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How to make a flared skirt dress

Updated July 19, 2017

A skirt dress makes a fashionable statement, is easy to make and can be made with all kind of fabrics. You can pair your skirt dress with short or long jackets with different sleeve variations to achieve different looks. You can also experiment with different shoe styles to get casual or evening looks. If you make a tank dress you have the ability to put a longer shirt over it to make the dress look like a skirt. By starting with a ready-made tank top you can make a simple flared skirt and attach to the shirt for faster assembly.

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  1. Buy or use an existing tank top. Choose a tank top that is a plain colour. Pick a fabric that is a contrasting colour. A good combination would be a plain coloured tank top with a floral skirt fabric. Choose a fabric that is the same fabric content as the tank top. If your tank top is cotton and lycra you want to choose a cotton-lycra blend for the skirt fabric.

  2. Unfold the newspaper so that it's in single unfolded sheets. Lay out enough paper to completely trace around the skirt. If one sheet is not enough you can set an additional sheet directly next to the first sheet. If you still need additional space lay out two more sheets below the previous sheets.You may want to tape the sheets together for easier handling using painter's tape, which is paper-based and can be written on. Take the A-line skirt and lay it on top of the newspaper. Straighten the skirt out and trace both lengths of the skirt and the width of the waist with a felt tip pen.

  3. Stop at the knee, and then begin to gradually extend the knee line out to make the skirt wider at the knee area. This creates the flared out look. You can create a lot of flare by widening the knee width by 5 cm (2 inches) on each side or create a little flare by extending the width one inch on each side. If you make a mistake, retrace with a different colour of pen.

  4. Make a second pattern that will serve as the back. Do this exactly like you did in the previous steps. Cut out both pattern pieces, and do a quick tissue fitting. A tissue fitting is done by pinning the pattern pieces to your clothing to determine fitting. If you have created enough flare, you are ready to cut the fabric. Repeat the pattern making directions for additional flare by increasing the width one inch at a time until the desired width is established.

  5. Unfold the fabric so that it's a single continuous piece. Lay the fabric right side down, so that the wrong side of the fabric is facing up towards you. The wrong side is typically the side that has no design on it. If you are making a long dress, you will need additional fabric. You should not need more than 2 m (2 yards) of 112.5 cm (45 inch) wide fabric regardless of your dress length. If you are making a dress shorter than knee length 1 m (1 yard) will do it. If you are making a dress longer than knee length you should purchase 2 m (2 yards) of fabric.

  6. Place the pattern pieces on top of the fabric. Pin the pattern pieces onto the fabric. Cut the fabric out, and unpin the fabric. You should have two fabric pieces. A front skirt piece, and a back skirt piece.The skirt pieces will look the same since it's an A-line skirt pattern, and it does not matter how it is sewn. Match the skirt pieces together, and pin the wrong side of the fabric down the sides.

  7. Thread the sewing machine. Sew down each side of the skirt using a 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) seam allowance. Your sewing machine has a seam allowance guide located on the sewing plate. If you do not have a 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) mark, choose the smallest seam allowance your machine offers. Place the edge of the fabric onto the seam allowance guide and begin sewing. Lock stitch the beginning and end stitches. Fold over the skirt's waist 2.5 cm (1 inch) to make a pocket for an elastic waistband. Sew the pocket with a straight stitch leaving a space to insert the elastic.

  8. Cut enough waistband elastic to fit your waist. Fit the elastic to your waist and cut off where the elastic overlaps. Attach a large safety pin onto one end of the elastic, close the safety pin and insert it through the waistband. Hold onto the other end of the elastic or pin it to the waistband. Guide the safety pin through the waist band until it reaches the other side of the waist band opening. Take the pin off and grasp both ends of the elastic. Sew the ends of the elastic together before sewing closed the waistband.

  9. Turn the tank top inside out. Pin the shirt's hemline to the skirt's waistband. Sew the waistband and shirt hemline by stretching the waistband while sewing with a zigzag stitch. This will create an elasticated waist. Hem the skirt's hemline 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) with a straight stitch.

  10. Tip

    Match your thread to your skirt fabric for invisible stitches. Save the pattern pieces to use later.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tank top
  • A-Line skirt
  • 1 metre (1 yard) of contrasting fabric
  • Newspaper for pattern making
  • Felt tip pen
  • Safety pin
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Spool of thread
  • Waistband elastic
  • Sewing machine
  • Painters tape (optional)

About the Author

Emily Martinez has been writing since 2007, specializing in the fields of special education, sales/marketing and nonprofit. She holds dual bachelor's degrees in psychology and human development, as well as dual associate's degrees in education and horticulture. Martinez has expert experience in avian care, Middle Eastern dance, costume design, machine embroidery, sewing and painting.

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