Retro Santa Skirt & Gathered Skirt Tutorial

Awww, such a cute retro Santa skirt!  I love the unique colors!

Flashback Summer: 1940s Christmas Fashion

Flashback Summer: Alton, Illinois - urban decay - historical theater

My grandma is one of those delightful people that understands my love of vintage and sends me fabrics to work with.  One of the fabrics she sent me recently was this fabulous retro Santa print!  I adore the colors, and the print is undeniably midcentury-inspired even though the fabric is modern.

I gathered this sucker right into a dirndl skirt for the holiday season!  Since the print runs perpendicular to the selvedges, I had to cut two panels to use in the skirt instead of one long piece.

I didn't use a pattern, and I went through the exact same process I used on my glitter pine cones skirt, except instead of pleating the skirt fabric I gathered it.  In case you've never done this before, here is how you do it.

Like I described in the pinecones skirt tutorial, I marked the waistband and skirt fabric into fourths: front center, back center, right side seam, left side seam.  

Next, for this gathered skirt I sewed a long basting stitch at the top of the skirt fabric at the 3/8" mark.  I sewed another at the 5/8" mark.  (I use 1/2" seams on my skirts, so this means there will be a basting stitch on either side of the real seam line.  This makes the gathering look more even and easier to sew down.)  Do not backstitch at the beginning and end of these seams!

Flashback Summer: how to sew a dirndl skirt

After that, I matched up the markings on the skirt and the waistband and pinned them together.  I then grabbed both of the basting ends from one side and gently pulled, moving the fabric down the thread and gathering it until it fit the waistband. For me, it's easier to do half of the skirt from one side, then finish the gathering of the fabric from the other end of the thread. Be careful not to break the basting thread!

I then added more pins to keep all the gathers in place and sewed the front of the waistband to the skirt, finishing it all out exactly like in the pinecones skirt tutorial. (If you have questions about this, don't hesitate to ask! This is just a quick overview, so let me know if you need some help!)

Flashback Summer: how to sew a gathered vintage dirndl skirt

I did not have a zipper that even remotely coordinated with this, so I went with these oddly colored buttons from my stash.  This time around I was smarter than when I made my Christmas border print skirt and added a button placket to the waistband and skirt so it didn't end up too tight around my waist.  I have learned!

Voila! Another fine Christmas skirt!  I wore it today for a day of flea marketing and errand running in my husband's hometown near St. Louis.  I like that this Christmasy without being overtly so. I've worn pretty much ever bit of forest green clothing I have (which is only a couple things!), so I needed a Christmas look with a slightly different color combo! Of course, I planned to wear this with a black belt (hence the plain hook and eye closure on the front), but I forgot it in my packing frenzy. OH WELL.

Awww, such a cute retro Santa skirt!  I love the unique colors!

Ooo, vintage jade earrings and retro headscarf!  Such a cute combo!

Outfit details
skirt: handmade by me (this fabric is no longer on the Joann website, but you may still be able to find it in a local store if you want it!)
shoes: Payless Kids
shirt: American Eagle (BEST t-shirt)
jacket: part of my vintage 1940s suit
headscarf: thrifted
jade earrings: gifted

Do you have any Christmas skirts you're wearing this December?  If so, we'd love to see them!  Leave a link to a picture we can all "ooo" and "aaaah" at! 

*This post includes affiliate links. See my policy page for more info.


  1. So, so cute! I just tried gathering with a machine-basted stitch on my last project -- just for the sleeves -- and oh, man, did it make the gathers so much neater than with my hand-basted stitches. For my next challenge, I may just try a skirt like this...

    1. Yes, I've found the same thing! Plus, it's just not worth it to me to spend so much time hand basting certain things like this skirt when machine will do it so much faster.

      You'll have to let me know how you get on if you make a skirt! I'd LOVE to see it!

  2. Oh how I am loving this dress! The print is so much fun and reminds me of Christmases when I was a little the '70s...but we had things from the '50s that were still used! You are so adorable! Thank you for the gathering of the fabric idea...I may have to try that out in the future! Oh! And your jade earrings are quite fabulous!