The Milkmaid Skirt for Grown-Up Girls: A Tutorial

My very first ever tutorial for this here blog was the Milkmaid Skirt.

2 years later, it remained our number 1 most visited post.  It’s been pushed down in the ranks a little since then due to some other tutorials that have gone viral on pinterest, but it still remains a favorite.

Since it has been so popular, and because I am so very grateful to the many people who have taken the time to read and use that tutorial, I thought it needed a little update.  I’ve always wanted my own, so I decided it was high time for a Milkmaid Skirt for Grown-up Girls tutorial.

Here are a couple tips if you want to alter the milkmaid skirt for your very own adult self.  My main thought during construction was to keep the skirt as simple and unadorned as possible for maximum wearability.  It’s definitely fun to sew and occasionally wear statement pieces, but I needed something that would blend with my store-bought wardrobe and be suitable for every-other-day wear this summer.

–  The children’s version has a flat front waistband with elastic in the back.  This is fine for adults, but I noticed that all of my store-bought skirts that used elastic had it all the way around.  They also usually use a wide elastic, instead of the 1″ or so that is used for children.  I used 2 1/4 inch elastic.  The main reason I wanted to use a full elastic waistline was to eliminate the need for a zip-up curved waistband.  They can be a little trickier, and I don’t know about you, but zip-up waistbands tend to cut into my fat.  I like my clothes to rest precariously on top of my fat, thankyouverymuch.  Also, when and if that fat (at least the portion of it that is baby-related) decides to go away, it’ll be really easy to take in the elastic at the waist.

–  The children’s version uses bias binding to close off the pocket curve.  Again, this is fine for grown ups depending on the look you’re going for, but I find that high-contrast trim can make a skirt look more whimsical, which also makes it look more childish.  I wanted something a bit more subdued, so I opted for bias trim sewn into the seam, and I made the trim using my main fabric so it would blend.  You could also do a narrow piping using the same fabric to give it a little polish.

–  To add a little visual interest without making a big statement, I altered the direction of the print for my pocket pieces.  It’s a subtle but special little touch.

– Instead of hemming the skirt using bias binding, I did a traditional hem.  I made mine 2 inches wide because I like the look and weight of a deep hem, but a narrow hem is fine too.

–  And finally, remember that you have a ton of options when it comes to nice adult-worthy fabrics!  Save the cupcake and fox prints for the kiddos.  Just remember that you might have to line it if you use a nice lighter weight or semi-sheer fabric.

Ok, on to the tutorial!

First you’ll need to obtain 3 numbers, X, Y, & Z to help construct your pattern pieces.

The only thing to note is that in the first box below the part marked 4 inches for ease can be altered to your taste.  If you want a fuller skirt, or are using slinky fabric and want lots of gathers and draping, add some inches.  4 is just the minimum and will produce a straighter skirt like mine, where the waistband has very little gathering despite the elastic.

The desired length should be from the top of your waistband to the hem.  I allow for a deep hem, but if you want a narrower hem, reduce the 2 inches to 1 or even .5.
Use your handy new X, Y, & Z measurements to construct your pattern pieces.  As you’re following the tutorial, I’ve made it easy to keep each piece straight using this color guide:
First, the back.  Those little arrows mean that the straight edge indicates a fold, so you’re only seeing half the skirt.  On the outside edge of your skirt, flare your ruler out a little bit so your Y measurement is at a slight angle.  When you draw your hem line, it’ll be a bit curved:
The pattern for the front of the skirt is almost identical to the back, except you need to add 1.5 inches to your X measurement, so it’s wider.
Your final pattern piece is the waistband, which is pretty straightforward (once again, it’s shown on the fold)
Cut out all of these patterns in your chosen fabrics, making sure to align the marked edges on a fold of fabric to produce symmetrical pieces.
Now we’ll create the pockets.  Using your skirt front as a guide, draw a rectangle following the top and outer edge of the skirt.  I made mine about 5×7 inches, but the size is up to you.  Just remember you don’t want it too near the center fold line because that part will be gathered, and you don’t want it to be longer than your skirt when it’s hemmed.
Cut 2 of those rectangles out of your skirt fabric and two out of lining fabric.  This is a good place to play with directional prints also.  If your skirt features vertical stripes, you could cut the pockets with the stripes running horizontally, like my example.  You could also feature a coordinating fabric or color here.  The lining fabric won’t show, so you can use whatever you have on hand.  Important: when cutting each set of 2 rectangles, make sure that you are either cutting them on folded fabric, or cut 1, flip the pattern over, and cut another.  You want to end up with two pieces that mirror each other but are not identical, like a pair of shoes.
Take the two rectangles that you cut to be your lining and draw a curve on the outer edge (once again, these pieces need to mirror one another).  The height and depth is again up to you, but make sure you have 2 inches leftover on the top edge.
After you cut out the curves on both pieces you will have your 2 pocket linings, the one below and it’s mirror image.
Optional: If you would like to feature bias trim on your pockets like mine, cut a length of fabric 2 inches wide and slightly longer than the curve you just cut in your pocket lining.  You’ll need 2 of these pieces.  Iron them wrong sides together lengthwise.  Again, this is another fun place to play with coordinating fabrics and print directions to make your skirt fun and unique.  If your main fabric is striped and you cut it on the bias, it’ll be diagonal stripes.
Lay one pocket lining piece on top of your skirt front (your skirt front should still be folded) and use it as a guide to cut the skirt front on the red dotted line.
Now your skirt front will look like this, with two curves cut out of the outer edges.
If you are using bias trim, lay it down on the outside edge of the curve now.  Make sure you are lining up the 2 raw edges of the bias trim with the raw edge of the skirt curve.
Over the bias trim, lay the coordinating pocket lining right side down.  Stitch along the red line, shifting your bias strip as you go so all 4 raw edges remain aligned.  Trim off any overhanging bias trim.
When you flip the pocket lining to the inside, you’ll have a neatly trimmed pocket opening.
On the inside of your skirt, take your pocket piece and sew it to the pocket lining right sides together along the red dotted line.  Leave the top and outer edges open, as shown.
Now when your pocket is flipped to the inside it will look like this.  If you like, you can now stitch the outline of the pocket to the skirt front as shown by the red dotted line.  This is completely optional and could be another fun design element, especially if you use contrasting thread.
Sew a basting, or gathering, stitch at the top center of your skirt front, between the pockets.  Do this by setting your stitch length as high as it will go and don’t backstitch on either side.
Hold your bobbin thread and gather the fabric until the top of the skirt front equals twice your original X measurement.
Lay your skirt front and skirt back right sides together.  With the skirt front gathered, they should be the same size.  Stitch them together at the side seams.  This will also close your pockets on the side.
Construct your waistband by sewing the two long strips right sides together at the side seams.
Fold the waistband down on itself, wrong sides together, so it is half the height and there are no exposed seams.
Slip your waistband down over the top of your skirt, right sides together, aligning all 3 raw edges.  Make sure the side seams of the skirt and the side seams of the waistband line up.  Sew all the way around the circle, leaving about 3 inches open to insert your elastic.
Insert your elastic through the waistband tube, sew your elastic ends together, then finish sewing the 3 inches that you left open.  Flip your waist band up.  Optional: Stitch around the top edge of the waistband close to the edge, making sure not to sew over any of the elastic.
Iron your hem up .5 inch and then another 1.5 inches and then sew the hem.

That’s it!  Stick your hands in your brand spanking new pockets and enjoy your skirt!


  1. says

    Oh thank you! I’ve made the “little girls” version twice for my daughter and simply love it. Now there’s one for me to enjoy just as much! Thank you!!

  2. says

    Love the updates for big girls! I may have to make one, cause you can never have too many skirts. Your tutorial is very well done and really intimadating.

  3. says

    There are tears falling out of my eyes b/c I’m laughing so hard. I totally relate to the virtues of elastic waistbands. Anyway, love the pockets in different directions and the grown up version. :)

    • says

      good question! I made mine from a yard of 58-60″ fabric. Depending on the size and length you want, I think a yard and a half of regular width fabric would be enough, but do a little measuring just to make sure. You can also cut out the pocket linings from a different fabric if you need to – they won’t show. Another trick if you’re running low is to hem it with a hem lining in a different fabric. That way instead of the 2″ I recommend, you could just leave 1/4 – 1/2 inch at the bottom of your skirt.

  4. says

    I’m so excited to make this for myself – it’s been on the list for the kids but I just haven’t gotten to it for them yet! And I was just making my pattern and I’m thinking that the formula for Y may be off… should it be length plus two inches less HALF of Z?? I’ll shortly be cutting, so I’ll let you know :) Thank you for the awesome tutorial!

    • says

      yes, you are totally right! Thank you so much for catching that. I’ve updated it. Actually you will have to take off another inch in addition to the Z/2 because that includes the waistband seam allowances. yikes – big mistake!

    • says

      Thanks. My skirt is done and it turned out great! I didn’t take off that last inch in the waistband (didn’t see your reply in time!), so the only issue I have is that the casing is a bit loose and slips up a bit, kind of rotating around the elastic, but I think if I sew down the elastic at the side seams (like I’d normally do to prevent rolling and keep the gathering even), it should help. I’ll try to take a pic and post it to my flickr account soon – let me know if you’ve got a flickr pool for milkmaid skirts and I’ll share it there.

  5. says

    Really want to make this skirt! And I have to say your comment on liking clothes to “lay on top of your fat” made me laugh out loud! That is EXACTLY how I feel! :)

  6. says

    I have been feeling the need to make a little something for myself and this seems to be just right. And after 4 kids, I am with you all on clothes not cutting into my fat! :)

  7. says

    hi! i just started making this skirt and i realized my fabric was a little sheer. do you have suggestions or a tutorial you use for making a lining?

  8. says

    Ahh I’m so excited! Thanks so much for making a big girl tutorial! I saw a girl at church wearing one today, and had to ask her about it. She said it was called the milk maid, and I googled it and found you! I can’t wait to make it!

  9. Tamera says

    I love this skirt and tutorial and can’t wait to try making it myself. I love skirts but often find it difficult buying bc I have extra long legs. :) Thanks for sharing!!

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