A dirndl skirt can be made using either one piece of fabric or two. Essentially the skirt is a tube, gathered at the top; if the tube is made from one piece of fabric it will have a single seam, placed at the side or the back. Many people prefer to sew two pieces of fabric into a tube, which results in two seams, placed one at each side.
Step One: Cutting Your Fabric
Measure the waist of the future skirt wearer. Double this measurement and add an inch or so for a seam allowance. This is the width of your skirt. If you’re using two pieces of fabric instead of one, use the undoubled waist measurement plus a seam allowance.
The length of your skirt is simply as long as you want it, plus a few inches for hemming the bottom and forming a casing at the top. Cut out your fabric rectangle or rectangles to these dimensions.
Step Two: Sewing Your Skirt Up
Pin the rectangle or rectangles right sides together. Using your predetermined seam allowance, sew up the side or sides of the skirt. Serge or zigzag the raw edges if necessary.
For a cleaner look, make French seams . Pin the rectangle or rectangles WRONG sides together and sew a seam with a narrow seam allowance; the turn the whole thing inside out and sew another seam with a narrow seam allowance, enclosing the raw edges. This is a nifty way to get a professional finish!
Step Three: Hemming Your Skirt
Turn the bottom of the skirt under by a quarter of an inch and press; turn it again to enclose the raw edge, press, pin and sew. Use a decorative stitch if you like. (If you use just one rectangle of fabric for the skirt, it’s possible to hem the skirt before sewing the side seams.
Step Three: Sewing a Casing
At the top edge of the skirt, turn the fabric under by a quarter of an inch and press as you did for the hem. Then turn the fabric under by an inch or two, to give your waistband the desired width. Sew around the waistband, catching the raw turned-under edge. Leave a gap of a few inches to insert the elastic.
Step Four: Inserting the Elastic
Cut a piece of elastic to your waist measurement, snug enough to comfortably hold the skirt up. (Use wide, strong elastic if the skirt is made of heavy material such as denim.) Spear one end of the elastic with a large safety pin and use this pin to guide the elastic through the casing, inserted through the gap. The fabric will gather up around the elastic – keep a tight grip on the other end to prevent it disappearing! Hand-sew the ends of the elastic together with a few strong stitches, and sew up the gap in the casing.
Variations on the Basic Dirndl Skirt
Congratulations – you’ve just made a simple dirndl skirt! In fact, this pattern can be streamlined even further. If you don’t like hemming, use a border print fabric which is sealed at the end to prevent fraying, or choose a fabric which looks good frayed and topstitch half an inch above the hem. If you don’t like casings, shirr the top of the skirt instead.
The skirt can also be jazzed up for a bit of variety. Add a ruffle to the bottom by hemming a strip of fabric twice as long as the skirt’s width, ruffling the upper edge and stitching them together. You can make the skirt fuller by tripling the waist measurement, although this will add bulk to the waist. Using a smaller measurement – say, one and a half times the waist measurement – will make a straighter skirt which is not a traditional dirndl, but is sewn the same way. For small girls, add rick-rack trim, a contrast band or lace around the bottom. Better yet, get them to help sew the skirts! Dirndl skirts are a great way to teach sewing straight seams and the basics of hemming.