Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making a Petticoat

I love a big full skirt and it really helps to built a foundation layer to create the right look. A couple weeks ago, I made my first petticoat!
 It took longer than I anticipated mostly because of all the gathering that goes into creating a lot of fullness. Plus when sewing tulle layers together it helps to put a bias strip in between the seams so the stitches have something to grab hold of and that takes some extra time.

I made my petticoat with a built in slip underlay that matches the fullness of the tulle overlay. Since it's not transparent I could also wear this as a skirt if I wanted to.

There are a lot of different types of tulle out there, I went with stiff and cheap to get the fullness I was imagining. The dress I made to go over the petticoat has a full skirt, but I was looking for a specific amount of lift. Usually a slip or underlay is made out of polyester that won't cling as you walk, but I wasn't worried about that so I just used a simple lightweight woven cotton.


 
Materials:

1 3/4  yards lightweight Cotton (for the slip/underskirt)
2  yards Tulle
4 - 6  yards bias strips ~1 1/2 inches wide  (I used pre-made but you could match the slip/underskirt material and make your own)
1/2"  wide elastic



 
Creating the skirt is all about gathering ratios. The cotton I bought was 44" wide and I used the full width as my basis for creating the skirt. There are 4 tiers for the underlay, and my fullness rations worked out like this:


First tier is the full width of the fabric: 44"
2nd tier: width plus 1/2    44" + 22" = 66"
3rd tier: 2 widths of fabric   44" + 44" = 88"
4th tier: 2 1/2 widths of fabric  44" + 44" + 22" = 108"





Since plain weave cotton tears so nicely,  I just measured, snipped and tore 7 strips each 7" high. I then tore one of the widths in half to create the extra 22" I would need for tier 2 and 4. I used a french seam to connect the strips so there aren't loose fabric ends. Each tier is gathered into the next. I ran a loose shirring stitch on the top of each tier once it was sewn together in a loop.


The tulle overlay only has 3 tiers, since the 4th tier is where it's combined with the underskirt. The nice thing about the underskirt is that you don't get any of the itchiness of having tulle in direct contact with your skin. The tulle that I got was wider than the cotton, but I used the same ratio as I gathered the layers. Tulle doesn't tear, so I cut 7" strips the full width.






The extra step in combining the tulle layers is that you need to sew a strip of bias between the layers of tulle. Since tulle is a net it doesn't really have enough material for the machine stitches to hold on to, by adding the bias strip you give the stitches somewhere to go and grab on.

On the top tier I just folded it over to create a channel for the elastic to do the gathering for me. The underskirt has a basic folded over hem while the tulle has a extra layer of bias as the hem.

I could easily see adding twice the amount of fabric into the petticoat as I did for a much fuller look, but I'm very happy with how this pink petticoat turned out. I hope I have time in the future to make more in lots of different colors.



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