gathered skirt with attached shorts | easy sewing tutorial

how to make a gathered skirt with attached shorts sewing tutorial

My little girl loves dresses and skirts, and lately she’s been insisting that they “float up” when she twirls. Gathered skirts are easy enough to make, but I end up spending the whole day reminding her to put her skirt back down and make sure her undies are covered. So I figured out how to make a simple gathered skirt with knit shorts attached! It’s all one piece, so it looks like she’s just wearing a cute, twirly skirt:

how to make a gathered skirt with attached shorts sewing tutorial

But when she actually twirls (or hangs upside down on the jungle gym) you see the shorts underneath instead of her Minnie Mouse undies.

how to make a gathered skirt with attached shorts sewing tutorial


What’s even better is that I made this skirt/shorts combo from a thrifted men’s tee, meaning it only cost $1! Here’s how I made this easy gathered skirt with attached shorts:

I measured from my daughter’s waist to just above her knee (10 inches) and cut that much off the bottom of the tee to use for the skirt.


Next, I used a pair of leggings that fit her well to cut shorts pieces from the top of the shirt (remember to add seam allowance). There will be 4 pieces for the shorts.


Finally, I cut a rectangle for the waistband – 3 inches tall and wide enough to go around my daughter’s waist. (I used material from the sleeves for this). Remember, the stretch needs to go along the length of this piece.


I started by sewing the shorts together along the dotted lines below – down the outside of each leg and then down the inside of each leg.


The I turned one leg right side out, and slid it into the other leg which was inside out. I sewed the two legs together along the rise (the crotch seam). Turn everything right side out, and you have shorts.

Next, I cut the waistline a little in the front of the shorts and the front of the skirt, as you can see below. This is important when sewing for toddlers since their little tummies stick out. If you don’t lower the front, the skirt will end up being longer in front than in back. If your toddler still wears diapers you’ll want to lower the front even more than what’s shown here.


I sewed a gathering stitch (long stitch length, lo tension) along the top of the skirt piece and gathered it until it was the same width as the top of the shorts (not shown).

The next step is to get the waistband ready. Sew the two short ends together as shown below, leaving a scant 1 inch opening on the lower half (1st photo below). Then fold the band in half and press. You’ll see that at the seam you have an opening where you’ll be able to thread elastic through (2nd photo below).


Now it’s time to put all the pieces together! First the shorts to inside the skirt (both right side out), and then the waistband goes on top of that, with raw edges together. The hold for the elastic should be on the outside at this point.

how to make a gathered skirt with attached shorts sewing tutorial

Pin all three pieces together – you can see what it looks like below. Shorts on the inside, gathered skirt next, waistband on the outside.


Sew around all the raw edges to connect everything. Then cut a piece of 1-inch elastic to 1 inch smaller than the waist measurement, and thread it through the waistband. Sew the ends of the elastic together, and your skirt/shorts combo is done!



Since knit doesn’t fray, I didn’t even worry about hemming the shorts. It probably took about an hour start to finish, including taking photos, so I bet it will go even faster next time.

how to make a gathered skirt with attached shorts sewing tutorial


  1. 1

    Susan Seal says

    Awesome! I need this for my almost 4 yr old granddaughter. I can just see her in all the poses of your adorable model! Thanks so much for the free tutorial. Your instructions are always so easy to follow!

  2. 4

    JWn says

    Oh my gosh, this is timely and perfect!! My 5 girls are staunch skirt wearers, but they play hard too. I LOVE that you did these from a tee shirt. I’ve made tons of cotton skirts, but have wanted to do more knit ones as they seem more casual and play-appropriate. However, knit material seems so expensive. Thanks for sharing this – I think I’ll be trying it out later today.

    Did you make your daughter’s shirt too?

    • 5

      autumn says

      5 girls – how fun! I great up with 5 sisters. We made lots of gathered skirts with leggings to wear under back in the day 😉 With your older girls you’ll probably need to use 2 shirts – one for the skirt and one for the shorts – but I find men’s tees are often only a dollar or two at the thrift store (and even cheaper at garage sales!).

      I didn’t make the shirt – but I did shorten the sleeves – tutorial for that is up now!

      • 6

        Christian Cunard says

        Love this idea. I have been wanting to find something like this that is easy. My daughters are tomboys (have older brothers) and these are something she likes. She also loves putting leggings under her skirts too. I will have to try this with printed Ts too. She loves patterns and prints too.

        Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

  3. 10

    Elizabeth says

    What a super idea. I plan to make my only granddaughter, who enjoys wearing skirts thanks so much. I have enjoyed your blog very much , keep up the great ideas

    • 14

      autumn says

      It’s a great idea – I teach primary at church and we are constantly telling the little girls to put their skirts back down – shorts underneath should be standard for little ones!

  4. 15

    CTY says

    I would love to make these–but I am having a problem with the orientation of the shorts. The photo with the leggins shows the leggings right side up– but the traced pieces in the photo next to it looks like they are upside down. Are they? Slipping one leg into the other are all 4 of the crotch layers sewn together? The photo seems to sew two lines with 2 layers each line. Anyway, I think I’ll practice on a few stained tees that are ready for the rag bag.

    • 16

      autumn says

      Yes, sewing shorts can be super confusing because they look very similar right side up or upside-down. They are actually right side (waist) up in all the photos in the tutorial. The part that has a slight curve is the rise, or center seam than goes from center back, under the crotch, and back up center front. And then when you slip one leg into the other you’re not sewing all 4 layers together – it’s hard to show in a photo, but you’re actually sewing a big “U” shape with just two layers together the whole time. I probably should have taken the photo from a different angle so you could see the sewing line better. I think it will make sense once you give it a try, or you can take a look at this tutorial: It shows a slightly different way to do that step that might be easier to follow. Good luck!

  5. 19

    Rebecca b says

    My daughter is in 2nd grade. She spends all of her time on the monkey bars at home and at school. And she’s always in a skirt. Usually we just slap some leggings on her or a pair of shorts. This is a great alternative. We’ll probably be making a dozen for the start of school. Thanks.

  6. 20

    Rebecca says

    Love this thank you so much! I actually have some old worn out shirts of my husbands that I was trying to figure out how to use and I think this might just be the ticket. Especially since my oldest needs more skorts and they are harder to find in her size. Even if I only use his t-shirts for the shorts underneath with a coordinating print on top it helps save some money. Thanks!

  7. 21

    Elizabeth says

    You could use the armhole edge for the center line of the shorts so that you would have the side of the tee shirt in the center of the shorts…cuts down on one seam and gives a nicer feel for the center of the shorts : ) Great idea, though. My girls are 13 & 15 now, so we need more fabric than one tee shirt would give. DD #2 would still love this, though!

  8. 23

    AbBy says

    This is an awesome idea! Could you flip the set up? Trim the top of the t-shirt to be the waist, invert the sleeves for pockets & make the shorts from the lower half? My monkeys don’t like being Katy-No-Pockets.

  9. 25

    Michelle says

    Great tutorial. My 3 yr old daughter is in gymnastics and now I can make her own skorts to wear….Naturally she a girly girl/tomboy at heart…now she can flip all she wants.

  10. 27

    Angela Worrell says

    This is so nice, much more than I expected. My 5 year old granddaughter loves dresses & skirts too, but papa always insist on her wearing shorts or pants underneath. So we’ll make some of these and kill two birds with one stone.
    They are super cute and the t-shirt idea is awesome. Thanks

  11. 28

    Barbie says

    Im in the process of making my twin girls some skirts with leggings and didnt know how to attach the shorts/leggings part. Now im rethinking on my pattern, haha. Nicely done. Also love your little model there. Her with her shoes on the wrong feet. my girls are 6 and still do that. thanks again for the tutorial.

  12. 29

    MKEgal says

    This seems so easy!
    Here’s hoping I can scale it up to adult size…
    I’d prefer a skort or culottes, but this would work fine too.

  13. 30

    Prue Pennington says

    Hi Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous skirt with attached shorts, just what I need for my energetic granddaughter. She too loves wearing skirts and spends most of her time upside down, with undies on show practicing her hand stands and cartwheels..I’ve got quite a few large t-shirts I can use. I can’t wait to get started..
    Thanks again much appreciated


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