There’s nothing I like more than a big swishy maxi skirt. In the summer they’re so cooling, and frankly you look like a fashion badass. Especially if you wear them with a big big hat (always wear the hat). I’m such a fan that I usually churn out at least one or two a year, and most of them are self-drafted. Today I’m going to show you 4 different ways to make a self-drafted maxi – and then at the end I’ll round up a few patterns in case you don’t quite fancy that.
1. Gathered maxi with waistband and side invisible zip.
This was my very first maxi skirt! I bought some amazing Thakoon silk from EmmaOneSock very early on when I started sewing, and saved it for when my skills had because *just* about good enough not to totally futz it up.
So my approach here was to use the width of the fabric as the width of my skirt – usually either 45″ or 60″. I then cut two pieces the length I wanted them to be – just by holding the fabric up to me and marking! For the waistband, first measure your waist, and add 1 inch to that and 1 1/4 inches for seam allowance (i.e 2 1/4 in total) – that’s the length of the band. Then for the width, I like a 1 inch waistband, so I made it 3 1/4 inches wide (to again allow for seam allowance). It’s a good idea to put some interfacing inside the band to give it a little structure – I use good quality weft fusible interfacing.
Construction is really straightforward: insert the zip on one side of the two skirt pieces and finish the side seam, then do the other side seam. Run three long basting stitches around the top of the skirt, and gently pull on the bobbin thread to gather the fabric. Now attach the one-piece waistband, adjusting the gathers to fit the waistband- here’s a good tutorial for how to attach it. Hem and wear!
2. Straight maxi with box pleats, back invisible zip and waistband
For this skirt, I didn’t want to have to worry about stripe matching at the seams, so I made it with one piece of fabric going all the way around.
Because this skirt is less full, the key measurement is your hips: you need to make sure you can sit down! So take your fullest hip measurement while sitting down (because let’s face it, we spread when we sit) then add your ease – you’re probably going to want at least 3 – 4 inches ease, or maybe more. This is the width of fabric you’re going to need – depending on the size of your hips, you may have to cut on the cross grain if you can’t fit into the fabric width. Cut your single piece of fabric by this width by the length you want.
Now we need to bring the skirt in at the waist, so calculate the difference between your hips and waist – let’s say 10 inches. Divide that by 4, and that’s the depth of each box pleat, so in this case, 2.5 inches. To learn how to do box pleats, check out this tutorial. Put in two at the front and two at the back (you can judge where they look best on you). Now, insert the zip and finish the back seam; then do the waistband, as above. Hem and voila.
3. Gathered elasticated waist maxi
If you’re a beginner to sewing, this is a fantastic place to start! Super easy and no zip insertion. I use the width of my fabric again – just cut 2 pieces which are the width of the fabric, by the length you want, plus 2 3/4 inches. Sew up the sides. Now you’re going to make a casing along the top. Press over 1/2 inch to the inside, Then another 2 1/4 inches. Stitch down this casing all the way around, but leave a 3 inch gap. Insert 2 inch wide elastic into the casing, thread it around, and then sew it together at the ends. Finally, close up the gap in the casing. Hem your skirt, and you’re done! Here’s a more detailed tutorial if you’d like one.
4. A-line knit maxi
Want comfy? I’ll give you comfy: a jersey maxi. Lovely. And also very simple.
Make your “pattern” by marking your waist width on a piece of jersey, then about 6 inches down (or: measure the distance between your waist and hips) mark the width of your hips. Join the waist and hip markings and keep on going to form an A-line shape. Cut two of these pieces and sew up the sides – this gives you a little bit of negative ease (because of the seam allowances) but not so much that it’ll be super tight. Now make your waistband: cut two pieces of jersey half the width of your waist minus 2 inches, by 7 1/4 inches deep. Sew the two pieces at the short ends to make a loop, then fold it in half wrong sides together (as a test, put around your waist and see if it’s tight enough to stay up – if not, make the loop a bit shorter). Place the loop with the raw edges aligned with the raw edges of the skirt, right sides facing, then sew all the way around to attach. Flip up, and voila! Just hem and you’re done. Here’s the tutorial I originally followed, and a slightly different approach that involves putting elastic into the waist – this works if your jersey is a bit lighter or doesn’t have great recovery.
So that’s four ways to the maxi of your dreams! Don’t want to draft your own? Here are a few alternatives that come in plus sizes:
– McCall’s M6931 has pleats and an elasticated waist, and the option for a saucy front slit.
– If you’re pear-shaped, the Sewaholic Gabriola is a great option with fun yoke shaping.
– Simplicity 1163 is a knit skirt with really fun variations – although it says it only goes up to a 22, check out the finished measurements and remember it’s stretchy, so it may fit you even if you’re out of the size chart.
Happy maxi making!