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DIY Tiered Maxi Skirt…girls and women’s sizing included

I have been realizing that many of you who are visiting my site are new around here.  Or have maybe only been reading for the past year or two.  I have tried to set up this site to make it search-able and place every project into a category, etc……but there are many projects that are hidden little treasures, buried way back in the archives.  Some are 3, 4, and even 5 years old (wow, has it been that long?)…..but are such fun projects to make.  In fact, I revive my old tutorials all the time for myself and pull up the post on how I made something, so I can make it again.  Because no, I don’t have a photographic memory and I can’t remember exactly how I made something.  So, I was thinking that every once in a while, I would re-share an old post for you guys.


This will be fun to share for those of you who are new…..but also a good reminder for those who saw this when I originally posted.  Because now may be the time that you actually make it.  OR make it again! :)


This Tiered Maxi Skirt tutorial was originally posted 3 years ago and my word, Elli was such a small little girl.  Not much older than Chloe is now, in fact.  My heart may get a little sentimental while I browse through these….so forgive me! ;)




The different tiers can be shortened and/or lengthened, to make any size skirt. (And yes, I show you how to figure out the measurements, in case you want to make this skirt in your size too.)





And yes, white is such a controversial color to put on children, but I never skip on the white for my kids…..because bleach works wonders! (And we still have this skirt in the girls’ closet, nice and bright white, ready for Chloe’s turn to wear it.)




And nothing says summer more than a breezy white maxi skirt — so you’ve got time to whip this up for your beach-y vacations!




If you make one in white like I did (which tends to be see-through)……… no worries. I’ll show you how to add a little lining on the inside, which I made short to keep the skirt cool.




I can’t even believe this little face was only 3 years ago…….time is flying!



 Okay…….onto the original tutorial posted on 6/29/2012.  Enjoy!



Let’s get started:


The first step is to decide how long you want the skirt, from the very top, down to the bottom hem. Once you know how long you want it, split that number by 5. For each tier, you will add a little extra to the top and bottom length, to accommodate for the waistband, the overlap, and the hem. And to figure out the width of each tier, you need to measure the waist of your model. The first tier width will be the waist measurement multiplied by 1.5. The second tier is the waist measurement multiplied by 2. The 3rd tier is the waist measurement multiplied by 2.7. And so on. I know, 2.7, 3.6, and 4.8 are strange numbers but it keeps the ratio even between tiers. Just go with it!


Something else to keep in mind…….if you are using a serger on the edges like I did, your measurements will be different. However, I figured most people don’t have a serger, so I gave the measurements to fold and hem each of you edges. (But I’ll explain the serging too.)


Here’s a chart to keep all of those measurements straight:



(And keep in mind, if you want the skirt fuller, add some fabric to each width…..and keep the ratio the same between each tier. This will make it even fuller. Do what works best for you though and the amount of fabric you have.)


So, for example: My little girl’s waist is 20 inches. And I measured from her waist down to where I wanted it to end near her ankles, which was 25 inches. So I first divided 25 by 5, which is 5. So each finished tier would measure 5 inches tall. Then, I knew that if I were to fold and hem each edge (instead of serging it, which is what I did), I would add the extra measurements to each tier height (as shown above). If that was the case, they would measure:


Tier 1 = 6.5 x 30

Tier 2 =6.5 x 40

Tier 3 = 6.5 x 54

Tier 4 = 6.5 x 72

Tier 5 = 6 x 96


However, if you’re going to serge your edges like I did, ignore the extra 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1/2 inch, 1 inch etc. Simply add a 1/2 inch to each tier height. And that’s it. So each of my tiers were 5.5 inches tall and then the same width as listed above.


**Please note, the measurements don’t have to be perfect. You can round up or down so you’re not trying to cut something that is 6.78 inches wide. That would be annoying. This skirt is forgiving since it gathers in and doesn’t have to be perfect.


And one more thing, if you decide to add lining to your skirt (because your fabric is see-through like my white was), cut a piece of fabric that is as wide as your top tier (30 inches in my case) and then however long you want it to be. I decided about knee length would be best (and not as hot as full length), so I cut mine 14 inches long.


Here are all of my pieces. (If your fabric isn’t long enough, you may have to piece fabric together to make your strips long enough.)


Once you have all your strips cut out, take one strip at a time (including your lining strip, if you are adding one) and sew the two ends together with right sides together and with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, creating a circle out of each strip. Then finish off that raw edge (zig-zag, add another seam, serge, use pinking shears, etc.) Then, if you are folding and hemming your long edges, fold the top and bottom edges under a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, and then sew in place. (Except for the top edge of tier 1. Leave that unfinished.) However, if you’re serge-ing like I did, simply serge that top and bottom edge.


Now, grab your first and second tiers. Sew a basting stitch along the top edge of tier 2 and cinch it in to the same width as tier one. Pin it evenly all the way around the bottom of tier 1, overlapping by a 1/2 inch. (Need help making and attaching your gathered fabric evenly?? Go here.)


Then sew that ruffled tier right in place, sewing right on top of that basting stitch.


Repeat with the other tiers, sewing them in place. (If you only had one side seam in each tier, match them all up so that they can be placed at the back of the skirt.)


Now, slide your skirt lining around the skirt section you just made, matching up the top edges. Be sure that the WRONG side of the lining is laying against the RIGHT side of the skirt section. Pin the top edges in place.  Then sew them together, 1/4 inch from the top edge.


Then pull the lining up and away from the outside of the skirt and then insert it down into the inside of the skirt……so that the lining is down inside the skirt where it belongs. Iron that top edge flat.


Then sew a seam 1.25 inches from the top edge of the skirt, all the way around………..


………..except leave about a 2 inch opening in the back. Here’s your casing for your elastic with an entrance.


Then lift up the top layer of skirt and find that opening in the casing you just made. Thread some 1 inch wide elastic (using a safety pin) through the casing. (Measure your child’s waist and then subtract about an inch. That should be a good length for the elastic.)


Leave the ends of the elastic out, then overlap the ends and sew them together.


Then flip the skirt right side out again and sew that opening closed. And then add a fabric tag if you have one. :)



And that’s it.


A nice and summery WHITE Tiered Maxi Skirt.






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 the 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!
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  1. Sharney' says:

    Is it possible to get the women size pattern I been looking for this style for a long time and I got to have….Can I download it ???

  2. Veronica Powell says:

    Hi there! This skirt is adorable. I have been working on it and am almost finished. It looks like it’s going to turn out about an inch shorter than I would like it to be. Maybe my hems were a bit more than they should have been. It’s all done except for the waist which is still a raw edge. any suggestions about how to increase the length without throwing the evenness of the layers off? Thank you!

  3. Ceci Reyes says:

    This tutorial is fantastic!!! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kate says:

    What a beautiful skirt! I bought my eight year old daughter a similar one last summer which she absolutely loved. Unfortunately, she stained it quite badly – even after bleaching, the stains were still visible. I saved it by dying it a sky blue colour. She still loves it, but I plan to make her a new white one for this summer. She has been asking me to make her some maxi skirts and I had one exactly like this in mind. Your tutorial couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks for a very clear explanation.

    I just have a couple of questions.

    1. How lightweight was your fabric – was it a poplin or a cotton lawn?
    2. I have an overlocker, but I’m still learning how to use it. What kind of overlocker stitch did you use to finish the visible edges along the tops of each tier?

    1. Kate says:

      I just thought of another question.

      3. I also plan to make one of these out of a knit fabric (T-shirt weight). Would I need to sew narrow elastic into the horizontal seams that join the tiers, in order to help the stretchy fabric cope with the weight of the lower tiers?

  5. Ashley says:

    Maybe this is crazy, but it seems like you could get a little more time out of this skirt by making the top tier bigger around (prior to adding elastic), then as the child grows, removing the elastic and replacing it with a longer piece, and adding an extra tier to the bottom of the skirt. What do you think?

  6. Rita Marie says:

    Love this skirt and will try to make one, it’s the ruffles that scare me! I did look at your tutorial on ruffles, that is great and will help. I do have a question about the serging, what stitch did you use? I’m guessing some kind of rolled hem edge. Love my serger!

  7. Benita says:

    Thank-you for this!
    My niece wants a maxi skirt for her birthday, and because she’s so tall I have to shop in the juniors for her (she’s only 10). Everything I find just looks too old. Thanks to this tutorial I’ll now be making one for her!

  8. Meika says: are amazing. Your Blog is it.
    Thank you for sharing. Greetings from Indonesia :)

  9. Karen M Roth says:

    Thank you for sharing this pattern again. I had one but it was in tatters and did not last long. I have been looking for a while now to find the pattern for it. Thanks again!

  10. HW says:

    I made myself a skirt like this using this tutorial a couple years ago and still love to wear it! For a women’s dress, I thought the first tier didn’t need to be so full. I took a little off the (waist * 1.5) measurement, making sure it was still roomy enouh to fit over my hips, and then adjusted the measurements of each tier accordingly. In other words, I used a smaller waist measurement. I also made the underskirt longer, mid-calf length since my fabric was thin. I wish I would have cut the underskirt in an A-line shape though. I used a narrow zig zag stitch instead of serging and did not turn under.

  11. Jenny Z says:

    You might have mentioned this, but what type of fabric did you use – just regular cotton (or acrylic mix) or does it need to have some stretch?

    1. Ashley says:

      Yep, I just used a regular light weight cotton. It makes it a bit more breezy and flowy. You could also use something with some stretch in it…but you don’t have to. :)

      Best of luck!

  12. Tena says:

    Love that you’ve done the math, since I did one before that ended up way too full. When I use wide elastic, I stitch in down vertically on the sides and center front and back to keep it from twisting. It doesn’t show and I don’t have to keep straightening it!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh good Tena, glad that’s helpful!

      And that’s a great tip. Depending on the elastic, sometimes I do the same. It really is a great idea though, especially for kids. :)

  13. Laurie Ann says:

    I am dying over this skirt – so adorable. Now I really want to make one for myself….better dust off that sewing machine.

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh good, glad you like it! And yes, dust that sucker off! :)

    2. April Ausdenmoore says:

      Hi Laurie Ann. I just wanted to tell you that I have a sister named Laurie Ann. It was neat to see somebody elses name the same.

  14. Jan says:

    Ashley, I kid you not, I was JUSTthinking this morning about how to make one of these for my daughter. She has a one-room schoolhouse section at school this week where all the kids get to dress in pioneer-type clothes and she needs something for tomorrow. Thanks for the great tutorial, perfect timing to reshare this!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh, how funny. Perfect!!!! Now, get cranking! :)

  15. Camille says:

    Thank you so much for that tutorial, looks great! However, I’m just a bit confused about this step: “Then pull the lining up and push down to the inside of the skirt. Iron that top edge flat.” please can you explain?

    1. Ashley says:

      Hey Camille…..sorry about that. I re-worded it a bit and hopefully that helps. Both in the step you mentioned, and in the previous step when you pin the lining to the skirt. Let me know if it’s still unclear. :)

    2. Camille says:

      much clearer thanks! And congrats on your blog, it’s brilliant and a great source of inspiration!

    3. Ashley says:

      Awwww, thanks Camille! :)

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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