Project #56 – Pattern-free Cotton Petticoat

I don’t know why I haven’t worn underskirts all of my life. It’s probably because most of the slips I wore as a child were either made of sweaty polyester or itchy nylon ruffles. The underskirts make and wear today are made of comfy cotton and keep the wind from cutting through me when I wear skirts or dresses on milder winter and early spring days. I’ve used them to give my skirts extra poof and to cushion my fanny on long plane rides. In short, I love them and hope to have dozens in lots of different colors one day. Right now, I only have two, so this is the perfect project for Make-A-Skirt Thursday.

The benefit of making this kind of petticoat is that you can easily customize it to your needs. They can be any length, any color or any volume. I like to make my petticoats with three ruffles and in at least two layers. Today I’m using unbleached 36″ muslin because it’s cheap and I have a lot of it. My double layered underskirt took a total of a little over 4.5 yards of the stuff.

Essentially, each ruffle is made of a number of rectangles of fabric, each of a uniform height. I determine the height based of the distance between my waist and wherever I want the hem to hit on my leg, adding in an inch for each ruffle to account for seams. 21 inches is the distance from my waist to my knee, so I’ll be cutting rectangles 8 inches in height. I like to select the number of rectangles in each ruffle following a piece of the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8…), that way you get volume with a natural curve that isn’t out of control, and of course because Math, I love it! My last skirt was made of 45 inch fabric so the top ruffle was one 8″ by 45″ rectangle, the second ruffle was two and the bottom was made of three rectangles. Today’s skirt is 2,3 then 5 rectangles, which for a two layer skirt means cutting 20 8″ by 36″ rectangles.

Next, I sewed each ruffle together into a ring. I finished my edges with my serger so that it could go in the washing machine; using a zig-zag stitch is also an option.

I then took one of my middle, 3 rectangle pieces and sewed a line of 3.5 mm stitches for gathering, matching it to a smaller 2 rectangle piece. I then stitched them together, right sides together. I did the same for one of my 5 rectangle pieces, gathering and then stitching to the 3 rectangle piece.

I repeated for the second layer, giving me two very wide skirts.

I then sewed one layer to the other, like sides together and pressed the seam evenly. I turned the skirt and added a row of stitching half an inch down from the seam connecting the two layers. Leave an inch or so open. This will be the casing for my elastic. I’ve always been hard on skirts with elastic because they remind me of sweatpants, but it will be nice to have things I could still wear if I end up gaining some weight. Anyway, slip your elastic into the casing and sew the ends together. Sew up your 1-inch gap and you’re done!

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