Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

The Super Easy Paper Bag Waist Skirt Tutorial

Yesterday I posted a tutorial for how to make what I think of as the classic paper bag skirt—pleats, belt, beltloops.  Today, I want to show you the easier option, for those of you who don't want to mess with zippers and pleats.
Here are some inspirations for this type of more playful, basic skirt with smaller, modified paper bag top:
From Banana Republic:
In a crazy cute print like this cute nautical look by Lilly Pulitzer:
Or an even crazier print like this Marc by Marc Jacobs:
Lots of options, although I still recommend a sturdy bottom-weight material.  I'm using this cotton twill my mom had leftover from a project aaaaages ago--just thin pieces along the selvage, but I thought it would work for my little skirt.
  • Here's what you'll need--just the fabric and a piece of elastic about 2" smaller than your waist.  I recommend 1-1.5" wide elastic.
  • Refer to the Classic Paper Bag Waist Skirt tutorial for cutting instructions.  You DO NOT need to cut the belt piece or beltloops, although you could cut the beltloop piece if you want to add them.
  • Go through step 5. of the tutorial (assemble back and side seams).  You don't need a zipper, so sew all three seams (both sides and center back).  SKIP zipper instructions.
  • Do steps 7. and 8. of the tutorial.  Hem the skirt and fold over your overlap. DON'T pleat.
  • Sew down the overlap where I recommend basting or pinning in the Classic tutorial.
  • Sew another row of stitches above the first.  This makes your elastic casing, so make sure it's at least 1/8" larger than the width of your elastic.  Measure if you like and mark with a fabric marker, or just be very careful about your seam allowance and make sure you stay parallel.  *Leave 1-2" open at the center back to insert your elastic at the center back.
  • Grab your elastic (again, somewhere close to 2" smaller than your waist to allow for some movement but also enough tightness to stay up!) and use a safety pin or bodkin to put the elastic through the casing.  Make sure it doesn't twist and try to keep it from curling under as you put it through--you want the elastic to lay flat all around.
  • When you get all the way through, sew the ends together (again, make sure the elastic's not twisted somewhere along the way).
  • Sew the rest of your seam closed!
That's it!
You can wear it any way you want, but I think it works best at the natural waist. 
(Note: Mine has center front and center back seams since I was using a tiny wedge of fabric)
You can wear it with a thin belt like in the pictures:
Or with a belt the width of the casing, or even with a wider belt!
Here's how it looks plain.
 Super easy to make and wear!  I think I might want to make up another one in a funky print later today!


  1. wow! this is amazing. I'm going to try it too ^_^

  2. Ah, I figured the simple paper bag skirt would just be an elastic-waist skirt. I made the non-paper-bag skirt to go under a tutu (for a circus themed party) awhile back.

    These sorts of things take about 15 minutes to make :)

  3. I made a skirt using a similar method, but never thought of moving the elastic down to get the paper bag effect. Love it!

  4. I, too, use this method, minus the extra fabric for the paper bag effect. It's so easy and comfy with the elastic!

  5. Clarissa7/22/2010

    This is great!!! So was the other paper bag waist tutorial. I've been looking for a good tutorial. Thank you for posting!!!

  6. Clarissa7/22/2010

    Oh and I forgot... I was thinking I'd put the belt loops on the elastic waist skirt. I'm sure I could do the zipper version, but I like the way the elastic waist lays better. Thanks again. :D

  7. Thank you for this - I am going to try it as soon as I get a spare minute. I have the perfect material for it already :)

    If it goes well I will post pictures!

  8. Thank you!
    With love, Fleur

  9. Anonymous7/29/2010

    I made it and loooove the results. Thanks so much for the clear tutorial. I am learning so much from your blog.

  10. i die over this and your entire blog!!!!!! literally... ooo-ing and ahhh-ing ...is that green satin skirt that i saw on grosgrain this paper bag tute or is it something else because i NEED to know!!!! love love love!!!!

    ~selina (sis#1)

  11. Thanks!
    Selina, no, this is a different skirt from the green twill one on Grosgrain. That one's here: http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/2010/09/sweetheart-skirt.html
    Thanks for reading!

  12. Hi,
    I tried the paper bag skirt, i done little changes, and used another tutorialtoo, if you want to see is here:
    Thank you for the tutorial:-D

  13. I have TOTALLY been wanting to make this. It is at the level of sewing that suits me.... EASY!
    great post and I love your awesome blog!
    ~Sister #2

  14. Hii, I only just discovered your blog now. How did I miss this, its such a wonderful place :)
    Love it & thanks for sharing!

  15. Very cute skirt,simple and very versatile , 2 of this old woman favorite things and Yes, I call myself an old woman I am a great grand mother with hippy taste and off beat style.I make most of my clothes due to the fact I have fabric stacked to the ceiling and it isn't that poorly woven fall apart after a couple cold water washing's stuff. It is great high quality fabric that I get a rock bottom prices on sale (at least 65% off always).Anyway, thank you for sharing your cute skirt.And part of yourself!

  16. Me gusta mucho tu blog es genial

  17. Hi!
    I love this tutorial and the classic one- would it be possible to fuse them together? As in adding pleats with the elastic bands without the belt loops or zipper? Would the gathering with the elastic bands cause too much trouble with the pleats?


    1. Hi there,
      I've never tried it... the pleats are sewn down, and the elastic needs to stretch, so you'd have to have smaller pleats and would still have gathering! Unless you did a zipper or opening!



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