Sometimes you need a skirt that has a sense of drama.
In my opinion a dramatic looks is achieved with a skirt that has a lot of volume. This skirts has volume in abundance, it's super ruffly and is a full circle skirt. Lastly because it's made out of crushed velvet the ruffles really stand out and create a great texture. I call is a cupcake skirt because like the ball gowns of old it flares out at the hips before then dropping down. And all the textures look to me like fluffy icing on a cupcake.
I feel undeniably pretty in this skirt, in a very dramatic and old fashioned way hence my corset. Which for others that are interested this skirt works really well with a corset and without.
Step 1: Make Your Own Pattern
Now this skirt is actually a modification on the underskirt from my Fairy Wing Wrap Skirt project. It's a series of ruffly tiers that get longer the further down the skirt you go in order to create a full circle effect.
The one change is that the bottom of each tier of my original pattern wasn't ruffled. For this skirt I wanted some real drama so the whole tier is ruffled. Now above is the math that will allow you to replicate exactly what I did, essentially figuring out how long each tier has to be and then multiplying that number by 1.5 in order to create extra fabric for the purpose of ruffling. The formulas also assume that you measured in inches.
If you want less ruffling you can actually multiple the length of each tier by anything between 1 and 1.5, with the higher the number the more ruffly the skirt. I don't recommend going above 1.5 as the skirt will eventually get really heavy and stiff due to all the fabric being shoved into a tiny space.
Basically you're after 4 lengths of fabric that are 5 inches wide and the above formulas will tell the you the length. If you want a longer skirt, this one is 16 inches long, you can add more tiers just be sure to add 8 inches to the formulae for each subsequent tier.
Step 2: Gather Materials
- 1.5 - 2 yards of fabric, I used crushed panne velvet
- 2-2.5 yards of at least 1 inch wide lace
- A lot of string
- 2 yards of 1/4 inch wide elastic
- At least 1 safety pin
- Sewing Machine and thread
- a measuring tape or ruler
Step 3: Know Thy Fabric!
Alright so I used crushed panne velvet, I think Joann's calls it "Let's Pretend" fabric. Admittedly it would probably make some awesome dress up clothes. It's a 100% polyester knit, meaning pretty sturdy and stretchy. For this project you want to know which way it is stretchy. The stretchy way should be width direction, but it never hurts to check. We want the stretchy to be going parallel the bottom of the skirt, that way it allows for some awesome drape.
Lastly because I am working a velvet type of fabric, it means it has a nap or a right way to pet the fabric. Trust me if you pet the velvet you will discover a right way and a wrong way. While sewing the skirt it's a good idea to pay attention to this. I sewed my skirt so that the nap is going down the skirt, not that I predict or desire people to pet my skirt but because it can affect how the light hits the fabric. So decide if you care about the nap of the fabric and then before sewing anything check to make sure you sewing in a way that's cohesive to nap.
Step 4: Cutting the Strips
Alright well since our strips are coming out the fabric in the width direction it means we're going to be cutting our fabric into 5 inch strips and then sewing those strips together until they're the correct length.
In order to easily cut all of your fabric in strips I reccomend cutting a piece of paper that is 5 inches wide and 30 inches long. That way it covers the entire width of the fabric when it's folded in half lengthwise.
Then lay your pattern piece down on the fabric as near to one of width edges as is possible, pin it in place, and pin the fabric beside it still. Then cut out your strip. Take the pins out of the pattern piece and then pin the pattern piece back on the fabric against the straight edge you have now created. Repeat this pattern until the entirety of the fabric is strips.
Step 5: Sew the Strips Together!
Yup take your strips and pin them short side to short side right sides together. Then sew them together using a straight stitch and a half inch of seam allowance.
Repeat the process until the strip is longer than the length of one of your tiers. Then trim it until it is the correct length.
Being careful to avoid any twists sew the two end right side together to create giant loop.
Repeat these steps until all your tiers have appeared.
Step 6: Now for the Top!
Take your first tier pin a half inch of seam allowance in on the top, wrong side to wrong side. Then sew that edge down using a zig zag stitch with the edge of the fabric going through the middle of the stitch. This means that the top of zig zag will be over the seam allowance and going through 2 layers of fabric. The bottom of the zig zag stitch should be lower than the seam allowance and only going through 1 layer of fabric.
Be sure to leave a hole in the sewing that is at least 2 inches long.
Step 7: Elastic TIME!
Take out your elastic and measure a length that is at least 5 inches shorter than your actual waist measurement and then add 2 inches. Cut this length and then grab one end.
Take a safety pin and put it through the elastic at the end you've grabbed.
Then stick into the casing you just made out of the top the skirt. Using your fingers feed the elastic through the top of skirt being sure to not let the other end of the elastic into the casing. Once the safety pin has come out the other end remove the safety pin, and over lap the two ends of elastic by an inch and pin it in place. Sew together using a zig zag stitch going over each exposed end.
Then tuck the elastic into the casing and close the casing using pins. Sew the casing shut with the same zig zag stitch you use to make it. Even out the ruffles on the top of skirt before continuing.
Step 8: More MATH! I'm Sorry....
Before we begin to ruffle we need to determine how long each tier should be once ruffled. Our goal is to make a circle and because each tier has a 4 inch width once sewn it means that the top and the bottom of each tier will be ruffled different amounts.
The bottom of each tier should be ruffled to these lengths
First Tier: ([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 8) x 3.14
Second Tier: ([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 16) x 3.14
Third Tier: ([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 24) x 3.14
Fourth Tier: ([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 32) x 3.14
The top of each tier, except the first, will ruffled to meet the length of the bottom of the previous one. For example the top of the second tier should be ruffled to:([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 8) x 3.14. But the bottom of the second tier should be ruffled to:([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 16) x 3.14
If you need help with this math feel free to poke me for help :)
Step 9: RUFFLE IT UP!
Alright ruffing time! So grab your twine and mark a starting point a few inches over from the end, I use sharpies. Then measure out the length that you want to ruffle to, mark again. DON'T CUT THE TWINE!
Run it over to your sewing machine and set it up as a zig zag stitch that is wider than it is long. Then set the fabric so that it runs right along the edge of the foot and put the string so that it runs down the middle of the foot. Then sew, being careful that the needle never goes through the string only around it.
Once you've gone all the way around it's time to ruffle. Pull the end that is still connected to the spool so that the fabric really ruffles up. Then move the ruffles down the fabric so that you can pull the twine more. Continue until the two marks on the twine match up. Then tie the ends in knot and clip the twine
Then using the same technique of moving the ruffles down move the ruffles around the tier until they are evenly spread out. Then repeat theses steps for the other side of the tier and for all of the tiers.
Make sure you keep track of the top and the bottom of each tier and which tier is which.
Step 10: Sew the Tiers Together!
Match up the top of second tier with the bottom of the first and pin it all together. If you find that once you have worked all the way around you have a bubble of fabric just take out some of the pins and spread the extra fabric out so it lays mostly flat. You might still end up a with a few pleats but they should be small and because of the ruffles they will be invisible. Then sew the seam together with a half inch of seam allowance.
At this point if you like you can remove the twine, I didn't because I was curious how it would effect the final skirt. As long as you're using very flexible twine or string it doesn't affect the skirt at all. So it's extra work that you can decide to do if you want.
Step 11: Top Stitching
Once you've gone completely around a seam it's time to top stitch. This well help the skirt to lay flatter and for the transition between the tiers to be smoother. To do this you're going to fold the seam allowance up on to the previous tier and then sew it down about a fourth of inch away from the seam. I tend to not pin this I just fold it up and put it in the foot of the sewing machine over the seam allowance which holds it in place.
The one thing it worry about it bubbles, you don't want any extra fabric from the higher tier getting caught in the top stitching. So while sewing just give the two sides some tension going outwards to ensure no extra fabric gets caught.
Sew your top stitching on every seam except the top and the bottom.
Step 12: Rinse and Repeat
Continue adding tiers and top stitching until the skirt is the length you want. I did four tiers for a length of 16 inches.
Step 13: Finish the Bottom
Now for each tier you ruffled the top and the bottom. This includes the fourth tier, so what do you do with the bottom of the skirt? You add lace of course! I really love this little change of color and texture at the bottom and I think it gives it a great extra feminine feel.
Take your lace which should be ([your waist measurement / 3.14] + 32) x 3.14 round up to the nearest yard. Remember there are 36 inches in a yard and we measured everything in inches.
Then just start pinning the lace on. I had them over lap by about a .5 inch so as to completely cover the gathering at the bottom. Once you work your way all the way around the bottom you're going to reach to overlap the ends of the lace by at least a half inch and then cut the excess off. Pin the over lap together including the end of the lace and then sew everything together using a zig zag stitch about an eight of inch way from the top edge of the lace. Then sew a zig zag stitch over the two ends where they over lap.
Step 14: DONE!
Ok first clip all your threads short so that you don't have any messy ends...
BUT after that you are all done. Go rock your Velvet Cupcake skirt, I personally feel so cute while wearing it and it has an awesome twirl factor. Although I recommend wearing opaque leggings or shorts under the skirt, as the skirt definitely twirls high enough that someone could see some undergarments if you are not careful. Or you know if you care about that sort of thing...
If you decide to make this skirt I want to see them. The first 10 people to make this skirt and show me pictures in the comments will get 3 months of PRO membership! 10/10 PRO memberships are still available!