How to make a ruched skirt

Updated April 17, 2017

A ruched skirt is a pencil skirt, either totally or partly gathered on the side seams. Personalise a ruched skirt by making the seam with ruching in the front of the skirt, making a yoke that is ruched while the rest of the skirt is flat, or making many ruched panels. A fabric with some stretch works best, as does an easy elasticated waistband. It looks like an expensive skirt, but is simple and cheap to make.

Lay your pencil skirt on the pattern paper, front side up. Trace around the outside of the skirt with the pencil. Use a ruler for straight lines.

Remove the skirt from the paper. Cut out the skirt pattern on the pencil outline.

Separate the skirt pattern into 10 equal sections by measuring the skirt length, dividing it by 10 and making a horizontal line at each increment. Make a vertical line in the centre of the skirt by folding the skirt pattern in half and tracing the vertical line.

Cut the skirt apart on the horizontal lines, into 10 pieces. Keep the pieces in order from the top piece to the bottom piece.

Draw a vertical line twice the length of your skirt in the centre of another piece of pattern paper.

Transfer the cut pieces of the skirt pattern to the piece of pattern paper with the vertical line, placing the centre line of the pattern pieces directly over the vertical line on the pattern paper.

Spread out the pattern pieces on the vertical line so that there is a space between each piece the same width as the piece. You will be doubling the length of the skirt.

Tape down the pieces to the pattern paper.

Use your pencil and ruler to create a solid outline of the skirt. Make another line 1 inch outside the outline of the skirt for seam allowance.

Cut out the pattern.

Fold your fabric in half lengthwise. Pin the pattern piece to the folded fabric.

Cut out the skirt through both layers of fabric along the outside of the pattern piece.

Create a basting stitch 1/2 inch from the edge of the right side seam of one piece of cut fabric. The row of basting will begin at the top of the piece and extend the length of the piece.

At the end of the basting stitch, pull the thread tightly, gathering or ruching the fabric in. Gather the fabric to be the same length as the pencil skirt that you started with.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other 3 side seams. All side seams should be gathered into the same length.

Put the two pieces of the skirt on top of each other, right sides together. Sew the two side seams together 3/8 inch from the side seam edge, encompassing the basting stitch in the seam allowance.

Fold the hem up 1 inch, towards the inside of the skirt. Sew the fold in place 3/4 inch from the fold edge.

Fold back the waistline of the skirt 1 inch towards the inside of the skirt. Insert the elastic directly underneath the fold so that it is encased in the fold.

Turn up the folded edge another 1/4 inch towards the inside of the skirt and stitch as close to the fold line as possible. The elastic should now be encased in the waistline of the skirt.


A needle and thread can be used for the sewing.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil skirt
  • Pattern Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pins
  • Fabric
  • Sewing Machine
  • 1 yard 5/8-inch elastic
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About the Author

Heather Berkowe is a fashion designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. She has more than five years of experience in the fashion industry, including design work for lingerie brands and owning the inner-wear company Soussuits. Berkowe has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in the "Journal News" and Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibitions.