Petticoat no. 1 - takes a long time!

While I was in Japan, I bought a great Lolita skirt from a shop called Body Line in Harajuku, Tokyo.  I didn't buy a petticoat there because I thought, why not make one instead?  I ended up making one like this one, so it is easy to see how I did it by looking at the picture.

Materials: 3 metres of stiff tulle.
Elastic for the waist.
A bunch of approx. 5 - 10cm-wide strips of an old sheet.
Needle and thread, sewing machine.

First, I cut up my tulle into 20cm wide strips, as long as the fabric.  I used it all up.  I counted that I had 30 strips to work with.  To get the petticoat to flare out more towards the bottom, each tier needs to have at least twice as much fabric as the 
previous tier.  So my first tier had 4 strips, second tier had 8 strips, and last tier had 18 strips.  This gives the skirt lots of body.

Before sewing, work out how much elastic yo
u need for your waist, and how much room you need to get in and out of the petticoat.  Write down the measurement to refer to later.  Also measure the length of ONE strip.  This would have made my time a lot easier had I thought of it beforehand.  Think of "1 strip" as a unit of measurement.

Get your first 4 strips of tulle and lay them end to end.  It will go a long way.  Get your needle and thread and loosely straight-stitch along a long edge of the tulle.  Don't stop between strips, just join them on as though it's one long piece.  It's not really necessary to join them beforehand.

Pull the thread so that the fabric gathers.  Make the length of gathered material the same as your earlier measurement.  You have to be able to get into the petticoat!  Arrange the gathers so that they're even along the whole length.  Gather gather.

Get a strip of old sheet and fold it lengthwise over the gathered edge of tulle.  Pin it in place.  This helps keep the gathers in the right spot - they're tricksy and like to move around.
Use a sewing machine to run a seam over the gathers and the old sheet.  Yay!  One tier!

Grab your next 8 strips of fabric and hand-stitch down one edge, like before.  This time gather it to the length of 4 full strips - this way you can attach it to the bottom of the first tier.  Once again spread out the gathers evenly and pin the strip of sheet over the gathers.  Now you can carefully sew the top of the second tier onto the bottom of the first tier - and it should fit!
Do the same with the remaining strips of tulle, except gather them so that they are 8 strips long.  Sew onto the second tier.

Now pin the elastic to the top of the petticoat, making sure it stretches and pulls it all in.  Sew in place, directly onto the tulle.  Sew the edges of the petticoat together (it doesn't have to be perfect, unless you're wearing it outside the skirt).

Ta-da!  A 3-tiered petticoat that's big at the bottom and small at the top!  It's fun walking around and hearing it rustle, and having to adjust it when I sit down.  Petticoats are fun!


  1. Hey, I have a question here. You say you got 30 strips 20 cm wide. And with 3 m tulle, how is it possible? With this quantity you'd only get 15 strips... So, my question is: did you get 6 m of tulle, so that you really can have 30 strips 20 cm wide, or did the strips only have 10 cm wide?

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    I can't remember. It was so long ago!
    I actually think I cut the strips the other way - note that I said "as long as the fabric". I don't know how that worked. Surely my fabric wasn't 6m wide?
    In short: buy lots of tulle.
    And as an update, that petticoat is completely flat now. It's good underneath skirts that just need a little body, but it's not good if you want a bell-shaped silhouette. That's the nature of tulle - it's stiff at first but with enough sitting, it becomes floppy. If you want the fluffiness to last, use organza, it's bouncy and doesn't go flat.

  3. You can spray your tulle petticoat with spray starch to stiffen it up again. Turn it inside out and fluff it a bit as it dries (same principle as using the hair dryer with your head upside to give body to long hair) I've also heard that fine spraying very thin solution of white glue and water on the tulle will also bring that sticky-outy look back.


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