Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pettiskirt Sewing Instructions & Tips- Part 2

If you have followed the first stage of the tutorial, you should have the correct fabric, cut and ready to go and all notions should have been obtained.

Construction:


Step #1- Prepare the waistband/ top tier

I'm going to give you TWO alternatives for the waistband- a plain elastic waist OR and adjustable one. The basic elastic waist is a little easier while the adjustable waistband makes for a better fit and can be cinched or relaxed to fit different kids or grow with the child.

In the other tutorials I've found online, they tell you to use a strip of fabric stabilizer on the edge of the satin to prevent fraying. I don't like the bulk that adds. Plus, I'm lazy, so I just use a tight zig-zag stitch around all sides of the fabric before sewing the waistband up and it works just fine for me.

Now, sew the edges of this fabric together to form a loop. Iron the seam open then fold the loop in half with right sides OUT and iron flat.



Create a casing that will allow the 1" elastic to be threaded through. Leave a 1-2" opening so you can get the elastic in. Your waistband should now look like this:


Option #1 Plain Elastic Waist- Cut a piece of elastic 3-4 or so inches LESS than the child's waist measurement. Fold a 45 degree triangle on the end and attach a safety pin. Thread through the casing then overlap ends and sew flat- making sure not to twist the elastic. Sew the opening closed.


Option #2 Adjustable Waist- Cut the 1 yard ribbon into 2 equal pieces. Cut the elastic 6 inches smaller than the child's waist. Attach the halves of the ribbon to the ends of the elastic like this:
Now, I don't do the buttonhole thing with my machine because I'm bad at it. So, I simply sew the casing completely closed then use my seam ripper to create an opening between the stitch line and the top of the casing. I can slip the ribbon/elastic into the slit and do the safety pin threading trick again. You'll end up with elastic in the back and ribbon hanging out either end of the slit.



Not a great photo- the safety pin is attached to the ribbon and threading through the casing. The elastic you see has not yet been threaded through the casing- it's following the ribbon.
Pull the ribbons to tighten the skirt then tie in a bow. You only need to untie the bow if you're tightening or loosening the skirt - the elastic has enough 'give' that a child can pull it on without having to tie anything. My method WILL leave the waistband seam front and center but it seems (no pun intended) to get hidden with the bow. If this really bothers you, feel free to create a button hole in the casing at the midpoint of the waistband so the seam will be in back. You should now have a waistband that looks something like this:


Note: the waistband has 2 layers/edges. This is how we will make the skirt 2 layers thick. We sew the first layer to the outside edge and we'll sew the second layer to the inside edge. I know the layers vs. tiers thing is confusing. Layers are the front/back. Tiers are the gathered levels of the skirt.

Set waistband/top tier aside and move on to step #2.

Step #2- Skip this step if you are using rolls of chiffon for the tiers as it is unnecessary. If you cut your layers by hand, you'll need to sew them end to end before beginning EXCEPT for the ruffle fluff (thank goodness!).

For our example, that means I would sew 4 strips together, end to end for tier 2 and then repeat that step for the second layer. For layer 3, I would be doubling the strips so I'd sew 8 strips together, end to end and then repeat that again for the second layer. There should now be 4 sets of strips, 2 sets that are 4 strips long and 2 sets that are 8 strips long. Set these aside- you'll come back to them later.

Step #3- Change your bobbin and thread to match the ruffle fluff, if necessary. Now, this is where you will either be REALLY glad you bought a $16 ruffle(r) foot or REALLY sorry you didn't. I got mine on E-bay. If you are buying one (and I can't recommend that highly enough), make sure it specifically fits your make and make and model of sewing machine. If you have a ruffle foot, attach it now.
If you haven't used one before, they can look a little intimidating. Watch THIS little video tutorial to learn how to put the foot on the machine and load the fabric in or follow the instructions that came with your foot.


I won't lie, it takes a little practice to get the hang of this thing but once you do, it's like butter! The key is this, any fabric that you run UNDER the foot will NOT be gathered. Fabric you place between the upper and lower plate WILL be gathered.

To set the foot on 'gather' , you use the little thing on top marked '1'. The 6 and 12 settings are for pleats. There is a dial that shows some numbers, the lower numbers are smaller ratios while the higher numbers are tighter ratios. For example, the tightest gather for me is the number 8. That means 8 inches of fabric are gathered into a space of 1 inch- or a ratio of 8:1. Get it? I like to use a little less than that- between 6:1 and 7:1 for the ruffle fluff but you can go with as little as 3 to 1 if you're trying to get by using less fabric- it does affect the final fluffiness though.
You will start the fabric through the foot and line it up so you are sewing the gather down the MIDDLE of the fabric- once we sew this to the skirt, the fabric will fold down over time to cover the stitch line so it will look like a double ruffle and you won't see the stitches at all.








I did this piece in blue so you can see the pink stitch line down the middle.


If you are using a 2 or 3" chiffon roll for the fluff, simply gather most of the roll. If you hand-cut the fluff from yardage, use the following technique:


When you come to the end of a strip, simply overlap the end with a new strip- no need to sew the fluff end to end. Whew! Do this until you run out of fluff pieces and have a long strip of fluff. If something goes wrong (broken thread etc.) while sewing this and you need to restart, just start with a fresh piece and don't worry about attaching it to the other fluff yardage, we can do the same overlap technique when sewing the fluff down to the bottom layer if needed.

In this photo I'm using a strip of pink and a strip of blue so you can clearly see the technique. The blue is overlapping the pink- just run it through the machine that way.

If you don't have the ruffle(r) foot, then follow the instructions in Step 6 for hand gathering below.


Step #4- Attach the Fluff to the bottom tier. Remove the ruffle foot from the machine and put your regular foot back on. Place the bottom layer under the machine foot right side up. Now, about 1/2" or so from the edge, attach the ruffle along the gathering line using a straight stitch.

Do this for the first AND second layers. So, for the example I'm sewing that means that the two 8-piece strips now have the fluff attached to the bottom on the right side of the fabric (opposite side from the seams).
Step #5- Attach the bottom and middle tiers.


I consider this to be the trickiest part of sewing pettiskirts. You might want to take some scraps of nylon chiffon and practice this a few times with your machine before trying this on your actual fabric. You will place the shorter, middle layer (4 sections long in the example skirt) FACE UP and UNDER the foot. You want this piece to pass through the machine WITHOUT being gathered. Since this is a little hard to explain, I am showing how to do it with pink and blue fabric so each tier is easier to see in photos.


This photo shows the pink as the shorter, middle tier we are NOT gathering and the blue is the bottom tier we ARE gathering. Can you see how the pink goes UNDER the foot and the blue is being threaded between the two plates?

Now, you'll place the bottom strip (the one with the ruffle fluff attached to it) FACE DOWN and threaded through the foot so it WILL be gathered. In case it isn't obvious, the seam should be on the opposite edge from the one with the ruffle attached.
The bottom tier (blue fabric in the photo) will pass through the foot at twice the speed of the middle tier (pink fabric).
The pink is ungathered and the blue layer is lightly gathered. They are attached together this way as they pass through the machine. If you do this step properly, the fabrics will end up being almost equal length at the end. One was twice as long as the other but once it was gathered, it ends up being roughly the same length.
You will likely have an offset of a few inches once these two tiers are sewn together. Go ahead and trim off whichever tier is longer so that the total length of the two sewn together is the same.

Step #6- Hand Gathering

Since we're working with such long runs of fabric, I really recommend that you use the zig-zag floss method for gathering. This method enables you to gather long runs without worrying about breaking a thread.


For the uninitiated, set the machine to zig zag and use the widest stitch (a setting of 4 on my machine). Place the top edge of the second layer face down and lay a piece of floss over the fabric. Attach the floss by zig zagging OVER it. Be careful NOT to sew on the floss itself- the idea is that it slip slides through the casing created by the zig zag stitch- it should be free-flowing. Now sew the two ends of the fabric together with right sides touching to create a loop. Trim edges. Repeat this process with the second layer. To gather, simply pull the floss. This method enables you to gather long runs without having to worry about breaking a thread. If you are frustrated with the ruffle foot or hand-gathering the whole skirt, use this method to connect all levels of the pettiskirt.

Step #7- Attaching the waistband to the middle tier.
Even if you are an expert with the ruffle foot, you'll have to use the hand gather method to connect the top tier (waistband) and the middle tier because things will need to line up perfectly. With right sides together, pin the middle tier to the waistband and adjust the gathers until you get a perfect fit.

Double check yourself here- I accidentally sewed this wrong side out once and it's an easy mistake to make. Once it looks right to you, knot the two ends of the floss together then clip off the excess. You can re-use the floss for the second layer of the skirt. Repeat this process for the second layer.
Both layers are sewn to the waistband here. All seams are sewn so that they face the inside. The pettiskirt is totally reversible.
Optional: if you wish, you can zig zag stitch the seams of each tier. It will create a slightly neater appearance but is, for the most part, unnoticeable. Additionally, you can add 1/4 inch satin ribbon to the seams of each tier to 'cover' the seam and tack it down. I haven't done this myself but it is a cute look.

Now, unless we've both done something wrong, you should have a completed pettiskirt! And you also know why they sell these online for $70-100. Whoever makes them earns every dime.

And it's worth every bit of effort when you see your Princess enjoy it like this:



Hand-dyed in Salmon
Hand-dyed in Rose


It took an embarrassing number of dollars and hours to learn this skill and put together this FREE tutorial. If it has been helpful for you, please take 30 seconds to leave me a comment and let me know.

UPDATE: See the links below to learn how to hand-dye nylon chiffon and make ombre skirts OR to learn how to make a flouncier, frillier, full-length pettiskirt.

Pettiskirt Tutorial Part 3- Hand Dyeing

How to Make A Full-Length Pettiskirt


57 comments:

imbeingheldhostage said...

You are brilliant. I might just link to this when I can pull out of my current trend of nonsensical posts.

Seriously, wow.

Mrs. B. Roth said...

My baby girl is almost 2 ... I so have to figure out how to make one for her .. and is it stupid if I kind of want a matching one?

Cynthia said...

Mrs. B- not stupid at all. I made a black cobweb one with bright green ruffle fluff for my witch costume for Halloween.

I am teaching a class in our area on the 7th of October. I imagine I'll be teaching them again in the future. Maybe an RS Super Saturday?

sewmarm said...

This is just too cute and lovely...makes me want to be a little girl again just so I can wear one!

Your tutorial was really clear and the photos were very helpful (and inspiring!).

elesa said...

Oh my gosh, I love it! I can't wait to have a little girl to make one for!

CarrieCae said...

The best pettiskirt tutorial I have seen yet. Thank you so much for posting it!

colleen banman said...

you are a blessing. after 3 days looking at countless tutorials and ptotos and forums, it was your posts that finally inspired me to actually order the fabric and get to it. my dauther's birthday is october 25...that's the deadline...I'll send you pics and link to your blog from mine with the finished product. thanks for taking the time to write all this down. you rock!!!

Jenn-Lee said...

I am a big fan of these skirts and have always wanted to make one. Thanks for this tutorial. Hopefully once my move is over and the baby is here I can settle down to make some for my girls. We love prissy poufy skirts. Yours turned out so awesome.

mother goose said...

i am an over achiever and a perfectionist! so, i will want the goods on how and probably won't try it! NOT!!! I am about getting what I want exactly how i want! and I love that rose colored skirt! great job!

mother goose said...

how much would you say making one skirt will cost?

Cynthia said...

It should cost around $18-$35 to make one depending on the size and how much you have to pay for the fabric.

Sandy said...

Could you share a link to the ruffler foot you purchased? I'm not sure what to buy. thanks!

Cynthia said...

Sandy, there are several different ruffler foots on the market- it all depends on your machine. Just write down the make and model of your machine and google for the correct foot. I bought mine on E-bay that way. I just made sure they specified in the listing that it would fit my machine.

That said, there is a type with a dial (like I have) and another type with a screw you tighten to adjust the gathering. If it will fit your machine, the one with the dial is MUCH better than the one with the screw. The dial lists the gathering ratio on it whereas with the screw type you just have to guestimate.

Cynthia said...

Sandy, there are several different ruffler foots on the market- it all depends on your machine. Just write down the make and model of your machine and google for the correct foot. I bought mine on E-bay that way. I just made sure they specified in the listing that it would fit my machine.

That said, there is a type with a dial (like I have) and another type with a screw you tighten to adjust the gathering. If it will fit your machine, the one with the dial is MUCH better than the one with the screw. The dial lists the gathering ratio on it whereas with the screw type you just have to guestimate.

Leslie said...

Your instructions look great! I tried to print them & not all of the pages will print. Any suggestions? I used to make dresses out of the same fabric for my daughter and her older brother hated them saying the were to slippery to hold her--so I thought it would be fun to make one for his daughter ha ha!I guess fashions just keep going in circles, the techniques just get better with technology.

Sharon said...

_Thank you_ SO much for doing this. I've been wanting to make some for my nieces ... but the Martha set of instructions were pretty sparse (and confusing).

And I _LOVE_ that you wrote down your calculations for the different sizes.

From looking at your instructions and the finished product, I don't think you can classify yourself as a "hack" sewer anymore. This definitely puts you in the expert category.

Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Kristi said...

After spending countless hours going through pettiskirt tutorials in what seemed like multiple languages I am SO happy to find that you've written one that is so thorough and understandable! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I'm still confused as to how much chiffon and satin I will need, but I may just need to re-read it. I'm sure I will.. a few dozen times.

Mommy2aQT said...

THANK YOU! I have been searching for two days trying to find out the information you have so kindly provided! I especially appreciate you giving us the name of a good supplier!! I have book marked your blog and can't wait to try this project myself.
THANKS AGAIN!

Lin Rininger said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial. While digging around for ideas for my daughter's Christmas dress, I stumbled across pettiskirts and fell in love, but the directions were completely bewildering. After checking yours out, though, I totally get it. Maybe not her Christmas, but definitely her Valentine's Day dress will have a pettiskirt. Thanks again for the clear instructions!

miyo b. said...

omg - i just finished my first pettiskirt and it turned out beautifully!! i made one for my 4 year old girl in blue with brown ruffle fluff - your instructions are priceless!!! thank you!

Leah said...

I also just finished my first pettiskirt. It isn't perfect but of course I found your tutorial after I was 95% finished. It was still very helpful, thanks alot.

Smith Family said...

Question: Are the tiers sewn together in a circle or are they open? I can't quite figure it out! Thanks for your help!! This is the best tutorial!

Michaella said...

Thank you! This was very helpful! It was nice of you to include the pictures which made it a lot easier to understand!

TIFFANY said...

BOOKMARKING <3

Carla Johnson "Carlita Mamacita" said...

You did a great job explaining things! I love AFC, no complaints from me. They are always more than willing to send out swatches (at no charge) to make sure you like the color before you order it. Awesome customer service. If I want different shades or tie dye, I dye it at home also. Makes it unique. I am not a fan of their satin, I usually pick mine up locally. Great job! :)
(From a SAHM who makes pettiskirts)

Janice Teeple said...

Thanks for doing this! I have been reading many tutes on making pettis and yours is very clear. Thanks again!

Diana said...

Thank you for taking your time to create this tutorial. It is very easy to understand and much appreicated. I plan to use as soon as I order the chiffon and I already use and love the ruffler foot. You are the bomb.

Meg said...

This is awesome! I've done 3 now, and I'm exhausted!! I agree...the people who sell these totally deserve what they are charging! I will post to my blog after I get a chance to get them on the recipients.

Anitha said...

Cynthia, thank you! I am no great shakes at sewing but I badly want to make a pretty skirt for my 13 month old. The pettiskirt seemed too be wonderful and your instructions are too good! Thank you! I will make one soon, once I can get my hands on some material (Being in India, I don't know where I get this and how much it will cost). Of lovely skirt, nice photos and once again, excellent instructions! Hats off to you!

Calise said...

This is great! Thank you so much for posting it!

Emmie-Lew said...

A*mazing! Thank you SO MUCH! You saved me a small fortune! Thank you thank you thank you!!

The Stevens Family said...

I'm going to attempt this...bought the material today! :) Thanks

Andrea said...

Excellent instructions. So helpful.

whiskerchase said...

Thank you thank you thank you for putting this together for me. Thanks to you my daughter is going to be a very happy pretty pretty princess.

Teri said...

Thank you SOOOOO much for these instructions!! I just finished my first ever pettiskirt for my daughter. She is going to wear it for her 1st bday on Saturday. Thanks again!!

I put a link in the url area to a picture of her in it - just a quick pic - I was too excited to wait until Saturday. She loved it too!!!

Anonymous said...

Great Tutorial! Thank you so much for taking the time to post step by step and what I thought to be clear instructions. I'm about to embark on this pettiskirt journey myself, so I greatly appreciate the instructions!

Anonymous said...

OH! Thank you so much! I was looking for someone like you to explain me how to make a skirt like that - tried tulle, and couldn't understand why it wasn't working. Thank you! Now i know how to find the perfect fabric!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!! This is the second time visiting your tutorial so I can make yet another pettiskirt (im crazy for doin it a second time). I made one for my daughter in Dec. and now i have a friend w/ a new baby so I'm making her one with the left over chiffon. I have been searching for wks to find this tutorial again b/c I didn't bookmark it (lol wont make that mistake again). This is the best instructions/demos i have seen and trust me i have been looking....day after day wk after wk. GOOD JOB!

Cynthia said...

I'm so glad to see this has worked for so many people! YEAH! I actually need to make 2 more myself- my baby sister is expecting twin girls. However, after sewing 10 adult-sized skirts for my sister's ballroom dance team, I'm all pettiskirted out!

If you're reading these instructions and are still unsure- just try it! Lots of Mamas have made imperfect skirts that are loved by their little girls. It doesn't have to be perfect!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great tutorial! Your explanations and photos take a lot of the guesswork out of this project. After reading this, I feel like I may be able to do this.

Heather said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! My daughter is 6 and just adores these skirts! We actually paid $70 for one skirt! ONE skirt! Do you recommend any particular sewing machine? My grandmother would be embarrassed...she sewed as a profession and I know very little but my husband will teach me lol! And what's with the hand dying? Id love to see a tutorial for this technique!

Sandy_in_MD said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this AWESOME tutorial!! Your method of constructing it bottom to top is genius - it will make is so much easier to sew. Yours turned out beautifully. I hope the one I am going to make for my granddaughter turns out at least half as good as yours. I feel a lot more confident with your well written and photographed instructions in hand. Thanks again for all of the effort and creativity you put into both parts of your tutorial!

Katie C said...

It's long...but, like they say, more is...more. I've seen other tutorials (including the video from Martha) and "patterns" for sale, but this is fabulous. Very thorough, detailed...and FREE!!! Wow, thank you SO much for taking the time to put this together. Can't wait to make my daughter's first pettiskirt.

tanyah said...

my daughter wants one of these skirts and now i feel very confident in making one for her and maybe one for myself for a costume this year

tanyah said...

thank you so much for your tutorial, i am confident now to be able to make her one and to make one for myself

ViviBijoux said...

Great tutorial! I was looking for blog posts on tips and tricks on making pettiskirts and linked your tut on my blog along others here www.vivibijoux.com hope you can have a wee look. Smile, Virginie

kristinephillips said...

Wow loved this tutorial it was great. Hope you post one on dying the chiffon!

Cynthia said...

Kristine- I did a tutorial on that but failed to link it to this post. I just fixed it so follow the link for complete instructions. Thanks for asking!

Fashionsista said...

Hello from London.
Thank you so much. A fantastic tutorial, so much detail, I take my hat off to you. I have just cut out the tiers by hand (yeah I know) but hopefully they are fairly straight. I am waiting for my ruffle foot to come in the post for me to start sewing. I will post pics if I am successful.

Fashionsista said...

I just wanted to say thank you for posting this wonderful tutorial. I made a great skirt for my grand-daughter and credited your tutorial in my post http://tracey-james.blogspot.com/2012/03/coral-pettiskirt.html

Adithi's Amma said...

Thanks for your time and effort in putting up this tutorial; i had attempted a pettiskirt last year as a gift for my darling daughter on valentine's day and it was single layer, now attempt 2 layers based on this tutorial.

The only big problem i have is the non-availability of nylon chiffon in varied colors here in india and if i buy online the customs duty makes them very expensive, need to find a good guy to dye! or else where to buy dyes and how dye them!

Adithis Amma Sews

Valéria said...

Hi! Thanks for sharing the tutorial, it is the best one I've found. And the tip about pre-cut fabric made me smile: they ship to Brazil!

Kisses!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to use tulle on rolls to make this? I live in a really remote rural community ( 1000 people....) in Australia and that's the closest thing to nylon chiffon we have....

Cynthia said...

Anonymous- the problem with using tulle is that it is rough and won't have the float and bounce that the chiffon has. It's also not very washable. You CAN make it with tulle, it will work, but it won't be quite the same because the properties of the fabric are different.

Theresa L. said...

I just ordered my rolls from AFC..my question is...how do you know how much of the rolls to use for each layer? do i attach the tier to the all the fluff until its all used up? im sorry if that makes no sense but that's the only thing holding me back from making this!! thanks!!

Angela Butler said...

Thank you for posting this! This will save me a lot of money for my next session with girls! Angela Butler - Clarksville, TN Photographer

Anonymous said...

What would be the best alternative fabric for the ruffles?