Julie Starr – Ribbon Skirt Sew-a-Long Part 1


At last the time has come to make Julie Starr’s ‘Spoleto Skirt’ inspired by the                         J McLaughlin ribbon skirt.

Completed ribbon skirt      JM Ribbon S16057l101_default

Many have asked how to sign up and the answer is you simply follow along on my blog.


If you are just now joining in,  you will need the following materials.

1. Your favorite straight skirt pattern (Julie used McCalls 3830)

2. 1 yard good quality prewashed cotton fabric for your skirt base (Julie recommends Kona cotton)

3. Fusible interfacing for the skirt facings

4. 1 9” invisible zipper in a color to coordinate with your ribbon

5. 1 hook and eye

6. 1 package double fold seam binding for seam finishing, if desired

7. 1 ½” wide grosgrain ribbon.

Julie’s skirt which is a finished length of 19” has 14 rows, not including the waistband. Add rows accordingly for additional length. The ribbon quantities for Julie’s pattern size 10, graded to 12 at the hip are:

8. 2 ½ yards dk aqua (bottom 2 rows)

9. 5 yards light aqua (rows 3-6)

10. 5 yards seafoam (rows 7-10)

11. 5 yards light blue (rows 11-14)

12. 1 yard 3” wide grosgrain ribbon for the top layer (waistband)

13. Thread in colors to match your ribbon. Note – since the seam for each layer is hidden by the layer above, it’s not imperative to match each ribbon color exactly.  The waistband ribbon is the only row which you should match closely since it is topstitched.


So let’s get started!

 Cutting your skirt base

  • VERY IMPORTANT!! Be sure to cut your skirt out a size larger than you normally wear.  Attaching the ribbon will create an ease stitching effect and the result will be a slightly smaller size than you started with.
  • The zipper will be inserted in the left side seam leaving the ribbon uninterrupted in back, so if your pattern is one with a center back zipper, ignore this and cut the skirt back on the fold instead.

1.  Mark the front and back darts and sew as directed.  Mark the zipper placement with a dot in the left side seam as your pattern directs.

2.  Hem the bottom edge of the front and back sections to your desired length with a simple double fold and machine stitching.  This will be hidden by your bottom row of ribbon so there’s no need to finish by hand.

Skirt Front

Skirt Front with darts and maching hem

Skirt Back

Skirt Back with darts and machine hem. Zipper marked on skirt left

Ribbon Attachment

3.  Now begin “shingling” your ribbon rows. Press each ribbon row just prior to pinning itand again after sewing it down and removing the pins so that it lies perfectly flat.

4.  Attach the bottom row by marking ¾” from the hemmed edge of your skirt.  Use a tiny dot of disappearing marker every 4 inches across and connect the dots using a ruler.

Skirt Front marked ¾” from the hemmed edge of your skirt

Skirt Front marked ¾” from the hemmed edge of skirt

5.  Now carefully pin your ribbon along this line so that the lower edge of your ribbon extends ¾” below the finished edge of your skirt base. Leave an overhang of about ½” at each side seam.  Don’t worry about trimming the overhang now; you’ll do it all in one step after all rows are attached. The success of your side seam matching later on will depend on careful measuring, marking and pressing.

6.  Sewing as close to the upper edge of the ribbon as possible, attach the first row of ribbon using a 2.5 stitch length.

7.  Lay skirt face up and mark another row of connected dots 1 1/4” from the top edge of the ribbon row you just attached. Pin and sew your second row of ribbon exactly on this line.This row will now overlap the first row by 1/4”, hiding the seam.

Bottom row sew along marked line leaving a 1/2 inch overhang.

Bottom row sew along marked line leaving a 1/2 inch overhang. Next row is marked.

8.  Continue marking and pinning in a similar manner, changing ribbon colors as desired, to within 2 inches (measured at the side seam) of the waist.

Color waves 1 and 2 attached.

Color waves 1 and 2 attached.

Colors 1, 2 and 3 attached

Colors 1, 2 and 3 attached

Colors 1, 2 3 and 4 attached.

Colors 1, 2 3 and 4 attached.

9. Since the waistline of McCalls 3830 is slightly curved, a wider ribbon is required for the top layer.  Pin the 3” waistline ribbon to the skirt base, overlapping the ribbon row beneath it by 1/4”. Sew this edge down to prevent rolling and seam exposure. Trim the top edge of the waistline ribbon to match your skirt base’s upper edge and baste. Press.

All colors attached. Top ribbon is trimmed along the   top skirt edge.

All colors attached.

10.  Lay your skirt panel with all ribbon rows attached face down and trim the excess ribbon at the sides, following the outline of your skirt base. Pin and baste each side edge so that all rows are now secured to the base. Tip – start at the top and sew down so that all rows remain  flat.

Ribbons attached, trimmed and basted.

Ribbons attached, trimmed and basted.

Won't this be cute? !

I believe this will be cute when completed!!

11.  Complete skirt back in the same manner.


That’s it for this week. After everyone has had a chance to attach the ribbon to both front and back pieces, Julie will show us how to assemble the skirt.

In the meantime please reply with your questions or comments which Julie or I will address.

Have fun!



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21 Responses to Julie Starr – Ribbon Skirt Sew-a-Long Part 1

  1. Sharon says:

    It definitely will be, love your colour choices. I’m still waiting for my ribbon to arrive but can get my skirt base prepared. When you say cut the skirt out a size larger, is that to the side seams only (I presume so as we are finishing off the hem).

    • Julie Starr says:

      Hi Sharon! You are correct- the extra length from going up a size would not be necessary. Thanks for asking and glad you’re sewing along.

  2. Lori says:

    This is so pretty and I love your colors. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

  3. Art Attack says:

    Well, as usual I am one of the kids on the short bus and don’t have my supplies together. I may have to watch from the sidelines! Can’t wait to see everyone’s creations!

  4. Virginia Driver says:

    Does cutting the skirt larger mean……a size larger….5/8 inch extra at each side? I love the skirt and want as many details as possible to be sure it turns out just right!

    • jstarr4250 says:

      Hi Virginia. 5/8″ inch may be too much since that would add 1 1-4″ to your finished skirt size. If you cut one size larger on your pattern you should be fine. The actual measurement on each person’s skirt may vary a little depending on which pattern you use for your base.

  5. Pam says:

    I’m so excited to participate in this sew along. Heading out to get my supplies after work- better late than never!

  6. ewellons says:

    Can’t wait to start. However, this skirt that was destined for my closet has taken a turn — toward my 12-year-old granddaughter. She will be starting Junior Cotillion this fall and says she desperately needs cute clothes. And this she wants. So I am working on a muslin for her but will be up to speed by Monday. One of these days, I’ll have this skirt for myself!

  7. Are you saying your GD wants a ribbon skirt?

  8. ewellons says:

    But I may have changed her mind, promising her something else in return. I think I’ve convinced her that my colors are not exciting. So night I will start this for myself!

  9. Cissie says:

    I am shingling away but thinking ahead. What happens at the top of the skirt when I get to the darted area?

  10. Julie Starr says:

    It shouldn’t present any problem that a little extra steam won’t overcome. Just try and keep everything nice and flat as you cross the dart. Thanks for asking, Cissie!

    • ewellons says:

      BTW, I meant to mention that these instructions are great. Very precise and detailed, with great pictures to help out! I’m having good luck using my edge-joining foot (#10 on my Bernina), as well as my Frixion pen for marking.

      Making this skirt almost gives you a physical workout! All that running around the sewing room — from machine to ironing board to cutting table and back again! I’m getting lots of steps on my Fitbit!!

  11. jstarr4250 says:

    Thank you Cissie – the great photos are Sarah’s skirt in progress. I’ve never heard of a Fitbit before but now that I’ve researched it I want one!

  12. ewellons says:

    Well, I ran out of one of my ribbons for the back. I must have changed my plan in mid stream. No surprise there! Will have to wait a few day to get it!.

    Just a thought — I’m not an engineer, so I don’t exactly understand how this works. But I have found that if I alternate the direction of sewing the ribbons down, I don’t get any ripple at all. That is to say, if I sew from the left side to the right on one ribbon and then alternate it on the next. Does that make sense? I remember from the days when I used to make lots of tucks that if I did this I had smoother tucks.

  13. Pingback: Julie Starr Ribbon Skirt Sew-a-Long Conclusion | Goodbye Valentino

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