Weddings and Gala events seem to be less an opportunity to celebrate love and more about impressing your guests no matter the cost. I don't like to play games I can't win, so here is how I chose to impress the guests at my wedding. Let me introduce the Champagne Skirt, it holds one hundred glasses of Champagne and glides effortlessly over hard surfaces.
The skirt is made from six hoops and five vertical ribs. Three of the hoops carry Champagne flutes while the rest are structural. The skirt itself weighs about thirty pounds; full of Champagne and flutes it tips the scales at ninety pounds. The whole frame is sitting on roller blade casters which makes moving around a non issue.
Step 1: Plan It Out
Attached are the dimensions I used for my Champagne Skirt. Depending on your height and width, you will want to alter the model to support your needs. The casters add about five inches, so be sure to factor that into your design. You can add or remove hoops as you see fit. I like to keep the top hoop free of drinks and don't like having drinks too low as people may not be able to reach them.
Step 2: Materials
This project is mostly metal, some fasteners and some sweet casters.
- 1" flat bar stock
- .25" solid round bar stock
- Rubber tubing
- 5 threaded Soft Rubber Casters
- 5 weldable nuts with barrel to fit your casters
- 30 low profile allen bolts
- 30 weldable nuts with offset low profile barrel to fit the low profile bolts
Step 3: Make the Rings
Luckily I have some friends who work at a shop with a rolling machine. I am unsure if I would take this project on without access to one. If you don't have access, there are plans on Instructables on how to make one. When rolling or bending metal, it is important to have a longer piece than you actually need. The extra material helps give the machine the required leverage to complete the curve. The machine I used required eight inches of extra material at each end, sixteen inches per piece. Once your ring is bent to the proper dimension you can trim the ends and weld it together.
Step 4: Test Assembly
The goal here is to arrange the hoops vertically to visually inspect the distances. The rings are suspended by string with slip knots at each level. The measurements (angles and lengths) can be transferred to the steel ribs.
Something I didn't do was to drill the holes in the rings prior to stringing it up. Measure the rings and drill five holes equally distant around the perimeter. The hole should be large enough for the low profile barrel nuts to fit through.
Instead of slip knots, you can double wrap the string through the holes. This will give enough friction to hold and is easy to adjust.
Once you get the hoops suspended in the right location you can start the ribs.
Step 5: Making the Ribs
As with any hand made project, symmetry is a pain. For this project to work, it is imperative you make your five ribs almost identical. If I am to make even one more Champagne Skirt a bending rig is in order.
The initial rib is the most important and will become your sample for building the other four. Like the metal rolling, pad the rib a bit giving yourself a little extra metal on each end. I used a vice, square, bevel square and a sledge hammer to do all my bending. It was time consuming but the ribs came out kinda perfect.
Using all the clamps in your shop, you can test fit the ribs into the rings. You can slide things around until you are happy with the geometry. Once things look good, you should mark where the holes need to be and drill out the ribs.
Once all your holes are drilled, it's time to weld on the tabbed low profile nuts. I put them in from the back so that the nut barrel is facing toward the ring. Additionally I only weld on the back side to the tabs. While welding these nuts, put a sacrificial bolt in it to protect the threads from welding splatter.
Step 6: Flute Hangers
Unfortunately there aren't any photos of the process, but its pretty self explanatory. You are going to need one hundred little hooks to hold the Champagne flutes. I scoured the internet, but I couldn't find a cost effective solution. Using a metal bender I would bend each end of the round bar stock, then chop them off using an angle grinder with a cutting wheel. Your process may vary, but after about twenty or so, you will hit your stride.
Before welding on the flute hangers it is important to do the math to space them out evenly around the perimeter of each ring. In order to keep guests from having to bend over too far, I chose to only have flutes on the 2nd through 4th hoop from the top. After marking up the installation locations, being careful to miss any bolt holes, it's off to the welding table. Welding the hangers to the hoop is done with the hoop upside down. I sat each ring on a little spacer so that the part to be welded was elevated slightly while the tips sat on the table. When flipped over, the flute hangers will be tilted slightly up to help retain the flute.
Step 7: Add the Casters
The casters need a place to live on the bottom hoop. I used some scrap from the bending process to make the caster holders. These pieces were welded around the edge and drilled to accommodate the full barrel nuts. These nuts were inserted from the bottom and welded in place. As with the other nuts, use a sacrificial bolt to help protect the threads from the welding process.
You are done with fabrication!
Step 8: Finishing Touches
This is the first project I have ever had powder coated. I went to Champion Coating and will be using them in the future. Everyone there was super nice and it was way cheaper than I had imagined. The finish looks way better than my best rattle can attempt ever. The quality of the finish brings a sense of quality to the whole project.
After you get the metal painted or powder coated, you need to add small lengths of rubber tubing to the flute holders. This tubing helps protect the glasses from the metal and give a little extra traction to keeping them in place.
Step 9: Storage
The Champagne Skirt isn't small but luckily it packs flat. Packing flat is good for storage and for transportation. I can throw it on the roof of a car and be on my way. The thing goes together in about ten minutes. Be sure you keep a steady supply of champagne and clean flutes at the ready to keep the skirt full.