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Full and Fluffy Pettiskirt


I used to love to dance around in skirts as a young girl.
And I always wanted a pettiskirt.
My childhood friend had one, and we would wear it, then trade, then dance, then trade, etc.
What a pain…….but I loved that thing.
And wished it was mine.
So making my little girl her own, was kind of like fulfilling that childhood dream of having a full and fluffy pettiskirt, all my own.  Ha……forgive me!
What could be better?  A full pettiskirt to dance in, twirl in, pretend in……
All of the ruffles, all of the layers………they will bounce right along with your free-spirited little girl.
With all those soft layers, girls of all ages are bound to feel happy and free….
Made my heart so happy to watch this little lady enjoying the fullness and fluff, every bit as much as I did so many years ago.  (Why didn’t I know now to sew when I was a teeny little girl?)


Would you like to make one too?
I found a video on Martha Stewart here a while ago, where a guest came on and showed how to make her pettiskirts.
I wish she had more time to share….but such are TV segments.  Short and sweet.
So I watched the video several times, adjusted the measurements given (just a bit), and came up with a step-by-step tutorial…..just to help explain the process a bit more.
And before we begin, make sure you purchase a non-fray chiffon….you don’t want to have to finish off every edge.  WAY too much work.  I found my chiffon here.  And actually purchased rolls of it, in the exact width that I needed, here.  There are many colors to choose from and the prices are great!  (If you don’t buy it on rolls, get ready to make lots of 2 inch and 5 inch wide strips that have to be sewn together to make longer strips.  But it can be done…..don’t worry!)
If you’re making a size similar to mine (about a 3T/4T….maybe even big enough for a 5T) I followed the links above and purchased one 2 inch roll (light pink) that was 60 yards long and one 5 inch roll (bright pink) that was 30 yards long.
Also, you will need to purchase a 1/4 yard of satin, some 7/8 wide elastic, and some ribbon.
Now, to get a visual of how the skirt is made…… is a 3 tiered skirt, with a ruffle around the bottom.  The 1st tier is satin, the 2nd and 3rd tiers are 5 inch wide chiffon, and then you use the 2 inch wide chiffon as a ruffle along the bottom.  And then you actually make the chiffon section of the skirt twice, and put them together and make a 2 layered, 3 tiered skirt.  Make sense?
So first, I measured and cut enough strips of chiffon to make the two separate skirts.
The hot pink layers are 5 inches wide (though they look a little scrunched) and the pink layers are 2 inches wide.
The top chiffon tier is 180 inches (5 yards) long, the 2nd chiffon tier is 360 inches (10 yards), and the bottom ruffle is 1080 inches (30 yards).  Then do that twice……so you can make the 2 separate skirts.
Then, I learned a little trick on my Bernina to help the process (because I don’t have a ruffler foot but may invest in one after making this pettiskirt).  I adjusted the stitch length to the longest it would go…….
And then adjusted the tension wheel so that one thread was being pulled tighter than the other…….creating a ruffle in the fabric.  And then I tried it on my old machine……and it worked great too.  (So increase your stitch length like you normally would to create a ruffle, but then play around with your tension on some scrap fabric and watch as it ruffles your fabric.  Don’t backstitch at either end, and then you can still adjust the ruffle by increasing or decreasing the ruffle.)  Great, right?  It saved some time.

After you have practiced this technique on some scraps, stitch down the center of your 2 inch wide fabric, creating a nice ruffle.  See all of those ruffles?  That’s how ruffly the machine made the strip without me even trying.
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 But if you don’t like that technique, you can always sew a basting stitch and then do all of the ruffling on your own. (Need help? Visit this post here.)  Or you can just gather with your fingers and slide it under the needle as you sew. 
 But this way, you can’t adjust the length of the ruffle when you’re done.Whatever you’re most comfortable with.  But get ready, you have 2 really long strips to ruffle.
Now, lay your ruffle down next to one of your 360 inch long layers. (The second 5 inch chiffon layer.)  You want the ruffle to be the same length as this layer……so pull on the end thread of your ruffle to adjust or release the ruffle a bit.
Then sew the 2 short ends of your 5 inch wide layer together, making a large circle.  Also, be sure that the fabric is not twisted at all.  Then attach the ruffle to right side of the bottom edge of this layer, attaching the ruffle about 1/4 inch up from the bottom.  And sew right down the center of the ruffle.
And when you get back to the beginning, just overlap the ruffle just a bit and backstitch several times.
The whole layer, with the ruffle along the bottom.
Next, you’re going to sew a basting stitch around the top of this bottom layer, a 1/4 inch from the edge… that you can gather it before attaching it to the next layer up.  I split this in half and sewed a basting stitch only along half of the top, stopped, left long thread ends…….and then made another basting stitch around the other half of the top.  This way, I could gather half of the top edge at a time.  And I used the same technique that I shared above, and adjusted the tension.  Then I didn’t have to gather as much…
Then grab the 180 inch long layer of chiffon and sew the ends together the same way as you did the longer layer……….and lay the two layers down next to each other.
Place the two layers together, with right sides together.  And adjust the gathering if you need to so that there is an even ruffle all the way around.  Pin the layers together.
All pinned along one side, ready to pin the other half.

 Then sew the two layers together, right along that original basting stitch, about 1/4 inch seam allowance.  (Maybe a 1/3 inch seam allowance to hide some of the basting stitch.)
Do the same thing with the other layers you have cut, attaching the ruffles and creating gathers.  So now you have 2 identical pieces……….each with 2 tiers and the bottom ruffles.  Whew, lots of gathering.
Next, you’re going to cut a piece of satin that is 8 inches wide by 40 inches long.
On the wrong side of the fabric, iron on a piece of fusible interfacing that is 1/2 x 40 inches to each long edge of the satin.
Then sew the piece of satin together into a tube with right sides together.  Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance to sew those 2 ends together.  Then sew another seam, just to reinforce…..or zig-zag.  Whatever you’d like.
But be sure to leave an opening along the edge that is 1 inch wide.  This satin is 8 inches wide and will be folded in half to make the waist band.  So I measured in 4 inches, placed a pin, measured over an inch to the left, placed another pin, then made my seam……..but left the space between the two pins open.  Then made the next seam the same way, leaving the 1 inch space open.
The I folded the fabric down on itself in half, making a waistband, and making sure that the 1 inch opening was on the outside.  So this is a tube below, with a fold at the top and the raw edges at the bottom.
Then I ironed that top fold in place.
 Then I measured down an inch from the top, all the way around the tube and put pins in as my markers.  (You could use chalk too.)
Then I followed the pins as I made a seam all the way around the tube….creating a casing for the elastic.
Then I cut a piece of elastic that was 6 inches shorter than I needed.  My little girls waist is about 20 inches, so I cut a piece of elastic that was 14 inches and 2 piece of ribbon that were 18 inches each.  Then I heat sealed the ends of the ribbon (with a lighter) and then sewed one end of each piece of ribbon to each end of the elastic.  Now the waistband is adjustable with a ribbon, yet allows for a snug fit from the elastic.
Then attach a safety pin to one end and slide the ribbon through the casing of the satin piece.
Pull all the way through, gather in the fabric, tie in a bow…….see how it works?
 ***And see how there is an outside layer and an inside layer to the waistband?
Now, untie the ribbon and just pin the ends to the skirt so that they’re not in the way during the next step.  Or just don’t even put the ribbon in until later.
Now, grab one of your ruffled layers and make a basting stitch along the top (1/4 inch seam allowance), just like you did above.  And make two separate basting stitches, halfway around each, like I explained above………it helps while you’re pinning.
Now pin this layer to the bottom front edge of the satin waistband……with right sides together.  But only pin to the outer layer of the waistband.  Make sure the inner layer of the waistband is out of the way.  Adjust the gathering where necessary and make sure that the gathers are evenly distributed around the satin layer.
Then sew into place, using a 1/4 – 1/3 inch seam allowance.  When you flip down the ruffled layer…….you will now start to see your skirt.
Now, gather the top of your other skirt layer the same way as the first one.  Turn the skirt and waist band inside out so that the other layer of the waistband is on the outside. 
Now pin the wrong side of the chiffon layer to the right side of the satin layer……and pin in place.
Pin all the way around.
And sew into place, just like above.
Now, sew a top-stitch along the bottom edge of the satin, folding the raw edges (that are underneath) upwards, towards the top of the skirt, as you sew.  You will be sewing through the top layer of satin and then the little raw edge underneath as well.  So two layers of satin and some chiffon too.  Do this to both edges of the satin.
See the top-stitch along each edge of satin that is next to the chiffon?  (The seam in the middle is just the casing for the elastic.)
Are you still with me?  
That’s it.  
You’re done.  
No more gathers or ruffling.  Whew.
Great work!
Now, really, wasn’t that all worth it?
Just look at all of that pettiskirt goodness…..
………secured in place by a sweet little ribbon on the hip.
Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner 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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  1. Deah says:

    This is the best tutorial I have ever seen for a petti!!! I never comment on blogs and I know this is 10’years old so who even knows if you still ha e this blog. But thank you for this!

  2. Nanaaaa says:

    I was wondering if there is a chart listing measurements for different sizes some where? I was sure that I saw one some where and thought it was on AFC website but if it is I can’t find it. I am pretty sure that I have seen one some where but can’t remember where.
    Thank you for posting this tutorial. I am fixing to make it for my granddaughter but would like to make one for a few of the older girls as well as a few teenagers that are loving this skirt as well, my reason for trying to locate the sizing and material chart again.

  3. Shama says:

    thanks for the tutorial. I live in Canada and could not find chiffon so bought tulle instead. Now I am confused if I could make the skirt with tulle and should I add the lining as tulle is scratchy. Please help. Thank you

  4. Dawn says:

    I need to make this for a size 16 girl. How do I make the adjustments from this size?

  5. Mette says:

    Thank you for this tutorial – I want to make one for myself, but I am not good at measuring, so I hope you can help.

    I am an adult size Medium and I want the skirt to be 55 cm long. How much fabric do I need and can you tell me how long and wide every layer is going to be?

    Hugs from Mette

  6. Marta Fair says:

    I get the rolls of tulle or chiffon at hobby lobby with the 40% off 25 yards (4.99-40%) some times they even have them for 50% so it would be about 2.50 each 25 yards.Love this tutorial i think is easy to follow, i till try to do my pettiskirt.Thanks

  7. mandy says:

    Chiffon is not to lock edge? This looks like gauze。

  8. Erica G says:

    Ahh I’m so glad I found this! :) I knew I saw it somewhere and did a google search but didn’t realize it was from your blog until I saw the photos! I want to make these but will have to wait until the farmers market season is over and I have a little more time! :) (I also have some sense & sensibility dress patterns I want/need to make this winter!!) and holy cow! I was searching through your past tutorials and didn’t realize how many great projects you have on here. I will definitely have to look through again when I have more time.. maybe when daddy’s home from work and he can watch the little ones! Internet would be so much easier if we had a computer instead of my smart phone ;)

    You are a very talented and crafty lady! So glad I stumbled upon your blog. And so glad you write it!

    Now off to pick up our exchange student from school..

  9. katiasafia says:

    i love it beautiful skirt thank you ashly for this explication

  10. Sue says:

    Well, I finally did it! Just finished my FIRST pettiskirt following your directions – Thank You! Your instructions were awesome – every time I deviated from your suggestions, I found that your way was better – Ha! And with five granddaughters under the age of 6, I guess you know I’m just getting started. These will be so special for them – can’t thank you enough! PS: AFC is now on my “favorites” list – they have been a great company to deal with.

  11. Jackie G. says:

    I had to do a little re-figuring on the measurements since I was making this for my 1yr old, (lots of using a tape measure, looking at things, more measuring, ultimately winging lengths) but this tutorial was amazing! I just finished my daughter’s pettiskirt tonight and let her try it on before her smash cake photo session tomorrow and she was in -love-. It came out perfect and my princess loves her new dress! THANK YOU!!!!

  12. Betsy says:

    How do you go about buying a full roll?

  13. Nan says:

    A great tutorial with 4 grand-daughters I better get started. Thank you.

  14. eva says:

    Hi there, i’m eva a single mom from indonesia. Such a wonderfull tutorial your full pettiskirt awsome and make me as directly make it for my kids…. And thank you very much because of you i can make more idea for my little bussines…. if you don’t mind as ownesslymaybe we can be a friend. And you can confirm my fb on Eva Tirey Dewi.
    And once again thank you so much for your adorable creation…. love you n nice to meet you here….

    Best regards for me


  15. Jamie Austin says:

    I don’t know if this would work but it could really make making strips of tulle a lot easier. I’ll be trying it when I make a tutu!! Sew the ends of the tulle together and use the technique in the following link. Then you wouldn’t have to sew a bunch of tulle ends together. It’s the method used on plastic bags to make “yarn” for crocheting.

    Or I’ll sew the edges together to make a tube, then start at the top, cutting diagonally to start making a strip that is an inch thick (think of like a toilet paper roll or a crescent rolls tube).

  16. amber says:

    I am making a dress for my litttle girl for her first birthday. What wpuld be your suggestion for the inches on fabric to buy, whay would be the measurements I should use? My little girl has a 6-9 month waste but she is tall. She is 33 inches tall. I do not know how to do measurements for the skirt. All I know is to measure her waste but I don’t know the incraments for the rest of the skirt. Can you help me please her birthsay is the 21st of next month I’m hoping I can get it done before then. Any help would be appreciated. I wanted to do neon green and maybe zebra or darker kelly green. I don’t want every other layer. Any suggestiind. Tjank. I know its alot but any help would be appreciated

  17. missjocool says:

    I would love to try this because I make the regular tutus with tulle, but I have 4 cats… they would never let me lay it all out on the carpet! LOL

  18. SusieIsNana says:

    As satisfying as it is to watch my 3yo granddaughter twirl around in the things I make for her, I get a much better value purchasing these pettiskirts for $10-$15 at Halo Heaven. Even though I COULD make one (& a ruffler foot for your sewing machine will be your new best friend!!), I’d rather spend my money making something I can’t get elsewhere for the same cost. Take the $20 you save and go buy fabric for another outfit or dress!!

    That said, this tutorial is amazing and I love almost everything you teach me!!!


  19. Vinita says:

    OMG!!! you made my day, Hun.

    I just finished my daughter’s bday dress using the ruffler foot. I was looking for another project for it. Looks like i got one.
    My daughter would love it. I will share the pic once done. Thanks again.

    You are my HERO.

  20. Emily howell says: Anyone try this ? It seems the only difference is she attaches the first row to satin first.

  21. Lindsay Carpenter says:

    I know this is an old post and I have no idea if you read comments on these old posts but I wanted to thank you for this tutorial (along with so many others). My twin girls wanted a bee themed party for their 4th birthday last year. It is in March and there was not a bee costume or outfit to be found. So I made them black and yellow striped pettiskirts and matching shirts and they loved them soooo much! They still wear them all the time.

    This year they want a ladybug themed birthday and asked for pettiskirts again so I am making red ones with black 2″ ruffle and a double circle skirt in red with black polka dot fabric to go over it. And of course a matching shirt.

    I hadn’t sewn since junior high home ec and have learned to sew from tutorials like yours. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and creativity!! I am going to make all three of us square circle skirts next! Can’t wait! It will look so good with my tall brown boots and then cute flats in the spring! I better hurry if I want to wear it with my boots… I need to go sew!


  22. Carlyn says:

    I can’t wait to get started, thanks for this Great tutorial.

  23. hilary says:

    what size measurements should I use in the tier lengths for a 7 month old? should I use just one tier instead of two? I’m trying to figure out how much of the chiffon I need to buy. Thank you! I am beyond excited to make this for my daughter (:

  24. Laurel says:

    Your tutorial made my halloween costume even more epic! All I did was adjust your tutorial to fit an adult and made it happen. Thanks so much!

  25. Jamie says:

    Hi! I want to make one for my one year old and buy the chiffon all at the same time- I’m thinking 3 inches vs 5 inches for the skirt? Do you have any recommendations for measurements for different sizes? This is too cute and the tutuorial is great! Thanks!

  26. Kitty S Henry says:

    I love your Petticoat. Several months ago I purchased 16 yards of purple eith the intent of making my 5yr. old Greatgranddaughter a Pettiskirt. Haven,t done it yet….I even bought a ruffler foot for my Bernina and one for my Serger.Still haven’t done it…Do yousell your PettiSkirts? If you do,how much??? I would like a Black one with a white ruffle. Zoeys waist is about 20 in. too. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me. Kitty S.

  27. Janice says:

    Awesome I made it down sized for my one year grand daughter thanks so much

    1. Jessica says:

      what are the measurements you used for a one year old? Thanks!

  28. Michelle says:

    Still trying to figure out how to get cheap nylon chiffon here in Canada in precut rolls….I found some that I had to cut myself (pain in the butt!!) but they only had 2-3 colours. I did make a super cute cowgirl pettiskirt and exchanged the satin for denim and it turned out amazing. Thank you for the tutorial!

  29. PlumSoda says:

    Making this right now, except it’s for me!
    I only finished the top layer, but it’s already sooo poofy and fun!
    This tutorial is genious, and I wish I’d found it earlier.

    Thank you, Lovely!

  30. Cassandra says:

    Oh my goodness this is AMAZING! This was such a very helpful tutorial! I am so glad that I found it!

    I just finished making my first petticoat!! I purchased the rolls like you mentioned. I also LOVED your idea of adjusting the tension to make the ruffles. It was such a time saver. I have a ruffler, but never can get it to work well with my machine. It sure is a lot of tedious work, and while I was doing it I said to myself I will never do it again, but afterwards admiring it, I was eager to make another.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this tutorial!!

  31. Tiffany L says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this tutorial!

    When I was planning my wedding I had no idea what I wanted my flower girls to be dressed like, but I knew I didn’t want mommy to have to pay out the wazoo for the crazy flower girl dresses that would be worn approximately one time. And then I stumbled across this post… and the light bulb went off. Not only did I decide I was going to have the girls in the pettiskirts, but I decided I was going to make them (one for a then 7 y.o. who is teeny and is just getting into size 6-7 girls clothes and one for a then 14 month old). I, who had not touched a sewing machine in 9ish years when I was in middle school home ec class, was going to make the skirts that would be worn at my wedding (March 17, 2012… yeah, St Patrick’s day, can you guess what one of the colors in the skirts was?).
    For the 7 year old I made the skirt as you described, and for the 14 month old I just did one tier of the 5″ wide chiffon and it fit her perfect (even though the little booger didn’t start walking until like 2 weeks after the wedding).

    If anyone would like to see pics of the finished products on my adorable little cousins you can visit the website I listed ( ) & go to pictures.

    1. Tiffany L says:

      Oh and between the 2 skirts I think I spent $35 maybe? I looked at several places online and most had these things selling for $60+ !!!

  32. Susan says:

    I CANNOT WAIT to get the samples so I can order the colors for different pettiskirts not only for my 9 month old granddaughter but also to make many sizes and colors for photoprops for my photography business!!! Been searching fabric stores all over my area with no luck! Oh I cannot wait and thank you SOOOO much for the excellent tutorial on making the pettiskirt. I’ve been sewing for 38 years, and was dreading making these, but your directions are so easy to follow that I can’t wait to get started!

  33. Triinu Heinonen says:

    How long time it takes to make one skirt? Can you tell me how many meters i need, I have no clue how long is Yard ;)
    Greetings from Finland! Triinu

  34. MoMo says:

    Fantastic tutorial!! Thanks for sharing this!

  35. SAHMof2 says:

    Gah! I have ruffled my 60yard roll (2inches) into one 10yard piece thinking I would magically end up with 30 yards and cut it in two pieces. I am 20 yards too tight right?

    Any “nerve saving” tips on how to fix this. I know I should have unravelled my roll and cut them into two 30 yard pieces like you did but it was just so nice and tidy in the 60 yard roll!!!

    Could I somehow cut the 10 yard ruffled piece in half and tie on extra thread to lengthen them?

  36. Anita says:

    Wow !! You nailed it. I bought enough chiffons to.make my granddaughter four skirts.thank you for the wonderful instructions.

  37. Brandi says:

    If I want to make a 9″ skirt with a 17″ waist, how would I adjust the measurements? Also, did you have leftover chiffon or did you use it all? I’m trying to decide how much I want/need to buy.

    Thanks :)

  38. Mari smith says:

    You are so sweet to give out such thorough instructions and links. Thanks!

  39. Kris says:

    Thank you so much! I spent hours on the internet yesterday looking for info on making a pettiskirt, and your tutorial is really outstanding. I love the way your pictures clarify the directions; after poring over your tutorial, I feel as if I could (almost) make a pettiskirt with my eyes closed, you make it all so clear.

    I ordered the satin, and the nylon chiffon on rolls, from yesterday, and can’t wait for them to arrive so I can get started.

    I’m going to make a size 6 pettiskirt, and bought
    1 yard poly deluxe satin ($6.11–a yard is the least they sell); 7″ chiffon roll x 60 yards long ($17.95), and 3″ chiffon roll x 90 yards long ($10.92). This was $34.98 plus $10.59 shipping = $45.57.

    For those who, like me, want to make a larger pettiskirt than you describe, here are some size descriptions I have found on the internet on various pettiskirt websites:

    Size 4-6x years: 15″ long
    Size 7-9 years : 16″ long
    Medium = age 4 to 9 Waist goes from 18-24 inches, 14″ Long
    Toddler (3T-5T): Waist 22-24 inches and Length 13 inches
    Little Girl (6X-8): Waist 25-28 inches and Length 14 inches

    Here’s where to find out how much material to buy :

    Thank you again for your truly great pettiskirt directions!

    1. Kris says:

      I finished my pettiskirt today! It’s beautiful, but took me an INSANE amount of time to make. I’m embarrassed to say that it took me several days. My children are grown; I made this for my granddaughter. I don’t know how women with children at home manage to find enough time to do this.

      Next time I make one, it won’t take me as long. This is how addictive this project is– I am actually thinking about making another one, even though it was a thoroughly exasperating and time-consuming project. I could have bought a lovely one for around $100, and considering that the materials cost me $46, for only $54 more I could have saved tons of time.

      One big reason it took me so long is that I had to trim my 3″-wide chiffon roll down to 2″ wide, because the fluff looked too big when it was 3″ wide. And I cut the 7″-wide chiffon roll down to 5.5″, because 7″-wide turned out to be too wide.

      Your tip about changing the tension on the sewing machine to gather the chiffon really worked. I have an old Singer, and just increased the top thread tension (not the bobbin tension), and that worked great, especially after I learned to give myself about 10″ of loose thread from both top thread and bobbin when I began and ended each row of stitching, so I’d have slack to use in adjusting the ruffles to fit the next tier. You are less likely to break the thread when adjusting the ruffles if you have gathered the tier in halves, i.e., stitch to the middle of the tier, and cut the threads (after giving yourself 10″ tails!!!!), and then start at the middle of the tier (give yourself 10″ starting tails!) and stitch to the end (give yourself 10″ tails!!!).

      Your instructions are outstanding; many thanks for sharing them! Here’s another website that I thought was helpful, too:

  40. mary says:

    Why cant i use rolls of tulle?

  41. Trine says:

    Hi there

    Thank you so much for this fantastic tutorial. I’ve just finished my first pettiskirt using your tutorial. Hope it’s okay that I’ve linked to you on my blog.

    Hugs from Denmark,

  42. Arlene says:

    Great skirt! I am looking at making a size 10 for a girl, do you know how much fabric and rolls I would need to do that size? Thanks!

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

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