Friday, January 29, 2010

A pettiskirt - or What I did on my summer holidays! (With pattern diagram!)

So I joined the craze and embarked on a pettiskirt project, assisted by my Mum. The skirt is for Alice, daughter of Michelle. Alice is about to become a big sister so we thought it would be nice for her to have something new and special when the baby arrives.

But there are a lot of people making pettiskirts out there - what's my point of difference? Well, one thing - apart from the fact I had my toddler son model the skirt for the photos, as the recipient wasn't available (and anyway it's a surprise) - if you scroll down, you'll find a PATTERN LAYOUT DIAGRAM for how it's constructed, plus photos of how it came together, to assist anyone else who'd like to make one.
I am indebted to two sites - http://www.sewmamasew.com/forum/index.php?topic=242.0 - and
http://sewingmamas.com/b/downloads.php?do=file&id=414 for their helpful explanations. How does the saying go? "If I have sewn further it is by standing on the sewing machines of others"? Something like that!

And Kerri (@sewmamasew) is absolutely right about polyester chiffon - it frays and it will drive you mad. Remember this when you are at the fabric store. BUY THE NYLON! We forgot and had to overlock most of the skirt....

But it was Sandrahd (@sewingmamas) whose photos made it all make sense. I think I have a visual learning style. For anyone else who needs to see a pattern or a diagram, here goes:

The waist piece (in a satiny fabric) will be, in the finished skirt, one third its length. As you are making a double skirt (with inside layers and outside layers), the waist will be twice one third (ie two thirds) times twice your skirt wearer's waist measurement. Most preschoolers will have about a 20" waist, and twice this is just less than the roll width of most cheap satins (105cm*), so to make your life easy, just cut a piece selvedge to selvidge. Similarly with the layers - you will need at least 18 pieces one third the length of the finished skirt, and the same width as the waist piece - and the ONE GOOD THING about polyester chiffon is that it is easy to tear in a straight line selvedge to selvedge, so it was easy to create the 18 pieces.

This is what it looks like laid out - in diagram, and real life:

The more pieces you add, the more full your skirt. Or, you can add more to the bottom layer for more "pouffiness".
Here's the 18 pieces laid out on the floor. The bottom tier is bunched up to fit in the photo.

The best way to work is to cut all your pieces first, then work from the bottom up. It is much easer to sew each layer onto an ungathered layer, above it, than to sew it togther when all gathered.

First, gather your "fluff", or the frill for the bottom. You will need two or three times the length of your bottom layer, cut into 5cm or 2 inch wide strips (or buy pre cut strips in rolls).  Stitch along the middle of the strip with a gathering foot on your machine, or a long stitch if using an ordinary foot (but try turning the tension up and it may gather for you). Pull the threads to gather, but don't gather too tightly or it will be difficult to sew onto the skirt.

When you have a mountain of gathered fluff, stitch it onto the bottom of the bottom layer of the skirt. Don't cut the fluff if it is longer than your bottom pieces - just keep feeding new pieces in until they are all joined by the fluff.

Next, run a gathering stitch along the top of your bottom layer (or use a gathering foot) to gather. Now you'll need to remember your maths. Gather it tightly enough so that the gathered tops fit the (ungathered) bottom of the layer above. So if you are sewing two pieces onto one piece in the layer above, gather each of the bottom layer to half its length.

Sew the bottom layer to the top (ungathered) layer.

In this photo, I've gathered the bottom tier and attached it to the top tier of chiffon. As you can see, I gathered each piece seperately. As I was gathering by hand, it was easier to keep it in manageable chunks, then sew it all together at the end. With the mountains of gathering you are creating, you wont see the joins. 

Next, gather the top of your first tier of chiffon. Again, once gathered, the lengths should add up to the length of your satin layer.

All the gathering is done, and the next stage is to join the ends of the satin, so you end up with satin tube with frills.

Then, fold it in half (as indicated by the pressed line, below). Create a casing for the elastic, add a bow, and it's made.

Other websites have a lot more information about the process and the amount of fabric required (at least 4m for a 12" long pettiskirt, I'd say), but I hope that this is helpful to someone.

* I'm in Australia, where we buy fabric by the metre, but most advice sites are in the US, where everything is in inches. Isn't this how the Mars Rover project came apart? Lucky we are only making pettiskirts!

49 comments:

  1. Hey Bronwyn! I just forwarded your post over to the sewing Editor for Craft Gossip, I think it might do well in her section! Great work :)

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  2. I just stumbled upon your blog and I must say I love the skirt. Your instructions are clear and easy even to a beginner sewwer. I will definetly be checking you out :)

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  3. Hooray! I've been wanting the pattern for these skirts! My twin 4 year olds will LOOOOVVVEEE them! Thank you!

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  4. Absolutely gorgeous! You did an amazing job with this!

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  5. Wow! AB FAB! Love this it is soooo beautiful!

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  6. this looks so much easier than other tutorials I've seen for these. I will actually make this one!!!!! Thank you!

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  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been wanting to do something like this for my little one, but have not wanted to spend the time yet researching how to do it and dealing with trail and error. You did all the work for me. Thank you.

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  8. I've been wanting to undertake this task, thanks for the tips! Come visit my blog, honeybearlane.blogspot.com.

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  9. Very cute skirt. It may be helpful to some readers to know that nylon chiffon is also called sheer tricot. You'll find more places (at least in the U.S. with that in stock).

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  10. This is such a CUTE skirt, I saw an episode on Martha Stewart a year or two ago featuring pettiskirts like this and fell in love but thought they would be too hard to make. Thanks for sharing! My daughter will love this! (just found you blog today through U Create!)
    Have a wonderful day!

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  11. I just can NOT get over how gorgeous this is! Every little girl in the world should have one. I always wished I had as a kid. SO cute

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  12. Excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing.

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  13. I am so excited to make this. I just was wondering if you could explain a little more how you did the "fluff" on the bottom and how to make a casing for the elastic. I can't wait to make this for my little priness!

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  14. This is so cute! I linked on my Treasures for Tots Facebook Fan page!
    http://www.facebook.com/#/pages/Treasures-for-Tots/189979926301?ref=ts

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  15. I am thinking i might do these for my girls for easter, in their favorite colors. A little cardigan, cute cami, and a poof pettiskirt - how fun! The best part of this post? Your son as the model!

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  16. Hi - I love your skirt and will surely make this for my twins. Thank you

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  17. This is awesome - I'm just in the process of doing the ruffle fluff, and I stumbled upon your blog and this description with the terrific layout! Thanks for helping my overview quite a bit! The petti skirt itself is gorgeous as well, I just love them to pieces! :)

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  18. Great skirt! I'll be making two for 2 & 4 year old granddaughters! Thanks for sharing!

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  19. I'm here via Treasures for Tots and this is wonderful! I especially appreciate the tips and what didn't work for you - that's always SO good to know. I linked to this on my weekly roundup - thanks for sharing!

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  20. between you and sew mama sew i got my act together and have made 2 of them. the only thing i would say is that if you are using a gathering foot (the best $20 i spent as made this fun rather than onerous) then set it on its smallest gather setting (i started with the biggest, deepest gather and used an obscene amount of material). now.... logical as it may seem.... measure how much the gather shortens the material. so for me, it is literally 1/4 the length of the original fabric. therefore my second tier had 4 pieces the length of the firs tier, my third had 16 pieces etc. This is diferent from yours cos you were hand gathering (shoot me now) and therefore could modify the length of your third tier whereas mine was consistent tightness of gathers.i dont even want to think how much the ruffle fluff used but my quilting ruler and cutter were a godsend.
    thanks for your inspiration! i used 5 metres when each tier was 3 1/2 inches deep.

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  21. Thank you so much for laying it all out! I've had the fabric to make one but not the courage, but now I think I'll try it.

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  22. Thank you LUCYBOOTS AUSTRALIA for your thoughful and generous comments. You made me smile. As I'm in Australia and you are in Australia (I presume) I'd love to know what you made your skirts out of - and where you got the fabric (if in Australia). I like the idea of a ruffler foot - and you sensibly pointed out how to calculate the lengths if you are able to get consistent gathers. I'm sure it's much easier with a gathering foot, but I'm much more of a "jump straight in" personality rather than a find a gathering foot, fit it, learn how to use it... etc etc person.
    Would love to hear from you again.
    Bronwyn (as in made by...)

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  23. Thanks so much! I love the way you made this! It makes so much sense and is so easy! I'm going to make one for my daugther today!

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  24. Still lovin' this post! You are one of my favorite new blogs which is why I'm giving you the Beautiful Blog Award! Check it out here to accept it! http://candacecreations.blogspot.com/

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  25. And here I had thought whenever I saw one of these, that these cute little tots were all running around in their petticoats! I think it looks cute when they run barefoot in them.

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  26. Hey Bronwyn!
    i bought the fabric at an independent store in adelaide - dk fabrics. i looked at spotlight and lincraft but their non-fraying stuff was very shiny and not what i wanted.
    I did search on etsy though and found 6 yards for $18 US which is cheaper than what i payed. go the strong australian dollar!
    so next time i will get some fabric from there as they had a nice choice of colours (DKs very limited. again i cant say again how good the gathering foot is - went into sewing shop- they could order it for $96. tell 'em their dreaming!....... bought it online $20. so if you feel tempted again, i think the whole thing took me 6 hours of movie time to do.
    cheers
    Anna

    PS lucyboots is my nickname from my dad. it also appears the be the stage name of a porn star. we are not the same person!!!! :-)

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  27. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I finished three skirts for my daughters just in time for Easter, and I wouldn't have known where to start without your help. I put a link to your blog on mine, http://livinginlilliput.blogspot.com/ along with pictures of my process and finished product. Thanks again!

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  28. Hi,
    Imagine my surprise when I found your post referencing my post at sewingmamas! Isn't it soooooo much easier than the other tutorials out there make it seem? I can't even imagine trying to make one of these in the round. . .gathering many many yards of fluff until it fits exactly the bottom tier seems like a crazy undertaking. Your skirt is beautiful :)

    Sandra (sandrahd)

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  29. H! How long did it take you to do this?

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  30. Just love petticoats!!!
    greetings from Holland,
    Ineke

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  31. Just a question: that last little ruffling at the bottom that looks to be no wider than 2-3 inches...how to make that??

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  32. I made a mistake at the fabric store, and was thinking I needed tulle instead of chiffon for some reason. Do you think it would come out okay with soft tulle instead of the chiffon, or should I use it to make a tutu, and go buy the chiffon?

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  33. This is by far the best tutorial I've seen, and I've been looking for ages. Thank you so much. It's beautiful!! Great job!

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  34. Hi Daniel, very kind of you. But I've just seen this, which has even more photos - http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2010/07/full-and-fluffy-pettiskirt.html - but will only work if you buy the chiffon in long strips.
    Bronwyn

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  35. I have scoured the net and found that this is one of the best tutorials out there!!! I am, too, a visual learner, so hat's off to you from me!
    Just one question, though...the bottom layer has a really pretty little piece of fluff, very cute...can you help me with that so I can make one too, or did I miss it...thanks!!!

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  36. Think you. This is the first time making pettiskirts made sense to me. Pictures are very helpful.

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  37. I, too, learned how to sew to make pettiskirts, but every tutorial I found just looked like I was getting myself into a huge headache!!!! Sadly, I'd decided to not make any because it looked like such a pain! I'm actually going to save this page as a pdf (just in case!) and make my princess some pettiskirts!!!!!!!! Thank you so much! You are now like my favorite big sister that I always follow around although you always shut the door on me...hehehehehehe

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  38. Thanks a lot! I'll defintely try that!
    I feel so stupid now spending almost 70€ for a pettiskirt for my daughter's first birthday! This looks just like the Oopsie Daisy skirt I bought, only better because you get to pick your very own design :-)

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  39. Thank you so much, i have always wanted to make a pettiskirt but never had the time to try and understand the instructions I found via other pages. Your instructions were very easy to understand THANK YOU I have made my first skirt, for my niece now I'm off to make another one for my daughter.
    I didn't use a gathering foot, just turned the tension up on my machine which gathered the fabric. I can truely say that a bit of love went into every stitch.

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  40. Thanks for your great tutorial. It worked great for me. Your explanations are straight to the point and the pictures very helpful.
    You can find the result here: http://mirtilocrafts.blogspot.com/2011/03/birthday-pettiskirt.html

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  41. OMG I am novice at sewing and really wanted to make one for my baby for her 1st birthday and a matching one for her 10yr old big siser. Thank you so much for AUSSIE measurements all this 1/4 inch stuff boggles the mind! I can't wait to give it a go!

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  42. @The Stevens Family I've just seen one made from tulle and it does work although the finish is slightly different to the chiffon ones. See http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/rock-n-roll-tutu?image=200360

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  43. Great Job! This is really clear and easy to understand. Do you think you would be able to show us how to make a pettiskirt for 10-12 year olds. Thank you

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  44. Hi! Done mine in maroon and my 10-yr old loved it soo much she wore it every other day. Thing is this skirt is rather delicate (don't let your child romp in the woods -a la` snow white) and she kept tearing out the stiches. I do recommend a zig zag stich when sewing the tiers so that the skirt is bit more srtonger. :)

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  45. Great Job...cheers forma México....Gracias

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