Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How to Make a Petticoat

So a few days turned into over a week. Sorry. Last week was my last chance to be lazy until Thanksgiving break in November, so I watched a couple movies, read Watchmen, and took a few naps. So for those of you who have a sewing machine, some time, and a little patience here is the tutorial, finally:

A few notes to begin:
1. Petticoats should be made from bottom to top.
2. They can have 3 tiers, or 5 tiers, or 7, whatever; the one I am making has 3 tiers.
3. The bottom tier (on the one I am demonstrating) is a total of 8 yards, which is gathered into 4 yards, which is gathered into 2 yards, and that is gathered into my waist measurement.
5. This one can be adjusted for a longer skirt if needed.
6. You should read all of these directions through first, before starting on yours.
7. If you have any questions or suggestions, post them in comments, and I will answer them there as soon as I can.

STEP 1: Things you need
1. 4 yds of tulle or crinoline*
2. About 16 yds of 7/8" ribbon
3. 1/4" twill tape (equal to your waist measurement)
4. 1 hook and 3 eyes, or your preference of closing devices
5. Fray Check**
6. A regular pencil or a fabric pencil, not a marker. If you use a fabric marker and apply Fray Check to it, it will smear and get all over.

*Tulle gets really itchy to sit on, crinoline does not, so I prefer crinoline.
**If you use crinoline you will need to get Fray Check; if you use tulle, none is needed.

STEP 2: Math
How long should your petticoat be?
-It should be 1" shorter than the shortest skirt you plan on wearing it with. Most of my skirts from waist to hem are about 23", so my petticoat will be 22". This way, if I wear a skirt/dress that is 24" from my waist to the hem, I can just wear the petticoat a little lower. And I won't risk it being seen.
How long (vertically) should each tier be?
-So this gets a little tricky. The hem of the bottom tier does not need a seam allowance, as the ribbon is just folded around the bottom. The top of it (the bottom tier that is) will have 1/2" seam allowance (I am used to working with 1/2", if you like 5/8", just use 1/2" it will be a lot easier to do the math). The middle tier will have have 1/2" s.a. on the bottom, and 1/2" s.a. on the top. The top tier will have 1/2" s.a. on the bottom, but no s.a. on the top, that will be finished just like the hem of the petticoat, with ribbon folded over the edge.
Ok, so I want my petticoat to be 22", but I have to take the seam allowances into account. As you can see above I will have a total of 2" in seam allowance (four 1/2" s.a.'s) so that makes 24" total, which is easy 24"/3tiers=8"tiers
Another example: If you want your petticoat to be 24", take 24+2(s.a.'s)=26. 26/3= 8.6666667. I would just round to 8 1/2". In the end your petticoat will be 1/2" shorter, and it won't really make a difference, trust me. Or if that bothers you, you can just add 1/2 to one of the tiers, when you mark them.

So back to my 8" tiers. Keeping all the tiers the same length makes it a lot easier to draw and cut the pieces. But I will end up with a petticoat whose tiers are not equal in length. The bottom tier will end up being 7 1/2'', the middle one will be 7'' and the top will be 7 1/2'' a total of 22". Does that make sense? If it doesn't now, read on and it will.

STEP 3: Drawing, gluing, and cutting
First, I will draw four 8in x 4yd strips. (I will be using my measurements for instructing purposes, so 8" might not be your measurement)
Once those are drawn, go back and put Fray Check on them. Every place there is a pencil mark, Fray Check needs to go.
Then cut them out. Cut two 4 yd strips, cut one 4 yd strip in half so you are left with two 2 yd strips, and then cut a 2 yd strip in half so you have two 1 yd strips.
STEP 4: Sewing and Finishing the seams
Take your two 4 yd strips and sew them together to make your 8 yd bottom tier. Do this using French seams. Here is how to do it (it's kind of hard to see with white thread on white fabric that has no "wrong" side, so this tutorial might be helpful as well):
1. Sew raw edges together using a 1/4" seam allowance, and then trim the s.a. close to the stitch
2. Finger press the seam (you don't have to use an iron because you might melt your fabric; mine is 100% nylon).
3. Fold the pieces of fabric in the other direction. The raw edge is now between the two layers of fabric. Now sew another stitch to the left of the raw edge (that is sandwiched between the two layers).
This is what it should look like:
4. Now edge stitch that little flap down. This is not technically a flat felled seam (like the ones on the inseam of a pair of jeans) but it looks like one. So if this looks kind of like your jeans, then you did it right. Also sewing this down is not part of a French seam, a French seam is left at step 3.
Here is what the final thing should look like:
Do this again to the middle tier (which consists of two 2 yd strips).
Do this to ONLY ONE seam on the top tier. Leave the other seam open, for it will be finished differently.
To finish the open seams of the top tier, fold a 7/8" piece of ribbon around it and sew.

STEP 5: Basting stitches for gathering
Start basting stitches here:
And end them here:
Then start them again here:
And end here:
Each seam, on every tier, should look like this with the basting stitches starting at either side:
Then leave them, do not do any gathering yet.
*Starting and ending the basting stitches at each seam, gives you more places to gather from, which makes it easier, you'll see.

STEP 6: Finishing the hem
Cut a piece of 7/8" ribbon a couple inches over 8 yds long. Fold it over the hem of the bottom tier and pin.
When you get to the end, cut the corners off and fold the last part of the ribbon under to finish it.

Then sew.

STEP 7: Gathering each tier to the next
1. First notch the center point with a little pencil mark between the two seams on all tiers for matching purposes.
2. Pin the top tier to the middle matching seams and pencil marks
3. Gather the bottom tier to the middle, and pin as you go along.
4. Sew with 1/2" seam allowance
5. Finish by sewing a piece of ribbon over the raw edge. (Do this BEFORE gathering the middle tier to the top tier.) Place your fabric in the sewing machine with the bottom gathered tier on the left and the ungathered middle tier on the right of the presser foot.

Place the left ribbon edge just over the seam you just sewed, and edge stitch all the way around.

Then stitch the right side of the ribbon down. Fold the ribbon under to finish the end.

6. Repeat 1-5 to add the middle tier to the top tier. This is what the top tier at the ribboned seams should look like:

STEP 8: Finishing the top
1. Cut a piece of 1/4" twill tape equal to your waist measurement. Gather the top to this.
2. Sew. Make sure the twill tape edge does not go past 3/8". That way when you finish the top with a folded ribbon none of it will show.
3. Cut a piece of 7/8 ribbon about 3'' longer than your waist measurement. Fold this over the top, and sew. Leave the 3" extra hanging passed one ribboned edge.
Finish the ribbon edges by folding them under as you sew.

Almost done. . .

STEP 9: Closures
Sew the hook and the eyes here:

STEP 10: Look it over
Cut all hanging threads, and remove all visible basting stitches.

Now, if you have skirt such as this:

Add the lovely petticoat you just made:

And you get something like this:


Also, when you are done with yours, I would love to see it. Send me a picture to sugardaleclothing@gmail.com. And if you want I will post it on my blog (with a link to yours), so you can show it off, because unfortunately all this hard work is just going under something else.

I made another petticoat with tulle and eyelet fabric. Here's a mini tutorial for that one.


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Anonymous said...

If I wish to make more of a bell shaped petticoat would I need to alter this guide in any way or just add another layer like previously mentioned?

Anonymous said...

I am new to sewing and I just got confused really fast LOL! I got confused right on the cutting part... After cutting the pieces out, what is the end result?? How many 4 yd, 2yd, and 1yd pieces are there?

Unknown said...

Hey Sugardale!

Thanks so much for this tutorial! I ended up buying waaayyy too much tulle and ribbon, so I'm considering making and selling other petticoats, using the techniques in this tutorial. I would link people to your tutorial, but would you mind if I sold these petticoats? I've gotta make my money back somehow ^_^;

Thanks a bunch!

Darlingbrit said...

Hi Sugardale!

This is a very detailed Tutorial, but I'm having some issues understanding/have some questions haha.

My waist measurement is 2 yards, so if I were to do a three tier would the lengths be 3 yards, 6 yards, 12 yards?

The dress that will go with this petticoat has a skirt length of 27" so how wide would the tiers have to be to have it work?

Also, is it possible to double up the fabric in each tier to make it more poofy? 'm trying to make it very full. I'm trying to make it out of tulle but finish the edges with ribbon to give it more of a classic look.

I hope you can help me!



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