For Belle's costume, the top is just modified from a pattern (Simplicity 4092). The skirt was custom made. It mostly consists of an upper and lower skirt. The lower skirt is pleated and the upper skirt is ruched up to reveal the pleats.
WARNING: There will be math in this tutorial! You have been warned!
Step 1: Make/Get the Hoop Skirt
First things first, you will need a hoop skirt. You can buy or rent one, but since this is instructables, we all know you would probably just prefer to make one. There is an excellent tutorial here on designing and making your own hoop skirt (Designing a Hoop Skirt; Sewing your Hoop Skirt). Note that standard sizes of the bottom hoop is either 120" or 135".
Step 2: Get You Measurements
Measurements you will need inculde:
- bottom of the hoop skirt. Lets call this BHS for ease.
- With the hoop skirt on, measure from the waist, down the side of the hoop skirt to the point you want the skirt to hang (just above the floor). WARNING: simply measuring from you waist to the floor will not work. You need that added size of the hoop skirt. Let's call this measurement SL (skirt length).
Step 3: Design the Under Skirt
The skirt that goes underneath is two parts. there is the part hidden by the upper skirt. This can be made very simply. To line things up properly with the upper skirt, I divided it into 8 panels.
The lower part of the skirt is double box pleated, so it will require more fabric. I wanted the pleats to be centered on the part that is ruched up with the space in-between flat. So lets look at the measurements.
To make the 8 panels for the upper part of the under skirt, you will need to take the BHS and divide it by eight (obvious right?). Take that number and add 1.25 (this is a 5/8" seam allowance on both sides). This will be the width of the panel. The height is about 1/2 to 2/3 of SL, depending on what you prefer. I did about 2/3, then rounded down to the nearest inch. So if SL is 46 then (2/3)*45=30.667 which I would move to 30". You can change it all depending on how high up you would like the ruch of the skirt. Then add 1.25" for the seam allowance on both sides.
I made the pleated part of the skirt out of 16 panels, though you can combine panels if you would like less sewing. The height of the panel is 1/3 to 1/2 of SL (depending on what you chose for the upper part) with 5/8" seam allowance on the top, plus about 1" on the bottom for the hem. The width is a little more complicated. What needs to happen is that two panels need to become the width of one of the upper panels. One of these panels is normal, but the other is double box pleated, meaning that is will require 3X the fabric. So here comes the math.
Lower Panel Width = LPW
BHS/8 = LPW + LPW/3 (these are the two panesl with one divided by three for the box pleat).
BHS/8 = LPW (4/3)
LPW = (3/4) BHS/8 = (3/32)*BHS
You will then need to add 1.25" to the LPW for seam allowance on both sides. So the final width is (3/32)*BHS + 1.24 . Like I warned earlier, there was math involved. Sorry for that.
Refer to the drawings for help (though note that they are not draw to scale).
Step 4: Design the Upper Skirt
This is much easier. It is made out of 8 panels. The width of the panel is BHS/8 plus the 1.25" seam allowance. The height of the panel is SL with 5/8" seam allowance on top and 1" hem at the bottom.
Step 5: Design the Waistband
The waistband is simple. Take your waist measurement and add 1.5" of ease. Then add another inch for the overlap (to put a hook and eye), then 1.25" inches for seam allowance on both sides. Determine how high you want the waistband. I decided on 2". Double this number and add 1.25" for seam allowance. Easy.
Step 6: Get Materials
If you haven't noticed, this will require a lot of fabric (try finding a coupon). For me, I needed about 12 yards of 45" fabric to make it. You will need to look at the panels. Determine how many you can fit in a row on the width of fabric you are buying (45" in my case), then determine how many rows you will need. Be sure to always get extra, especially if you are pre-shrinking. If you would like, you can probably get cheaper fabric for the upper part of the under skirt, since this will be hidden by the upper skirt.
You will also need:
- interfacing for the waistband
- hook and eye
Step 7: Make the Lower Skirt
Cut out the upper panels, then sew them together. Remember that when you close the loop, you will need to leave the top part open enough to add a zipper (or buttons or hook-and-eyes, depending on what you prefer). It would be very difficult to get the skirt on without it (unless you don't have hips for some reason).
Then sew the 16 lower panels into a loop. To make the hem, just roll up the bottom, press and sew. You will then take every other panel and fold it into the double box pleat (see drawing). Baste around the top to hold the pleats in place. Then press down the pleats.
Attach the lower part to the upper, with the center of the pleated section hitting the seams on the upper part. Press towards the waist.
Step 8: Make the Upper Skirt
Sew together the panels into a loop, being sure to leave a part of one seam open for a zipper. Roll up and add the hem at the bottom (similar to the under skirt). Now you will need to ruch up at each of the seams.
First, determine high thick you would like the gathered section to be. Gather up at the seam to the thickness you would like. There are different techniques for ruching. Some involve elastics. You decide what works for your skirt. I used a pretty light fabrics, so I just basted near the seam and used that to gather up the skirt. I then tied off the ends, and did a normal stitch over the gathered part to hold it in place.
Make sure that you don't gather the skirt up so high that it doesn't cover all of the upper part of the under skirt.
Step 9: Attach the Two Skirts
Line up the under and upper skirt with the zipper slit in the same part, and with the seams aligned. Baste around the top. Tack the ruched seams so that they line up right over the pleats. Add gathering stitches. It will have to be gathered in quite a bit. I chose to gather in panel by panel so as not to brake the threads and have better control.
Before gathering, take the outside of the waistband. Ignoring the seam allowance and the overlap, divide the rest of the waistband into 8. You want the seams to occur evenly around the waist. Pin the outside of the waist line to the skirt with right sides together matching at the marks. Remember that the overlap should occur so that the left side is over the right. Gather in the skirt. Baste into place then sew.
Step 10: Finish Waistband
Iron the attached part of the waistline up. On the inside part of the waistband, iron up the bottom part about 1/2" to prepare to stitch in the ditch. Pin on the inside part of the waistband with right sides together. Sew around the sides and upper part. Fold over the waistband and iron down. Stitch in the ditch around the skirt to attach the bottom part of the inside waistline. Close the overlap.
Step 11: Finish the Skirt
Sew in the zipper being sure to attach the upper and lower skirt. The zipper will end at the waistline. Sew on the hook-and-eye. Look over the skirt and be sure that everything looks how you like. Try it on with the hoop skirt and enjoy!