Ready to dive back in? We’re going to pick up at the point where we have finished selecting and preparing our pillowcases for sewing…Except, first we’re going to take them apart!
*Want the skinny? Scroll to the bottom of this post for a bullet-point list of directions to make these skirts.*
Each of these pillowcases had one side seam and a top seam. I used a seam ripper to open all of these. I opened the seams all the way to the edge, even though that meant that I had to undo some of the stitches holding the finished hem together. I love to save these easy steps for the evening so that I can hang out with Jeff on the sofa and watch TV while I work.
Frequently, pillowcases are merely serged together, to combine the steps of binding raw edges and seam sewing into one. Picking apart serging is more time-consuming than opening a standard seam, because there are more threads. This was the case with these pillowcases. So, in the process of opening the seams, I was also taking apart the stitching that protected the raw edges from raveling. At this point, I could have left the edges raw, but I chose to serge them to prevent them from fraying over time. I pinned the opened pillowcases to each other, wrong sides together. Then, I stitched the side edges together to form the new side seams for the skirt. Then, I folded the original hem back up and stitched it back down.
Next, I chose some elastic from my stash. I prefer a width of at least 1 inch for waistbands. I folded over the top edge of the pillowcases to find the width I needed to form an elastic casing. I included a bit extra for seam allowance. Then, I marked the width along the top edge of the skirt using a purple, Dritz Disappearing Ink Marking Pen. I’m a big fan of these. I use them in nearly every project! I stitched around the folded, top edge of my skirt to form a tunnel for my elastic. I left a small opening at one of the side seams so I could insert the elastic. *Disclaimer* I am an Amazon Services LLC Associates Program member. Any purchases made through my Amazon links will earn me a small commission. I am careful to only promote products that I have personally used and love!
If you haven’t already, here’s where you’re going to need to stop and take the measurements of whoever is going to be wearing this skirt!
I had Emma find her waist for me. I had her tip to the side and put her finger where she felt her torso fold. THAT is where the natural waist lies. It’s around the bellybutton line, not the hips. (Kids these days!) Then, I measured Emma’s waist at this point. I pinched the tape together with a finger between her body and the measuring tape. This helps to build a little bit of ease into the measurement so that I don’t make the waist too tight. I wrote this measurement down and went on to take a length measurement.
I placed the end of the measuring tape at the same waist point that Emma found. (You may need to ask your model to tip to the side, again, to find it.)
Then, I had Emma hold the tape to her waist while I stretched it to the floor. I decided that I wanted her skirt to hit her about ankle length. I wrote that measurement down.
With the measurements in hand, you can determine how much elastic you need for the skirt waistband! Use the exact waist measurement plus however much you plan to overlap your elastic. You can include a little extra in your overlap so that you can let out the elastic when your child grows. Don’t worry about adding too much, though, because most children grow more in their length than their width. Now that you’ve cut your elastic, safety pin one end of it below the opening you left in the skirt waistband. Put a safety pin through the other end of the elastic. This is the end you are going to feed and scrunch through the elastic casing.
Keep inch-worming your fabric over the safety pin. You may need to finesse it a little bit through the side seams, as the seams can sometimes get folded in and catch on the safety pin.
Finish working the safety pin all the way through the casing, remove the safety pins, and overlap the ends of your elastic the desired amount. Make sure you don’t have a twist in your elastic! There are several different ways to stitch the elastic together. I prefer to do it in a big square or rectangle. This provides a lot of surface area that is anchored together with stitches, plus it is smooth. I also use fairly large stitches in case I want to adjust the waist at a future date. It’s a pain to try to remove tiny stitches from elastic. It’s easy to accidentally snag and cut the elastic itself if the stitches are too small. Tuck this elastic back into the waistband casing and stitch the casing opening closed.
Now, all you have to do is hem your skirt to your preferred length! These king-size pillowcases were quite a bit too long for Emma. I didn’t want to cut the pillowcases to length, though, because that would prevent her from wearing the skirt when she gets older. (For this reason, avoid cutting costume hems to shorter lengths whenever possible!!!) I did need to make the skirt a lot shorter, though, so I began by folding its current finished edge over on itself and stitching that down. This made a deep hem. I knew this would give the hem some stiffness that would help the skirt stand out and look fuller. I considered this a plus! Then, I began the simple but tedious process of measuring, marking, pinning, and sewing two, large growth tucks. This takes a little bit of calculating (Sometimes I have to do math. *sigh*) so you get the finished length right and so that the tucks end up spaced apart from each other and from the hem in the way that you want. Do you see my lovely calculations on that bit of scratch paper, above? The first time I tried tucks on a project, over five years ago, my tucks ended up closer together than I intended. Even here, you can see that I spaced my tucks differently on each skirt. I think I prefer how they turned out on Eliza’s. Once you get those tucks stitched how you want them, press those puppies flat!
Here’s Emma’s finished skirt…
…and here’s a rear view of Eliza’s skirt.
If you really want to be an over-achiever, you can make 2-3 petticoats, in the same manner, to go under these skirts. I skipped that step, this time. However, I am hoping to gradually make a collection of historically-accurate undergarments during these next few years. Correct undergarments do make a big difference in how top-layer garments look and in how they affect the posture and movement of the wearers. This is really important for educational purposes and for actors who are refining what their characters can physically do on stage!
- Find/Buy two matching pillowcases
- Dye pillowcases if necessary
- Open side seams
- Serge raw edges (if desired)
- Sew new side seams
- Sew elastic casing, leave a small opening
- Take waist and length measurements
- Cut elastic
- Pin and feed elastic through casing
- Stitch ends of elastic together
- Sew the casing closed
- Hem skirt to correct length. Use tucks if necessary.
You’re done! This project might get a little tedious, but you will thank yourself when you complete it. You are going to use this versatile skirt a LOT!