, the front and back panels make up approximately 70% of your waist measurement. Therefore, the side panels make up about 30%.
My waist is 34 inches. Therefore I have two panels 12 inches wide and two that are 5 inches wide. The top of all four panel pieces should add up to your waist measurement.
I will use my measurements for an example in the directions, but you need to base everything on your own measurements. Just for reference I usually take a size 6 in pants.
The bottom width of each panel is 3 times the top width. Therefore, my panels that are 12 inches at the top are 36 inches wide at the bottom. Likewise, my panels with a 5 inch top are 15 inches along the bottom.
The length of your panels is the length you measured from your waist to where you want the hem. Therefore, my panels are 36 inches long.
**ADD 1 ½ inches to this length when cutting out the fabric for seam allowance and hemming.
**ADD ½ inch seam allowance to the sides of the panels to give room for sewing them together.
Step 2: Cut out fabric
Panels: Cut out two panels of each size, being sure to add seam allowances. To make the panels symmetrical they are cut on the fold.
To do this, fold your fabric over enough to fit HALF of your largest panel. Measure over from the fold half of the width of the panel’s hem, plus ½ inch. For mine, I measured over 18 ½ inches since 36/2 = 18 + ½ = 18 ½ inches. Using a meter stick, draw a straight line from the fold to your hem width mark.
Measure along the fold up the length of your skirt, plus 1 ½ inches and draw a mark. (I measured up 37 ½ inches) Here, measure over from the fold HALF the width of the panel’s waist plus ½ inch. Therefore, I measured over 6 ½ inches since 12/2 = 6 + ½ = 6 ½ inches. Draw a straight line from the fold to your waist mark.
Using a meter stick, draw a line to connect the waist edge to the hem edge. Along this line measure from the waist down whatever length your skirt is, in my case it is 37 ½ inches. Put a mark here, which will be slightly above your hem. Gradually connect this mark to the hem line, making it a circular shape. This will make the skirt rounded on the bottom and not square.
Cut out your panel, then use it as a template to make an exact copy.
Repeat this whole process to create the two smaller side panels. Now you should have 4 panel pieces cut out.
Placket: Cut out the placket for your skirt, which is what the buttons will be on. The placket is the same for any sized skirt. Cut out one rectangle that is 17 inches long by 8 inches wide.
Step 3: Sew panels
Start by laying one large panel good side up. Take a small panel and lay it good side down on top of the large panel, lining up the edges. Pin them together along the edge. Sew a straight stitch from top to bottom, using a ½ inch seam allowance.
Repeat this process to attach the second small panel to the other edge of that same large panel.
Now you should have 3 panels together. Before adding the last we need to attach the placket.
Step 4: Make placket
Take the rectangle placket piece and lay it good side down. Draw on the center and seam lines.
To do this measure over half way, which is 4 inches since the placket is 8 inches wide. Draw a 15 inch line from the top, down the middle of the placket. Next, measure over from the centre line ¾ inch to the left and ¾ inch to the right. Extend these lines down 15 inches on both sides, these are the seam lines.
Now, take the large panel that is not attached to the others and lay it good side down. Measure the middle point along the waist and from here draw a line down 15 inches.
Line up the centre placket line on top of the centre panel line, laying the placket good side down. Pin them together along the middle line.
Once pined, sew them together along the seam lines. To do this, sew a straight stitch starting at the top of one seam line, sew down 15 inches, put the needle into the fabric at the corner, rotate the fabric, sew along the bottom to the other seam line, put the needle into the fabric at that corner, rotate the fabric, and sew up this seam line to the waist.
Cut down the middle line stopping a bit before the seam. Cut over towards each corner, being careful not to cut too close to the seam. Cut away some of this fabric, leaving ¼ inch along the seams. This will result in a long thin rectangle gap, which helps reduce bulk in the placket.
Next, flip the panel over so you are looking at the good side.
With the bottom of the skirt facing towards you, fold the left side down so it is out of the way. On the right side, pull the placket out from under the skirt.
Fold the edge of the placket over ¼ inch and press it down with an iron. Next, fold this piece of the placket over towards the skirt panel. Line up the edge of the placket with the seam that attaches the placket to the panel. Iron the folded over placket in place with it just covering the seam, then pin it down. Sew the placket in place, down from the top 15 inches.
Repeat this process with the left side of the placket, folding it towards the left side of the skirt panel.
Now that the two sides of the placket are sewn in place, overlap them with the left side on top. This will result in 2 inches of fabric bunched up at the bottom. Fold the bottom section up like an accordion, overlapping it so it is in line and iron it down.
Trim off a ¼ – ½ inch of the bottom of the placket to make this section about 1 ¾ inches long. Trim another ¼ – ½ inch from the lower layers to reduce bulk. Now, turn the bottom edge of the placket under ¼ inch then press and pin in place. Sew around the bottom of the placket to make a square and sew an “X” in the middle to hold the folded section down.
* Making the placket can be difficult to visualize, I recommend watching the video if you find this step confusing.
Step 5: Sew in last panel
Attach the front panel to the rest of the skirt. With good sides together line up the edge of the front panel with the edge of one side panel. Pin them together and sew in place. Repeat this with the other side.
This is a good time to try on your skirt to see how it fits. Since there is no waistband yet, hold the skirt lower to consider where it would sit with the waistband. If you find the skirt is too loose take it in slightly at the seams. If it is snug you can let it out slightly at the seams.
REMEMBER it should not fit your waist, it should be slightly bigger since it sits lower on your hips than the waistband will.
Step 6: Make waistband
*If you are following along with the video tutorial I made the waistband slightly different in it because I was running low on fabric. Here I will explain the ideal way to make the waistband. If you are running low on fabric too, then follow the video directions.
To start, cut out the waistband from your fabric. To do this fold the fabric over so it is doubled. Fold your skirt in half with the placket edges lining up. Next line up your skirt so one side is running along the fabric fold. Trace the shape of your waistband onto the fabric, be sure to include the width of the placket.
Next, measure up from your traced waistline 3 inches, all along the line. Add ½ inch for seam allowance to the edge of the waistband that is not on the fold.
Cut out the waistband. Fold over another piece of fabric and use your waistband as a template to make an exact copy.
Lay both waistbands out good sides together, pin them together along the top edge and sew together with a straight stitch.
Fold both raw long edges of the waistband under ¼ inch and iron in place.
Add interfacing to strengthen the waistband. I used fusible interfacing but you can use whatever type you have. Cut out your interfacing so it fits in your waistband between the seam and the ironed edge, so it is back ¼ inch from the edge. Use your waistband as a template and cut out interfacing for both sides of the waistband.
If you are using fusible interfacing, place it bumpy or glue side down and iron it in place.
Pin one edge of the waistband to the inside top edge of your skirt. Fold over the raw ends to line up with the edge of the plackets and iron in place. Sew the waistband to the top of your skirt with a straight stitch.
After it is attached on the inside, fold the waistband over and pin it to the outside of the skirt. The ironed up edge of the waistband should line up with the seam you just sewed. Pin the waistband in place and top stitch it down, sewing very close to the edge of the waistband.
Step 7: Add buttons
To add the buttons, first lay your skirt out and place the buttons on the placket. Measure and space them out evenly. Draw a mark at the bottom of the buttons, as this is where your needle will go to start making your buttonholes. The buttonholes go on the top placket.
Make the buttonholes at the marks you made. If you are unsure of how to make a button hole look up the instructions for your sewing machine as they are often specific to each machine.
Once your button holes are sewn on, cut them open so the button can go through.
Lay your skirt down flat, lining up both sides of the placket. Draw a mark though each buttonhole onto the back placket. Using a needle and thread sew your buttons onto that back placket at these marks.
Step 8: Hem
The last step to completing your skirt is to sew the hem.
Before sewing try on your skirt and see how much you want to hem it. I wanted my skirt to stay as long as possible so I only hemmed it ½ inch.
To hem, iron up the bottom edge of the skirt ¼ inch.
As you go around, if you notice the bottom of the panels are slightly different lengths just cut them a little to match at the seams. This can easily happen if something was slightly off while measuring or cutting but is an easy fix that will not be noticeable in the end.
Next, fold the bottom edge over again and iron in place. I folded it up another ¼ inch but if you wanted to make your skirt shorter just fold it over some more. Pin the hem and sew it in place with a straight stitch. Sew closely to the folded in edge, so there is not fabric loose on the inside of your skirt.
Now you are DONE!
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