Paneled (Gored) Skirt Instructions


Please save your directions to a file where you can modify it as necessary. It's a good idea to save all your sewing instructions in a folder or sub-directory called "sewing."

Paneled Skirt:

My favorite gored skirt is something I made up. It's swishy and feminine. Using a rotary cutter, cutting mat and a serger takes me probably less than two hours. I use elastic at the waist, and because I am pear shaped the blouses and tops that I wear with these skirts are always brighter or louder than the skirts. I like to wear my skirts long (I coulda been a hippie...).

General Sewing Information:

Approximately half of the panels will be "upside-down," so select a fabric which will look good mixed up like that. A stiff fabric will not work well for this skirt. I use crinkle rayon and wash and dry the fabric by machine before starting. Do not stretch out crinkly fabrics when you cut out the pieces. Instructions for optional pockets are included.

For the 1/4" seams, I use a serger for most parts of the assembly, but an over-edge stitch on your sewing machine (combines straight and zigzag) can work also. Before I had a serger, I used to sew a straight seam followed by overcasting the edges with a zigzag stitch.

Help is Here:

Please read all directions first. If anything is not clear or does not make sense, and a pencil sketch doesn't help, do not hesitate to send me a private message and please reference the offending paragraph.

Top Width:

Measure your hips, and include the belly (if you measure over one bump and under the other, it will accentuate both, and look awful - you don't have to ask me how I know). If your complete hip measurement is no more than 48 inches, use A=5.5", B=10.5", and skip to Length section.

The Math:

Take that hip measurement and multiply by 1.1 then divide that number by the number of gores you want (an even number). Take that result and add 1/2" then round up to the next 1/4". My skirts have 10 gores and my end-result, rounded-up number is 5.5". Measurement A, top width of the unassembled gores, for me is 44 x 1.1 / 10 + 0.5 + round up = 5.5".

The purpose of all this is to have a waistband measurement that fits easily around the biggest part of your lower body while also allowing for 1/4" seam allowances. In my example, the finished width of the top of each gore is 5" (5.5" - 0.5" for seam allowances).

Bottom Width:

Decide how much flare you want. You can see approximately how much flare my skirt has by placing two measuring sticks 5.5" apart at one end and 10.5" apart at the other end (this will form the illusion of a balanced four-sided figure). Maintaining that angle, move your sticks back and forth so the top distance = measurement A. When you like what you see, the bottom measurement will be measurement B. Measurement B is actually the finished bottom width + 1/2" (includes seam allowances).


Decide how long you want the skirt. Take that amount and add twice the elastic width (1", 2", 3", pick the width of your favorite waistband elastic). If you prefer elastic in a casing, add another 3/8" for that. Also add 3/8" for the hem (if you feel that you are prone to mistakes or need a fudge factor, add an inch). That's measurement C: the length of your panels.

Prepare the Fabric:

Straighten one end of the pretreated fabric. Use your own method, or my shortcut method: Lay out the fabric, folded so that the selvedges meet and the fabric is not twisted. Straighten one end by cutting with the rotary cutter and measuring stick or T-square. Measure up both sides from the cut edge to distance C. Cut the fabric across here. Unfold this piece and prepare to place pins along the cut edges.

First Pins:

Starting at one selvedge, place a pin into each cut edge, parallel to the selvedge and the same distance from the selvedge (at least 1/4" from the selvedge, or where the printed design starts). On one cut edge, place a pin B distance away, then A distance away, alternating B and A measurements all the way across. When you approach the other selvedge, if it's less than a full amount (A or B), stop pinning.

Second Pins:

Measurement D = (A - B) / 2. For me, this is 2.5". On the other cut edge, place a pin D measurement away, then A measurement away, then B measurement away, alternating A and B measurements all the way across. When you approach the other selvedge, if it's less than a full amount (A or B), stop pinning. If you look closely, you can imagine the shapes of alternating wedges with their points cut off.

Prepare more fabric:

Count how many complete panels you have pinned, and determine how many more lengths of fabric you need to cut. If your fabric yielded 4 panels and you need 10 panels, you will need two more lengths of fabric. If your fabric yielded 5 panels and you need 10 panels, you will need only one more length of fabric. Cut these additional lengths of fabric and place them under the pinned piece, aligning the cut edges and the selvedges.

Cut the Wedges:

Place a measuring stick (or cutting guide) so that the stick crosses the cut edge of the fabric at the same place where the pin crosses the cut edge. Pull out both pins involved and cut (the first piece will be discarded because it is less than half a piece). Swivel the stick, align it, pull the pins, and cut the next line. Repeat this until you get to the last pins.

Cut to Allow for Waistband:

Measurement E = twice the elastic width (plus casing allowance, if you plan to do it that way). Allow for the waistband elastic by making stacks of 4 or 5 layers of panels, having the narrow ends and outer edges aligned. Do the following to each stack, one at a time: Square up the stack on the cutting mat with the vertical center line of the stack following a line on the mat. Place the measuring stick or T-square down the center of the panels, parallel to the center line. Align the edge with one corner of the top edges of the panels. Starting at this top edge, cut for distance E, then taper out to a point on the edge of the panel approximately 8 - 12" down. Cut the other side the same way, starting at the top. The top should now look like a rectangle on top of a wedge. This prevents excess fabric from bunching up at the elastic.

Make Pocket Pattern:

Lay a piece of tracing material (any kind of paper, non-fusible interfacing, or pattern tracing paper) over one of the panels, lining up a straight edge of it to a point 1/4" less than distance E from the top edge of the panel. If you are using an elastic casing, lay it 1/2" less than distance E from the top edge of the panel. Draw the bottom line parallel to that 12" away, or to the length you want. If you want double-layer pockets (they will hang freely inside the skirt), make this a curved line instead. Trace the outer edges of the panel down to that line.

Cut Pockets:

If you want single-layer pockets, where the top-stitching will show on the outside of the skirt, cut two pocket pieces. If you want your pockets to hang freely inside the skirt, cut four pocket pieces. Finish all pocket edges (except top edge) with an overedge stitch, them steam press.

Start Sewing:

With panels right sides together, stitch the 1/4" seams from top to bottom. If you want pockets, make sure that half the panels are stitched together separately from the other half of the panels, to make a "front" and "back" assembly. Steam press each seam flat (right sides are still together), then press them to one side with the seam allowance all going in the same direction. If you do not want pockets, stitch them all together and continue to the "Elastic Application" of your choice.

Start Pockets:

Lay out the "back" assembly, right side up. Place a pin on the outer edge of an end panel, the distance from the top as determined in "Make Pocket Pattern" paragraph. Lay one pocket piece, right side down, with its top edge at the pin. Remove the pin and stitch the pocket to the raw edge of the panel. Steam press the seam, first flat, then with the seam allowance towards the pocket. Attach an other pocket piece to the opposite edge of the "back" assembly. If you are making double-layer pockets, also use the "front" assembly, and repeat these instructions with two remaining pocket pieces.

Second Pocket Step:

Lay "front" assembly over "back" assembly, right sides together, top and end edges matching at side seams, pocket piece(s) extending beyond the raw edges of the side seams. Pin together at raw edges 1" from the top of the pocket piece(s), and again 6" below that, for the pocket opening (make it longer if you like). Straight stitch front to back of side seams in pocket area starting at the top of the pocket, basting the opening. If you are making double-layer pockets, this stitching should continue for another 2". Steam press the seam flat, then open. Topstitch the front piece at the pocket opening (stitching goes through the front seam allowance or through the front pocket piece, if used).

Side Seams:

Stitch the rest of the side seams. If you are making double-layered pockets, stitch the lower and outer edges of the pockets together, baste top of pockets to front, and continue to the "Elastic Application" of your choice.

Third Pocket Step:

For the single-layer pockets, press the side seams and pocket pieces towards the front. Pin the pockets to the front, baste the top edge, and top-stitch the two remaining loose pocket edges.

Casing Elastic Application:

Serge finish the top edge of the skirt. If you want a casing, fold the top edge to the inside at a distance equal to the elastic width plus the casing allowance. Stitch this down 1/4" from the just-finished edge, leaving an opening. Insert elastic, check the length, stitch elastic together, and close that casing opening. Continue to Hem.

Stitched-on Elastic Application:

Pin the elastic around your waist, and wear it for a while (unless you already know how much to use). Overlap the elastic at the right place, zigzag together, and trim the loose ends. Quarter-mark the elastic with marking pen using long lines, and draw short lines halfway between them, thus marking the elastic into eight sections. Quarter-mark the top edge of the skirt with pins, then into eighths. With the skirt wrong-side out, and the elastic entirely on top of the skirt, pin the elastic to the wrong side of the skirt. With very large zigzag stitches, sew the edge of the elastic to the edge of the skirt, stretching as you go. Turn to the inside, and you will see that the elastic is entirely covered by the fabric. From the inside, pin through all layers at each seam at the edge of the elastic. Stitch with medium zigzag stitches at the lower edge of the elastic.


Hang up the skirt for a day or two. Try it on to see if the hem is even to the floor. If the lower edge of the skirt turned out terribly crooked (due to fabric variations, of course), lay it out on the cutting mat and even it out with the rotary blade. Serge finish the bottom edge, stretching the fabric and evening it out as you go along. Turn the edge under about 3/8" while topstitching, stretching as you go.