Posted on

How to make the Ribbon Skirt in One Hour! (with knits!)

Hi Everyone!    This is the final part of constructing the Ribbon Skirt.  And, I’ve saved the best for last, a one-hour knit version.

Constructing and finishing a skirt made from knit fabric is super fast because you can zip it together and “finish” the edges in one step on your serger.  Plus, you may not need to hem your skirt if the raw edge of the fabric hangs nicely. You’ll be able to tell if  you won’t need a hem job after you cut out the pieces.  If the raw edges lay nice and smooth (like the hem pictured above), you’re good to go!   I finish the waistline on my knit Ribbon Skirts with a narrow elastic using the serger.  This is a fantastic technique — no need for a traditional casing!  Read on for all the juicy details!

Before we get going, here’s a peek at the Ribbon Skirt pattern.

The pattern sheet includes:

  • Pattern measurements
  • Yardage requirements
  • Pattern layouts for 45″ and 60″ wide fabric

Detailed step-by-step instructions can be found under “Posts by Subject” in the Ribbon Skirt folder.

You can find detailed instruction on how to cut out the Ribbon Skirt in Part I.  The great thing about working with knits is that you can cut this skirt out on the bias, as shown in Part I. Or try cutting it out on the straight of grain (because knits stretch!)  If there is a print or stripe, I lay the pattern pieces out in the most flattering orientation. (For example stripes make a chevron if they are cut on the bias — very flattering!)

When you’re cutting out the front and back pieces, position the pieces print-side up on a single layer of fabric. Remember to flip the pattern pieces before you cut out the second set of pieces.  (If you don’t flip the pattern pieces, you’ll get two rights or lefts instead of a right and a left.)

Tip:  If you fold the pattern along the printed grainline, you can use the fold mark to position the pattern piece on the bias grain line when it’s positioned print side down on the fabric.

Behind the scenes at J Stern Designs.  Here’s how I cut out and sew the Ribbon Skirt together.

  • Serger set up — 4-Thread Stretch Stitch (DF set at 1.5, SL set at 4.0)  (I always test stitch on a scrap and adjust the DF if necessary!)
  • I like to cut and sew as I go.  I start by cutting out the front pieces.  Then I serge them together along the center front seam.
  • Then I cut the back pieces out and serge them together along the back center seam.  This way, I don’t have any chance of confusing the front and back pieces.
  • After I’ve constructed the front and back, I join them at the side seams — no need for a zipper when you make a knit version of the Ribbon Skirt!)
  • Test fit to make any minor adjustments — The most common adjustment I have to make is to take in the center back seam to eliminate horizontal ripples on the seam along the butt area.  (That’s the funny thing about bias.  If you have horizontal ripples, it’s usually because there is excess fabric ABOVE the ripples.  Taking in the center back seam at the waist will usually fix that problem.
  • After test fitting, it’s time for the elastic waistband.

Quick and Easy Elastic Wasitline (No casing required!)

1.  Cut elastic to the length and width you need.

I love Cut-Through, Sew-Through Elastic.  You can find it at Gail Patrice Design or Pamelas Patterns.  I love it because you can cut it to any width you like.  Simply trim it down by following the ribs that run lengthwise along the elastic.  I can get three 1/2″ waistbands from a single length of this amazing elastic!

The Ribbon Skirt should have no more than 2 inches of ease around the waist.   Measure around the waistline.  Cut a piece of elastic that’s approximately 3/4 the length of the waistline.  Either trim your Cut-Through, Sew-Through Elastic down to 1/2″ or purchase some 1/2″ elastic.  (If you have more than two inches of ease around the waist, take in the side and/or center front/back seams.)

Because this skirt is cut on the bias (knit or woven), it’s important that you keep the ease around the waist to a minimum.  Fabrics on the bias grainline can lay funny if  you try to ease in too much fabric in along the elastic.

2.  Sew the elastic into a circle without adding bulk.

Select the 3-step zig-zag.  Each zig and zag is formed from three separate straight stitches. These tiny straight stitches have the ability to stretch and hold the fabric and elastic really well.

Use a scrap of lightweight fabric when you sew your elastic into a circle.  Butt the ends together and position the elastic on top of the scrap of fabric as shown below.  Before you start stitching, make sure that the needle is centered over the ends of the elastic.  Stitch over the ends of the elastic (through the fabric scrap).  Check to be sure the needle is stitching into both ends of the elastic as it zig-zags back and forth.  To reinforce the seam, I usually stitch back and forth a couple of times.

After securing the elastic together, trim the fabric close to the stitching as shown below.


3.  Use pins to mark the elastic in quarters.

4.  Pin the elastic to the waistline.

Position the elastic along the wrong side of the waistline edge.   Start by aligning the ends of the elastic with the center back seam, pin in place.  Then, match the pins marking the quarters at center front and side seams.

5.  Serger the elastic to the waistline of the Ribbon Skirt.  (Thread your serger for a 4-thread stitch.)

This technique takes a little practice.  Essentially, you want to stretch the elastic to fit the fabric between each set of pins. It’s important not to pull the elastic so hard that you are stretching the fabric too.  (If you stretch the fabric as you’re serging the elastic to the waistline, it will “ruffle up” when the elastic is relaxed… Definitely not attractive)

Position the skirt and elastic under the presser foot of the serger, elastic facing up.  Start at the center back seam.  I like to use a small piece of ribbon make a tag that identifies the back of the skirt when I’m wearing it.  Cut a short piece of ribbon and position it centered on the center back seam as shown above. Align the raw edge of the ribbon with the raw edge of the fabric.

Hold the fabric behind the presser foot and gently stretch the elastic to fit the fabric. Take the pin out and start serging. Hold the fabric and elastic taut between your two hands and allow it to feed naturally under the presser foot.  The best way to keep track of the raw edge of the fabric is to make sure it’s peeking out slightly from the edge of the elastic.  (That way, if  the fabric shifts away from the edge, you’ll notice before it’s too late.) Work one quarter of the waistline at a time.

Overlap the start point about 1/2″ to finish.  Here’s how the Ribbon Skirt looks with the elastic attached to the waistline.

6.  Create a “faux” casing.

Fold the serged edge down toward the wrong side of the skirt to encase the elastic in fabric.  The bottom edge of the elastic (the un-serged edge pictured above) will become the top edge of the waistline.  As you fold the elastic down, be careful to smooth any excess fabric to the right side of the skirt. Pin the elastic in place as shown below.

If the elastic is not tightly encased in the fabric, the waistline will not be smooth.  The excess fabric will  create  loose gathers along the waistline.  This can look sloppy, so take your time and use lots of pins as you fold the elastic down. BTW,  This is the most time-consuming step in in constructing the Ribbon Skirt — You can take your time and still finish your skirt in an hour : )


7.  Sew the elastic in place.

Select the 3-step zig-zag on your sewing machine.  (This is the same stitch I recommended to sew the elastic together in step 2.)  Position the elastic under the presser foot so that the serged edge of the elastic is centered with the needle.  The goal is to zig-zag right on top of the serged stitching. Taut sew as you stitch the elastic in place.  (Essentially this is the same technique you used to sew the elastic to the waistline described in step 5.)

To taut sew, hold the elastic firmly both in front of and behind the presser foot.  Stretch the elastic so that the fabric lays smooth along the elastic.  Hold the elastic and fabric taut as you stitch.  Let the feed dogs on the machine pull the fabric under the presser foot naturally. (Try not to pull the fabric from behind or hold it back from the front.) It’s also important not to pull so hard that you are stretching the fabric. This can cause ripples that look yucky when the elastic is relaxed!

Here’s how the elastic waistline looks when it’s completed.

7.  Tack the ends of the seam along the hem.

Ok, we’re almost done, one quick step left….  I’m leaving the hem unfinished because the matte jersey I’m working with hangs beautifully. When I leave the hem unfinished, I like to tack the seam allowances down close to the raw edge.  This reinforces the seam and keeps the seam allowances flat and out of view.  Alternatively, if you don’t like the way the tack looks on the right side of the fabric, you can back tack the ends of the seams to reinforce them.

I hope you find these step-by-step tutorials on how to make the Ribbon Skirt easy to follow.  If you have any questions, please use send me an email or post a comment, I’d love to help.   Enjoy!


Comments are closed.