Amazing 1950s Swing Circle Skirts for a Ball With Poofy Petticoats. Rockability!




HI there!
THis is my first post on Instructables, so I hope im doing this right!

I'm in my final year at University and the theme for the end of year ball was 1950's. So I (and my friends) decided it would be a good idea to make big circle skirts with petticoats. we wanted some really swingy skirts- like in the film "Grease".we looked at many of the costume patterns and thought they werent very authentic and a bit naf, so I did some searching on ebay and found this pattern for $9 (5 quid in english terms!), which is an original from 1953.
However this did not include a petticoat pattern, and the skirts really needed one as they are huge! So I followed this tutorial, with help from my friends! [Petticoat Tutorial]
We adapted it and used 32m of netting instead of 48m- it took for ever to gather!
and they turned out like this (see pics)
Anyways the finished skirts look great, and here are some pics of maing them and at the ball!

let me know what you guys think!

Hannah ;-)

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Step 1: Pattern....

Here is the authentic 1953 pattern. Its a bit torn, but had never been used. There are loads on ebay like this! We didnt get time to do the adorable "I love you" and bird appliques, or the heart shaped pocket. Insead we chose do personalise the skirts by chooseing different colours/patterns.

Step 2: Making the Petticoats

As I said, we used the tutorial listed in this thread..
which is an original 1950s design, and goes along these lines:

step 1: make a circle skirt out of cotton - theres loads of tutes round these parts - you'll need to work out how long you want your finished skirt to be.

step 2: get 8 metres of tulle thats 1.8m (72 inches) wide

step 3: cut the tulle length wise into 8 strips each measuring 9inches by 8 metres

step 4: sew two strips together so you have a piece 9 inches by 16 metres and sew the remain strips together so you have a piece 9 inches by 48 metres

step 5: gather the big 48 metre piece on to the 16 metre piece - as its about 3 times as long you can pleat it - hand baste it then machine stitch

step 6: this is where i totally battled youve got to gather 16m down to about 1.5m (or what ever the circumference is at the point on your circle skirt that is 9inches from the waist) i gathered it with fishing line then sewed over it by machine, but when i cliped the fishingline it expanded to twice the length of what i wanted (so you might want to use a different method) so what i did was folded it in half and sewed it on as two layers.

But as I was making 4, I ordered in bulk 32m of netting and cut the strips along that length! We had to do this in the park it was so long!! And the gathering took forever...

Step 3: The Skirts

After the petticoat making marathon, the skirts seemed very simple and quick. Just 2 simple semi circles with a zip and a waist band...
We chose different fabrics- on Navy blue with small white polka dots, one red+white polkadots, one yellow with white polkadots (all cotton type fabric) and one was a black satin with huge flowers on it.
The pattern was also meant for a 26inch waist. So I had to adjust it for each of my friends. But this wasnt to hard, using Pi (3.14) times Diameter (C=pD) to work out the diameter needed for each of the girl's waists, then cutting accordingly!

Step 4: Party On!

Here are a few pics of the final products in action! We all decided to wear clinch belts- as they are so in at the mo, and to add a bit more 50's to it. It was a great night and the skirts were great for the ball! especially when jive dancing, the skirts twirled to beautifully.

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    15 Discussions


    3 years ago

    congratulations the dresses look amazing


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love this - you all look amazing and the skirts are beautiful. Thanks for linking to the other post about the petticoat. I'd like to make one that is not so full. I just started making circle skirts and 1/2 circle skirts and just posted an instructable on making the 1/2 circle without a pattern (well, you make your own for either of them) and it's really easy. :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    You all look great. I wore these in the 50/60's
    (Ashton-under-lyne Palaise de-dance) We wore a white cap sleeved broderianglais blouse, a thin velvet ribbon tied in a bow and flat black ballerina shoes. Checked gingham was popular and my friend had one (envy) in pink felt with a white poodle. Great times.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    You all look adorable! Try taking these out contra-dancing. They'd be so much fun! (Also--I think I'll make one for my daughter first. Better to start small & then build up.) I've got the perfect fabric too. . .


    9 years ago on Step 4

    I cant seem to find any directions in this place...I need a pedicoat too????


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes it was St marys college! But not room 29. it was room 69, but Im no longer there - ahh the good old days! Are you at durham? xx


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    oh funny! it looks so much like my room now. I'm at Durham now... exam times- this is my procrastination! x


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Ah memories! Procrastination and the toastie bar...! enjoy it while it lasts! I really miss Marys! x

    I love the variety. I hope more people make these, they're so much fun to dance in!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    See! i said it wasnt that hard to make an ible on making clothes. Well done, you seem to have managed it ok! (not that its difficult)