DIY: Adding Elastic to a Too Small Skirt

I’m on a roll with my easy sewing projects lately (in case you missed it, here’s DIY: Adding Elastic to Track Pants for a Tall and Slim Kid). Well, this time I have the OPPOSITE problem. I was a little too fluffy for the waistband, but I looooved the skirt. And I had *just* enough confidence after my last project to think I could do something about it.

Here it is:

I’ll be sharing this skirt in my November Thrift Haul post later this month, but I picked it up at the thrift store recently for just $3.75. It’s a thick linen/cotton fabric with some absolutely beautiful hand done embroidery. A google image search leads me to think this is a vintage skirt that was handmade in Guatemala. Unfortunately, my thrift store no longer has dressing rooms, so I had to just cross my fingers that this might fit. And it didn’t.

The zipper on the side got maybe halfway up and that was it. It was so beautiful though, so I thought that since I had such luck with my last sewing project, I’d give another one a try. And in the worst-case scenario that it didn’t work out, I could still cut apart the fabric and make a pillow or tote bag with it.

I’m about to take you though the steps I did for this project, but please keep in mind… I’m a *intuitive sewist* and not an actual sewist. I basically just figure out what makes sense my head and I try to make that happen.

First up, I carefully cut away the waistband.

This was pretty easy to do, since it was sewn on with big stitches by hand. I’d just cut a stitch and then pull until I was able to get to another stitch and worked my way around the waistband. Once I got to the end, I gave the fabric a good tug to get rid of the pleating. Here it is with the entire waistband removed, so now the top of the skirt is way, way larger!

Next up, I removed the zipper. I don’t have a seam ripper, so I just snipped a few threads with my scissors and worked the entire zipper off the skirt.

Now that the zipper was out, I could just follow along the lines and sew the skirt up to the top. You can’t even tell that there was ever a zipper there.

Okay, now the moment of truth. I needed to add some elastic. I was going to use the same elastic I had on hand from Jack’s pants project, but I wanted the skirt to have a similar look to my notPERFECT LINEN skirts. I measured their elastic area and it looked like it was about 2 inches wide. So, I ordered this Elastic Band for Sewing, 2 Inches. The whole roll cost $5.99 and it was delivered overnight by Amazon.

I took the top of the skirt and I folded it over to make a little tunnel for the elastic. Real sewists call this a casing. I eyeballed it based on the width of the elastic and put in pins where I would need to sew. I removed the elastic as I ‘measured’ with it, so that the tunnel was empty when I sewed it on the sewing machine.  Don’t forget to leave a little access hole!

Empty pocket = done

Next up was time for the elastic. Because this elastic was very thick, I made sure to stretch it first. I went all Get-In-Shape-Girl-Aerobics on it and gave it some big stretches. This way it won’t immediately get too baggy once I wear the skirt.

Once I did that, I wrapped it around my waist to figure out how long I wanted it and pinned it to size to make sure it would easily stretch over my hips and butt when I wanted to get the skirt off.

Then, I just fed the elastic through the tunnel. I put a safety pin on the end of one side of elastic and bunched the skirt up as I went. At the end, I safety pinned the two ends of elastic to each other so that I could try on the skirt before sewing everything into place.

Once I tried it on, I realized I wanted it a little tighter. So, I just yanked the elastic a little and re-pinned it. Then, I sewed the two pieces of elastic together — I got all crazy and zigzaged it a bit. Yes, it looks super messy but I wanted it to hold and nobody will see it anyways.

After the elastic was sewn together, I shoved it back into the tunnel and sewed up my access hole. For my last step, I put a line of sewing through the elastic on each side seam of the skirt. Hopefully this will keep the elastic from twisting… so we’ll see if it works.

And BOOM! I’m done!

Here is a closer look at the waistband:

I can’t believe how easy it was and honestly, looking at the skirt you wouldn’t know that I chopped at it and added elastic so it would fit me. So, if you’ve been intimidated by sewing projects like this… maybe give it a try because it really wasn’t that difficult. Especially if you thrifted something for less than the price of a Starbucks latte!

11/16/23 Update: I wore my new skirt to work today and I love it so much!

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