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Pants to Ruffly Skirt Tutorial

When I shared the photos of Lisey’s ruffly skirt with you, several of you requested a photo tutorial. I aim to please, so I hacked up another pair of Lisey’s worn-out khakis to make another skirt and this time, I took pictures.

I did the various steps of this skirt in different areas of my house and it was a rainy, cloudy day, so the color in the photos varies some. My apologies.

Also, I added some text notes to the photos, but it might be a little bit hard to read. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice this until I finished all the photos. Whoops. You can click on each photo to enlarge it, though, and the text should be nice and clear that way.

So, to start you’ll need a pair of pants that have holes in the knees. It’s preferable to have a hole in only one knee because this will provide you with more ruffle material.

Using a seam ripper, take out the crotch seam , part of the leg seams, and the inseam (inseam seam? No, that seems redundant!). You’ll need to do this in the front and the back of the pants.

This is arguably the most annoying part of this project, so I suggest doing it while you’re riding in the car or listening to an audiobook so that you don’t want to rip your hair out at the tedium of seamripping.

Cut the legs off of the pants. Exactly where you cut them off is up to you. I usually cut them even with that piece of fabric that’s folded back in the above picture (I lay it down and then cut even with it).

Here’s how I cut the legs of the original ruffled skirt.

Next, you’ll want to iron under the seams you ripped out of the front and back of the pants (that’s already done in the above photo). There’s not an exact science to this, but you will want to iron before you sew. The new seam will be different than the old one, and the fabric will not willingly go along with your plan unless you iron it.

Here’s what the front should look like (these next two photos are from the original ruffled skirt).

and here’s the back.

Once you’ve got the back and the front ironed, pin the seam to hold it down and sew the length of your new seams. Try to make the new seams consistent with the remains of the old one (for instance, if it’s double stitched, double stitch it).

I only showed the front seam here, but obviously you need to sew the back seam as well.

That’s all you need to do to the top of the skirt! On to the ruffle. To make this, cut the pant legs apart at the seams so that you end up with several strips of fabric (cut the holey knee part out!). These will form the ruffle, but you’ll need to sew them together first.

Put the short ends of two pieces together, right sides together, and sew them. Repeat with the remaining pieces, and your last seam should sew your pieces into a loop.

(I didn’t remember to sew mine into a loop until a little later, so just ignore that in the photos!)

Depending on how things went when you cut the legs into strips, you may will need to do some trimming to make your leg pieces even.

You’ll want to hem the ruffle before you gather it and attach it to the skirt (I tried hemming it afterwards the first time and would not recommend it!). First, iron the edge over about 1/4 inch, and sew along the edge.

Fold and iron the sewn edge over again, and sew around the length. This is the hem of the ruffle, so you’ll want to decide what type of hem will look best…if the rest of the top-stitching on the skirt is double-stitched, then you’ll want to double-stitch the hem. In this case, the skirt was all single-stitched, so I did a simple hem about 5/8 inch from the edge.

Now’s the time to decide how long you want your ruffle to be…hold it up to the top portion of the skirt and cut your about-to-be-ruffled strip to the length you desire. I usually end up deciding to trim mine a bit so that the ruffle looks sort of perky.

Next, using some sturdy thread and a long stitch length, baste around the unfinished edge of the ruffle, leaving thread ends that are long enough to use for gathering.

Gently pull on the top threads to gather the fabric loosely.

Pin the ruffle to the skirt, adjusting the gathering as necessary to make the ruffle fit around the skirt.

Sew the gathered ruffle onto the skirt, making sure to stay just to the left of the gathering threads.

The attached ruffle should look like this once you’ve sewn it on.

To help make the skirt look neat, iron the seam up, like so. Also, it’s a good idea to do a zig-zag stitch around the raw edges of the ruffle so that they’ll resist fraying.

To secure the ruffle and make the skirt look a little more finished, topstitch around the unruffled portion of the skirt, staying close to the edge.

(I have no idea why I took this picture upside down)

And that’s it! The skirt is done. To dress Lisey’s up a little, I made a flower using a tutorial I found thanks to Google.

I hope that wasn’t too confusing. If it was, feel free to check out the ruffled skirt tutorial that inspired mine, as her instructions may be clearer!

Happy refashioning!

Today’s 365 post: Blowing bubbles always makes you go sort of cross-eyed.

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Tuesday 22nd of April 2014

I like the ruffly skirt re-make. So cute. Sewing ruffles can be challenging and when I make ruffles I sew a double gathering stitch--one on the stitch line and one just above the stitch line on the ruffle. When you pull the thread to gather the ruffle it seems to stabilize the gathers and keeps them more uniform. I really helps especially when your making a longer ruffle with lighter weight fabric.

María Gómez

Sunday 1st of September 2013

Wonderful, many thanks!


Monday 25th of October 2010

Thanks for the tutorial on this. my little one has tons of 3T pants that fit her in the waist but not the length. This is a super cute way to keep using those pants. Thank you! Thank you!


Monday 13th of January 2014

I was thinking, if there wasn't holes and it was just a length issue ...could make cute ruffled shorts or capris :) .


Wednesday 13th of October 2010

love it! :-)


Tuesday 12th of October 2010

VERY CUTE, I love the addition of the flower. Did you trim off the extra fabric when you changed the crotch to a straight seam or just leave it?

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