African Maxi Skirt

Hello my loves!

As promised, I am here to talk about my African maxi skirt! From my previous post, I had talked about this being my obsession- my addiction. When I don’t have anything else to sew, this is a quick and easy project that I can do with any cotton fabric. I have yet to try this pattern in any other fabric but I personally like the idea of cotton fabrics, it’s fuller and you can press the h*ll out of it (gotta love a fabric that can embrace heat).

As I said before in my previous post, I was working on a new African skirt that was dashiki looking fabric.


This skirt does not have a pattern- it is a plain and simple step-by-step instructions.

What You Need:

3 yds. of preferred fabric
Measuring tape
Latch hook-and-eye
Handstitch sewing needle
Matching thread to fabric
7″ Regular Zipper
Tailor’s Chalk

Say you buy your fabric from JoAnn’s, the way it appears on the bolt is not the way you want it. The three yards of fabric you get, fold it so that the selvages are on the either side of the fabric. I call this the hamburger style *if you’re aware of the hotdog- this being width wise- and the hamburger- this being length wise*.

Image result for fabric with selvages
Very Shannon,
(This is how it should look, with the fold on either the top or bottom)

There are two different lengths that I have made these skirts with: midi and maxi. But it all truly depends on how long you want it. You take your tape measure, feel for your natural waist (not your hips, sometimes these two things get confused):

Once the end of the tape measure is at your waist, measure down the side of your leg to your desired length. This would be easier with someone measuring down your leg for you. Once you have your measurement for how long you want it, go to your fabric and measure along the fold and take your scissors and snip at your desired length. Taking your ruler, line it up with that snip and draw a line with Tailor’s Chalk across the fabric, this will help you cut a straight line for your hem.

After you’ve traced and cut, take your fabric and fold it right sides together. Take your ruler again and measure from the top (whichever you decide is the top or bottom) down seven inches- this’ll be for your zipper- once you hit seven inches, put a pin indicating where you start sewing. (This should at the opening opposite of your fold- this’ll be your one and only seam) Some patterns would say baste stitch where your zipper would go but I prefer not to. Stitch from the pin at the seven inch mark all the way down to the bottom of the fabric- don’t forget to backstitch.

After stitching your one seam, go to the iron and press your seam open, doing the same to the unstitched portion for your zipper- this’ll be easier to install your zipper and it looks cleaner once finished. Going to the bottom of your skirt, measure 1/2-1″ for your hem, press, pin then stitch.

After you sew your hem, go back to the opening you left for your zipper. There are many ways to install your zipper and I personally don’t follow the guidelines of how to “properly” install one. In posts to come, I will follow up with how I do mine because I believe other instructions are too difficult. But if you can install a zipper while following instructions- props to you.

Taking your hand stitching needle with matching thread and thread it up. I usually eyeball how much thread I use, it’s okay if you have more than what you need, it’s better to have more than not enough. With this, you go to the top of your skirt and begin to gather your skirt. Now you can do this with the sewing machine, but having tried it only once, I find sewing it on the machine is more tedious and time consuming than just hand stitching it. How to gather your skirt basically doing the motion “under, over, under, over”. Don’t forget to pull your thread to make it bunch up, that’s what gives it the gathered up look. *There will be a link below on how to do this step*

Image result for Hand Stitch gatheringLove to Sew Studios,

Do this all the way around the waist of your skirt until you get to the end. Now the way it’ll look will be smaller than your actual waist- this is understood. Now take the measuring tape again and measure around your natural waist. This is a high-waisted skirt. Now with the number of your natural waist, add about five inches. This gives you breathing room which is a must for me- especially if I go out to eat.

If you want a thick waistband, measure out seven inches for the height of your waistband. If you would like a thin waistband, measure out three inches for the height. Then the measurement of your waist with the added five inches, measure out how long that is.

For me, my natural waist was twenty-nine, so with the added five inches it came out to thirty-four inches. And I preferred the seven inch waistband so it was 34″x7″.

Take your waistband that you cut out and cut the outline of it in your interfacing. Once doing that, apply the bumpy side of the interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric, pressing it down for about five minutes to ensure that it’s fully glued on and stiff. After that, fold down about half an inch and press it down.

Taking your waistband on the nonfolded edge and your now gathered skirt, have right sides together and begin to pin your waistband around the skirt. Be gentle with this process because if your thread pops in your skirt, you’ll have to redo it. Put a couple of gathers between each pin, trying to make it even all the way around. You want your waistband to lay down flat, not puckered up. Once finished, take your skirt to your sewing machine and sew on 5/8. Make sure that your zipper is open, not closed. Now sewing this part is very tedious, do not rush, take your time. Again- don’t forget to backstitch!

Once you finish, go back to the ironing board and fold over the side of the waistband that you pressed down. Fold it over the stitch from sewing the waistband. This is to conceal the gathers you made with the hand sewing needle and to make it have a clean finish.

Now with this, I’d suggest stitch in the ditch. It is an easy way to conceal your stitches from the outside but still ensure that you are sewing something together. With this, turn your skirt to the right side, and go to the seam that you sewed your waistband. Adjust the seam under the presser foot and the needle directly inside the seam and begin to stitch. Prior to this, pin the folded edge of the waistband directly beneath the seam you made so you know that when you stitch in the ditch, you are picking up the back of the waistband.

Take your time with this as well, trust me it’ll be worth it.

Lastly, you install your latch hook and eye in the waistband. The eye would be on the left, the hook on the right. It doesn’t matter where you place it, it depends on what makes you comfortable.

I hope this step-by-step process was helpful- I apologize that there’s not a lot of pictures.


p.s. Here is the link to understand how to gather with either the sewing machine or by hand.

Hope it was helpful- until next time.




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