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The 10-Minute Skirt (re-purposing old shirts into skirts)

My little Elli (who is 7 years old and just started 2nd grade today…..ack!) is a skirt fanatic.  Well, a dress fanatic too.  I know, I’ve told you that here about a trillion times, so no surprise. But while we were out school clothes shopping a few weeks ago, she would pick up a skirt that she wanted to buy, and I would almost choke while looking at the price tag.  Yeah, $15 for a really simple knit or cotton skirt makes me choke.  And that was the price of the cheaper skirts we would see……because some were even closer to $30.  Come on, that’s crazy for a 7 year old who has bean sprout legs and will most likely outgrow the skirt in 6 months!  So, even though there’s a new baby at home and sometimes just buying things (even though I can make it) makes more sense, I just couldn’t buy any of the skirts she picked out.  I bought her shirts, jeans (but she’d only agree on one pair of those…haha!), leggings, shoes, etc.  But the skirts……I told her to hang those back up because I could whip up several of those in no time.


And by “no time”, I mean 8 minutes……because yep, I timed it.  But I rounded up and call this the 10-Minute Skirt!




And now this girl has 4 new skirts for school, that took me 40 minutes to make!  (Well, more like 32 minutes…..but who’s counting?!  Ha.)




And the reason they are so fast to make?  Well, because I grabbed 4 shirts from the thrift store and kept the original hem and side seams and just added a quick waistband.  And for about $2 per shirt…..that’s much cheaper than $15 a skirt!  (Or, make them at no cost by digging in your own closet.  Surely there’s something in there you don’t wear anymore!)




Once I finished the skirts, I showed them to Elli and she shrieked….and then quickly started to decide which one she wanted to wear on the first day of school.  Haha…..pretty cheap thrill at only $2.00!


And this girl wears skirts year round.  When it gets chilly, she adds leggings.  And when it’s snowy, she adds leggings AND boots.  She has it all figured out! :)




There are many ways to make a skirt…..but adding a quick casing to the top for elastic, is by far the fastest AND easiest.  (Both very important things!)  Also, these could easily be made for teens or even grown women…..if you just find a shirt large enough.  Shop around the extra large sizes and even in the men’s section.  It may just be the exact amount of fabric you need!




I think the biggest reason Elli loves skirts/dresses, is that she feels a little more fancy.  And like she can dance and prance her way through the day.  And that, my friends, is reason enough for me to make her piles and piles of skirts!


I sure love this little girl.  And love that she still lets me make her things.  And thinks it’s pretty cool that she has little bits of her wardrobe that are different from all her friends at school. :)


As long as you enjoy wearing skirts sweet Elli, I’ll keep making them by the dozens! :)



Do you have 10 minutes?  Well, let’s whip up a simple skirt!



  • Old Women’s or Men’s Knit Shirt (the bigger/wider the shirt, the fuller the skirt)
  • 1 inch elastic
  • matching thread

 **I used women’s side medium and size large shirts to make these skirts for my 7 year old, and they were just right. (But all shirts measure differently… keep that in mind!)  Also, you could use this concept to make skirts for teens or even grown women…..if you just find a shirt large enough.  Shop around the extra large sizes and even in the men’s section.  It may just be the exact amount of fabric you need to make a simple skirt!  (A good general rule for how big around a skirt should be is 1.5 – 2 times the measurement of the waist.  SO if the waist measures 20 inches, find a shirt that is 30-40 inches around.  However, if all you have is 25 inches around, go for it!  It’ll just be a straighter skirt, and that’s okay!)





Lay the shirt in front of you and make sure the bottom hem along the front and the back are lined up evenly.  You will be using the shirt hem as your new skirt hem.



Determine the length of skirt you want and then add 1 1/2 inches.  Measure up from the bottom of the shirt and cut off at your needed measurement.  (Since I was making these skirts for my tall 7 year old, I just cut the shirts off right below the sleeves of each shirt.)  **If you’re making skirts for a tiny baby girl and the width of the shirt is just too wide, a good general rule for a skirt width is 1.5 – 2 times the size of the waist.  So, if your baby’s waist is 12 inches, a good width for the skirt all the way around (and before inserting the elastic) is 18 – 24 inches.  If your shirt is too wide, cut off the excess from one side and create a new seam along that side.



Turn the skirt inside out and fold down the top raw edge, 1 1/2 inches.  Pin in place.



Create a seam that is 1 1/4 inch from the top folded edge (which would be 1/4 inch from the bottom raw edge).  Leave a 2 inch opening along the back side of the skirt, for the elastic.



Cut a piece of elastic that is the same length as the waist you’re sewing for.  Insert the elastic (using a safety pin at one end) and thread it through the casing you made in the last step.



Make sure the elastic isn’t twisted at all and then overlap the ends by 1 inch and sew the ends in place with a zig-zag stitch.



Maneuver the elastic back into the skirt casing and sew the opening of the skirt closed.



Distribute the elastic into the skirt evenly.  Then, place a steam iron along the waistband of the skirt flattening the gathers along the waistband.  Ironing will help give the skirt a more professional look… don’t skip it! :)



And that’s it.


Enjoy your super speedy new skirts! :)



Don’t stop re-purposing there! Try these re-purposing projects on for size:


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Ashley Johnston

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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. Lily says:

    I love this idea! I am going to make one for myself out of my dad's shirts.

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  3. Esperanza says:

    Ok, first of all – this is the first time a suggested time frame was actually true! My 8-year-old has been wanting more skirts and they can be pricey, as you mentioned! I just made two in under 20 minutes! Love, love, love!

  4. Traci says:

    I’m going to do this for my 3 yr old as well as for the Operation Christmas Child box she will be helping put together. I should make them matching ones!

  5. Stephanie Murray says:

    Awesome idea! My girls will be very happy to have such skirts. They have few favorites with nice patterns among my tees that are great to be recycled to skirts. Thank you for the idea!

  6. CubNerd says:

    Thanks for sharing! Six skirts made for my granddaughter to start school while watching a movie. It took a little more than 10 min each, but much of the time was to to clear my sewing area, change thread on my serger and to wind a new bobbin. A couple of the shirts were a little wide and I had to take them in and a couple of shirts had quite a curve to them so I took time to straighten them out. I might venture out and use the extra sleeve or shoulder fabric to make pockets in the future.

  7. dreamerMe says:

    im gonna make mine tomorow thank for the help

  8. Marjorie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your brilliant ideas! I realised my first skirt this week and it was so easy I’m going to turn out all her old shirts into skirts !!!

  9. Gema says:

    ¡Una idea excelente! Gracias por compartir. ;)

  10. Poorvi says:

    This is a brilliant idea, however, I do not have any elastic *sadness”. Furthermore, I am a 17yr old girl, with 29″ waist (I know, huge. Have been attempting to lose weight). According to your post, I should use a shirt with a 45″-60″ all around measurement. That’s one huge shirt. Maybe my huge older brother has some huge shirts lying around. Is there anything I could substitute for elastic? Maybe, could I use buttons?

    1. Angie says:

      This is an amazing idea!!!!! and so simple.

      Poorvi – don’t go hating on yourself. You are who you are. As long as the shirt fits your hips you are good – it just won’t be as full.
      You could use fabric to make a tie belt that you thread thru like the elastic but tie in the front or back.

    2. Emily says:

      Don’t be so hard on yourself. I don’t know how you’re proportioned, but my waist is about 30″, but I’m not that big overall, and actually usually wear a size small, or sometimes medium, I just don’t have a very defined waist (my ribcage is about 30.5″ — it’s basically a straight line). As far as t-shirt size, 45″ around would be about a men’s/unisex XXL, which shouldn’t be too hard to find (I’m planning to go to Goodwill and look at plus-size shirts — I was shopping with a larger friend a few months ago, and saw all these gorgeous plus-size clothes that I wished came in my size… now I have a way to turn a plus-size t-shirt into something I could wear). I’m also considering sewing two shirts together as another option — I think that just opening up one of the side seams on each shirt, and sewing the two resulting rectangles into a single tube would work, and it’s not too much extra sewing — just two straight seams that shouldn’t take more than a minute or two each.

      I think it would be tricky to use buttons, but I agree with Angie about the tie belt — that should work pretty well. If you don’t want to deal with hemming the fabric for it, you can also you ribbon for the belt. And the right color belt, tied at the front or side, could be a really cute accent, as well.

  11. Aga says:

    Briliant! thank You so much!!!!

  12. Claire says:

    Thank you so much for this, I have just made my 10year old a fab skirt from a reduced linen adult dress I found. This was so easy and I have only been sewing for 2 months now so a novice!

  13. Beth says:

    This is the BEST tutorial! You inspired me – I had had a bad experience making a skirt for my daughter and was a little burned out on skirt-making. But this really did make it all possible. I honestly can’t thank you enough – and neither can my daughter. :)

    I made four skirts using your tutorial and posted them on my blog with a link back here! (Not that it means much since I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who reads my blog, LOL.)

    Thank you again!!!

  14. Barb says:

    I have a bunch of colorful shirts women’s XL that are now too big on me (lost 50 lbs) – I bet they would work for my 6-yer-old granddaughter, who has to wear skirts on the long-ish side for school. But I can’t sew a lick!

  15. Nancy says:

    This is a magical trick! I made tons of these this summer for myself and for my teenage girls. We used mens t-shirts to make sure the length was decent on us and they were so cute with sandals or keds. To make a straight skirt (which I love!) we cut off one original side seam and just sewed another where we wanted it. We get tons of compliments.

  16. Tabitha says:

    Just came across this link via FB. Thanks for the awesome instructions. As I am very new to sewing, this project is easy enough for me. I also wanted to offer that this seems like a good idea to use to make an AG doll skirt out of the favorite shirt that your younger daughter has outgrown (but won’t give up) or a matching skirt out of the adult shirt (using an arm?)

    Thank you again.

  17. Donna says:

    I helped my granddaughter sew her own skirt. She is so proud and looks so cute in her new skirt. Great idea for beginning seamsters.

  18. Becky says:

    Love this idea!

    Do you think you could make a woman’s skirt by using a mans buttoned shirt?

  19. Rachael says:

    I love that you’ve done this! I did the exact some thing a few months ago, the ugliest $3 top imaginable had my husband looking at me like i was bonkers…but it made the sweetest skirt my daughter has!
    You’ve just inspired me to have another look for some, thank you!

  20. Ilaria says:

    This is a great idea!!! Thanks for sharing. Ciao from Italy! Ilaria

  21. Sarah K says:

    You are brilliant. And I live 2 blocks from the Goodwill (love!!). My second grader is all about skirts and leggings too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  22. Shauna says:

    Only had one suitable knit top in my donate pile but after seeing how stinkin’ easy it was and how much my girlie loved it, I’m planning a goodwill trip tomorrow. You rock!

  23. Tonya says:

    I just came across this idea. It is very cute! I only have a little boy, so I guess I will have to try the idea for some of my friends’ little girls or myself! It is the cutest and creative idea yet :)

  24. Allison says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog today during nap time and now (if I find time) I have lots of things to work on. Thanks for all of the ideas! And great tutorials! I’ll try to post as I have time to try each thing! :) Thanks! Can’t wait to try these skirts!!

  25. Abby C. says:

    Thank you!! I was just shopping for my five year old yesterday and was so frustrated by the SAME thing! I’m raiding my closet and going to the thrift store!

  26. erin says:

    Thanks for the idea and pattern! I had 2 for my potty trainer and 4 for my nieces this afternoon! Everyone loves them! Thank you!

  27. Haley Grossman says:

    I make these for my daughter ALL the time. I have used my old shirts, but my favorite thing to do is buy women’s size XXL camis from Walmart in cute prints….and they are under $4 a piece. I love the navy polka dots right now!

  28. Diane says:

    I made one of these for my 4 year old grand daughter from a hot pink t-shirt that I wore once. She loved it. Awesome up cycling!

  29. Nicole says:

    Love this idea!! I have to head to the thrift store anyway, I think I’ll grab some shirts to make skirts too!!

  30. Anne says:

    My daughter was just begging for a simple gathered skirt at the store the other day. I was planning on getting some fabric to make her some, but now I’m thinking I’ll just raid my shirt closet and do it the quick way. I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow morning that links to your tutorial:

  31. Leslie M says:

    Once again you’ve come up with the coolest idea. I just bought a maxi dress and planned to chop it off and make a shorter dress. Guess what I’m making with the hem?

  32. Jamie Leman says:

    love this for my granddaughters aged 1 and 4 ! I actually just made my daughters (aged 25, 29 and 32, skirts from knit material I had laying around and teeshirts….except I do the yoga waistband from another strip of knit fabric or a tee shirt…. cut a piece about ten inches wide….. fold it and measure the waist…cut and sew the ends together and sew to the skirt part. It’s comfy and fashionable and my daughters love it. One of them is about four months pregnant and she loves the comfort of the waistband so it can expand with her.

  33. Jean says:

    I have also used womans dresses/ skirts to do this as well. That way it is a longer skirt, more like a maxi length.

  34. Artemisa says:

    I have the same problem with my daughter only likes skirts and dresses. Thanks for the post. I’ll go buy cheap shirts now … jajjajaj

  35. Christine says:

    My daughter got a sewing machine for her 6th birthday and Grandma made up a little kit for her to make a cute dress. She included a bodkin in the kit. I had never seen one (I always used a safety pin), but it is so great for threading elastic (or ribbon or…) through casings. Much easier and faster than the safety pin trick. Super cheap tool too! Here is a link to one at JoAnn’s:

  36. Kristina Noall says:

    Sooo cute, and cheap! I have two boys, and I will probably cry a little if my next baby isn’t a girl. ;)
    I wonder if you could use thrift store shirts to make your simple tube skirts, as well?

    1. Nancy says:

      Yes you can! If the shirt is too wide to make a tube just cut off one original side seam and then sew it where you want it. Just be sure it has enough stretch to get it over your hips. I learned that one the hard way.

  37. Kara says:

    You are amazing! :) Thank you for this fun idea!

  38. Gwen says:

    I have two girlie girls at home, they will love this idea. I think a thrift store trip is in order. :)

  39. Bobbie Czajka says:

    This is SO AMAZING! I have a 3 year old granddaughter who will wear anything as long as it is a skirt. What a great way to recycle the shirts no longer worn. Oh boy — look out Miss Kenna!

  40. Kate says:

    Just thought about making a few skirts for my newborn daughter who has tons of hand me down onesies and tops but not many bottoms. Hadn’t thought about how easy this would be. This is perfect! Thanks!

  41. Tena says:

    Super idea, as are all of yours! Re: the question about bunching etc.. I stitch the waistband vertically on the sides and sometimes center front and back to keep elastic in place, especially if not using non-roll elastic.
    P.S. Your daughter’s adorable!

  42. Jodi says:

    Elli is such a cutie! Hope her first day went well!

  43. Janice says:

    Wonderful idea! I have 4 granddaughters to sew for.

  44. Jennifer says:

    I am literally just about to do this with some if my own knit tops for my little girl! Yours are so cute!

  45. Rose says:

    I love your blog and I love this idea. You have given me the courage to make my baby girl some beautiful dresses for summer. With your FANTASTIC MONEY SAVING ideas I plan to make most my baby’s fall wardrobe too. Thank you for all your work and for being a great teacher!

  46. Susan M. says:

    Bet there’s more than a few of us out here in Blogland popping our hand to our head and saying “why didn’t I think of that!”. And just YESTERDAY I sent a bagful of shirts to Goodwill that could’ve been repurposed into some really cute skirts for my two granddaughters!

  47. Elizabeth says:

    This is really a great idea. Each time you put the skirt on do you have to arrange the material around the waist so it is all even? Do you have to tack the elastic on the inside waist band?

    1. Tonya says:

      I made a bunch of these for my girls a couple of years ago and even though they have been washed and dried dozens of times they wear just like any other skirt. Never had to adjust the waistband or fabric for them to be worn.

  48. Lynette says:

    I love the fabrics you found, especially the blue and the pink/yellow one! These are so easy, I love this! Thank you for adding the width idea for tiny baby girls! I’m starting out with a tiny one come Oct, and I know I have several shirts that will make perfect skirts for her. Thanks for not making me think too hard! :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……I understand the thinking thing, it’s a pain! ;)

      And congrats on your baby girl on her way! Now… to the thrift store, right? :)


  49. Kris says:

    My daughter is the same age as your daughter, would you mind telling me what size shirts you started with? Just wondering if they are small women’s shirts or girls shirts. Thanks!

    1. Ashley says:

      Sorry about that….but they were women’s mediums and larges that I ended up using. But all shirts end up having a different shape and size. So because of that, I added more to the tutorial about how much bigger you generally want the shirt than the subject’s actual waist. Hope that’s helpful!

  50. Janet says:

    I love this!!! I wish I had a sewing machine.

    1. Marieke says:

      Knit fabric doesn’t fray, so you could also turn things around and turn the hem into waistband. Just carefully cut it open, insert elastic, close with a few hand stitches, and voila!
      (read that somewhere and thought I’d pass it on)

    2. Anonymous says:

      That is brilliant and I am lazy. I’ll try this! If I get my sewing machine cleaned I might try the full directions too ☺

  51. Kindra S. says:

    My daughter loves skirts too. I got her all these shorts for summer and most of them got worn under her skirts and dresses. lol She has some skirts with the shorts underneath that are attached. This looks like something I can easily whip up, even with a new baby on the way. I plan to get XXL shirts and make 2 matching skirts for big sister and little sister.

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha……sounds like our girls could be friends! :)

      And great idea — matching skirts for the girls! And congrats on your new bundle on her way!

  52. Kara says:

    THe shirts you bought were they children’s shirts, or women’s?

    1. Ashley says:

      They were women’s. (men’s shirts would work too!) That way, they were big enough to cinch in. :)

  53. Heather says:

    Any chance this is possible for adults??

    1. Ashley says:

      Absolutely! You would just have to find a shirt large enough for your specific measurements. Try looking for extra large shirts in the women’s and men’s areas of the thrift store and see if the usable fabric would be long enough for your liking. I also added more about making a skirt in adult sizes in the tutorial and how much bigger you generally want the skirt than your actual waist.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Carol R Spinney says:

      Our schools do not allow skirts without attached shorts. What to do? This is such a great, economical idea.

    3. Tonya says:

      You could use coordinating tee shirts to make shorts for underneath. I used this tutorial to make shorts for under my daughter’s skirts – – but I used thrift store tees for fabric. I used the existing hem for the new shorts hem. Not sure how to attach them to the waistband though, maybe line up the two waistband areas and fold them both down at the same time as you are putting in the elastic or attaching the shorts just under the elastic?

    4. Diana says:

      I’ve had a tutorial pinned for skirts with attached shorts– it’s very similar to this skirt tutorial, so it shouldn’t take much longer! Hope that helps!

    5. Emily says:

      You could make or buy some shorts and sew them into the skirt. Or depending how old your daughter is, you could probably just have her wear a pair of shorts underneath, and tell the school they’re attached. Unless she’s young enough that she might need help going to the bathroom or changing for gym, how would the school know they’re not attached? (And anyway, as long as she’s wearing shorts under the skirt, whether or not they’re attached doesn’t change anything as far as modesty, etc., which I have to assume is the reason the school requires attached shorts).

    6. Liliana says:

      Excelente me gusto mucho, lo guarde en favoritos. Gracias.

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