Rachel shares all sorts of clever techniques and designs at nest full of eggs! She shows you how to use dental floss to create gathers in today’s tutorial for this patchwork skirt. The tutorial instructions help you make a girl’s size 3T skirt, with techniques you can easily adapt for larger sizes. Enjoy, and be sure to look at some of Rachel’s fun clothing designs in her introduction.

Dental Floss Skirt Tutorial by Rachel of nest full of eggs for Sew,Mama,Sew!

Looking for the perfect skirt to sew for spring or summer? The Dental Floss Skirt is a little girl’s size 3T patchwork skirt using a charm pack and dental floss! Yes, dental floss!

There are several different and effective ways to achieve gathers, today I’m going to show you how to do the gathering method of zigzag stitching over dental floss. With the way that this skirt in constructed, there are no side seams or back seam, so there is no front or back. Whichever way the little girl puts it on will be fine. Also all of the edges are pre-finished (pinked), so a seam allowance of .25 inches will be used on most seams. Zig-zag stitching over dental floss is used for creating gathers on the cute bottom ruffled hem. Happy sewing!


  • 30 charm squares or equivalent in fabric (Charm squares = 5 inch by 5 inch squares.)
  • Pinking/zig-zag edge rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Quilting square
  • 21 inches of .75 inch non-roll elastic
  • Dental floss

Rotary Cutting Prepwork
Cut up 30 charm squares into 4 equal squares using pinking/zig-zag edge rotary cutter, cutting mat, and quilting square.

Doing this will produce 120 mini charm squares. (Note: A charm square is 5 inches by 5 inches. When cut into 4 equal squares, they become 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch mini charm squares.)

Skirt Construction
1. Lay out the mini charm squares in 7 rows: 6 rows of 16, then one row of 24 (Note: Be sure to arrange the prints to create a pleasing composition and avoid having the exact same prints touch each other.)

2. Stitch together squares and make a loop. With right sides together sew each square to its neighbor using .25 inch seams. When a row is stitched together, sew the first and last square together to form a loop. Press seams open.

3. Take one of the 16 square loops, the 24 square loop, and press them in half. Take a look at the photo to see what everything will look like at this point: waist loop of 16 squares (pressed in half), main skirt with 5 loops of 16 squares, and the hem loop of 24 squares (pressed in half). (Note: I had extra pink and blue striped fabric squares and decided to use them for the waist, this is for visual purposes for the tutorial to help differentiate it from the skirt section.)

4. Start with the 5th loop of the main skirt and work your way up… Pin the 5th and 4th loops together right sides together, be sure to stagger the fabric squares, so that the fabric squares in one loop are off center from the fabric squares in the next loop. Sew together with .25 inch seams. Press seam down towards the bottom of the skirt.

5. Repeat for the 4th and 3rd loops…

6. The 3rd and 2nd loops…

7. And the 2nd and 1st loops…

8. Now pin the waist loop to the top of the skirt, sew together with .25 inch seams, but leave about a 2 inch opening.

9. Attach a safety pin to one of the ends of the elastic and thread it through the waist casing. Overlap 1 inch of both ends of the elastic and sew together. Now finish sewing up the opening.

10. Grab the dental floss, it’s time to ruffle up that hem!

11. Set your sewing machine to zigzag stitch, your stitch width to 4, and your stitch length to 4.

12. Place the dental floss along the .25 inch seam line, secure the dental floss with a small piece of tape. (Note: I forgot to take a photo before I started the zigzag stitch.)

13. Zigzag stitch over the dental floss.

In this photo you can see how in this method you move the fabric along a “rod.”

14. Slide fabric along the dental floss to create gathers.

15. Pin the gathered hem to the bottom of the skirt, sew together with .5 inch seams. Pull the dental floss all the way out of the zigzag seam. Press the hem.

All done!

Now that you have learned how to create gathers using the zigzag stitch over dental floss method, you can use it on future projects that require gathering.