Thursday, 14 August 2014

Petticoat Tutorial

EXCITING TIMES… you get a bit of a ‘wedding preview’ today… or rather, you get a peek up some wedding skirts – scandalous I know! I made petticoats for myself and my adult bridesmaids, and they were actually SUPRISINGLY EASY TO MAKE – so I thought I’d share how I did it.
What you will need for this tutorial:

  • Sewing machine
  • Lining fabric
  • Tulle ribbon
  • Gathering foot (technically, yes this is optional, but trust me, you don’t want to do this without a gathering foot… you really don’t)
  • Overlocker (genuinely optional – I used it, you could just use a zigzag stitch wherever I’ve overlocked) (Also this is a Serger to anyone who is speaking american... just to confuse you)

Now, a word on tulle ribbon – you could get tulle and cut it into strips of the length you want, but you need a LOT of tulle. For the skirts I made, I bought 125 yards of 6inch wide tulle ribbon for EACH SKIRT. And that’s only for the ones that only have one layer of petticoating. Mine, which had several layers, used over double that.

The base layer - ironing
clearly optional!
I bought my tulle ribbon from here (not an affiliate link, just where I found) and to be honest, unless you can find a really cheap tulle supplier, I think it would be cheaper to buy it in the ribbons – you tend to find it on wedding decoration style websites, rather than sewing websites.

A metre ruler - best thing
Ok, first thing to do is to make your base lining layer. I made a trapezoid shape, which is not a good shape for a skirt, but serves the purpose nicely here – the top of the trapezium should be the waist measurement, plus an inch for ease. The bottom, I just made the width of the fabric – because I’m lazy :-D However, 60 inches is about right. I worked out how wide I wanted it to be, by standing with my legs as far apart as possible and measuring how far my knees were apart. Scientific, I know… I just didn’t want to be constricted when I was walking. The length of these ones is about 25 inches, which should be to just below the knee for all of us (we don’t vary that much in height) – the tulle layer ends up slightly longer than the inside layer – really the only purpose of this layer is to stop the tulle being unpleasantly scratchy on your legs – sew whatever base layer skirt you want.
My trapezoid skirt

This is my tension dial
in case you didn't get that bit
Once you have this underskirt cut, you will also need to cut a waistband – just a couple of inches wide, by the waist measurement (plus an inch or so). 

Lets talk about gathering tulle for a moment here, I used the gathering foot on my machine, which I bought from Amazon for a couple of quid, and when I started this project I had no idea how to use it… now I am a PRO at using the gathering foot, a pro like you have NO IDEA. I ended up detaching the pedal from my machine and just using the start-stop button, as it’s steady, slow going. It does take a while, but is so much quicker than gathering by hand you have no idea.

Also this is my stitch
Action shot of gathering
As the tulle I had came on spools, I decided to gather one spool at a time, and then add what I’d gathered to the petticoat, cutting it as needed – this way, I alternated between gathering and sewing/overlocking. However, if you are only using one machine, I would suggest doing ALL OF THE GATHERING straight away, as you’ll need to have your machine on different settings for gathering. I had mine on a slightly higher tension than normal (normal is marked as 3-5 and I set it at 6) and on the longest stitch possible. Gather down one edge of the strip – it doesn’t matter if it’s not super straight or super even – it won’t show!
You totally can't tell this
but there's tulle between
those layers

overlock, or zig-zag your
tulle sandwich
Ok, now the next task is to add the first tier of tulle to your petticoat – you will be sandwiching the gathered edge of the tulle between the underskirt and the waistband. Then OVERLOCK – you should end up with a skirt shape, with a cute little tulle peplem sticking out of the waistband join.

To add the next layer, grab some more tulle, and overlock the gathered edge of that to the straight edge of the tulle you’ve already attached. Easy as pie huh? You’ve got another tier. Then do that again, and again, until your petticoat is as long as you want it to be. BE WARNED, obviously each tier will be a lot longer than the previous one, the bottom tier is ridiculously long… do not try and see how far you’ve gone, you’ll only get disheartened – instead, just keep on overlocking until you get to the end. It’s soul destroying work, because it is literally just sewing in a straight line – for miles and miles and miles. In terms of number of tiers, mine is 5 tiers long, my bridesmaids were only 4 – as they are having knee length frocks and I didn’t want the petticoat showing.
Stitching a gathered edge of tulle
onto a straight edge of tulle.

Now, you’ve finished a one layer petticoat! If you are sane, skip ahead to the end, to see the finishing techniques I used.
This is my underskirt with the tulle flipped up

You’ve not skipped? So I’m assuming YOU’RE NOT TOO SANE then?

If you want to add more layers to your petticoat – do as follows.

Work out how far down your under layer the first tier of tulle lands – and measure that width. Cut a piece of ruffled tulle to that width (and overlock the top of it if you’re obsessive like me). Then, add another few tiers to it as you did with the first layer (one fewer tiers than your first layer is)
Then, using a zig zag stitch on your machine, sew this second layer onto the underskirt.

You can repeat this with a third layer if you are crazy like me. YOU COULD DO AS MANY LAYERS AS YOU WANTED UNTIL YOU RAN OUT OF TULLE, but you’ll probably get bored…

Layer number two... I DIDN"T STOP THERE
Once you’ve added as many layers as you want – overlock the tulle down to the edges of the underskirt, and overlock the top of the waistband.

Stitch the waistband down, and finally, trim the underskirt to match, overlocking or hemming the edge as it suits you.

I didn’t stitch these into a closed skirt, as they are going to be worn underneath dresses, and leg movement is a must – but you could do that if you wanted.

one awesome froofy petticoat!
Petticoats are awesome and froofy (which is so a word) and not as hard to make as people led me to believe they would be! I plan to make some kiddy sized ones after the wedding with the left over tulle (I will have a lot, as we're using it for decoration too!) using a slightly different pattern :-D So hopefully you should get to see some pics of those too.

XOXO Katy (yes, I'm still gossip girl obsessed... Oh Chuck Bass... be still my beating heart...)

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