The Super Skirt! A Skirt Week 2013 Tutorial!

Skirt Week 2013!

Greetings, Crafterhours readers!  

 I'm Kat, and I blog here at Sew Chibi!

I am so excited to be a guest for Crafterhours Skirt Week this year!  Adrianna and Susan are a couple of the nicest and most genuine bloggers out there!  Their lining tutorial was a godsend for me, and I just plain ol' heart their attention to detail as well as vivid color.  I always feel a kinship with fellow sew-ers of the rainbow!

With that being said, here's what I came up with:

The Super Skirt is a really simple yet fun spin on the classic "gathered skirt."  It features a knee length skirt with a "super" pocket and a cape back layer with a two toned waistband to simulate the collar of a cape while adding a variation on the traditional elastic waistband.

It's perfect for the Super Girl in your life or even yourself!

This tutorial showcases two separate skirts:  A Batman one for my almost two year old and a

Robin one for my 5 and a half year old (who insisted on being Robin).  **In the tutorial, keep in mind the elements of both skirts as some pictures didn't come out as clear with the first one (the Robin), so I took better ones with the second one (the Batman) where necessary!

As a reference for skirt length standards, check out this in depth post the Crafterhours ladies did last Skirt Week.  Very helpful!

What you will need:

(amounts are dependent on what size you are making)

  • main skirt body: approximately a half yard to a yard

  • cape: approximately quarter yard to half yard

  • two-toned waistband: less than quarter yard for total amount

  • non-roll elastic: either 1/2" wide or 3/4" elastic (I'll show casing variations for both). Length is the same as waist measurement.

  • Sewing stuff (i.e. sewing machine, cutting devices, thread, safety pin for threading elastic, etc.)

(optional elements fabric amounts)

  • contrast skirt band: approximately a half yard

  • "Super" Pockets: scraps approximately 4-5" wide times two

  • Wonder Under: for fusing "super" mark to pocket

  • 3/8" Stitch Witchery

**Use lightweight woven cottons or cotton blends with zero stretch.  I used broadcloth.

Here's a rundown of the material for each skirt:

Quick look at the finished skirts.

  • Seam allowances are 1/2" unless otherwise noted.

  • RST means "Right Sides Together" and refers to the orientation of the fabrics.

  • Unless it's basting stitches, Backstitch all stitching at the beginning and the end.

  • Assume a stitch length of 2.5mm or 3mm for all straight stitches, and a stitch length of 3mm or 3.5mm for all top stitching.

Let's get started!


I will give you my personal cutting guides for the two skirts that I made.  You may need to make adjustments where applicable for custom sizing.  Keep in mind to add 1/2" seam allowances to your measurements if you are grading up or down in sizing.

For Azriella's Robin Skirt (size skinny 5T) I am assuming a waist of 19" and a finished length of approximately 12".

For Sephira's Batman Skirt (who is exactly the right size for her age and weight) I am assuming a waist of 19" (ha, I know, they have the same waist dimensions!) and a finished length of approximately 10".

Skirt Width dimensions assume a little over 3x waist measurement.

ROBIN SKIRT (with contrast skirt band):

measurements are length x width

  • Main skirt body (red): 9"x 32" (cut x2)

  • Contrast skirt band (green): 6"x 32" (cut x 2)

  • Cape (yellow): 10.5"x 32" (cut x 1)

  • *Waistband main (green): 3"x 29.5" (cut x 1)

  • *Waistband contrast to match cape (yellow): 1.5"x27" (cut x1)

  • Pocket (yellow and black): I recommend drawing up the shape of what you want then add 1/4" seam allowance all around pocket main then draw your super symbol to fit within 1/2" of your main pocket. (cut x 2 for pocket main) (cut x 1 for "super" mark and a duplicate in Wonder Under)

  • Elastic: (cut 1 piece x waist for 3/4" elastic) OR (cut 2 pieces x waist for 1/2" elastic)

*Waistband Width is determined by multiplying your waist measurement x 1.5.  (so mine was 19"x.5=28.5 plus 1" for seam allowances times two resulting in cutting waistband pieces with a width of 29.5").  Waistband Length was determined by the width of the elastic so no matter what size skirt you are making, this number shouldn't have to change.

BATMAN SKIRT (without contrast skirt band):

  • Main skirt body (gray): 10"x 31" (cut x 2)

  • Cape (blue): 8.5" x 31" (cut x 1)

  • *Waistband main (gray): 3" x 29.5" (cut x 1)

  • *Waistband contrast to match cape (blue): 1.5"x 29.5" (cut x 1)

  • Pocket: see above skirt for info on pocket dimensions


Part I:  POCKET (optional)

  • First, apply Wonder Under (or fusible web of choice) to the underside of your "super" mark using the instructions given on the packaging.

  • Next, peel the paper back off of the "super" mark and apply it in the same manner as before, but this time to one of the pocket pieces.

  • Stitch all around the edge of the "super" mark to the pocket piece.

  • Then, RST, stitch both pocket pieces all around the outer edge with a 1/4" seam allowance and making sure to leave a small opening about 1.5 to 2" wide for turning pocket to right side. Trim seam allowance 1/8" from stitching, making sure not to clip the allowance of the opening. (see image top left).

  • Turn right side out and press well, turning under your opening.

  • Top stitch around just the top where the little hand will go. Try not to make the opening much larger than the size of the little hand going into it so it doesn't flap down or become misshapened. I think it's safe to assume within 2" for extra tiny hands or up to 3" for older hands.

Pockets are done for now.  We will revisit them at the end of the tutorial.


1. Fold under the bottom edge of your cape by 1/2" and then again by 1/2".  Then repeat for both short edges.

2. Top stitch 3/8" from folded edge, starting from the top of one short edge all the way down, pivoting at the bottom (3/8" from bottom edge) then continuing along, pivoting again (3/8" from opposite short edge) stitching up to the top of the opposite short edge. 

Now to gather the cape.  You have a few options:  you could do one of a multitude of other gathering techniques.  But here, I will try out two different methods: 

3A:  Switch your stitch setting to a zig-zag stitch and increase the width and length to about a length of 4mm and width of about 6mm.  Grab some embroidery floss or a spool of sturdy thread and place it about 1/4" from the raw edge with a thread tail of about 5" for pulling.  Then zig-zag stitch over the thread (making sure not to catch it in the stitching at all) all the way across leaving a thread tail of 5" on the opposite side.  For the zig-zag method, you may or may not chose to backstitch at the beginning and end.  It's up to you.  This method has less control over gathers staying in place BUT it does provide a sturdy method of pulling AND finishes the edge.  Finishing the edge isn't super important since the raw edge will be encased (not exposed so it's less prone to excessive fraying).


3B.: Lengthen your straight stitch length as high as it will go (on my machine it's 5mm).  Making sure not to backstitch and with a thread trail (both bobbin and top thread) of about 6", start stitching 1/4" from the raw edge all the way across.  Then repeat 1/4" from that stitching line for a second line of stitching.  This method provides excellent control over gathers, however the quality of your bobbin thread is important since you will be cinching up your bobbin threads for gathering.  

Either method you choose, don't bother cinching up the cape just yet.  Just put it to the side for now.


4. RST, stitch the two main skirt pieces together at each short edge. Flip right side out.

5. Press the seams to one side towards the back.

6. Top stitch 3/8" away from the seam, securing the seam allowance in your stitching.  This won't completely prevent the inside edge from fraying but it will definitely help.  If you are using afabric prone to fraying, I would consider pinking or serging those edges.  Press.

skip to step 8 if you are doing a contrast skirt band.

7.  For a main skirt with no contrast hem, fold the bottom long edge towards the underside and follow the same instruction as step 1 and 2.  Fold under the bottom edge of your cape by 1/2" and then again by 1/2". Top stitch 3/8" from folded edge.  Press hem well.

skip to step 13 if you choose this adventure. err. step;-)

8.  For a skirt with a contrast band, sew the two band pieces in the same manner as you did the main skirt body in steps 4-5 above.  RST, stitch the two main skirt pieces together at each short edge. Flip right side out. Press the seams to one side towards the back.

Top stitch 3/8" away from seam, securing the seam allowance in your stitching.  This won't completely prevent the inside edge from fraying but it will definitely help.  If you are using a heavily frayable fabric, I would consider pinking or serging those edges.  Press. 

Then, line up those seams RST matching seam to seam and stitching to stitching along the bottom edge of the main skirt and the top edge of the contrast skirt hem.  Pin band to skirt main.  I am not a pinning kind of girl, but it's important that these two pieces match perfectly.

9.  Stitch the band to the skirt main.  Press the seam allowance down towards the contrast band.

10.  Fold the bottom edge of the skirt 1/4" towards the underside and press all the way around.

11.  Match up the folded edge towards the underside at the previous stitching line matching side seams and making sure to cover all raw edges.  Press bottom edge of the skirt.

12.  From the right side of the skirt, top stitch 1/8" from seam edge, making sure you are securing the bottom of the skirt band to the skirt. Press.  Stitch two lines of basting stitches


zig-zag over a thread at the top the top raw edge of the skirt in the same manner as you did the cape using whichever method you prefer.  Set the skirt to the side.


13. RST, stitch the two waistband pieces together along the long seam using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Flip over. 

-If you are opting for 3/4" wide elastic, press seam allowance to one side (I choose up towards the green because it was more opaque than the yellow fabric but it really doesn't matter too much).  Top stitch 1/8" from the edge, securing down the seam allowance in your stitching.

-If you want to use 1/2" wide elastic, just press open the seam allowances.

14. Now match the short ends of the waistband RST, lining up seams.  Starting 1/2" from the main waistband edge, measure your elastic piece(s) to figure out how wide to make the waistband opening.  You'll want to add no more than 1/8" to the top of the elastic casing edge.  If you add too much it will make the casing appear a little baggy; if you skip this, the casing will be difficult to thread and might curl up inside the casing.  For those using 1/2" elastic, remember that you will be making two casings to allow room for both pieces.

15. Put pins at your casing's top and bottom edge.  Start stitching from the contrast side all the way towards the first pin; stop;  clip threads; then stitch another small line of stitching along the bottom seam allowance.  This creates a nice size opening for your elastic (if you are doing the 1/2" elastic, don't mind the fact that there's only one opening for now).

16. Fold the edge with the shorter seam (opposite the contrast side) under a 1/4" towards the wrong side.  Press all the way around.


17.  Now, cinch up your main skirt to match the same width of your waistband and your cinch your cape to match half the size of your waistband.  Matching the skirt side seams with the edges of the cape, pin the cape to the skirt across the back only.

18. Baste the two together (wrong side of the cape to the right side of the skirt) 1/4" from the edge.  Don't worry about the stitching being on top of your gathering stitches.  You'll want to ensure that no stitching shows through later when we finish the waistband.

19. With RST and lining up the contrast side of the waistband center back with the center back of the skirt (cape side), stitch together using a 1/2" seam allowance. (Make sure you stitch below your basting or zig-zag stitches)

 20.  Turn right side out.  This is what it should look like (except, genius that I am, I forgot to sew the cape in in this particular picture.  Whoops!  Call in the seam ripper!)

21.  Turn right side out. Press the seam allowance up towards the waistband.

22. Now, if you feel confident that you will not have any gaps in your sewing the waistband closed, then fold over the waistband towards the inside lining up the folded edge just over the previous stitching line (just by no more than 1/8").  Pin all the way around the waistband. (skip to step 24.)

23.  If you want to feel secure that you're catching the back of the waistband in your stitching, I recommend using 3/8" wide Stitch Witchery to first iron the folded edge just over the stitching line by 1/8".  I know it's a little unorthodox, but what's worse: realizing you missed a large bit and having to rip seams out and add stitches with back stitching that will look quite noticeable OR a little piece of mind knowing that the back of your waistband didn't move and your stitches are intact?  It's just a personal preference and I'll just say that the second waistband (with the Stitch Witchery) was heaps less nerve-wracking than the first one.

24.  In any event, you will still want to ensure that you are lining up the edge (of the inside waistband) just to the left of your folded edge by 1/8".  So, you'll have to goose your skirt...I mean, reach from underneath and guide the waistband from underneath with your left hand.

25. Top stitch the waistband closed by stitching 1/8" from edge.  Stitch s l o w l y.

26. (if you are making the double 1/2" wide casings, skip to step 27.)

For those doing a 3/4" casing, you'll probably benefit from doing a second line of top stitching 1/8" away from the top of the waistband.

27.  Almost done! 

Before we add elastic, this is what your skirt should look like.

28. If you are doing the double casings you will want to skip to step 31.  Secure one edge of your elastic just below and out of the way of your casings.   *One more whoops note on this casing, I accidentally made opening on the outside of the Robin skirt so please appease me and imagine that the casing is on the inside... All the previous steps will ensure that you do this properly.  However, it's not the end of the world if you accidentally make the casing opening on the outside of the skirt.  For 3/4" elastic, thread your elastic through the casing, making sure it doesn't get twisted.  I like to use a big safety pin for this but you can use a fancy pants elastic guide if you like using them.  I do not.  Pull elastic through the other end, carefully unpin the other end of the elastic and over lap the two ends by 1/2" and zig-zag back and forth at least twice up and down the elastic. 

29. Stitch the opening closed.  Start at one end and stitch 1/8" from the opening edge pivoting at the bottom and again then back up the opposite side and pivoting again at the top. Back stitch well.

30.  This is what your 3/4" casing skirt will look like.  I took the extra measure, since I made the casing on the outside, to change the thread to match the two colors in their respective areas. 

Skip to step 33.

31.  For the double casing, start from the opening, and stitch in the ditch all the way around.  If you are uncomfortable with that technique, stitch just to the left of the seam 1/16".

32.  Thread one strip of 1/2" wide elastic into the casing, pinning it to the outside of the opening and out of the way of the casing, making sure it doesn't get twisted.  Once again, I like to use a big safety pin for this but you can use a fancy pants elastic guide if you like using them.  I do not.  Pull elastic through the other end, carefully unpin the other end of the elastic and over lap the two ends by 1/2" and zig-zag back and forth at least twice up and down the elastic.  


(well, unless you're adding a "super" pocket ;-)


33.  Find the perfect place for your pocket.  For me, the Robin placement had to be in the upper right-hand corner of the skirt, and for the Batman skirt, it was smack dab in the top middle.  Pin pocket in place.  

34.  Starting from where your pocket top stitching ended, stitch the pocket down just inside the edge of the pocket.  You want to aim for 1/16"-1/8" away from the pocket edge.  Stitch slowly and pivot as frequently as necessary stopping at the stitches on the opposite side of the pocket.  Back stitch very well at the beginning and end of the pocket.



Wanna see them in action?!  Click here!!!!

Alright!!!  Thank you thank you, a million times, thank you, Adrianna and Susan for asking me to be a part of Skirt Week!!!  It's been a blast!

And to my honored guests, to keep up with what new wackiness I am up to, sign up for my newsletter!

Take care guys!

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