Summer Whimsy Skirt: A Tutorial

I think it’s time for another tutorial, don’t you? It’s been awhile, what with traveling and all, but it’s time to break this one out of the vault. This Summer Whimsy Skirt (otherwise known as Abby’s “donut skirt” in this household) is a spin-off of my Summer Whimsy Dress Tutorial. It’s a simple elastic-waisted skirt with side panel pockets. 
Honestly, you could probably figure out how to make one of these using the dress tutorial, but hey, if I have the instructions I might as well pass them off to you!
  • 1/2 yard of main fabric (cotton or other fabric suitable for skirts. something with a little body.)
  • 1/2 yard or 1 fat quarter of contrasting fabric for side panels. 
  • 1/4″ bias tape for finishing the bottom edge (optional!) 
  • 3/4″ elastic for the waistband
  • coordinating thread
First, cut your 1/2 yard of fabric down to 12″ in length. Lay it out on your cutting table so the selvage edges are lined up together like this:

Remove the selvage edges. Now fold the fabric so that the folded edge is lined up with where selvage edge use to be. Line your ruler up so that at the top it measures 1″ to 1.5″ in from the edge and at the bottom it aligns exactly with the corner.

Cut along your ruler and remove the diagonal piece. This will give your skirt more of an A-line shape.

To assemble the side panels, head over to my dress tutorial and follow the instructions for the side panels exactly. The dimensions are different, but the steps are the same. Once you’ve prepared the side panel pockets, sew them to the skirt pieces exactly as you would for the dress.

Use 1/4″ bias tape to trim the bottom edge (optional). You can follow my instructions HERE for help sewing the bias tape to your skirt.

If you don’t want to use bias tape for the bottom edge, that’s fine! I’m not totally sold on it myself, but Abby loves it. To do a traditional hem, simple iron the bottom edge under 1/4″ and press. Then fold it under another 1/2″ and press again. Pin if desired and sew it down with a straight stitch. Easy peasy!

To make the elastic waistband you can follow the same steps used in my Summer Shorts tutorial HERE.  Here is the quick version: Fold the top edge under 1/4″ and press. Then fold the top edge under another 1″ and press. Pin if desired and stitch along the folded edge (It’s easiest if the skirt is inside out at this point so you can use the folded edge as a guide. Make sure your stitches are placed as close to the folded edge as possible without going over. About 1/16″ is perfect.) Leave a 2″ gap in your line of stitching so you can insert the elastic. 

Measure your child’s waist and add one inch to determine the length of your elastic. (I used 20.5″ of elastic for Abby’s skirt). Attach a safety pin to one end and feed in through the opening in the skirt’s waistband. Feed it all the way through until you can pull it out the other side. Match up the ends of the elastic and sew them together 1/2″ from the raw edge. (Tip: Stitch the ends of the elastic down to secure them and keep the waistband flat.)

Now push the elastic back into the waistband and close the gap with stitches. You’re skirt is complete!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or shoot me an email at I love to answer questions!

To avoid peek-a-boo with little undies, pair this skirt with some Summer Shorts. 

Now that the bulk of this post is done, I can tell you what inspired this skirt. Ann Kelle sent me this yummy donut print at the start of the summer and asked if I would like to play around with it. Um, YES!!! I immediately knew it was destined for Abby but couldn’t put my finger on the right project until we arrived in Sisters, Oregon, where we are currently vacationing. Here, it’s our tradition to get donuts at Sisters Bakery every Saturday morning.

What kind of donut do you think Abby picks every single time? That’s right: SPRINKLES! After the first Donut Day here in Sisters, I went straight home and made her this skirt. She’s worn it as often as possible since then and you won’t believe how many compliments she receives. Abby loves to announce with glee, “This is my DONUT skirt!” She charms everyone she meets, this girl.

So there you have it: A Summer Whimsy Donut Skirt. Now you can make your own! Let me know if you do, because I’d love to see pictures. You can also add anything you’ve made using one of my Tutorials to my Flickr Group. I’d love to see your stuff in there!

Thanks for reading friends. For more inspiration, see my Tutorials page, or head on over to Facebook where I share all kinds of behind the scenes info. Until next time!

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  1. says

    Hi Caila.
    That looks awesome. Preparing the fabric I wondered, if you really meant that FOUR 5″ by 12″ pieces are needed for the side panels / pockets.

    I would be glad hearing from you.

    And keep on posting!


  2. Anonymous says

    Adding this to my to-do list for my daughter. Now to find the perfect fabric for this. She LOVES pockets on anything.

  3. Anonymous says

    Hi, I am wondering how I would expand your wonderful tutorial sizing to fit a 5 year old?
    Any advice would be gratefully appreciated as my little girl would love this style and I have been trying to find a tute like yours for ages now, so thankyou very much!
    Emma from Australia.