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  • Writer's pictureLonda

How To Shorten a Skirt with Elastic Waist

Short and Simple:  Shortening a skirt with an elastic waist is SO easy!  Here’s how I did it just now as I wanted to take this skirt on vacation with me.


With the skirt on, ‘roll’ the elastic waist and mark the very top of the skirt (rolled up to the length you desire) .  I usually do this with a safety pin so I can’t lose that all-important ‘mark’.

Rip or Cut

If you’re shortening the skirt substantially – more than just 1 ‘roll’, it is honestly easiest to just cut off the original elastic installation.  Then again, if you want to ‘save’ and re-use the elastic (as I did on this skirt as it is my favorite knit elastic), then that’s a good ‘TV job’ as I like to think of it.  For serged finishes, just remember it is those needle threads that hold everything together, so those are the threads to snip and pull.

Extra to Allow for Elastic ‘cover’ 

For this elastic installation, you need to allow just 1/4″ more than the width of the elastic.


  1. Stitch the elastic into a full circle.  I do this by butting the ends on a scrap of fabric and VERY SECURELY stitching, then trimming the fabric excess away.

  2. Quarter the skirt and the elastic and mark.

  3. Match marks and pin the elastic 1/4″ away from the upper raw edge of the garment on the WRONG SIDE.  Place the pins parallel to the elastic towards the left, or FAR side of the elastic – which will be WAY far away from the serging and cutting action.

This task is one of those for which a serger is just wonderful!  As it was impossible to snap a picture while doing it, you’ll just have to ‘imagine’ this next step.

4.  Using a 3 or 4 thread wide stitch, run the edge of the foot along the right edge of the elastic, so that the exces 1/4″ fabric is all that is cut off.  You do NOT want to have the serger cut the elastic.  As you stitch, you’ll be stretching the garment and elastic with your left hand at the rear of the serger and the right hand at the front, keeping your eye on that blade, and foot aligned with the elastic and GO FOR IT!

Here, then is what it should look like from the inside after this step is complete.


Here’s a step that I just bet you might never have thought of doing, but a principle I teach all through my 3 Disc DVD on sewing knits:  Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How.

To BALANCE THE BULK, CLIP at the lowermost edge of the elastic at each and every seamline.  See the photo below.  Doing this and flipping the garment seam the OPPOSITE direction of how the seam has been caught in the serging will make a much finer finish for your garment – less bulk!

NOW for the final step.  Just flip the elastic down towards the body of the garment and stitch! Again, you have to have one hand in back and one hand in front to stretch it as you stitch…(my knee held it taut in the front while I took this picture!).

This step could be done from either the right or the wrong side, but I prefer to do it from the wrong side for some reason.  No comments on the serger tension – it’s not perfect, but it will work!  My sergers are getting a real workout these days will all the serging they are doing for the

Days for Girls charity sewing that has overtaken my Studio when I don’t have students.

I elected to set my zigzag stitch to 3.0 long and 1.0 wide for this stitching since it will endure quite a bit of stretching as the skirt is put on and off.

end look from the outside

I bought this great rayon/lycra print from Marcy Tilton at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo about 6 years ago.  I made this skirt – the Fajita Skirt from LJ designs, and a T.  How can I remember that?  Cause I wore the T to a High School Class reunion with jeans.  The thing is, I’ve worn the T more than this skirt, so it is a bit more faded.  Then again, I’m likely the only one who can tell.  Remember to LINE DRY your rayon knits for a longer life!  I wrote 3 lengthy Blog Posts on Rayon this year.  Find them HERE and HERE and HERE

After I return from vacation, I’m going to ‘dive in’ to Facebook Live, and simple, quick techniques like this are on my list.  Would you tune in?

And, here’s a BONUS for you:  with this Coupon Code, you can get an ADDITIONAL 10% off at my website if you go ahead and place an order.  The code reveals the reason:  patiencesavesyou10 – because all orders received will be shipped/tended to after August 15.  Have fun shopping….especially the LIQUIDATION Department HERE


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