Basic Ruffle Skirt Tutorial

Basic Ruffle Skirt Tutorial – Making ruffle skirts is incredibly easy and can be done without the use of a sewing pattern. Trust me, I am not a sewer and have only had a sewing machine for 4’ish years. I love making cute things for my girls…..but my ability to follow a sewing pattern is dismal.  My girls have the cutest skirt for St. Patrick’s Day and I made it without a pattern and each skirt took my roughly an hour to make from start to finish.  Bear with me and I will try to walk you through the process.  This will not be technical at all.

Make a Basic Ruffle Skirt

  • Take a piece of elastic and measure it around your child’s waist comfortably.  Mark or cut at that point.
  •  You will need a rectangle (or two) of fabric.  Have your piece of fabric be 1.5’ish times the elastic.  You can cut so you have two strips (my preferred method, so the ruffle matches both side seams), but this is not totally required.  The width is whatever you want it to be, but remember that you will be adding your ruffle which will make the skirt longer.  Using a rotary cutter is very nice since you are cutting rectangles for this project.
  • Place the patterned sides of the fabric together and sew the fabric.  You will create a band.
  • Press open the sides with an iron
  • On one side of the fabric make a casing/enclosure for the elastic and sew.  You can pull your elastic through now or until the end.
  • Leave the other side of the fabric untouched.  No sewing necessary.

The fabric that will be the ruffle will be longer than the base of the skirt.  The longer it is the better and fuller it ruffles.

  • Place the pattern side together and sew the fabric.  You will create a band. (Yes, this is the same step from above!)
  • Press open the sides with an iron (again, the same step from above).
  • On one side of the fabric make finished edge.  Iron the fabric and then sew.


  • Change the setting on your sewing machine.  You want straight stitches that are long in length.  There is probably some technical term for this that I do not know the words for.  If you do, please let me know!

  • Pull extra thread before you start sewing.
  • Sew the fabric with the edge of the fabric being at the outer edge of the foot.  It really doesn’t matter as long as you are not too close to the edge.  You want to do this  step twice.  I recommend starting and stopping at the seams.  The reason you want to do this twice is because it will be easier to pull to ruffle.
  • Pull extra thread again when you are done sewing.

  • Choose the thread that is on the inside of the fabric.  Wrap it around your fingers and start pulling.  Push the gathers to the end of the fabric as you go.  Wheeee!!!  You are creating the RUFFLES!!!  Don’t you love it?  Do this to the entire length of the thread/fabric.  If you pull too hard the thread WILL break and you WILL have to use a seam ripper to take it out and then sew a new line to start over.  Trust me……
  • Match the seams together and pin.  THIS step is why I recommend your skirt have two pieces with two seams.  It is much easier to match up.
  • Pin the right sides of the fabric together, adjusting the ruffles as you go.  If you have too much fabric, make more ruffles (pull the thread more).  If you do not have enough fabric then release some of the ruffle to the opposite end that you are working with.
  • Sew!  Sew further towards the finished edge from where your ruffle line is.  Ideally you change the tension/settings of your machine back to normal (admittedly, I sometimes forget this step).  This just set the ruffle in to place.

Turn your skirt the right way and ENJOY!  Cut all the extra strings.  If you did not put your elastic in, do so now.

The possibilities are ENDLESS for this combination. I made Candy Corn Ruffle Skirts for my girls in the fall and will do Red, White, and Blue Ruffle Skirts for Independence Day.

Do you have a sewing project that you love? We would love to learn all about it! Send us an email or leave a comment.