TUTORIAL: ¡Fiesta Skirts! for Cinco De Mayo

by Dana on May 1, 2013

For Lucy’s birthday party last month she mentioned, “Mom, let’s have a fiesta!  And everyone should wear a cute Mexican dress.”  I loved the idea.  And I love a girl with a vision.  But I wasn’t sure if everyone would have a fiesta looking dress.

So I rummaged through my trim box, grabbed yards of bright fabrics, and started sewing amped up versions of the Simple Skirt for her little fiesta friends.


And they were so much fun!  Originally I thought, I’ll just keep it simple….one row of trim per skirt, 1 yard of fabric and I’m done (and you could do that…and it would be totally cute).  But I found that as I sewed, I wanted to add more and more.  More trim, new skirt layers, rows and rows of thread on the hemline.  I couldn’t stop! even at 3am (when my husband was out of town so I could let my creative OCD go crazy).  Seriously, you’re gonna love making these.

And when you pair them with Wallflowers, Easter Egg Maracas, and Ruffled Streamers, you’ve got a full-on Fiesta ready to go!

Here’s what you do.

If you’ve never made a Simple Skirt (or any sort of gathered skirt) please read through the tutorial first and then move on to the next steps….

FABRIC and PREP
What really makes these skirts fun is the amount of fabric used.  In the Simple Skirt tutorial we measured the waist and then doubled that for the width of the skirt fabric.  Here we want the width to be 3 or even 4 times the size of the waist, which means you’ll probably need to cut two long rectangles of fabric, with two side seams (rather than one rectangle as we did in the Simple Skirt)

Here are the dimensions to cut (more details about measuring/cutting in the Simple Skirt tutorial):

Of course you can make your skirt any size/length you’d like.  These are just the parameters I used to make skirts for Lucy and her 7 year-old friends.
If you’re making these for a friend and you’re not able to measure their waist, simply ask their mom if she’ll measure for you (she can use a piece of string and a ruler if she don’t have a measuring tape)….or if it’s a surprise gift, measure the size of a skirt at the store so you know what an 8-year old waist-size might be, etc.

TYPES OF FABRIC
I prefer colorful solids in either:
• 100% cotton (such as Kona Cottons) found at most fabric shops and comes in a variety of colors, runs about $6/yard, or….
• Broadcloth which is typically a polyester/cotton blend, runs about $3/yard, and also comes in many colors.  The fabric doesn’t wrinkle (which I love) but can also be thin and a bit see-thru.  So you’ll probably have to double layer the fabric.  You can do this by sewing two layers of fabric together as if it’s one piece of fabric, or you can add a white muslin layer under it, or you can sew both layers separately as we did in the Double-layer Simple Skirt tutorial (except that we’re leaving off the bias tape binding).  Also, for these skirts I cut the double-layer only 1 inch longer than the top layer so there’s just a bit of color peeking out.

Bottom line, do what works with the fabric you have and the amount of fabric you need (do the math before going to the fabric shop).  And just have fun, of course.  Which leads me to the next point….

Okay the trim is really makes this a ¡Fiesta! Skirt. 
I’m sort of a trim-hoarder and whenever I see a fun one I just buy it, knowing that I’ll find a project for it one day…like this one!  My favorite spot for trims is the FIDM Scholarship store and Michael Levine (more on both of those HERE).  Now obviously that’s less than helpful for most of you…so grab whatever fun trims are at most fabric shops and online.  The trim should be at least the width of the skirt.  And if you can’t find any trims (or can’t afford what you find)….simply sew rows and rows of thread around the skirt!  Or hand-sew rows!  Cheap and cute (more on that later).

Here are my favorite trims:
Ric Rac
Twill Tape
Cotton Lace
Bias Tape
Doilies
Ribbon
Pom Pom Trim
Fringe!?

And with your fabric, trims, and elastic cut, we’re ready to sew!

Refer to the photo below.
1.  After cutting my skirt fabric I typically serge the top and bottom of the fabric just to make my hemming and casing easier.  You don’t need to do this.  But what you may want to do is either: sew the hem in place first (if you think you’ll sew trims over the top of the hem)….or….iron the hem in the place just so can see where the hem will be so you don’t sew trims over the top of it.  It’s all your preference.
ALSO…if you originally cut the skirt fabric as two pieces, sew one of the side-seams together so that you have one very long piece of fabric to work with here.

2.  Start arranging and pinning trims to the fabric, down the entire width of the skirt and remember that pretty much anything goes.  I love the look of a dark trim next to light, and pastels mixed with bolds.  The most important thing here is to make sure your trims are spaced the same distance on both ends of the fabric, so that when you bring the other side seam together, the trims match up (refer to photo #4)

3.  Sew your trims in place on top of the fabric.  For standard size ric rac you can sew one line right down the middle.  For this over-sized ric rac above I actually sewed down each zig zag…which. took. forever.  But I wanted it to stay put and not flop around.
4.  When all your trims are in place fold your skirt in half (with right sides together) and sew the other side seam.

To top off the look, I sewed rows and rows of thread in various colors next to the trims and around the hem.  Some rows are close together, some are spaced out.  It makes the fabric look rich and festive.

You can also hand-sew with embroidery thread for a chunkier look.

When you’ve embellished enough, finish the skirt by sewing the waistband casing, string your elastic through, sew the hem and you’re done!  All these steps are outlined in the Simple Skirt tutorial (along with steps for making a double-layered skirt)
With one fabric down, pick up the next color and go ¡crazy!


Before you know it, you’ll have a stack of skirts just waiting for senoritas

Happy Fiesta!
(details of Lucy’s party coming later this week…so you can find out the fun way we gave the skirts to the girls!)

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allison May 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

How lovely! What lucky girls.

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2 Lynet Witty May 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH how amazing! Please let me buy one!

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3 Katie May 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm

So adorable! Love it!

xo,
Katie
hellolittlebean.com

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4 Jackie May 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Soooo cute dana! Simply adorable and fun. I loved seeing all of the finished skirts together and piled together. I have seriously got to finish building my sewing studio so I can get to work on fun projects like this.

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5 M. May 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Yeaaaay love love love those !

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6 Kendra May 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I love this so much!!!

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7 Carolina May 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm

What a beautiful skirt! I want the sky blue.
Love your post but love most you used both exclamation sign like in Spanish. I appreciate those little details.

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8 Brooke May 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Absolutely adorable! If only I had a little girl to sew for!!

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9 dannyscotland May 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Wow, that is so amazing. I wish I had the stamina to stay up til 3am doing fun things like this!

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10 Rachel May 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Oh my gosh, these are adorable! I’ve been hoarding a yard or three of button trim for about two years now waiting for just the right project, and this is definitely it!!

Thanks for sharing. Beautiful work as usual!

:-)
Rachel

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11 Rae May 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm

You are freaking amazing, you know that? These are unbelievably awesome!!!

LOVE IT!

:)

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12 Leigh Laurel Studios May 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Luv-ly! What fun!!

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13 Jennifer May 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm

AAHH! Cinco de Mayo in 4 Days!!! I must do this, I make simple skirts like crazy and use ric rac all the time but never thought of this! Bye, gotta go sew:)
thanks for all the awesome ideas Dana!! ps your lil models are adorable, twirl on!

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14 JS May 1, 2013 at 4:10 pm

So so super cute! I think I need one of these skirts since our anniversary is on Cinco de Mayo!!! What a great idea to have these ready for the little girls at the party, Lucy must’ve been just so pumped!! I am hoping little Clara was wearing one as well. I’m getting the visual of you with the pedal to the metal at 3:00 a.m. Know how that goes, get a brainstorm and gotta go with it, can’t sleep anyway! How fun, love the colors!!! I hope you are building an extra room in your new house just for trims. No Casey, this is not an absurd idea.

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15 mirela May 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm

So lovely!! So cute! You are my inspiration!
Greetings from Poland :)

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16 Carrie May 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm

These. Are. ADORABLE!!

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17 Tara May 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Oh my gosh, I love these! I grew up in way-South Texas and remember how much I loved wearing those cute Spanish dresses when I was little. I love that these feel just as fun, but are so cute and modern.

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18 Jill May 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Oh my goodness, those are way too cute. The light blue is my fav! Great party theme, and go Lucy for thinking of it!

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19 Emily May 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm

So fun and colorful!

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20 Anneliese May 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Super cute! They must have loved these skirts!

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21 Mikea May 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm

This one is added to the never ending summer list of must! Very cute! That was ALOT of work! You can see how much you enjoyed making it because they are beautiful!

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22 Dori Troutman May 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Oh my word – these are the absolute cutest skirts EVER. Gonna make a couple for my grand-daughters! LOVE THEM!!! Thanks, once again, for your great ideas! ~ Dori @ theredfeedsack.blogspot.com ~

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23 anna May 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

those are gorgeous!!! and very cinco de mayo! Lucky friends too!

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24 Jess May 1, 2013 at 11:03 pm

these are fantastic! my girls would have died to go to that party, I’m sure!

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25 treen May 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

Note to self: buy SOLID colored fabric and not prints all the time! These look awesome – I love the lace on Lucy’s skirt!

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26 hillary May 2, 2013 at 1:26 am

How darling! What a great idea to make simple skirts as party favors.

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27 Regina May 2, 2013 at 1:33 am

so many beautifull skirts!

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28 lydia purple May 2, 2013 at 1:53 am

I love it… my daughter (3yo) asked for butterfly wings for all her friends for her birthday party so they all could dance as butterflies… i loved her idea and made a bunch of wings as party favors for the girls and some superhero capes for the few boys that came to the party…. i still got to blog about it. But it’s so much fun to make it so special for them and i heard of several parents that the kids really loved their dress up gift and were using it alot at home. So much better than to give a bag of sweets!

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29 Hayley May 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

Love, love, LOVE these, Dana! That lime/green one is my fave! Lucy nailed a perfect theme, didn’t she??!!! And you, Mama, making it all coming together seamlessly…what a Rock Star Mom you are! I’m thinking our 3 girls may need fiesta skirts for our summer vacay this year! :)

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30 Melissa Yoder May 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

FUN! My mom grew up in New Mexico, and fiesta skirts are totally a thing. I love this! What a great party favor!

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31 Sarah May 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I just love this idea. Seriously- so cute! I wish my daughters birthday wasn’t back in January! haha. I’m going to file this one away! Awesome, post.

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32 Melissa Shultz May 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Ahhhhdorable! Awesome idea!

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33 April May 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

These skirts are absolutely fabulous!

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34 Jenny C May 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm

This post has me SOSOSO glad I have a daughter with an early May b-day, but I think my early Aug b-day daughter would love this, too. Heck! I may need a fiesta skirt this summer. Oh, oh, oh, I want to bail on work and go home & sew!!!

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35 Kim @ all things simple May 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

So so darling! My daughter and granddaughters would wear those wild/fun colors anytime. :) Last spring we had a basic sewing class for the women in our church. We had a great turnout and used your tutorial for the Simple Skirt. Everyone brought their own fabric and supplies and it was a productive evening. All the skirts turned out great and many have gone on to make more! Thanks so much for the inspiration and instructions.

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36 Estelle May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm

You have just reminded me of my first dance Eisteddfodd where we had to perform a Mexican dance and my Mom made me a white circle skirt with ginormous orange and green ric rac trim. I’ll have to make my own ballerinas some fiesta skirts soon.

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37 Ree Garibay May 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Wow! Absolutely love this idea, my family is from Mexico and every year for Independence Day (in September) i struggle to find something cute for my 5 yr old daughter. And although i have made her costumes for Halloween i have never ever thought of making her a little Mexican skirt. SO cute. Thank you.

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38 Petra May 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Wow! Didn’t you do well?! I would love to have been a little girl at your party!!! How cool is that?! Nothing wrong with mum wearing a skirt like that – super pretty – and why save them for a party – everyday wear would be so cool! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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39 Princess Pamela May 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm

um… you went a little crazy there! Good for you!

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40 cucicucicoo May 3, 2013 at 6:30 am

so adorable! and what a good mom you are, making all those skirts!! :) lisa

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41 Porchia May 4, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hello-
I really admire your work. I appreciate your work as well. Your site is beautiful. Thanks for all the tutorials. I just bought a sewing machine. I am so excited to get started. Please if you can, supply me with some tips on blogging and being a newbie on the sewing machine. I would love to track my work, just like your site.
Thanks again.

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42 Tara May 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

THese are too much. My baby girl is almost 18 months and I’m trying to figure out at what age she would really appreciate all this hard work. You’re a genius. These are amazingly cute! And I completely stocked up on some random giant ric rac thanks to pick your plum and these are absolutely the best use of it!

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43 allison May 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! My son’s b.day is 5/5 and he gets wear a big sombrero hat….I made 3 of these skirts for his sisters! So cute…just finished them yesterday.

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44 Gabi May 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I just finished a double-layered “fiesta skirt” in pink (top layer) and orange (bottom layer) solid colored fabric ♥ with lovely trims I actually went shopping for ;). It’s SO lovely, and I had an amazing time making it! I’m so excited how it’s gonna look on my daughter – can’t wait till she wakes up tomorrow morning!!!

I’m just wondering: Is it normal that the skirt is kind of heavy? I used a lightweight (though not super-duper-lightweight, but lightweight) cotton fabric for both layers and cut the rectangles three times the size of my daughter’s waist. The fabric looks very similar to the one you used, so I assume the double-layered skirts you made are pretty similar to mine.

THANK YOU so much for sharing this and the “simple skirt” tutorial. Making this skirt was so much fun, and browsing your blog is always a huge inspiration. There’s something about the way you share your ideas that makes it a great motivation to get sewing :). ♥, ♥, ♥.

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45 Meghan May 10, 2013 at 8:21 am

What a fun party!

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46 Katie May 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Hey, I recognize that yellow trim! ;) Great skirts! I love how bright and fun they are! What a fun party!

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47 Jenna May 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Ooh! So cute. I’m going to make one for my 7-year old!

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48 Samantha Hillstrom July 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Hi!

Is there any way I can buy one of those beautiful fiesta skirts? It is actually for me for my son’s 2nd birthday party in January. If it is at all possible, how much would it cost for one skirt? I might need 3 but most likely just one.

Thank you,

Samantha

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49 Jo November 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

I think I want to do these with the circle skirt for a little more *twirl*. Has anyone else tried that?

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50 Dannii March 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Hi Dana,

I love these skirts! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

Is there a simple way to sew the two sides of the skirt together to make the trims match up the seam? They match perfectly and are aligned once sewn in place but when I pin the skirt together and sew the seam it tends to be a little off so the rik rak isn’t lined up. Help!

Thank you!

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51 Sarah Helene April 25, 2014 at 11:35 am

WOW! 10 brightly colored gathered FIESTA skirts for young girls. . . each unique & different trims near the bottom! Thanks for sharing the tutorial. Lucky girls to receive
a hand-sewn skirt for Lucy’s P-A-R-T-Y. Please share photos of the girls enjoying the FIESTA PARTY! Sarah in Minneapolis

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52 Esme May 29, 2014 at 10:35 am

Hi Dana, thank you SO much for this tutorial – it was so easy to follow, and I *love* the results: such a wonderful twirly skirt! I’ve blogged about the one I made here if you want to see your ideas in action!:
http://esmeintheattic.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/firefly-fiesta-skirt/

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53 Swati August 6, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Lovely skirts, but I am even more curious about how you gave them to the girls – tried to search for a birthday party post, but none showed up :( Would’ve loved to read more about such a great party idea!

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