Introduction: The Puffle Skirt

I've been playing around with the idea of kind of a bustle skirt for my daughter for a while now. I think it might have been inspired by one too many screenings of Beauty and the Beast, to be honest. I know, her dress really isn't a bustle, but its bustle-like. I kept visioning a super puffy bustle-ish skirt with an underskirt peeking out underneath. Something a little funky and fun.

I've been playing around with the idea of kind of a bustle skirt for my daughter for a while now. I think it might have been inspired by one too many screenings of Beauty and the Beast, to be honest. I know, her dress really isn't a bustle, but its bustle-like. I kept visioning a super puffy bustle-ish skirt with an underskirt peeking out underneath. Something a little funky and fun.

Step 1: You Will Need:

Fabric!! I used 2 yards of fabric  (one each of two coordinating fabrics one for the underskirt and waistband and one for the overskirt.)
6 small buttons
6" of 1/8" wide or corded elastic cut into 1" pieces
1" elastic for the waist band, cut to to fit your girlie's waist
rotary cutter or scissors
needle, thread and a sewing machine

Step 2: Cutting the Fabric: the Waistband

First we'll cut the fabric.For this you'll need the waist and length measurements. You can measure the child, or a skirt that fits well. For the length, measure from where the skirt will rest on her waist to the length you want the skirt to be. My daughter's waist is 20" and my desired length is 12".

The waist band: Cut a rectangle 4" in length by your waist measurement + 5. So for me that was 4x25"

Step 3: Cutting the Fabric: the Underskirt

The Underskirt: Cut 2 panels, the width will be the waist measurement doubled, and the length will be your desired length minus 3.25 (taking into account the waist band and seam allowances) For me that would be two rectangles, 20" wide x 8.75" long.

Step 4: Cutting the Fabric: the Overskirt

The Overskirt: I wanted the overskirt to be a really full A-line for the bustles, but didn't want all that bulk at the waist so it's made up of 6 panels that are a trapazoid shape, basically a rectangle that is wider at one end. So to figure out the size of the panels, we need to do some math. (eek!)

The width of the top of the panel will be the width of your underskirt plus 2" divided by 6. (We want the overall width of the overskirt to be the same as the underskirt so we're adding the 2" to account for the seam allowance when you sew the panels together to form the overskirt.) So for me its 40" plus 2, which is 42" divided by 6. The top each of my panels will be 7" wide.

The bottom of the panel will be the length of the top of the panel doubled. The bottom of my panel will be 14"

The length of the panel is your desired length plus 6. This takes into account your seam allowance, waist band and added fabric for the bustle. The length of my panel is 14.5"

I went ahead and marked out my measurements on tissue paper to use as a template for cutting the fabric. I also cut out the panels side by side, with every other panel upside down to save on fabric.

Step 5: Sewing the Waistband

All the seam allowances are 1/4" and are figured into the measurements. Start with the waistband; fold it right sides together and sew a straight seam down the short end.

Step 6:

Press the seam apart. Sew a zig zag stitch along one long edge. (I prefer to finish the raw edge with a zig-zag stitch rather the fold over twice method, I feel like its less bulk in the waist.) Then fold over the zig-zagged edge 1.25" and press.

Step 7:

I like to sew a seam around the top of the casing for the elastic. I read this in the first pattern I ever attempted, it said it gives the skirt a very finished look, and I like the look of it. It isn't necessary to the construction of the skirt. If desired, sew a seam all the way around the top,  about an 1/8" from the folded edge.

Sew a seam along the zig zagged edge to create the casing for the elastic in the waistband. Be sure to leave a 2" opening so that you can insert the elastic once the skirt is complete. Lock in your seam by going back and forth at the beginning and end of your seam.

Find the middle in the front and back of your waistband and mark each with a pin. I like to put the seam at the side, and mark the middle from there. Set the waistband aside.

Step 8: Sewing the Overskirt

Next we'll sew the 6 panels together for the overskirt. Take two panels and place them right sides together, lining up the edges. Sew a seam all along the long edge, from the narrow to the wide ends. Continue with another panel making sure to line up the panels right side together. Once the last panel is attached, sew it to the first panel.

You'll have a big "tube" with one narrow end and one wider end and a very full A-line! Go back and zig zag all the seamed edges.

Step 9:

We're going to hem the bottom of the skirt (the wide end). Normally you would round out the corners where each panel meets, but for this skirt I wanted kind of a funky feel so I left the corners and kinda-sorta did a faux miter at each.

I didn't want the corners to be too bulky, so instead of folding the edge over twice for the hem, zig-zag stitch all around the edge of the fabric, the bottom of the skirt.  Then fold over 1/2" and press. Press a straight edge at the bottom of each panel section. Stop just after the seam that attaches each panel as shown below. Do try to ignore the raggedy edge on this photo! I fixed it after I took the pictures, but neglected to take another photo. :)

Then fold the next section over, starting again at the attaching seam. You should have a corner with its center at the seam.

Hem those edges and check out your overskirt! Woo-hoo!

Step 10:

Turn the overskirt inside out, we'll mark where the buttons and loops will go. We're going to sew a button and two elastic loops on the inside of the skirt on each seam allowance, (that little 1/4" flap of fabric at the seam that connects the panels of the skirt.) The loops will hook right onto the button, pulling the fabric its attached to with it, which will give us the bustle effect on the outside of the skirt. But sewing it on the seam allowance hides it so it doesn't show. (sneaky, huh?) We'll sew them in after the skirt is constructed. That way you can pin up the bustles first and make any minor adjustments if you feel like its needed. Also, please note that the button placement will be alternated on every other seam, because I wanted to make this skirt as complicated as possible cute and funky. :) Depending on the length of your skirt, you might need to change up these measurements a bit. I don't think that you'll have to change much unless your skirt is several inches shorter or longer than  mine (my finished length is 12") If your skirt is much shorter you may want to only add one loop measurement. Or if it is much longer, you might want to add one, or add a couple inches in between loops.

Pick a seam to start with, (it doesn't matter which one, we'll mark them all) and measure 2" from the top of the skirt.  Mark that spot. From the mark measure 4" down and mark it then repeat another 4" down and mark that spot. I used colour pencils so that when I came back to it I'd know to put a button on the red dot and a loop on the blue. :)

Go to the seam directly next to the one you just marked. On this seam measure and mark 6" from the top for the button, then 4" down from that mark and another 4" down. The next seam will be the original measurements, 2" from the top, then the next will be 6" from the top. I hope I'm making sense, so you're alternating that first measurement, where the button will go 2" from the top, then 6" from the top. But the loops are always 4" apart and 4" from the button. Once all the seams are marked, set the skirt aside.

Step 11: Sewing the Underskirt

This one is very simple: Place the two panels of fabric for the underskirt, right sides together and sew stright down the side edges to form the skirt.

Zig-zag the unfinished edges and press the seam to one side.

Finish the hem with a zg-zag stitch and then fold the end over 1.5" and press. Sew a straight stitch all around the edge of the zig-zag stitch and you are done with the underskirt!

Step 12: Assembeling the Pieces

Grab both the under and overskirts and make sure they are both right side out. Bring the underskirt inside the overskirt, (so that the wrong side of the overskirt is facing the right side of the underskirt just as they will be when the skirt is completed) and pin together at the top. Put a gathering stitch through both pieces at the top of the skirt (the unfinished edges.)  Use your preferred method for gathering, I've put mine next for beginners, but feel free to skip to the next step. :)

There are many ways to do a gathering stitch, I like to sew two seams 1/4" apart and 1/4" from the edge. Set your machine to the longest stitch length and about 1 on the tension setting. I use a different colour thread in the bobbin, because I am forever being interrupted and that way I'll know which is the bobbin thread when I come back to the project. :) I also sew the gathering stitches from side seam to side seam, instead of all the way around the edge. So I have two gathering stitches in the front and two in the back. Its a bit of an extra step, but then I'm never left with one side gathered more than the other.

Step 13:

Turn the overskirt/underskirt combo inside out and mark the center. Turn the waistband upside down (I'm sorry, it is right side up in the picture) and put the waistband inside the skirt with all the unfinished edges together, so the right side of the waistband is facing the right sides of the skirts. Match up the centers of the waistband and the skirts and pin together. Then pin the side seams together. Now your skirts are pinned to the waistband at the side seams and the center in the front and back. Pull the bobbin thread from each side seam to the center pin until each pinned section of the skirt is the same size as the waistband. Pin together.

Step 14:

Sew a seam all around the top of the skirt, through all three pieces. I sew right in between the gathering stitches. Finish the edge with a zig zag stitch.

Step 15:

Lay the skirt on your ironing board as shown and press the waistband.

If desired, put in a topstitch right at the folded edge of the waistband. I like this step, but I know some people prefer to skip it, personal preference here. :) Remove the gathering stitch that is visible.

Feed the 1" elastic through the casing and sew the opening closed. Holy smokes, you're almost done!!!

Step 16: Adding the Buttons

Pull back the overskirt layer, we'll hand sew the buttons and little loops onto the marks now. I debated about using buttons and loops. Before I sewed them on, I grabbed each "loop" mark, pulled them up to the "button" mark and pinned all three together. I wanted to make sure the bustles looked right before I locked them into place with a needle and thread. At that point, I knew I could just put in a small stitch, sew the bustles into place and be done with it. And you can certainly go that route. But I chose a cotton fabric and I wanted to be able to take the bustles out in order to wash and iron the skirt. Also, the buttons give you more styling options, you can let them down completely and have a longer skirt, you can bustle only every other seam, or both loops on alternating seams and only one on the others. 

Sew the button to the top mark on one of your seams. Remember that you're sewing it right onto that seam allowance flap, don't pull the thread through the front of the skirt. Repeat with the remaining buttons.

Take one of the 1" long elastic pieces, I think cord would be best but I didn't have any and I had tons of 1/8" so I used that and it works well too. Fold the elastic over, end pieces together and sew the end pieces onto the marks, forming a loop that loops "up" as pictured. Again, do not sew through the skirt itself, only on the little seam allowance flap. Repeat with the remaining pieces, sewing them to all the marks.

Now you can just pull the elastic loops over the button and you have a "bustle!" Its not something that will come undone when your girl is playing, but easy enough to fasten and unfasten.

Step 17: You Are Finished!!

Your skirt is done!! Now she can wear it and flounce around the house like a princess should!

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