9 June 2012

How to Make a Picnic Blanket Skirt: Part 3

Part 3: Gathering, attaching skirt to waistband, hemming, buttonholes

This is the final part of How to Make a Picnic Blanket Skirt (see also part 1 and part 2). Just a few more steps and you'll have your own button-down gathered skirt. Yay!

4) Gathering:

- To help make the placement of the gathers nice and even, put some little markings along the bottom edge of the front waistband piece (the interfaced one) where the side seams and centre back of the skirt should go. Mark the centre back of the skirt too.

- Gather stitch along the top of the skirt by sewing three rows of long stitches (preferably in a different colour thread) parallel to each other and leaving long thread tails at the ends for pulling. Tilly Tip: If you try to gather stitch along the entire length of the top of the skirt, your threads will probably snap as there is so much fabric to gather. Instead, divide the skirt into four segments and gather stitch each separately – left front piece, left side seam to centre back of back piece, centre back to right side seam of back piece, right front piece.

- Form the gathers on one of these segments by holding the three threads from one end of the stitching and pulling on them as you use your other hand to help the fabric scrunch up evenly. Keep doing this until the gathers are nice and even and the skirt pieces fit the matching segment of the waistband (the waistband markings should come in handy here).

5) Attaching skirt to waistband:

- Place the front waistband piece on top of the skirt right sides together. Pin this segment of the skirt to the matching segment of the bottom edge of the front waistband piece only (NOT the back waistband piece) using lots of pins to keep the gathers in place. Then gather and pin in the same way along the other segments of the skirt.

- If you’re more patient than I am, baste. If not, just skip straight to the stitching part, sewing the front waistband piece to the top of the skirt, being careful not to catch the back (non-interfaced) waistband piece.

- Tilly Tip: If your fabric is on the heavy side, stitch again to reinforce it as you’ll have quite a weight of fabric hanging down from a relatively small waistband.

- Remove the gather stitches. This is why it’s a good idea to sew them in a different colour – so you can more easily identify which stitches to rip out.

- Press the waistband away from the skirt.

- On the back (non-interfaced) waistband piece, press the seam allowance up (wrong sides together) and pin it to the other side of the skirt.

- If you’re more patient than I am, slipstitch by hand. If like me you can’t wait to finish this beauty, machine stitch - topstitch on the front/outside of the waistband close to the seam line.

6) Hem it:

A few people who've sewn this skirt said they prefer to do the buttons and buttonholes before hemming so they can make sure both sides match up at the hemline. If your fabric isn't geometric like mine - and thus not so easy to line up each side - this is probably a good idea. Personally I prefer to do the hemming first so I know how many buttonholes to add.

- Because you’ve got lots of fabric hanging down, it’s a good idea to let the skirt hang for a few hours or overnight before hemming in case the fabric stretches.

- Try it on and adjust the hemline if necessary so you’re comfortable with the length.

- If you went with a 2” hem allowance, fold it up by just a tiny bit under 1” and press, then by another 1” and press again, then pin in place. Again, if you’re patient you can slipstitch the hem by hand, but remember you’ve got a lot of fabric there to cover! Otherwise go for a machine stitched hem. You could try a decorative topstitch like I did on my Thinking in Shapes Skirt to make a feature out of your laziness!

7) Buttons and buttonholes:

- On the right placket, you need to mark the buttonholes. First mark the vertical position with little dots or crosses. You’ll definitely want one on the waistband, then you’ll want to place the rest evenly down the length of the skirt, maybe around 3” apart from each other.

- Next mark horizontal lines for each buttonhole. If you’re using a flat ¾” button, the buttonhole will need to be 7/8” long. The buttonhole should start 1/8” from the left and overlap the centre of the placket (the “fitting line”) by 1/8”. The buttonholes don’t sit dead centre as you want the buttons themselves to be centred and the buttons will slide towards the right edge of the holes.

- Stitch your buttonholes.

- Now you need to mark the positions of the buttons on the left placket. Overlay the plackets as if you’re buttoning up the skirt, then pin them together evenly. Slip your marker (chalk pencil, washable pen…) through each buttonhole to mark the vertical positions along the left placket. The horizontal position should be dead centre to the button stand, but you may want to adjust the waistband one slightly to your preference while trying on the skirt.

- Sew the buttons onto the left placket.

Ta da! You’re done!

If you make your own Picnic Blanket Skirt, I’d love to see it! Please do share a link below to your blog, Pinterest, Flickr or wherever. I may feature the pictures in a future post so if you’d rather I didn’t borrow your image just leave a note with the link in the comments.

I hope you enjoyed this how to! There are a lot of figures involved and it took a looooong time to put these together typing into the night, so if you spot any mistakes, let me know so I can correct them. Hopefully you find this useful though :)


  1. Thank you Tilly, for the excellent tutorial. I'm totally inspired by you. I absolutely love your blog and look forward to lots more fun and super cute ideas! :)

  2. I love this skirt. I've bought some red gingham to make this. Thanks again for the tutorial Tilly.

  3. Love the tute and the skirt.

  4. Thanks for a great tutorial! Very inspiring. I now wish I'd made something like this out of my lawn chair fabric, instead of the dress I made which now doesn't fit. :( Ah, well.

  5. Love it! Especially the contrasting buttons :)

  6. Mine is finished! I'm planning to post about it this week, so will let you know when I do.

    1. Awesome! Can't wait to see it...

  7. All done! You can see the images here on my blog - I've called mine a Tea Party Skirt... you will see why! http://sewbusylizzy.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/tea-party-skirt-aka-tillys-picnic-blanket-skirt/

  8. Great tutorial! I have fabric picked out and just have to find a block of time to get to it. The skirt looks fabulous.

  9. I've finished! My first time sewing button holes too!
    I'd like to do it again with gingham sometime soon, I think I'll be getting a lot of wear out of it. Hopefully will put completed images on my blog soon.
    Thanks for great tutorial!

  10. Thank you for taking the time to do this! Now the search begins for the prefect fabric... :)

  11. Blogged!


    Thanks for the tutorial, Tilly!

  12. Hey Tilly, way behind on my blog reading so only just seen this. Lovely tute!

  13. This is such a great tutorial Tilly! I'm so excited about my own version which I hope to finish up on Saturday and post about on Sunday...this week has been rubbish in terms of finding time to sew :o(

  14. Thank you for this great tutorial! It was really easy to follow! I have finally finished my version too! :)

  15. Yay, I finished my Picnic at the Beach skirt, all thanks to your wonderful tutorial! I'm so happy with the result! http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/picnic-at-beach-tilly-skirt.html

  16. Hi Tilly,Thank you for this tutorial, it was so easy to follow for a mega quick and great result you can see my verion here :http://thatssewcharlotte.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/264/

  17. Hi Tilly, I love this tutorial, thank you so much for sharing, I've just posted about my finished skirt, you can see it here: http://thepinandthimble.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/finished-tie-dye-picnic-skirt.html

    Thanks again x

  18. Hi Tilly, I just wanted to let you know that I've made two skirts. I've just put some photos on my blog http://ozzyblackbeard.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/tillys-picnic-blanket-skirt-x-2.html

    Thank you once again for taking the time to make this tutorial, it's very much appreciated! And it was really easy to follow the instructions, I had no problems with it. Lynne :)

  19. Hi Tilly. I've finished my skirt, pictures here on my blog: http://denimskirtsandotherstuff.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/red-gingham-picnic-skirt.html

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  20. Hi Tilly
    Hope the hand is recovering! Have finally made my Picnic Blanket Skirt.


    Thanks so much for such a great tutorial! This was my first time ever making anything wearable and it FITS!!! Fantastic explanation of how to work out the measurements for the skirt. Thanks :) Jill

    1. It's lovely! Hope you don't mind if I add it to my Pinterest pool.

  21. This is my next project! I'm going to give it a go. Just spent an hour reading parts 1-3 and googling some of the 'sewing terms' such as: "slipstitch", "placket" and "press the seam allowance up" (sorry, not in with the technical terms yet). Going to go on a little hunt over the next few days to find me some beautiful fabric, then will set to work maybe Friday or over the weekend. I have never done a button hole before, so this could get interesting.. think I will be practicing a few first!

    Watch this space.......... :)

    Sam xx

  22. Hello, did I see you on The Great British Sewing Bee? Zoe xx

  23. I love this tutorial! Thank you very much for it. I will try this pretty skirt when I can get some free time, it's now in my to do list.

  24. Hi Tilly and team. Thanks for this great tutorial. I'm working on this skirt and am making good progress but I'm really stumped by this bit:

    - To help make the placement of the gathers nice and even, put some little markings along the bottom edge of the front waistband piece (the interfaced one) where the side seams and centre back of the skirt should go. Mark the centre back of the skirt too.

    I can't seem to work out how I would know these markings? Could you help me or direct me to the bit I need to re-read? I can't work out exactly where I would mark or what to take into account e.g. the button bit, etc. My waistband measurements started as 33 3/4" x 2.5" before sewing. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ghost in the Post!

      Divide your waistband into four equal sections, and put a small snip at the three points that divide these sections. When you come to add gather stitching to your skirt piece in four sections, you can then pin where the rows of stitching start and finish to these snipped points on the waistband - hopefully this should make the gathering more even and easier to handle!

      I hope this makes sense!
      Good luck and happy sewing :)

    2. Thanks for your quick reply! I wasn't sure if it could be as simple as all that as I didn't know whether allowing for the placket and whatnot would mean the sections weren't equal or something. Right, I shall measure and crack on :)


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