Monday, May 6, 2013

The San Antonio Stroll Skirt Tutorial

I'm so happy to present my sewing creation, the San Antonio Stroll Skirt.  It has been so much fun to design and construct.  I made this one for my daughter, PEPSI.

She is a busy momma with three little children at home.  The San Antonio Stroll Skirt is feminine, comfy, and easy to wear and care for. 

The skirt is made in three tiers.  The top tier fits snugly and is constructed using a durable single knit fabric with an elastic waist.

My dear friend BINGO first taught me the formula for creating tiered, ruffled skirts.  I'll share the basic formula she taught me in another post, because this one is a bit different.  


Knit Polo Shirt (used) To make this skirt, you'll need an old (but still nice) knit polo shirt.  You could use a tee shirt if needed.  The important thing is quality.  This old Band Booster shirt has not been heavily worn, and it is made from a very nice, sturdy, soft single knit fabric.  As I said earlier, the top tier, including elastic waistband, is made from this shirt.

Quilted Cotton Print Fabrics - The middle and bottom tiers are made from coordinated cotton prints that are commonly referred to as quilting cotton.



Measuring Tape

1/2" or 3/4" Elastic


A. Waistband and Top Tier

1. Measure the circumference of the waist as shown in the drawing.

2. Measure vertically from the top of the point where the waistband will be down to a point just above the hip line.

3. Measure vertically from the top of waistband to the center of the calf or shin. 

NOTE:  At the end of these measurement steps, I'll be showing you the measurements of this skirt as an example. Your own measurements may be different.

NOTE: For this skirt, the waistband circumference measurement is 30". The waistband to hip measurement is 5".   The overall length of the skirt (waistband to mid-calf measurement) is 25". The waistband fits nicely between the navel and the upper hip bone.  It is in the same location as the waistband of the shorts in this drawing.

4. Add about an extra 2" length to the Waistband to hip measurement. You need enough extra length for the elastic waistband casing at the top and the seam allowance at the bottom. Cut your knit polo shirt as shown in the photo. 

NOTE:  For this skirt:  5" measurement + 2" extra = 7" total length needed.  The shirt is cut 7" from the bottom of the hem.

5. Measure width of shirt at bottom hem and multiply by 2.  

For this shirt, the width was about 17" x 2 = 34" total circumference.  

6. Deduct your waistline measurement (from #1 above) from the shirt circumference measurement (#5 above). 

For this shirt, 34" shirt circumference measurement - 30" waistline circumference measurement = 4".

This means we need to reduce the circumference of the piece we cut from the bottom of the shirt by 4".

7. Divide the total found in #6 by 2.

For this shirt, 4" divided by 2 = 2".

8. Turn the piece inside out and lay it flat.  Measure the number of inches (#) from one edge of the shirt and pin all the way down the side, top to bottom.

For this shirt, we pin 2" from one edge, top (hem) to bottom (cut edge).

9. Machine sew or serge along pinned edge. 

Now your shirt circumference should match your waist measurement.

10. Fold under hem of shirt approximately one inch, pin, and press.  

11.  Machine sew along edge of hem to create elastic casing.  Be sure to leave 2" or 3" inches open for insertion of elastic.

12. Wrap elastic around your waist.  You'll need less elastic than the circumference of your waist.  The waistband should be tight enough to stay up, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable.  Tighten it until you feel it is the right fit and mark the length of the elastic.  Most likely it will be 2" or 3" less than the actual waistline measurement. Cut elastic to length needed.

13. Insert elastic into casing.  If you like, pin a safety pin to one end of the elastic and use it to guide the elastic through the casing.  Once it is inserted, check to see if it is twisted up. Untwist if needed and machine stitch the two ends of the elastic together.  Be careful not to stitch the skirt when doing this.

14. Once elastic is stitched together, finish sewing up the 2" or 3" previously left open in the casing.

15. Put aside this piece (top tier and waistband) for now.

B. Middle Tier 

The middle tier is made from pieces of your coordinating quilted fabric sewn together.  

1. Take each coordinating fabric and rip the cut edges to get uniform length of top and bottom.  Please refer to Ripping Cotton Tutorial if needed. 

2. When the cut edges are ripped and even, rip a 7" strip across each one, selvage to selvage.  Now decide how you want it to fit together to form the middle tier.  I suggest simple rectangles of differing sizes.  

NOTE: For this skirt, there are 5 coordinating fabrics in the center tier.  The guitar print and the sewing machine/flower print are the boldest fabrics.  The other prints are pink gingham, pink mother goose print, and a creamy solid cotton twill.  For proper balance and symmetry, a small section of the cream colored cotton was pieced between each long rectangle of print fabric. The order is:  guitar print, cream, sewing machine/flower print, cream, nursery rhyme print, cream, pink gingham, cream, and then it starts over with guitar print, etc.  You certainly don't need 5 coordinating prints, but you can use that many if you like.  I suggest at least 3 coordinating prints.


3. Fold each strip into half, and then fold in half again.  Cut strips along folds.  Now you will have 4 pieces of each strip of fabric.  The total number of sections will vary. If you are using 3 coordinating prints, you'll have 12 pieces of fabric total, That is 4 per print x 3 coordinating prints = 12 total.

4. Now pin each piece together to form the layout you have chosen.  Pin the first two and serge or machine stitch together.

NOTE: Use as small of a seam allowance as possible so as not to waste your pretty fabric.  There will be a lot of seams here.

5. Pin the next one to the end of the two you've stitched together and serge or machine stitch.

6. Repeat this process until the middle tier is approximately 110" in length.  A little more or a little less is okay.

NOTE:  Some fabrics have a definite "THIS WAY UP" print such as the guitar print, the sewing machine/flower print, and the nursery rhyme print.  For others, such as the solid color cream and the gingham print, it doesn't really matter.  Make sure you don't sew your "THIS WAY UP" prints together upside down or some up and others down.

7.  Serge (or zig zag stitch or straight stitch and trim with pinking shears) all the way down the top and bottom of the middle tier. If you zig zag stitch, make sure you trim the tier to make it even all the way down if needed.  I got in a bit of a hurry with mine.  Luckily the serger trims it perfectly even as it stitches.


8. Now iron your beautiful center tier.

9. To create your ruffle, machine baste two rows along the top of your middle tier.

10. Fold the tier in half and place a straight pin to mark the center of the middle tier.  Fold end of tier to center pin and place a pin to mark midway points halfway between center and edges on the left and right side of center pin.

Center tier during ruffling process

C. Attach the top tier with waistband to the middle tier 

1. Take the top tier with waistband and place a pin in the 12:00, 3:00, and 9:00 positions on the elastic casing.  Place another identical set of pins along the cut edge directly below the first set of pins at the same clock positions.  The seam is in the 6:00 position, so you won't need a pin there.

2. Locate the center pin of middle tier. Match center pin at bottom of top tier to center pin at top of middle tier and pin, right sides together.  Match 3:00 pin of top tier to midpoint pin of middle tier and pin, right sides together.  Repeat with 9:00 pin of top tier and remaining midpoint pin of middle tier.


3. Take one end of top of loose basting threads. Pull gently and evenly, stopping to redistribute gathers of ruffle as needed.  

NOTE:  DO NOT do what I did and break your basting thread, or you may have to repair a section of your ruffle.  If you do have a broken thread and don't know how to fix it without starting over, quickly refer to Ruffle Repair 101 - Quick Fix For Broken Basting Thread

Ruffle Repair 101

4. After ruffle is evenly gathered, finish pinning top tier to middle tier and machine stitch together.

NOTE:  Use about 1/2" seam allowance for stitching tiers together.  Before stitching, sew the two loose ends of the ruffle together.

D. Bottom Tier

1. Along your previously ripped edge of the fabric you're using for the bottom tier, measure an additional 14" from the top and rip.  Repeat three more times.  You now have four 14" lengths of fabric to form the bottom tier.

NOTE:  The bottom tier is made from the same fabric all the way around.  

2. Pin the short edges of four of the tiers and serge or machine stitch together.

3. See Section B above and repeat step B number 7 to edge finish bottom tier.

4. Iron your beautiful bottom tier.

5. Machine baste two or three rows along top edge of bottom tier.  Refer to Section B number 9 if needed.

6. Find center and midway points of bottom tier and pin.Refer to Section B number 10 above if needed.

E. Attach middle tier to bottom tier

1. On the middle tier, locate and pin the same clock positions as shown above in Section C number 1 on the bottom edge.

2. Match those pins to the bottom tier center and midway point pins and pin.  Refer to Section C number 2 if needed.

3. Gently gather your bottom tier ruffle.  Refer to Section C number 3 if needed.

4. After ruffle is evenly gathered, finish pinning middle tier to bottom tier.

5. Sew two loose ends of ruffle together.

6. Machine stitch middle tier to bottom tier.

F. Finish the skirt

1. Press bottom of bottom tier under about 1/2", pin, and machine stitch to form the skirt hem.

2. Hand stitch an accent color grosgrain ribbon bow between the top tier and the center tier at the front, but not exactly in the center:)

If you read a few recent tutorials posted, you may recognize some of the fabric used to create the middle tier.  This is actually a Mother's Day version of the San Antonio Stroll Skirt.  The fabrics used to create the Girls Nursery Rhyme Dress and the Matching Guitar Print Shirts and Free Baby Shorts/Pants Pattern are incorporated into the middle tier.  Why?  So they could all have matching outfits for Mother's Day!  I included photos of each together in Mother's Day Dress Up - Matching Outfits for Mom and the Kids.

Brother's matching shorts and shirts, Nursery Rhyme Dress, and San Antonio Stroll Skirt fabric

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  1. What a beautiful skirt, both the style and the fabric!!! Thanks for sharing how you made it.

  2. Adorable skirt and great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!


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