The Butterfly Polka Skirt

Pow! The moment I saw this fabric on Walthamstow market (£3 a metre) I immediately saw the skirt I wanted to make. It’s a wonderful combination of polka dots and butterflies in a stretch cotton. I wouldn’t recommend this fabric for dresses – a tiny bit too stiff – but it’s perfect for throwing a skirt together. And throw a skirt together, I did!

I didn’t use a pattern. I drafted this baby. Well, I think the word ‘drafted’ suggests a bit more science than I applied. I took my old faithful vintage A skirt pattern and adapted it. I pinched out the darts and traced the top section to make the yoke. Then I traced the rest of the skirt sections, adding 4.5 inches width to each skirt piece for gathering. Um, that was it. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

The only other thing I needed was an invisible zip that went in like a dream. The waistband is finished with some fairly stiff grosgrain ribbon stitched on to the top right edge, turned to the inside and top stitched down.

Total cost about £10. Job, as they say, done.

I’ve realized I suit this type of skirt better than ones where all the gathering happens on the waist. I have a bit too much belly for my silhouette to cope well with the extra bulk.

If you’re going to play with a border pattern like this, buy more fabric than you would do normally. Surprisingly, this needed three metres to use all the butterflies I could. There’s loads of big scraps left over that can be used on smaller projects.

Have you ever had a flash of inspiration and then just drafted the baby? I recommend it!

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50 Responses to The Butterfly Polka Skirt

  1. Siga says:

    This silhouette works very well for body types like us. It actually elongates the waist. It’s a winner.

  2. Suzie says:

    Fab – Love it!!! Such a great use of a border print. And that style is definitely very flattering on you – look how tiny your waist is!!! Also love your styling, like a chic biker/rock chick!

  3. ooobop! says:

    Loving the placement and the shape of the skirt. And really love how you’ve styled it with boots and bag. Right up my street! Perfect for our ‘hot’ July! 😉

  4. Dibs says:

    Oh I love border prints. and you are right about the skirt style. Its amazing how we can transform patterns we already own with a little know how,

  5. punkmik says:

    Very pretty fabric!! Love how the skirt turns out! And again it just reinforced that I need to go to that market!

  6. Joanne says:

    Awh that’s so lovely Karen – I’d love to try a border print myself – really really cute

  7. sewbusylizzy says:

    I love it when you get a vision just looking at a fabric. So much more productive than falling in love with a fabric and just stashing it!

  8. Roobeedoo says:

    Funky! 😉
    I think you need a biker jacket with that ensemble.
    I’m interested that you think it is too stiff for a dress but not a skirt – do you mean because of sleeves? I tend to look for quite heavy fabrics for dresses – and end up never making them! Is this where I am going wrong?!

    • Biker jacket – I do have a yearning to make one of those. What do I mean about the fabric? Um, I think stiffer fabrics can make bodices a bit itchy to wear around the tender skin of throats and arm pits. Plus the stiff fabric makes the bodice a bit like a suit of armour. I want something malleable, but not with oodles of drape. I think that’s why I like working with wool so much!

  9. sorbetsurprise says:

    Gorgeous! I love the bright butterflies with the dark polka dot.

  10. IngeMaakt says:

    What a nice skirt, and you look stunning in it!

  11. ozviking says:

    You look fabulous in that skirt. It really suits you and I love the butterflies.

  12. MrsC says:

    SKIRT LOVE!!!!!!

  13. prttynpnk says:

    Adorable- you have wrung every ounce of cuteness from that border print with your placement. Love it.

  14. gingermakes says:

    How nice! Your placement is perfect, and the shape really suits you! It must have been so satisfying to just draft what you wanted!

  15. tinygoldenpins says:

    You look really beautiful. Your waist looks so tiny in that knit top and the skirt is just lovely. I like the shape of it a lot.

  16. Ooh, butterflies. Gorgeous. When I did my stretch-sewing course, the instructor made a comment along the lines of if you sew a garment with that sort of waist treatment and you have a bit of a tummy, you should be careful about placing gathers below your waist but above where your tummy bulges (she wasn’t really looking at me when she said it, although as I was pregnant at the time, perhaps she was!). It seems the look you’ve created there is in a similar vein. But it’s much nicer than anything I ever made.

  17. Summerflies says:

    I love that border print skirt … it looks great!
    Just to let you know I got my Pattern Pyramid patterns today! I will start my giveaway tomorrow. Thank you again. Your little card is beautiful!

  18. lovely. what great fabric – a proper bargain!

  19. such a flattering and adorable skirt! i love the use of gathers a little further down – i think i’ll borrow that, if you don’t mind. should we call it the ‘didyoumakethat technique’?

  20. Jane says:

    It’s fab and you look great in it – I agree that this style of skirt is very flattering for your shape too! I had one flash of sewing inspiration ONCE – when I combined a Sorbetto top and Ginger skirt to make a dress. Happily it worked, but I think that was because, like you, I didn’t really think about it and just ploughed ahead! Hoorah for striking whilst the iron is hot. x

  21. Marie says:

    I love that you just had a feeling and went for it! The result is perfect! This is such a flattering style on you Karen and the fabric is so much fun. Hurray for quick and easy makes!!!

  22. Carolyn says:

    Butterflies and polka dots, what an amazing fabric find, and what a completely cute skirt you have made from it.

  23. The skirt is super Karen, and looks fantastic on you. Its just you, perfectly. I have a belly too and am trying learn what suits me.

  24. Cassy says:

    Fantastic skirt! I’m very impressed.

  25. Sam says:

    Gorgeous skirt! Butterflies and polka dots, what a great combination. I’m not surprised you had to snap up some of this fabric. It looks great on you, the shape really suits you and as others have said, highlights your slim waist.

  26. LinB says:

    There are several radio stations in Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that play nothing but polkas, all day long, every day of the year. It is happy, jolly music. Wearing/looking at your skirt must make you feel happy and jolly, too. I like that silhouette on you, very feminine without being all lace-and-ruffles. The dark color way makes the print more sophisticated, somehow. But those bright insects on a white background … well, that would be lovely, too.

  27. symondezyn says:

    Butterflies and boots – a wonderful combo! You’re looking very chic! 🙂

  28. megthegrand says:

    That fabric is AMAZING!! I love the style you drafted – it works perfectly with the print 🙂

  29. amberjena says:

    now i want to run out and buy some border print fabric. love it! and I love how you paired it with boots, makes it very cool and not as cutesy. i don’t think i’d pull it off as well, but it looks great on you!

  30. You look awesome in this outfit! Nice mix of edgy and cute. I love when an idea for doing something off-the-map seizes me and I can’t stop until I’ve got it done. It’s easier to follow my gut when I do it fast. Nice work on drafting/executing your idea!

  31. sylkotwist says:

    Gorgeous, and looks lovely with the boots. Maybe next week you’ll be wearing it with flip flops!

  32. Very cute! But I was expecting butterflies doing a polka… perhaps the Beer barrel?

  33. Erin Cumming says:

    You look amazing in this cute skirt!

  34. rosyragpatch says:

    You look great in this skirt. I love the butterflies.

  35. liza jane says:

    Love it. I can’t do the gathering around the waist either. I like a smooth waistband and the gathering lower. Great job!

  36. Debbie says:

    Love the skirt, fabric is perfect for it. Still waiting for that flash of Inspiration to just go and draft something!!

  37. kinoethermes says:

    You look absolutely amazing in this photo. 😀

  38. michelle says:

    It’s fantastic Karen! A bit of spring and summer to brighten your days. I think I’d smile everytime I looked down to see my happy skirt!

  39. Liz says:

    Lovely skirt, so cheerful and pretty. The styling really works too – great look!

  40. oonaballoona says:


    (does tat mean the same thing in england as it does in the US? i mean it it in the totally cool way. you crazy punk.)

  41. What a totally perfect border usage….so pretty and you are right a very flattering shape. Impressed you self drafted…I also fancied a yoked skirt ( but maxi) and lazily bought a pattern in the latest half price sale… it was only 3gbp though….
    Anyway, I adore this, nuff said!

  42. A great skirt!! Butterflies are my fav, I’m in love with this fabric! Great job!

  43. Tiffany says:

    I love it! Butterflies and polka dots- how could you go wrong? Plus, it looks amazing on you!

  44. greedy nan says:

    This is stunning! How clever you are and how confident your needle skills.

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