Friday, November 9, 2012

Sparkle Running Skirt Tutorial

As promised, here is the running skirt tutorial. I explained it the best I could, so I hope it's clear enough!

This tutorial is written for a skirt to fit my size--my hips (where I wear the skirt) are 35", which equates to 29" unstretched elastic. To make it bigger, add approximately two inches of fabric for every one inch of elastic. (It doesn't have to be exact). The waist band will be very stretchy, so the measurement doesn't have to be perfect.

The finished skirt will be 11 inches long. If you want it longer, just measure down farther from the sparkle line (I measured 12 inches down, but just add however many inches you want to add to the length of the skirt).

Each skirt will only cost roughly $10 to make.

1 1/2 yards of fabric (you CAN buy 3/4 of a yard and cut it in half, then sew the pieces together--you will have two seams instead of one) 1 1/2 yards will yield 2 skirts. I will explain this better at the very end of the tutorial.
3/4" elastic, 30 inches long
Scissors, straight pins, a safety pin, and a tape measure

This is 1.5 yards of fabric folded in half lengthwise. Just ignore the bottom
piece for now. If you want, you can make a second skirt out of it.

The edge of the fabric looks like this (the sparkles start
a couple of inches from the raw edge) This will become
the waistband of your skirt.

Measure down 12 inches from the sparkle line across
the entire 1.5 yards of fabric and mark with a pin
or fabric marker.
I didn't explain that very well, so here is a drawing. You'll cut along
that dotted line where you've measured 12"

Cut the entire length that you just measured. Then it will be 1.5 yards long
and 12 inches (not including raw edge) tall.

With right side out, fold along the sparkle line and pin
it down as you go (see next picture)

If you don't care what the inside of the skirt looks like,
this is the easier way to do it--leaving the edge totally
raw. Since this skirt was for someone else, I wanted to
make the inside look decent ;) See next picture...

Tuck the raw edge under by a quarter or half inch and pin
so that the raw edge will not be visible

When you sew around, make SURE you stop 1-2 inches
from where you started. You need to leave this open in
order to get the elastic in. You will sew it shut later.
Also, make sure you're leaving at least 3/4" from the
sparkle line fold so that the elastic will fit.

The safety pin makes it easier to feed through the tunnel you just made

Or you could do this with just the elastic, before you
put it in the skirt. I didn't think of that until now! ;)

If you're making a larger skirt, make sure you allow an extra
inch or so of elastic to overlap like this
Sew elastic together and then stretch out the skirt so that the elastic gets
swallowed up inside of the tunnel.

Stretch it as far as it will allow. The fabric will stop you before the elastic does.

This next part is the hardest part of the whole thing.
You're going to sew through the fabric and elastic,
WHILE STRETCHING THE ELASTIC inside of the fabric.

The fabric will be pulled taut, because you're stretching
the elastic out while you sew. If you don't stretch it out
while sewing, the elastic will be sewn in a way that it won't
stretch any more without breaking the thread holding it
together. You may need to ask someone to give you an
extra hand for this part.

Now the waist band is done, but the bottom edge is still raw. Turn the skirt
inside-out again.

Fold the raw edge up 1/2 inch, and then fold it again so
that it's a nice, neat hem of 1/2 inch. Pin it down like
this around the entire skirt, and then sew.

Voila! A sparkle skirt. You definitely want to wear something under it ;)

Now, about buying half the amount of fabric...

I've always bought 1 1/2 yards of fabric for my skirts, but you can also buy half the amount you need. Here is what it looks like when you lay it out, unfolded:
So if you buy less (we'll say 3/4 in this example), here is what it looks like:
Cut along the center fold line, and you will have two identical pieces of fabric. Then you will line up the short edges and sew them together, like this:
Then just follow the tutorial as if this were one piece of fabric.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I've linked your blog to my faves list on my blog-- I hope that's OK. You are a HUGE inspiration to me as I finally lose the baby weight and get back into running. Let me know if you don't like having your blog linked. Thanks!

    1. Of course! I'm flattered that you enjoy my blog enough to include it on your list :)

  2. I love it! I'm just getting into sewing and now I've got my next project! Thanks!

    1. Just let me warn you, this fabric is NOT fun to work with! So if you get frustrated, just put it aside and work on something else until you feel like going back to it. I've been sewing since I was a kid, and I still got annoyed working with this stuff!

  3. The skirt is so cute. If I ran, I'd definitely make me one. But I don't think I need one for my walking! Plus I'm pretty old--and somethings us 60+'ers just can't pull off. My son thinks I should buy some fancy cowboy boots to wear on my Today Show appearance but I don't think so....

  4. What type of sewing machine do you have and do you recommend it?

    1. It's a Singer 5825C--I got it about nine years ago, when I was pregnant with Noah. I'm not sure if they even still make that model anymore, but I love it! It does all the basics--I didn't need the bells and whistles of a touch screen, embroidery, etc. My mom has a Singer as well, and it has to be at least 35 years old. It still works perfectly :) Singer is a great brand for a sewing machine!

  5. Katie! You rock the sparkle skirts! I am hoping that you will some day just start selling them because as crafty as I try to be, the sewing machine and I are not friends. Congrats on getting down to your goal weight!

    1. I would get super bored making them over and over again--but if you're serious, and you want one, e-mail me :)

  6. Thanks very much for the tutorial Katie! I've got a 5 mile "Rudolph Race" coming up on 9th December, so will be making one of these skirts to wear for that (in addition to my antlers!).

  7. I need to get my sewing machine out of the basement, bring it to the shop and get it tuned up. I haven't used it in at least 10 years and I could be making my curtains if I figured out how to use it!

  8. That's so nice of you to post this for us! It looked very time consuming for you. So thank you :) you look fab in your 2 months photo by the way! So so good.

  9. YES! Thank you! I run my first 5K on Turkey Day AND I'm picking up my first sewing machine tonight at 5.

    This skirt will help me with my issue of people being able to see my thighs jiggling during a public run. It'll do wonders for my self-esteem. Thank you!!!

  10. Oh goodness! That took a lot of work to put together for us. I'm exhausted reading it. Can you just make me one? I'll pay you. ;-)

  11. I made these quick and easy (especially for someone who sews rarely) for my young teen and preteen to run their first 5K on Thanksgiving with the rest of the family. They loved them and felt so special having a sparkle running skirt. Thank you for inspiring me.

  12. I made your skirt for my Jingle Bell run this Sunday and I love it! Thank you so much for posting. I was going to make 2 skirts with it but I'm going to have to wait awhile...this fabric is a real pain to work with; my thread just didn't want to sew it together right. Thanks for sharing!!

  13. I have a friend running the Princess Half at Disney in a couple of weeks and she has a gold skirt to wear and I was looking at it thinking "I could make one of these" so my Google search led me here and it's just what I needed! Green sparkle skirts are in my future for a Get Lucky run in March.

  14. Katie! I am trying to make this for a race I am running for a friend's birthday... any idea what types of stitching you used for this fabric?! The sewing machine isn't happy!! I love it, though! Thanks!

    1. Hmmm, I'm not sure what the problem is. The fabric definitely isn't easy to work with! But I didn't use any special stitching. I do have a heavy duty needle on my machine, since I work with denim a lot (it's a denim needle); so maybe that would help?

    2. I'll try that next, thanks for the idea!

  15. Hi, I used this tutorial to make a skirt for my first half-marathon which was The 2013 Disney Princess. My skirt was awesome and the race went great. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with other runners. It was very easy to make and I am a beginner at sewing.

  16. Katie,
    I wanted to let you know I posted a link to this blog post in my blog. Thanks for posting such great instructions.

  17. Hi, thank you for this tutorial! I just found it! I tried to make a pink one but I messed up on the part of pulling the elastic while you sew. Didn't quite come out as it should have. Now a side of it looks funny. :) I'll have to try again.

  18. My skirt didn't turn out. Its my own fault for not measuring properly :-/

  19. where did you get the fabric? I am wanting to make a cape out of it.

  20. I am going to be making a snow white costume and want to make a cape out of the sparkle material. Where did you get it from?

    1. I bought it at Hobby Lobby, but you can get the fabric pretty much anywhere that sells fabric! :)

  21. I love this skirt! Did you have trouble with the fabric "gumming" your needle? I'm reading online that its a problem and am just worried about ruining my machine!

    1. Thanks! Yes, the needle got a little "gummy" on the needle, so I wiped it off every once in a while. But it won't ruin your machine--worst case scenario, you might break a needle!

  22. Thanks for the tutorial!! I made this skirt in blue for a super hero run. I used a ball point needle and had no trouble with the needle gumming.

  23. Thank you! I'm heading straight to the sewing store to buy fabric and start working on my Halloween costume (that I can wear to exercise class)!

  24. what type of needle did you use for this fabric?

    1. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I used the smallest needle I had on hand. I didn't have any problems with it.

  25. Hey there! Thanks for posting this tutorial- I'm just about finished with my first ever sparkle skirt. I ran into issues with my needle gumming up and the thread not catching correctly and jamming up my machine. I searched online and found a couple of useful tips- swipe the needle with rubbing alcohol to remove any gunk. I also found laying wax paper on top of the fabric (directly under the footer) eliminated any issues with the thread not catching properly. Thanks again for this helpful post! I've enjoyed reading through the rest of your blog, too. You're very inspirational!


I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)