How to…make a tiered skirt

dress-ruby-closure button

The bodice is done, the button and loop attached, now the top of the Rooster’s skirt needs to be 25″, which is the circumference of the bodice’s edge. I’m going for as many tiers as I can stand to gather. So at least four and maybe even five. Yep, in the end it was five.

dress skirt tiers

Using the old 3 Peas tutorial (c/o Kuky), my top loop of fabric needs to be 39″ total, gathered to fit the 25″ bodice. Since my fabric’s 60 wide, I’m using one 39″ wide strip. Each subsequent tier is made from strips that are 1.5 times the width of the tier above it. Kuky tells you how to do the math and cut out all the pieces.

But then it occurred to me, two tiers in, that instead of cutting all these chunks, since I’m using the same fabric all the way down, I could make a long strip 5.25 inches deep of my 59″ wide fabric. I could join the 59″ lengths then measure and cut 1.5 times each round.

Now so can you.

1. Start at the bodice, or your child’s waist (plus 2-3) and multiply out 1.5 for each tier. 

2. Divide a measurement between the waist and knee by as many layers as you’d like, and then add 3″ to the top one for a waistband.)

So I need 39 x 1.5 or 58.5″ for the second tier.
88″ for the third.
132″ for the fourth.
198″ whopping inches for the fifth. That’s a lot of gathering.

3. Sew the strips together and then into loops. Finish the seam allowances as you will. I did Hong King finishes on the seams binding the strips together, now that I’m a giant fan

4. Start assembling from the top down. If you’re attaching the skirt to a bodice, do it now. If it’s a freestanding skirt, fold over 1.5 inches for the top, and stitch, leaving a small hole about 2 inches wide to fish through elastic or a ribbon drawstring.

5. Take the next biggest loop and prepare it for gathering. I like to drop in a couple of straight stitches at the end of the loop, raise the presser foot, and pull the threads long back to the start. Now set the machine to a wide, long zig zag, and stitch the zigzags over the pulled threads.

6. Divide each loop into quarters, marking each fourth with a pin. Match up the pins and gather the bigger loop to fit. Pin in place, then stitch. Work your way to the bottom. 

7. BUT before you attach the bottom  loop, hem it. I used a length of satin ribbon as a hem binding on the bottom tier BEFORE gathering it. Dang, that took forever, both the hem and the last gather.

ribbon-bound hem

It is in fact the twirliest skirt.

But I don’t know how to finish the gathered seams inside the unlined skirt.

dress inside gathers

inside gathers


    • Gail
    • January 2nd, 2010

    Hi–if you’re still trying to figure out how to finish the seams, here is a suggestion:

    Start by zig-zagging in the seam allowance all the way around. Stay in the seam allowance, don’t cross the seam that holds the tiers together.

    Next step: Lay the seam allowance flat against the tier above and top-stitch it about 1/4 inch above the seam, using a coordinating color of thread. That way your tier will lie nice and flat.

    It would be easier to explain with pictures. Try doing a google search for how to make a tiered skirt, and you will find some great tutorials.

  1. I will try that on the springweight version I’m sure to make for her, she loved this one so much. All that HK finish took *forever*.

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