Today, fellow sewists, I bring you a free sewing pattern for a work-from-home approved, secret pajamas, vintage-style skirt. Meet the DIY Cottage Skirt.
I’ve been working from home from a few years now, and I’ve run the gamut of wardrobe moods. At first I tried to use my existing work wardrobe, best categorized as vintage-style business casual. I typically wore actual vintage or me-made from vintage patterns, much of which was form-fitted and not exactly what one would call “relaxed”.
Soon it devolved into sweatpants and tee shirts, which eventually just made me feel like I was wearing a weird sort of boring but comfortable uniform. The only way I can describe this feeling is that it felt like I was no longer enjoying dressing every day, and didn’t feel like “myself” in my clothes. I was just wearing the same bland thing every day: “comfy stuff”.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not shaming “comfy”. I LIKE to be comfy, I just also really like feeling a little bit put together. Pouring through Pinterest and the internet at large, I sought solutions to my desire to be comfortable in my life as a person working from home while also still expressing my personal style in a way that made me feel happy about getting dressed everyday.
I looked in all the usual places: sewing patterns from vintage sources, independent, and “big four” brands, plus blog DIYs. After endlessly looking, I realized that I wasn’t really finding exactly what I was looking for.
This is how the DIY Cottage Skirt was born. This free sewing pattern features the following key elements:
- A full, gathered skirt
- A flat-front waistband
- A comfy elastic back waistband
- A deep hem
Because I did not want this to cinch tightly or be form-fitted, an elastic waist was a mandatory requirement. I added a flat front waistband to keep the illusion of all those nice, fitted vintage skirts I love. The deep hem is something I started including in my sewing about a year or so ago, and I just like the way it gives substance and a little bit of structure to the bottom of skirts.
Pockets were included because: pockets.
What You’ll Need
For this skirt, all you need is some mid-weight fabric with a soft drape (such as homespun, linen, or chambray), a length of 1.5 inch wide soft elastic, fusible interfacing, and some yarn.
Why yarn?! Because after years of using the standard basting method for gathering fabric, I recently discovered the life-changing yarn gathering method via Tabitha Sewer’s blog. If you’ve never used this method for gathering, I highly encourage you to try it.
To make this skirt easily repeatable, I created a free downloadable PDF for the DIY Cottage Skirt.
Small disclaimer: I have made three of these using the same method, and it worked well for me. I have not had any pattern testers, so this pattern hasn’t been attempted on anyone else’s body. It is a very basic skirt, and since it is based on measurements, I am hoping it works for any body. I fully admit I’ve never made a sewing pattern before, even a DIY one like this, so it is entirely possible there are steps I’ve missed or even easier ways to accomplish parts of it. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, issues, successes, or suggestions! I would be happy to make corrections or improve this free pattern so that anyone with any body can make it.
That said, I have included a measurement calculation sheet in the PDF so you’ll know the dimensions of the pieces you need (every piece except the pockets is just a rectangle! No darts, no curved lines!). There are detailed instructions with some helpful diagrams, and a universal pocket pattern piece based on the one I drew up years ago so I could insert side-seam pockets into patterns that didn’t include any (I was sewing up a lot of vintage patterns that – YE GADS! – did not include pockets!).
I am a slow sewist, so this free sewing pattern DIY generally takes me 2-3 hours to cut and sew up, so it makes a nice Saturday project.
How it’s Made
First, click here to download the Free Sewing Pattern: DIY Cottage Skirt from Folkmade.io. You can calculate the dimensions of your pattern pieces by taking your measurements and using the calculation sheet on the first page.
After you’ve cut your fabric pieces and notions according to your measurement calculations, you’ll do some edge finishing, and then attach the pockets to the sides of the front and back skirt panels:
I happened to have a couple of contrasting fat quarters in the same colorway that I thought would make fun pockets!
Gathering the Waistband
After sewing together the front and back skirt panels, that’s when you’ll employ the yarn gather method to gather the top of the front and back panels. If you’d like a more visual explanation of this, Tabitha created an excellent YouTube video showing the process.
Next, you prepare the waistband by fusing your interfacing in the center of the wrong side of the front waistband panel. Be sure to follow the instructions on your package to make sure the bond is strong. This is something I used to ignore and have since discovered it is very necessary to make sure the interfacing sticks!
Then, with right sides together, sew the front and back waistband panels together along the short edges. Next, align the top of the skirt with the edge of the waistband (right sides facing) and pin each side seam of the waistband to its mate on the skirt. Now you can carefully ease the gathering evenly, pinning the waistband all along to the skirt edge.
Sew the skirt to the waistband edge, then pull out the yarn. I follow this step by finishing this edge together so that there isn’t a lot of bulk inside the finished waistband. My serger trims excess off, but if you’re using pinking sheers or the overlock stitch on a sewing machine, you might trim this down a little to reduce that extra fabric.
The Fussy Part
After this, you’ll attach your elastic at each side seam of the waistband along the back. The PDF of the sewing pattern has a diagram of this to make it easier to understand. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this step!
The next two steps involve folding over the waistband and stitching in the ditch from the front, so that there is no raw edge on the inside (see the second picture above of the inside of the skirt waistband after stitching). This is easy on the flat front side, but the back is a little more fiddly because you have to stretch and pin the fabric just right, making sure that when you stitch in the ditch from the outside of the garment, you’re stitching through the rolled waistband on the inside but NOT the elastic!
Finishing the Hem
After that fussy part is done, all that’s left is to finish the hem! I usually measure 27″ down from the bottom of the waistband and fold the fabric to the inside, then fold about 5/8″ of the bottom edge inside so that no raw edge is exposed. Then, I actually just do a straight stitch as close to the edge of the inside of the hem fold as possible. You could do a blind hem stitch if you’d like, but I took the easy route because my fabric hides the stitch line very easily.
And you’re all done! I’ve already made two other versions of this, with a fourth on the way. I really like being able to throw this skirt on and feel like I made some effort without making any effort at all!
Don’t forget, if you decide to give it a try, I’d love to know in the comments. All questions, issues, suggestions, or successes are welcome!