In this DIY I show you how to make a flat front and elasticated back waistband gathered tartan skirt with pockets – what a mouthful!

I’m usually more of a circle skirt girl, but I really wanted a poofy tartan skirt, hence using the gathered technique. Looking back now, I wish I had made it midi length to add more drama to my look, but, not to worry, I have some more tartan prints that I could experiment with! And I just had to add pockets, because they are pockets, I mean, who doesn’t love pockets?

How to make a skirt with flat front and elasticated waistband | Scarlet Stitch
Tartan Skirt – Made By Me // Bag – Cotton On // Coat – Forever New // Booties – ZARA // Thigh-High Socks – Woolies // Shades – Lentes & Marcos

Limitation inspires creativity.

This is also the first time I tried a flat front with elasticated back waistband combo and I must say, I quite like how comfy and snug it feels compared to other closures like a zipper. I also think using a wider, and thicker elastic would have been better than the one inch I ended up using because I didn’t have anything else on hand. Sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have. Limitation inspires creativity… one of my favourite sayings.

How to make a skirt with flat front and elasticated waistband | Scarlet Stitch How to make a skirt with flat front and elasticated waistband | Scarlet Stitch How to make a skirt with flat front and elasticated waistband | Scarlet Stitch

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What you will need

  • Basic sewing skills
  • Woven tartan fabric of your choice. You’ll need about 1 to 1,5 meters of fabric depending on your size, how gathered you would like your skirt to be (the wider, the more poofy) or how long you would like it to be – mini, midi or maxi.
  • At least 1″ wide elastic – opt for a moderate stretch, thicker, more durable, elastic and not something too thin or flimsy.
  • Thinner, lining type fabric for the pockets (optional) – you can use the main fabric for the inside of your pockets if you want
  • Co-ordinating thread
  • The usual sewing notions – pins, measuring tape, scissors, tailor’s chalk, etc
  • Sewing Machine
  • Serger/Overlocker (Optional)
  • Twin Needle (Optional)


Bodice Measurements | Scarlet Stitch

Right-click the diagram and choose Save as… to download the bigger version if the text is too small to read. Please note that these diagrams are not to exact shape or scale and these measurements should be used as a reference guide only. Don’t forget to include the necessary seam and hem allowances.


1. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the front waistband.

2. Finish the raw edges of the skirt front and back pieces, the front and back waistband, and all four pocket pieces.

3. Mark 2 inches from the top of the skirt sides and sew the pockets in place with a half inch seam allowance.

4. Topstitch the pocket pieces in place.

5. Place the front and back skirt pieces on top of each other, right sides facing, and sew the side seams with a half inch seam allowance. Don’t forget to sew around the pocket area and not straight through it!

6. Press open the side seams.

7. Gather the front of the skirt until the width is about the same as half of your waist circumference measurement.

8. Match up the sides of the front and back waistband, right sides facing, and sew.

9. Fold the entire waistband in half lengthwise and press it in place. Also press a half inch seam allowance all the way around the edge.

10. Match up the side seams of the skirt to the waistband, right sides touching, and pin and sew it all the way around with a half inch seam allowance.

11. Fold the back of the waistband in half and overlap the folded seam allowance edge ever-so-slightly (about 3mm of overlap) and pin on the right side of the back waistband. Then “stitch in the ditch” on the right side and always check to see if you are catching the edge on the underside.

12. Feed your elastic band through the back using a safety pin, secure the ends of the elastic with pins, and sew the side seams of the back waistband in place, ensuring that you are sandwiching the elastic band ends inbetween where you’re sewing the line of stitches. Go over this a few times to reinforce it.

13. Evenly distribute the elastic and place pins at regular intervals. Sew a vertical row of stitches at each point to reinforce the elastic back waistband even further to prevent it from twisting.

14. Fold over the front of the waistband and overlap the folded seam allowance edge ever-so-slightly (about 3mm of overlap) and pin on the right side of the front waistband. Then use the same “stitch in the ditch” method as you have done for the back waistband.

15. Try on your skirt and make any adjustments to the hemline if need be.

16. Hem your skirt by folding it over at least 1″ (give it a press to make it easier to stay in place) and sew on the right side of the fabric with a twin needle. If you don’t have a twin needle, then you can use a single row of stitches as per normal.

17. Finally, give your skirt a good press to set all the stitches and you’re all done!

Sewing tips and tricks

The wider you make your skirt, the more gathers, and the poofier it will be – adjust the widths in the pattern above according to your preference. If you do adjust any of the widths, ensure that the measurements labelled with the same letter are the same.

You can adjust the length of your skirt according to your preference as well – mini, midi or maxi – it’s up to you!

If you don’t have an overlocker or serger, you can use a zigzag stitch and carefully trim the excess.

If you’re unsure about the size, always leave extra room – it’s easier to trim it down and make it smaller to fit you, but it’s not always possible to make it bigger. If you do happen to cut things smaller than intended, this is the time to get creative – perhaps add some contrasting fabric to jazz things up a little.

Give all your seams and hems a good press to set the stitches and to make it look more crisp – if you’re scared of damaging the fabric, use a piece of cotton or a pressing cloth and place it over your dress fabric before pressing.

Bonus Tip!

Have you ever worn a skirt or pants with an elasticated waistband and as you’re pulling it up, the elastic twists? There is nothing more annoying, right? When creating casing for an elasticated waistband, I have figured out a trick that is going to be a game-changer!

First, evenly spread the gathers of the waistband, pulling the encased elastic as wide as possible, then mark with pins vertically at regular intervals – the size of the intervals is up to you (I usually opt for about the width of my hand inbetween each pin). Then, simply sew vertical lines at these regular intervals using a straight stitch and co-ordinating thread – remember to backstitch at the beginning and the end, and trim the loose ends of the thread.

Since the elastic causes the fabric to gather, you won’t see these vertical stitches. And voila! Your elastic will stay put and won’t twist, and it’s going to reduce any annoyance while you’re getting dressed. I haven’t seen this technique before and pretty chuffed that I figured it out!

I’m a self-taught sewist, so the techniques I show you in my video are things that work for me at the time the video has been recorded. It may not necessarily be the “industry” way, but it’s certainly an easy way, and I’m happy to share my learnings with you as I embark on this creative journey!

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