how to make a tulle petticoat
… so, I mentioned Cassie’s engagement? and of course I’m completely thrilled to be asked to make her wedding dress! Thrilled, maybe tempered with a little nervousness, shall we say? but still nonetheless thrilled. I might even have been anticipating this very thing every since she was born!
Anyway, I’ve made a start… with a coupla petticoats. Yes, petticoats, plural. I shall now proceed to explain…
First of all; a stiff, tulle petticoat, to give plenty of volume and oomph to her bridal ensemble.
I’d read a blog post YEARS ago about making a petticoat but couldn’t find it, and so I just plowed ahead and made the above petticoat with what I could remember. But I do hate not giving credit, so after hunting and following links for what seemed like ages I finally found it!! this post here by Sugardale. I remember being very impressed with Sugardale’s post when I first read it, but I still somehow neglected to bookmark it or save any useful details that would enable me to find it again upon the occasion that I would need to use it. But eventually I did find it. And straight away realised that I had failed dismally to follow any of her instructions when making my own petticoat, so hmmm, there’s that! For example; Sugardale recommended an odd number of tiers, I made mine with an even number; Sugardale recommended working from the bottom up, I, in fact, worked from the top down. Honestly? I don’t think these issues are a big deal, I think either, or even any way is probably going to work out just fine…
After making a muslin for Cassie’s dress – two actually – we determined the length of the skirt would be 87 cm. I decided upon 4 tiers, with the following finished heights: from top down; 20cm, 21cm, 22cm, 24cm… staggered heights just because I believe it looks better and more balanced to have the lower tiers wider than the upper tiers.
I did remember enough of Sugardale’s instructions to know that the tiers started at 2yds from and top and needed to double in circumference with with each tier down; and the tulle I scoped out in Spotlight had a width of 126cm (49.6inches) So I calculated the following dimensions for my pieces:
Please note: tier 4 only has 1 single 1cm seam allowance added to the height, since the bottom edge is the lower edge of the petticoat and doesn’t need a seam allowance.
You can see by my calculations and measurements of the tulle I bought, that one and a half cut lengths measures 189cm which I decided didn’t need trimming down. Yes, my tiers were going to end up with a wider circumference overall than recommended, but I decided that a bit of extra volume was definitely not a bad thing. It is in fact a very good thing!
So, according to my calculations; I was going to need:
(2 x 22cm) (3 x 23cm) (6 x 24cm) (12 x 25cm) = 6.6m of tulle Allowing for errors, I bought 8m of ivory tulle.
I used my rotary cutter and mat to cut the pieces as cleanly and as neatly as possible, and I cut and finished all gathering and stitching of each tier completely at a time before proceeding to the next tier, so as to not mix up the pieces. I can tell you, by the time you get to the bottom tier of 12 pieces, you do NOT want to get them mixed up!!
For the top tier, (circumference 189cm); I stitched it not fully closed, but leaving an opening of about 15cm from the top edge, so that Cassie can step into the petticoat. The seam allowance either side of the split opening I simply folded down and topstitched it down on either side of the split. I then ran a gathering stitch around the entire top edge and pulled it up to roughly fit Cassie’s waist measurement. I cut a bias-cut strip of white cotton poplin, measured off Cassie’s waist measurement of 63cm and pinned to mark, and gathered the top tier (189cm) into this length.
After stitching each tier, I topstitched the upper seam allowance of each tier to the skirt above, approx 7mm from the stitching line. I think this gives it a bit of strength, and lends a bit of pretty visual structure to this ethereal thing too. Not that it’s meant to be seen, but well, you know…
Sophie checks out a weird THING
To finish the waist tie, I pressed the raw edges of the waistband strip into the centreline, then pressed the strip in half, and topstitched in place, about 2mm from the opening edge.
When putting the petticoat on, Cassie steps into the skirt, then the long ends of the waistband are pulled across from each other, wrapped around her waist and tied in a simple knot or bow.
It stands up by itself!
I stuck it up on the kitchen bench for a while, while I had to do something else, and I dunno, the sight of it gave me such a laugh! Like a little tulle volcano, or something. Mt Petticoat!!
Because bare legs against a scratchy tulle petticoat will probably become very uncomfortable very quickly, I also made a simple full circle petticoat to be worn underneath, using ivory cotton voile from Spotlight.
This is also 87cm in length, and for this I bought 4m and used every single bit! I cut this length in half, and then cut the half circles for the two halves the skirt by the “fold into halves, then quarters, then eighths, then again” and cut across the lower edge to get a rough, but good enough curve; method.
The waist opening is made by cutting off the top, just 8cm from the tip. When stitching together the two half circles of the skirt, I again made sure to leave an opening of at least 15cm so she can step into the skirt!! and same as for the tulle petticoat, to finish the slit edges I simply pressed down the seam allowances either side of this slit and topstitched them into place.
To finish the waistband and for closure, I again made a bias cut strip of the same fabric, and stitched it to the waistline, leaving long tails either side, pressed the raw edges to the middle of the strip and stitched it closed, same as for the tulle petticoat. By the way; I usually stitch this; right side of strip, to wrong side of skirt; this means when you fold the raw edges of the strip over you’re actually topstitching from the right side of the skirt, which of course ends up looking much neater from the right side. Which is just what you want.
For the lower edge of the fabric petticoat, I overlocked the raw edge to provide a stable and even width guide for hemming; then folded the overlocked edge under twice and topstitched it down.
The two petticoats! I think they look so pretty together!