Thursday, July 19, 2012

Birthing Skirt Tutorial

When I was planning my VBAC with Soren, I went back and forth on whether to buy a Binsi "birthing skirt," a skirt which is ideal for giving birth. It's a garment designed to wear from early labor up through the birth. Pairing it with a tank or whatever shirt you want, you can avoid the dreaded hospital gown with the back that always gapes open. Care providers can still have easy access, and the birthing woman has freedom of movement and modesty.

The concept sounded great, and the Binsi has great reviews, but the $50 price tag held me back. I just couldn't see paying that much for a skirt that I wouldn't get much wear out of and might not even end up using for the big day. So I looked around for some tutorials on how to make my own. I had seen one somebody made that was just sort of a wrap skirt type thing. That didn't sound like it would work very well since I wanted to be able to sit on my birth ball and do lunges without it falling all open. So, after not finding a tutorial for exactly what I was envisioning, I decided to strike out on my own. I ended up being pretty happy with my final product!

For material, I recommend using a knit that won't ravel so that you can leave the edges unfinished. I did a trial run using a very soft stretchy jersey knit that was like $1.50 at Walmart. I ended up loving it and wearing the skirt around the house a ton. I wasn't crazy about cotton for the actual birthing skirt though. Cotton is absorptive and with the, um, liquid-ness of birth, I didn't think that would be very comfortable. So for the final skirt, I browsed the racks at JoAnns and picked some random black, mostly synthetic, very stretchy fabric.

(A quick note about my pictures: in my trial-run skirt, I screwed up and sewed my waistband on inside out, so the serged seam shows on the right side of the skirt. You won't make such a silly mistake.)

Birthing Skirt (inside out)

Below are my directions for my birthing skirt.

1. Using this tutorial from Crafterhours, make a pattern for a bias-cut skirt. (The bias-cut skirt is a great pregnancy skirt, by the way--I made two!). You'll determine your skirt length at this step. Remember if you follow my advice for being lazy/easy and pick a knit, you don't need to allow extra for the hem. You don't have to use the bias-cut instructions--you won't be cutting this on the bias. You could just use any A-line pattern you might have or if you're feeling frisky, simply lay out a skirt and use it for a pattern (just remember to add however much seam-allowance you're going to use). If you use an existing skirt pattern, you'll also need to cut out a waistband. The Crafterhours' instructions suggest 13" tall and your waist measurement minus 4, divided by 2. (W-4/2)

2. Cut out your body pieces and waist band. Make sure the stretch is going around your body, not up and down. In addition to a front and a back, cut a third panel just like the other two. Then, cut the third panel down the middle vertically. So now you have a waistband and 4 skirt pieces.

3. Pin the two big panels together (right sides facing each other). Baste them together about 5 or 6 inches down. Put it on, imagine how it will look with waistband added on, and see how you like where the stitching ends. What I was going for here is complete freedom of movement but without having the split go all the way to the waistband to get as much coverage as possible. I sat on my birth ball, did some lunges, tried some squats to test out the freedom of movement. I did have to adjust how far down I stitched after trying it out. I ended up stitching about 6.5" down from the waistband. 

4. Once you have the stitching where you want it, flip your skirt back inside out (right sides together), and sew it up with a good stretch seam--I just serged mine. Then take one of your half-panels. Find the top center of the panel and line the center up with the seam you just created. Pin the panel to the top of the skirt. Repeat with the other panel on the opposite side. Now you should have an A-line skirt stitched together partway down with a panel underneath each split.

Here's a picture of what the side panels look like once they are attached.  I am showing you the inside of the skirt here (remember, I accidentally serged my waistband on the outside of the skirt--oops!).
Attachment of side panel

5. Sew your waistband's short sides together to make a circle. Then fold it over, hot-dog style. Press.

5. With the skirt right side out, take your waistband and pin the edge of your waistband around the outside of your skirt. Serge or sew together with a stretch stitch.

6. Turn inside out and admire your handiwork! If you're lazy like me, you're all done! Or, if you're an over-acheiver, finish your seams and raw edges however you want.

Hemmed sides. 
Open sides under the panel

Some action shots--sorry for the awful iPhone pics in my dark house. Will is no help with the camera yet.

Standing straight--panel is hidden.
Hanging straight

Side panels peaking out with the bent leg.
Side Panels in action

The true test: a deep lunge--no skin!
Full lunge--no skin

I loved my trial-run skirt (despite putting on the waistband wrong side out), and wore it a lot at the end of my pregnancy. It was one of the few truly comfy garments I had. The actual birthing skirt DID get worn during labor. It provided great coverage, and I was still able to get into some quite odd positions. I didn't get any pictures of it before the big day, and it was pretty well soaked after the birth, so we tossed it after the delivery. It served its purpose well, though!

I hope this helps someone else make her own comfy birthing skirt!


  1. Thank you very much! I'm 28 weeks along and was thinking of making my own birthing skirt. I can't wait to make this one! :-)

  2. Awesome! Hope you enjoy it and have a great end of pregnancy!

  3. I love love love this: I actually had a pair of yoga pants I was trying to turn into a birth skirt somehow. Already ripped out the crotch seams. Now if I just turn it sideways and put in panels I will have one of these. :-)

  4. About how many yards do you think should be bought originally? Can you please email me? Thanks!