Friday, November 7, 2014

Make Your Own Three Tier Skirt

I received some interest from Shelley regarding how to make this skirt. I made it without using a pattern, but it's super easy. So i wrote up some notes and made a video. I hope it's useful enough for any interested parties with some sewing experience under their belt to whip up one of these skirts on their own.

To recap on the general construction steps: I first would cut out the inner skirt/tube and the tiers. Then i would mark the placement of the two top tiers while the inner skirt is still flat. (The bottom tier is placed right along the hem so no marking is needed.) Next sew up the center back seam, and finish the hem and the waistband.

ON EDIT: i realized i haven't addressed the issue of 'how big around do you want the inner skirt to be". In the end it depends on how much ease you want. If you're using an elastic waistband, you need the skirt to go over the widest part of your hips. You will also need ease for when you sit and move - more for a woven fabric and less for stretch. If you're using a stretch with 5% or more lycra you may want your finished circumference to just be the same as the widest part of your hips plus an inch or two.

For woven, non-stretch fabrics you will need more. My hips measure around 37", the finished circumference of this inner skirt is 43" at the hem (the darts at the waist take out a couple of inches). That is 6" ease. If you are a lot smaller around you may want less ease, much bigger or taller and you may want more. My ease of 6" is 16% of my hip measurement of 37" so try starting out with adding 15% of your hip measurement as ease. Baste up a tube of that circumference in your fabric and try it on to see how you like it. Be sure to try sitting down in your mock-up as some of our hips spread out more than you might expect when we sit. END EDIT

 For the tiers: Sew any seams needed to form the tiers into tubes. Finish the upper edges and finish the hems/apply trim (I used a narrow machine hem of 1/2").  Make your gathering stitches along the upper edges (i find that two lines of stitches about 1/4" are easier to work with. I also recommend that you divide your stitches into at least two halves - so you would have gathering stitches run all along the half of the tier going on the front of the skirt and having thread tails at the beginning and end of that sections. Then start another set of gathering stitches with thread tails beginning and end for the back half instead of trying to adjust your gathers all around the entire skirt in one go. Here's a nice video on the basics of gathering fabric.) Lastly, adjust your gathers and sew on your tiers.

You're done.

A few more bits of information. This skirt hits me below the knee and a bit above mid-calf and i'm five foot five and a half inches - this may help you with your own dimensions. I forgot to mention that i have an overlap between the top of the two bottom tiers and the hem of the tier above - about 3/4". I believe i was shooting for a 1" overlap but my calculations got away from me. I think as long as there isn't a gap you will be okay.

Most importantly - please let me know if you have any questions! And have fun sewing, whatever you make.


  1. Cute Cute cute I love it. I will try one do you think a cotton gauzy type fabric would work? I have some that I was going to make a western style 3 tier skirt until I went to the store to try one on and the style didn't suit me I needed more height to carry the look.Your version would solve the problem for me, not as long.

  2. hi Adrienne! i think a gauzy type fabric would be great! You want something that is not stiff or thick, especially if you want a longer line then something that 'collapses' is perfect. The nice thing about making up your own version is that you can tinker with the measurements so that the horizontal lines hit you at your best spots - also, since this one is based on a straight inner skirt it keeps the line from getting too full (as opposed to an a-line or flared inner skirt).

    I'm glad you like it! thank you! steph

  3. So darling. What a great idea. Love it!

  4. Thank you Gayle! I hope you have a great weekend, the weather should be really pretty. hmm, it's times like this i think an indoor/outdoor sewing studio would be just the ticket ;)