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Basic 3 Tiered Skirt: With Hidden or Exposed Seams (measurement chart included)


I have an addict in the house.  (Well other than me and my addiction to sugar.  But we’ve talked about that many times.  Haven’t we?)


This addict is four years old and 11 months.  She loves noodles.  Hates the dark.  Adores playing “mommy”.  Is pretty ticklish.  And can usually be found playing dress-up or creating dialogue between 2 of her favorite dollies.  But her true addiction…… to skirts.  She loves them.  And hates to go anywhere without one.  And will slump over in utter disappointment if I tell her all of her skirts are dirty that day. 


So I have been meaning to make her more skirts for months now.  And finally did.


And rather than just a plain old gathered skirt……this one has 3 tiers.  Why make the 3 tiers?  Well, this allows the skirt to be more full and flair out without adding more bulk and gathers right around the waist.  (This is especially helpful if you’re making a skirt in your size.  Too many gathers around your waist = bad.  Got me?)


These can be made in any fabric……however, I made one for my 4 year old and my 8 month old in knit.  Stretchy and cozy.



And since it’s cooler……just match the skirt up with some leggings.  (Okay, even when it’s warmer she wears leggings with her skirts.  She loves those too.)



And luckily, a skirt like this feeds her addiction.  And makes her happy.



And because she likes to help me pick out her little sister’s outfit for the day……..I needed more baby skirts for the little one too.  Done.



Can you blame her?  Skirts make spinning and dancing that much more fun.  Okay, I get it. 




Would you like to make a 3 tiered skirt for you? 

Or for your daughter/niece/granddaughter/friend?


First of all, like I mentioned above, you can makes these skirts in a variety of fabric.  I used jersey knit for mine but plan on making a few 100% cotton ones as well.


The first step is to decide how long you want the skirt, from the very top, down to the bottom hem.  Once you know how long you want it, split that number by three.  For each tier, you will add a little extra to the top and bottom length, to accommodate for the waistband, the seam allowances, and the hem.  And to figure out the width of each tier, you need to measure the waist of you model.  The first tier width will be the waist measurement multiplied by 1.5.  The second tier is the waist measurement multiplied by 2.  And the 3rd tier is the waist measurement multiplied by 2.7.  I know, 2.7 is a weird number but it keeps the ratio even between tiers.  Just go with it! 



Here’s a chart to keep all of that straight:

(And keep in mind, if you want the skirt fuller, add some fabric to each width.  If you need help figuring that out, keep the width of tier one the same but multiply tier 2 by 2.5 and tier 3 by 4.2.  That will make it even fuller.  Do what works best for you though and the amount of fabric you have.)


So, for example:  My little girl’s waist is 20 inches.  And I measured from her waist down to where I wanted it to end, and that was 10.5 inches.  So I first divided 10.5 by 3 and got 3.5.  So each finished tier would measure 3.5 inches tall.  Then, I knew that after adding the extra measurements to each tier height (as shown above), they would measure 5 inches tall (1st tier), 4.5 inches tall (2nd tier) and 5 inches tall (3rd tier).  Then, since her waist measurement is 20, I knew the tier widths would be 30 inches (1st tier), 40 inches (2nd tier), and 54 inches (3rd tier).


**Please note, the measurements don’t have to be perfect.  You can round up or down so you’re not trying to cut something that is 6.78 inches wide.  That would be annoying.  This skirt is forgiving since it gathers in and doesn’t have to be perfect.


So, if you have a tall 4 (almost 5) year old like I do, who has about a 20 (or 21 or even 22) inch waist (and who normally wears size 5… longer 5T), you can use my measurements.


Tier 1 = 5 x 30 inches

Tier 2 = 4.5 x 40 inches

Tier 3 = 5 x 54 inches


Here they are after I serged each long edge.  (Not necessary to serge or zig-zag the edges of knit but I did it anyway to see if it would help it stop rolling.  Nope, didn’t help. Ha!)

**As a side note, I can’t remember where I got this fabric.  I bought it a couple years ago.  Maybe Hancock?  Or Hobby Lobby?  Sorry…….I just can’t remember. 



Now, fold each tier in half width-wise with right sides together, and sew the ends closed.  (Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance.)  This will give you 3 circles of fabric.


Then, grab your top tier of fabric and fold over the top edge towards the inside of the fabric, one inch.  (If you are using cotton or other fraying material, you may need to add another 1/4 inch or so to your top tier measurement so that you can fold over the top edge a 1/4 inch, then an inch.  This is necessary to keep the edge from fraying.)  Sew this down really close to the bottom edge of the part you folded over……..but leave about a one inch opening for your elastic.  Set aside.


Now, grab your 3rd tier and place a basting stitch all the way around the top edge, a 1/4 inch from the top.  (I always place a basting stitch along the front half and then another stitch along the back half.  It’s easier to gather in 2 sections rather than all the way around with one seam.)  Gather it in until it’s the same width as the bottom of tier 2.  And line up the side seam in the back.  (Need help with gathering?  Click here.)


Now place the top edge of the tier 3 and the bottom edge of tier 2 together, with right sides together, and pin in place.  Make sure that the gather is even all the way around. And no, this isn’t a ton of gather……just slight.  Then sew in place, using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.


Now, place 2 basting stitches along the top edge of tier 2 and match it up with the width of the tier 1, just like you did with the bottom 2 tiers.


Place together with right sides together and pin in place.  And line up the side seams in the back.


And sew together, just like you did before.


Now, fold under your bottom edge an inch (or however much you gave yourself for a hem allowance) and sew in place.  I used a double needle to get a nice double seam from the front…….and then a sort of zig-zag on the other side.  (Need help with the double needle?  Click here.)


Now, thread some 3/4 inch elastic through the waistband (that’s the same length as the waist measurement), overlap the ends by one inch, sew ends together, and then sew the opening of the skirt closed.



Now, if you’re wanting to leave the seams exposed, like the grey skirt……..instead of placing the tiers together with right sides together, you’ll just overlap the tiers about a 1/2 inch (with the right side of the fabric facing outward) and sew them in place after they’re gathered.  I serged each edge for a finished look but you can leave knits plain and raw.  If you’re using cotton (or some other type that frays), you’ll need to fold over each long edge a 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch, and then sew in place so they won’t fray.  But keep in mind, you’ll have to add some length to your measurements to accommodate that extra fabric.



And that’s it.


All ready to be worn.


And since that came together so quickly, make like 5 more for your little skirt addicts.






Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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