How to make a panel skirt

Updated February 21, 2017

One of the simplest skirts to sew is a panel skirt. Panel skirts have a number of panels, or different pieces of fabric that make up the body of the skirt. Use three panels for a very simple and quick skirt or up to 16 for a more complex skirt. The fabric can be the same for each panel or can be contrasting colours, or patterns for a more visually interesting design. An elastic waist makes the skirt even easier to sew and easy to wear.

Measure around the widest part of your hips, around your waist and from your waist to where you'd like the skirt to hit, such as just above your knees or mid-calf.

Divide the hip measurement into the number of panels you're making. For example, if you are making a four panel skirt, divide the hip measurement by 4. Add 5 cm (2 inches) to this measurement for ease and seam allowance. Call this measurement A. Add 15 cm (6 inches) to measurement A to get measurement B.

Draw a horizontal line on the paper equal to measurement A. Draw a vertical line down from each end of the horizontal line that measures the length of the skirt plus 7.5 cm (3 inches).

Draw another horizontal line that equals measurement B at the bottom of the two vertical lines. Center the horizontal line between the vertical lines. You'll have 7.5 cm (3 inches) extending beyond the vertical lines on each side.

Draw two angled lines connecting the horizontal lines on the paper so that you have a trapezoid shape. Cut the shape out. This is the pattern for each panel.

Pin the panel to the fabric and cut out as many pieces as you need. For example, for a four panel skirt, cut four pieces.

Lay two panels on top of each other, right sides together. Line up the long sides of the panels, then pin along one long side and sew with a 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) seam. Repeat with the remaining panels, until you've stitched them all together.

Sew the last two long sides of the panels together to make a tube.

Iron the seams along each side flat.

Cut a piece of elastic that measures 7.5 cm (3 inches) less than your waist measurement.

Fold the bottom edge of the skirt up 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) and press. Fold it up another inch, press, then pin. Sew along the inside edge to hem the skirt.

Fold the top edge of the skirt down 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) and press, then fold down another inch and pin. Sew along the inside edge to make a casing for the elastic. Leave a 5 cm (2 inch) gap.

Push a safety pin onto one end of the elastic, then thread it through the casing. When you reach the other end, pin the ends of the elastic together, then stitch together. Sew the gap on the casing closed.

Try on the skirt to make sure it fits.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • 3 metres (3 yards) fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board
  • 2 cm (3/4 inch) wide elastic
  • Safety pin
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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.