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Back-to-School Skirt with Attached Shorts (…the CHEATER method)

Our kids start school next week and they’re really excited to get going.  This will be their first full year at this new school here in Oklahoma since we moved at the end of February and they only went for 3 months last spring.  Elli is in 3rd grade, Connor is in 2nd, and Chloe will be starting Pre-K….which is only a few hours in the afternoon.  And let me tell you, that Chloe-girl is EXCITED!  She keeps telling me all about how she’s going to play ponies with her friends and race the boys on the playground and how her teacher is so beautiful (we haven’t met her teacher yet).  Yes, this child is an animated one. :)


One of my very favorite times to shop ever….is back-to-school time!  New pants, crisp clean shoes, perfectly pressed shirts, bright white socks, etc.  I loved it as a kid — I love it now!  (Especially when I find things on a crazy good sale…..nothing makes my heart all aflutter like a flaming good deal!)  And just like always, my girls requested less pants and more skirts/dresses.  Fine with me.


However, since Chloe’s going to be flying on ponies during recess (ha!) and isn’t as self aware about her own body, I’ve really got to help keep her little undies covered.  So, you know those little skirts with shorts attached….yeah, we need lots of those.  But I couldn’t find a wide variety in the stores.  So, I set off to make some of our own.  So she can somersault and fairy dance during recess but sit criss-cross-applesauce during class time……and not show her unmentionables. :)


But the CHEATER part of this tutorial…….is that you can use an old pair of leggings and a women’s shirt. Hello thrift store, I love you for so many reasons…..but especially for having so many un-loved pieces of clothing that have just the right amount of fabric that I can use for something else!  (Ugly shirt? Yes. But, perfect for a flouncy skirt!)  However, you can create this from scratch too and just buy some knit fabric, but there’s just not as many unique and colorful options as finding an old shirt.


Now, we don’t have to worry about finding that dang pair of shorts that will fit under her shirts…..or forget to put them on.  These shorts are attached and stretchy and don’t gape open.  Perfect!


The waist band is wide and stretchy…..perfect for playing in!


These girls of mine love their skirts.  And I get it…..they can twirl and spin and feel fancy!



The shorts are un-hemmed (after cutting them off from being leggings) because they don’t really need it.  The knit fabric won’t fray, even in the wash.  You can cut them longer so that they peek out on purpose (more like a capri length)….or cut them shorter.  Whatever you prefer.


Everything is attached at the waist so they can jump right in.


Two new skirts for our little Pre-Kindergartener to wear to school…..who is completely ECSTATIC about that fact!


Ready to whip up a few Skirts with Attached Shorts??

Okay, let’s do it.



  • Old Tshirt (or knit fabric)
  • Old Leggings (or more knit fabric)
  • 1 inch elastic
  • sewing supplies (here’s a list of my favorite sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas) 

***Check out my Sewing Terms 101 post, for additional help.



If you have an old Tshirt to use, then you have a hem already sewn for you.

Measure up from the bottom hem of the skirt, the desired length of your skirt, MINUS 1/2 inch. (If you’re creating a skirt from un-sewn knit fabric, be sure to add extra length for the hem.)


Then, cut another strip from the shirt that is 3 3/4 inch tall.


Cut a piece of elastic that is the same measurement as the waist and then cut down the strip of fabric down to the same measurement as the waist PLUS one inch.  Be sure that the stretch of the knit fabric is stretching left to right, not up and down.


Then, overlap the ends of the elastic by one inch and sew the ends down with a zig-zag stitch.  Fold the piece of fabric in half width-wise and right sides together and sew the ends together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.


Turn the strip of fabric right side out and then fold it in half onto itself, creating a casing for the waistband.


Slide the circle of elastic inside, sandwich the fabric around the elastic, and pin the fabric casing closed.


Sew all the way around the open edges, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance and a zig-zag stitch.


Now, cut off the waistband of the leggings.


Then, grab the skirt portion that you cut off your shirt and line up the top edge of your leggings with the top edge of the shirt.  Cut off the leggings a couple inches above the bottom hem of the shirt.  (There’s no need to hem the bottom of the shorts but you can if desired.)


Now it’s time to create the gathers of the skirt.  Sew a basting stitch (really long stitch) along the front of the skirt (from side seam to side seam) and another single stitch along the back.  Divide your skirt into 4 and add pins and do the same with the waistband.


Match up your pins and start gathering in your fabric, just like the Fast Skirt Tutorial HERE.


Once your skirt is all gathered in, you can go and sew the gathers in place with a loose zig-zag stitch to keep everything in place for this next step (might be helpful for beginners), or you can just keep the pins in place and move on.


Turn the skirt inside out with the waist band still along the inside.  Turn your shorts inside out as well.


Slide your skirt inside your shorts…


Keep fitting the skirt down inside the shorts until you line up with top edges of both.


Depending on the size of your shorts, you may have to stretch them just a bit to to make them fit evenly around the waistband and skirt.  And that’s okay.


Pin the shorts to the skirt and then take it over to your sewing machine and sew all the way around the top edge with a zig-zag stitch, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.


Then, trim off your extra fabric and flip your waistband up, and steam iron flat.


That’s it!!!  So simple, right??





Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
Back-to-school skirt with attached shorts (…the cheater method)
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  1. Kelly K says:

    Thanks so much for this! I have a ton of old t shirts that people keep gifting me and I never know what to do with them. My upside down, flying pony riding, so not modest grade 1er will be thrilled with these skirts!! Plus I will make some for the winter minus the shorts :)

  2. Renee says:

    Fabulous post!

  3. Jan says:

    Great tutorial! Love all the pictures to help us visual types!
    And welcome to OK!!

  4. Ellen says:

    although I have a sewing machine (which doesn’t work very well lol) I am wondering if it would be easier to just attach the shirt to the elastic waistband of the shorts?

  5. Hale Mercantile says:

    Love how easy you seem to make it all sound Ashley. Sewing (with a machine) makes me nervous. I think I am going to try making a simple project from your archives first.

  6. Linda J says:

    Thank you, thank you! Now I can provide school “skorts” for a needy granddaughter! Oh wow. Thanks again.

  7. Talitha says:

    How I wish I could sew! Even this tutorial seems difficult to me. As adorable as these skirts are, I’m afraid my girls will continue wearing shorts underneath their skirts and dresses until Mommy learns to sew!

    1. Ashley says:

      And that totally works too. In the meantime, there’s got to be a friend or neighbor who could make these with you until you got the hang of it! :)

  8. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this!!!!! I have two girls (pre-K & Kdgn) that also love to twirl and prefer skirts over pants/jeans. I knew there had to be an easier way to make the skorts! I’m thinking too that in the fall/winter, just keep the leggings regular length and put the skirt over top. So excited to try this method!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh yes, you’re in the same boat! :)

      And yes, I had that same thought about keeping the leggings long. I’ll have to wait though because it stays hot for a long time here in Oklahoma. :)

  9. Sandy says:

    Brillliant idea easily adapted for adults as well esp when you can’t see any skorts you fancy

    1. Ashley says:

      That’s true….it would be great for any age! Good luck!

  10. Ellie from Canada says:

    Perfect!! They are so cute with the vibrant colored shorts! Thanks, I’ll be making some for my “Grade Two-er” grandgirl!

    1. Ashley says:

      I like the vibrant color underneath too. It’s a cute contrast!

      Good luck whipping up a few!

  11. Lindsay says:

    This is genius! What an awesome idea!!! I would not have thought to use a T shirt and leggings together. Thanks!

    1. Ashley says:

      It’s the perfect cheater way of doing it! Good luck!

  12. Sharlyn says:

    Sooooo cute! Where was this blog ten years ago when my girls were little?;-)

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha….I know, but grand kids are another option! ;)

  13. Ellie says:

    Super cute and I have some old shirts that will be perfect for this. Thanks!

    1. Ashley says:

      So that means FREE! :)

  14. Joy says:

    Love these for my granddaughters! I’ve pinned this, thanks.

    1. Ashley says:

      You’re welcome….enjoy!

  15. Renelle says:

    And then you can cut another 1-2 off the remaining part of the leggings to make a headband.

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha……GREAT IDEA! :)

  16. Jodi says:

    Cute skirt & I sure do miss that girl!

    1. Jeanette says:

      OMG! Cannot believe how awesome this tutorial is!! So amazing, I’m heading to the store right now to make some for my two girls that are starting school next week!! Thank you for inspiring me!

    2. Ashley says:

      Oh good Jeanette, glad you like it! And good luck! :)

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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