how to make a gathered sink skirt

by | Mar 17, 2021 | All Things Home, Bathrooms, Decorating, My House, Sewing, Tutorials | 37 comments

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I actually made this sink skirt and shot a tutorial for it over the summer, when I was working on a flurry of projects for my book (coming this fall.)   It was supposed to be a tutorial for the book, but I decided not to add it in.  There were a few reasons for that…

1 – I couldn’t get a really great shot of it, because the bathroom is so small, the lighting is poor, and the mirror would reflect the brightly lit foyer.

2 – I wasn’t sure if it really was a good project.  I sort of made it up as I went along, literally using materials I had leftover from other projects.

3 – Because I was making it up as I went, it’s not perfect.

4 – I wasn’t sure it would be practical long-term.  I even planned on making a new one almost immediately after finishing this one.

But, it grew on me and we’ve had the sink skirt in our bathroom now for about eight months and it’s doing great.  So, I thought I would share the tutorial here on the blog.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

Before we get into the sink skirt tutorial, can I just say that this bathroom makes me happy?  It’s so fresh and cheery.

So, to make the sink skirt, I used a remnant of an antique German duvet cover.  It had some burn holes in a corner, so I was able to get it for a good price several years ago.

To determine how much fabric you need, measure the height and girth/width of the sink.  You’ll need the height measurement plus a few inches (I left about 8″) for hems on the top and bottom.  You’ll need 2 1/2 – 3 times the width, so there’s plenty of fabric to gather.  It is a skirt after all and I have to admit that I’ve never grown out loving a swishy, twirly skirt.

Hem the sides, top, and bottom.  To make a neat hem, I’ll fold the fabric over twice, iron the fold, pin in place, and sew.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

The measurement of the side hems doesn’t matter very much.  You’re simply hemming to hide the raw edges.  The top and bottom hem need to be measured to make sure the skirt will just skim the floor.

Once hemmed, cut a piece of pencil pleat tape to the width of the skirt and pin it along the top, leaving about a 1/4″ gap at the top.  The piece of pleating tape I’m using was actually cut length-wise for another project, but I just went with it.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

Sew the top and bottom of the tape in place.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

Draw the strings of the pleat tape until the gathered fabric is the width of the sink.  Tie off and tack down the strings.  Make sure the fabric is evenly distributed.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

This is where the tutorial goes off the rails a bit!  I used stick-on Velcro tape for both the sink and the skirt…

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

This meant the pleats sort of stuck out from the sink…

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

I actually liked the look of it, but I wasn’t convinced it would stay long-term.  I decided to order sew-on Velcro tape to sew it on the skirt instead.  This would flatten out the pleats and better secure the Velcro and therefore the skirt to the sink.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

And, the pleats ended up being a little wonky when they were sewn down.  In hindsight, I would’ve just pleated the skirt by hand and skipped the pleating tape.  That’s what I was planning to do when I remade the skirt and maybe I’ll do that one day, but the wonkiness hasn’t bothered me as much as it did initially.  There’s something sort of sweet and cottagey about it.  It adds a little quirk and character to what was initially a very boring, beige suburban bathroom and a cheap pedestal sink from a big box store.

gathered sink skirt tutorial | miss mustard seed

I can also tuck a small tote of cleaning supplies under the sink, which is nice to have that little bit of storage.  (Although the cats like wrestling under the skirt, too, so they often up-end the small tote and send the bottles rolling across the floor!)

So, there you go!  You can see why this sink skirt project didn’t make it into the book.  It was a good idea that ended up being an imperfect, make-do, meandering sort of project.  But, sometimes those work out and can still be inspiring…

You can find posts about the rest of the bathroom makeover below…

Picture Frame Molding in the Half Bath

Preview of the Half Bath Makeover

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    1. Babs

      Charming! Perfection is highly over-rated.

      • Susan

        Great inspiration! I have been mulling over some way to disguise an ugly utility room sink in the eyeline of my kitchen.

    2. Diane Orciuoli

      Love it, thank you for sharing!

      • Patty

        It looks great! A long time ago you posted about buying your sewing machine. I cannot find that post. Can you please tell me where it is. Thanks!

        • Marian Parsons

          Thank you! This machine is a Sailrite upholstery machine.

    3. mary

      Beautiful room! A long time ago, I did one for a client but was able to attach the skirt around the inside of the bottom of the sink. It was an old style sink. It really dressed up the sink plus provided great storage!

      • Marian Parsons

        Yes! Attaching the skirt to the underside of the sink would be great if you can. It didn’t work with mine, though.

    4. Brenda

      I was wondering about how the cats liked the sink. Thanks for sharing! I love the idea, but I expect to find my cat swinging on it. I’m not sure the velcro would hold up to his big, burly self. 😉

      • Marian Parsons

        Oh my goodness! The cats are so funny with the sink skirt. They are not as into it now, but when it was new, they were always playing in it.

    5. Carla from Kansas

      I learned how to use the pleating tape!

    6. Marlene

      Really makes your bathroom pretty, thanks for sharing and I love your wallpaper.

    7. Kelly Miller

      So pretty! I love all the blues.

    8. Valerie

      I’m curious if the sewing machine foot it a zipper foot. What machine do you have? I think the skirt looks good!

      • Marian Parsons

        Yes, it does have a zipper foot-on. I am almost always sewing something with piping, since I do a lot of slipcovers and upholstery, so I just leave the zipper foot on for small projects like these. I have a Sailrite machine.

    9. Annie B

      Oh how I absolutely love this skirt !!! But I wonder if the fabric has to be on the upper most rim of the sink. I envision my little ones washing their hands and soaking all those beautiful pleats. Do you think moving the top of the skirt down perhaps and inch would save my skirt from drowning. Thank you for sharing your projects with us.
      I can’t wait until your new book comes out this fall.

      • Marian Parsons

        I thought that might be an issue with two middle school boys, but it hasn’t at all.

    10. Dee Waters

      It seems the skirt would get wet when the sink is used. Is there a reason you didn’t attach it behind the apron of the sink? Same effect but it won’t get wet.

      • harriet

        Yes, this is what I was thinking!

      • Marian Parsons

        There actually isn’t an apron on this sink. It’s like a bowl. I should’ve shown a picture of the sink without the skirt. Actually, the skirt rarely gets wet. It might get dripped on here and there, but it hasn’t been the issue I thought it might be.

    11. Judy

      Marian, I had to laugh at reading the first few lines of this post. I have a very small bath that is wallpapered and I made a sink skirt for it, thinking the same thoughts you did. Well, that was almost 30 years ago and the skirt is still going strong. You bath is really pretty. Love the wallpaper..Stay well..xxoJudy

    12. Susan Hunston

      OMG! The sink skirt is lovely and the perfect addition to your bathroom. I’m a longtime sewist and professional longarm quilter so I made a sink skirt YEARS ago for my powder room and what a wonderful addition it was. Time for a new one as I am in the midst of a big redecorating project. Just need to find the right fabric. Love your blue and white plaid.
      I so enjoy your posts and admire your talent

    13. Sandy

      Is there really such a thing as perfect???
      The skirt is lovely.
      Your comment on twirling skirts reminded me of our daughter at a young age. Twirling was a must on skirts and dresses. Kate did lots of twirl tests in dressing rooms.?
      Enjoyed the tutorial and your insight on tweaking it.
      AND I can’t wait to see your new book!

    14. Patricia Kasparian

      I love the skirt!

      I have to ask: did you cross stitch those beautiful hand towels pictured here? I’d love some of those w my own initial! If you could share a source, I’d be grateful.


      • Marian Parsons

        I did, yes! I used to share patterns for cross-stitched initials I found on old tea towels and this was one of them. Just look under the cross-stitch category of my blog.

    15. Suzi Matteson

      Thanks for sharing this project with us. I think it’s adorable.

    16. Darlene

      You did an amazing job on the skirt!
      And the perfect shade of blue does
      Make you smile?

    17. Kay

      Velcro comes with an adhesive backing that can be attached to the under side of the sink, then the top of the skirt gets to be attached under the sink with the opposite of the velcro. I love the sink skirt but don’t have the type of sink that will allow that. The fabric you used is perfect with the wallpaper.

    18. Lisa P

      This skirt is a such pretty way to add even more personality to your lovely powder room! I made a similar one years ago when I had a pedestal sink and needed a little more bathroom storage space (and sewed it by hand since I had no machine back then). I found it held up very well, even through the occasional machine washing.

      Thanks for sharing the project!

    19. TS

      It’s really sweet! You could change it up a bit and add a “waistband” to the skirt. That way you have a nice flat band to attach to the sink and the gathers below.

    20. Carolyn

      Love the blues in the pretty wallpaper and sink fabric. What is the name of your wallpaper?

    21. mary m

      Love it! I think i would have lowered it a half inch or so. Is it washable? Should the pleater be prewashed?

      • Marian Parsons

        Yep! It’s all washable. I just separate the Velcro and can wash the skirt. I prewashed the fabric, but not the Velcro or pleating tape. Neither of those will shrink.

    22. Addie

      Beautiful bath. Love that wallpaper. It is funny how wallpaper can make a small bathroom look so much bigger and interesting.
      I don’t think I could get past that skirt so close to the inner sink/water. Your boys must be VERY careful!!! They make circular ( and half circles) curtain rods and why couldn’t you attach one of those to the wall right under the rim of the outer sink? This, to me, looks a bit like the skirt is trying to eat the sink. It would be a bit more relaxed and show the white part of the sink as like a framing. Just my thoughts…..

      • Miss Mustard Seed

        If you look at where the faucet is, it is several inches away from the rim of the bowl of the sink. It really doesn’t get much water on it unless there is dripping when you remove your hands after washing them. I even spray cleaner and clean the sink right up to the skirt and it doesn’t get wet. It’s really not as much of an issue as one might assume.

        Using a curved rod could work if your sink is a standard size or shape that the rod fits around. My bowl is a bit more oblong, so I would imagine a custom rod would need to be created.

    23. Kristin Gjertsen

      I made a front skirt for our guest bathroom. Very blah space–older oak cabinets, squared off sink cabinet with an ivory topper. The skirt cozied up the space by hiding the old cabinets and adding some soft fabric to a small space. I plan to paint the glass front cabinet over the toilet area with Swiss Coffee. I already lined the inside of the glass to hide the interior clutter, but I am not thrilled with the current fabric. The bathroom is small with a slanted ceiling which makes the room feel old fashioned (which I love). My plan is to remove or cover the popcorn ceiling, add high baseboards, and picture molding to the lower part of the wall painted Swiss Coffee, and paint or wallpaper the upper wall and slanted ceiling. I am thinking a crisp, strong blue for the walls and ceiling. Over the years I have collected botanical prints in black frames or painted them black myself, and used them to dress up the blah bathroom. The floor tile is black so the black frames will help marry the colors. I also got lucky at our local Habitat for Humanity Store and was able to purchase New in the Box fixtures at less than half price to update our bathrooms, showers, and kitchen sink. Our old fixtures were 35 years old and in bad shape, so this was a wonderful find. Thank you for the inspiration. Yours is just lovely.

    24. Peggy Spencer

      Didn’t know about pleating tape,so will look for some.I will have to look for some.
      I think it looks great.Wish I had your ideas years ago.
      I love your home,and love that you share with us.

    25. cheryl

      That wallpaper is absolutely amazing!!!


    Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

    I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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