Hello, My name is Susanne and I love sewing! I've become somewhat of a creative blog addict, so I'm very excited to do this guest tutorial for my friend KJ.
I loved tiered skirts - my childhood was filled with them, and I was thrilled when I came across a pattern for my daughter and discovered how easy they are to make and how great they are for using up some of the smaller pieces in your fabric stash.
What you need is four long strips, each one longer and a bit wider than the previous one. I am going to demonstrate how to make a skirt sized 4-6, but later on I will give you the measures for a larger sized skirt.
Initial note about the waistbandFor a size 4 skirt there is no need to sew an additional waistband, just fold the waist down around a circle of elastic and stitch it, after sticthing the skirt together. However, for a size 6 skirt, which is what I'm making here, I add a piece of fabric and construct a waistband casing at the top of the waist and stitch it on to the back over the elastic. That way you don't lose any length. You can see in the photo below, how a strip of pink was added to the waistband to cover the elastic.
Cut two of each
The waist piece measures 4.5 x 13.5 inches (as explained above, for a size 6 skirt, you will need a back piece if using should be 3 by 13.5 inches or wide enough to cover your elastic plus seam allowance)
Cutting instructions without seam allowance
Tier 1: 5 x 20 inches
Tier 2: 5.5 x 27.5 inches
Tier 3: 6 x 45 inches
Please note that if you add a seam allowance to each tier, the finished shirt will be roughly 21 inches long, which is too long for my five year-old. So I forgo a seam allowance and then it fits.
Stitching the skirt
Start by stitching the back and front pieces for each individual tier together to make four long strips, then serge or zig-zag any fraying edges. If you do use a serger or if you're the type to make really clean zig-zagged edges, you can put the skirt together with those seems turned out - I'll show you some pictures later - it gives the skirt a bit more texture.
Next step is to use a gathering stitch on the top edge of each tier. My sewing machine has a standard setting for a straight stitch of 2.5mm and I increase that to at least 3.5mm for a gathering stitch - more if it's a thick fabric like denim. You run the stitch about a quarter inch from the edge and then pull on the bobbin thread to gather the fabric. You need to gather each tier enough to make it the same length as the piece that comes before it. Tier 1 gets attached to the waist and thus needs to be gathered to measure roughly 27 inches (2x13.5) minus the seam if you didn't add for that, tier 2 attaches to tier 1 and thus needs to be gathered to measure roughly 40 inches (2x20), etc. It's difficult to make it the excact length - when you attach it the gathering seem tends to move and shift a bit, but there's enough width in the skirt to allow for a bit to be trimmed off at the end.
Side Seams and Stitching the Waistband
Once all the tiers are attached, you need to decide how to do the elastic at the waist. If the skirt is plenty long as it is, then just stitch the skirt side seam together and trim and zig-zag or serge the edge, then measure a piece of elastic to fit the girl's waist (waist circumference minus 2-3 inches depending on how stretchy the elastic. The wider the elastic the tighter is is). Stitch the elastic together to form a circle, fit it over the top of the skirt which should be inside out, and fold the waist over the elastic and stitch it on the back.
As explained above, if you don't want to lose any length, then before you stitch the skirt together, you need to cut and attach a length of fabric the same length as the waist piece and about half or two-thirds the width (again, depending on the width of your elastic). Once you've added this piece at the top of the waist, then stitch the skirt together, fold this added piece over the circle of elastic and stitch it to the back of the skirt.
I thought I was going to use this one as a birthday gift for one of my daughter's friends, but my daughter thought the friend would much prefer one in the white eyelet cotton-crepe, and perhaps she should just keep this pink one for herself, then...? So I made a white one as well.
Alternative: Exposed seams
As mentioned before, you can stitch the tiers on wrong side out, leaving the raw edge sitting on top of the right side of the tier above it.
Sorry, I didn't get a picture of how to do that, but you basically lay the raw edge of the lower tier over top of the bottom edge of the upper tier with about a half inch overlap ( the right side of the upper tier faces the wrong side of the lower tier), then stitch it on in the middle of that overlap to leave a narrow ruffle.
We thought the white skirt turned out really pretty, but my daughter is a strong believer in embellishments, and thought this one cried out for a bit of jazz....:
Now, to make the skirt fit girls beyond size 4-6, you could either add a tier at the bottom, but this would need to be one very long piece - 8 x 73 inches by my calculations and while it would make a fantastically twirly skirt, a more economical way would be to add to the width of each tier and the waist piece. I'd also add a few inches to the circumference of the waist piece and first tier to make sure it can still be pulled up over the hips. This is what those measurements would look like:
Waist: 5.5 x 15 inches
Tier 1: 6 x 21 inches
Tier 2: 6.5 x 27.5 inches
Tier 3: 7 x 45 inches
Add Tier 4: 8 x 73 inches to the above measurements
In any case, measure the length you want to skirt to be and go from there....
Thanks Susanne! Susanne's tutorial motivated me to bust my stash and stitch up a tiered skirt for my little one's dolly (it's a Corelle doll). She has advanced to a new stage of play and enjoys playing dollies and barbies. One of my immediate goals is to replenish our doll clothes stash with some interesting outfits. This is what I came up with.