Hero for a day: Captain America gathered skirt

Hi there 🙂

Captain America: Civil War was released this week and as the Cap is my favourite superhero Avenger, I wanted to make something special to wear to the screening.

And I did:

img_20160429_160722.jpg20160425_165833editTeam Rogers tee is from Qwertee

Gathered skirts are my favourite (and in my opinion easiest) to make.
I took loads of photos during the process so I could put together a tutorial for anyone wanting to try their hand at one.

Caution: This post ended up being lonnnnng, but if it’s helpful to even one person it’ll be worth it 🙂

Recently I had three of my friends bring their sewing machines over for a little sewing social and I taught them how to make gathered skirts. It’s honestly just straight lines 😛

So first things first you’ll need some supplies:

  • 1.5 metres of awesome fabric*
  • matching thread
  • 20cm zip in a colour of your choice**
  • fusible interfacing (optional)
  • closure of your choice: button, hook and eye etc
* I mostly use quilting cotton and other 100% cotton fabrics. You should prewash your fabric to prevent any shrinking after you’ve gone to all the trouble of sewing it into a pretty skirt.
** The zip will pretty much be hidden, but I went with with a contrasting red for this skirt

You’ll also need to work out some measurements; your waist, desired length and waistband height. You can get an idea of the length by draping a tape measure from your waist; this site has pretty much got all the instructions covered 😛

For me, this is 34 inches for my waist, 55cms for length, 5cm of which will be the waistband. Sorry if it’s confusing using both metric and imperial units, but I have a habit of using inches for my waist, thanks to online shopping 😉

Gathered skirts require about twice as much material as your waist measurement to get lots of volume. This means you’ll need two pieces, each the width of your waist.  I don’t worry about adding seam allowance to the sides because they’re going to be gathered to your exact waist measurement.
For the length you want to subtract your waistband length from your desired length and then add on a 8cm for both the hem and top seam allowance (for me that is 58cm: 55 – 5 + 8 ).
Your waistband height will be doubled, plus 2cm for seam allowance. The length will be your waist measurement plus 2in for the seam and tab closure ( 12cm x 36in for me).

Here’s a little diagram of what I need to cut:

Untitled drawing (2)

20160418_145531edit_rszYou should definitely iron your fabric before cutting. Oops :/

If you’re using the fusible interfacing to stabilize your waistband you’ll need to cut that out too (1). It’ll be your exact waist measurement x double your waistband height (36in x 10cm for me).
Next step is to iron this interfacing onto your waistband. It helps if you iron your waistband fabric in half lengthwise so you can centre it (2). Also make sure you’re ironing this onto the wrong side of your fabric 😛 (3). Leave 1cm on the left (for seam allowance) and the rest on the right (for the tab)(4). Finally iron the bottom 1cm seam allowance up (5). This will make attaching the waistband later nice and neat.


Now we can move onto the actual sewing. Yay!

Pin your 2 skirt pieces right sides together, and sew a seam along one side, making sure to secure your stitches with a backstitch at the beginning and end. If your print has a one way direction, like mine, make sure both pieces are facing the same direction.
For all the sewing on this skirt I use a 3 stitch length on my machine.

FotorCreated2I’m using the selvage edge here, so my seam allowance is quite wide to avoid those holes. If you’re not using the selvage, you’ll need to finish your seam with a zig zag stitch, pinking shears, or a serger.

Then repeat this step on the other side.

Now comes the zip. It’s not too hard when we’ve already got a seam to work with.
In case I’m doing a terrible job with instructions, this is the tutorial I use.
With your skirt inside out, iron one side seam open:


With your zip closed, place it face down with the teeth running along the seam (1 & 2). The top metal tabs should be about 1cm down from your top edge (1). Pin in place. Switching to a zipper foot, start sewing from the bottom (3). When you get to the zip pull (4) keep your needle in your fabric and lift your presser foot. This should give you enough room to wiggle the zip down and then continue sewing to the edge (5). Again, don’t forget your backstitching at start and finish 🙂 Repeat on the other side of the zip; you’ll need to switch your zipper foot over to the other side. You’ll also need to sew a little line backwards and forward over the bottom of the zip (before the metal clasp) to stop your seams falling apart.


Then it’s just a matter of using a seam ripper to expose your zip:

20160418_155646Looks like some of those selvage holes stuck around :/ 

Now comes the worst part in the making of this skirt: the gathering.
It can be a serious pain, but I’ve gotten used to it after making about a dozen of these skirts.
There is a ‘cheats method’ here which my friends prefer, or the double row method, which I use.
I’ll let you decide which to use, no judgement here 😉

Once you’ve gathered your skirt to your waist length (this is why we put the zip in first, so you can try it on as you go) pin the centre of your waistband to the seam without the zip, right sides together with the pressed folded over edge at the bottom:

20160418_161126Except my pressed edge is a little unfolded here.. 

Then you can evenly adjust and pin the gathers until they match up with the length of your waistband interfacing. I usually do this (and the gathering) while watching tv 🙂


Again, you can try your skirt on again to make sure the fit is right, just be careful of those pins!

The waistband tutorial I use is here.
I skipped the top stitching on the top edge though, seeing I prefer mine without.

You can add a self covered button closure which I quite like or the simple hook and eye closure which I opted for:


We’re so close to being done! Just the hem to go 🙂

Now I normally do a 3cm hem, but when I tried on my skirt I found out it was quite shorter than I measured for. Probably  Definitely because I didn’t iron my fabric when I was cutting :/
So I squeezed out a tiny 1cm hem on this guy.

Press up your hem length all the way around, then fold the hem over again and press, then pin and sew all around. This will enclose all your loose ends.




Thanks for sticking around to the end of this post. All straight lines just like I promised 😛
I hope this encourages some of you to have a go at making your own gathered skirts 🙂
I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions along the way if you do.

Until next time!




5 thoughts on “Hero for a day: Captain America gathered skirt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s