Preoccupied by Pettiskirts


I promised more about projects with my ruffler foot, and here I am to deliver.  As with everything in my life though, there is a story as well, so sit back and enjoy.  Easter dresses are one of my favorite sewing projects (second only to Halloween Costumes).  I start thinking about them months in advance.  This year was no different.  But this year, because of General Conference, we didn't have church on Easter Sunday.  For some, that would be no big deal, but for me - a crazy tradition freak - all it meant was confusion because what then would the kids wear to Grandma June's house for the egg hunt?  That hunt always results in the most darling pictures, and I love when the kids look their best around all the relatives.  But white dress shoes to get scuffed and tights to get shredded, as they do every year, were definitely out.  I cast about for an idea for more casual outfits.

It is here in our story that I discovered pettiskirts.  I saw a little girl wearing one and my first thought was a wish that I were a little girl again so that I could wear one - followed closely by the next thought that I do have three little girls.  Yay!  But I absolutely HATE gathering, and I could see that it would be hellish to make, so I decided to *GASP* buy some.  Made some calls, found a store that carries them, went with Lily to pick some out, found out that they cost *GASP* $70 per skirt!!!  Alright, I can find them online for cheaper, right?  Slightly.  Try $50 per skirt.  OK then, back to making them.  Looked for some tutorials online (we'll come back to those), was intrigued by how the skirts are assembled, and decided to forge ahead and make my own.

First challenge: they take a TON of fabric!  Over ten yards per skirt.  Even at only $2 a yard, that is $20 for fabric that then requires time and effort to make it into a skirt.  And $2 a yard isn't likely.  I began to see why they are so expensive.

Second challenge: no place local carries the fabric the skirts are made out of.  It has to be Nylon chiffon, not polyester.  OK, order it online.  Even with shipping, it is still costing me less than $70 a skirt, right?  I found a website that actually sells the fabric on rolls in various widths so that I don't even have to cut all of the insane yardages of fabric into strips.  YAY!

Third challenge: I mis-figured.  I ordered less fabric than I needed, it actually takes EVEN MORE - but ordering more would mean shipping costs again, which would make them ridiculously expensive all over again.  So, instead, improvise.

Finally: still HATE to gather.  Solution: my new ruffler foot that made the whole thing possible!!

Evey's skirt went fine, but it was making hers that I realized that I would run up short on fabric.  For Lily's I tried skimping a little, and according to my math it was going to work just fine.  I was sharing some of the same fabric with Chloe's, and by reducing a tiny bit on both, I would have enough.  Only I didn't.  So at the very last minute, with two skirts made and one sad little Chloe, I tried calling every obscure fabric store I could find.  One place had some of a similar fabric - but only in baby blue.  Hmmm.  Well, baby blue it is!
So here are some pics of the process, as well as the results.  Actually worth every second of anguish, I think, just for the twirly fun the girls had.  I think I'll be re-doing part of Chloe's because the fabric for the waistband isn't stiff enough for my taste.  But otherwise I'm pretty pleased with my pettitskirt persistence.

I found excellent tutorials at 

The first step is the ruffle fluff.  I ended up using about 35 linear yards on Evey's.  I didn't really keep track of Lily or Chloe's, but it was probably close to the same, maybe 40 yards.  Based on the tutorial instructions, they all should have been more in the 60 yard range, but I was dealing with my mis-figuring, plus learning the ruffler foot functions.  Instead of 3 to one on the ruffle-to-tier ratio, I think mine was more like 2.66 to one.  I didn't notice much of a difference though in mine and the ones at the store.

Once the ruffle fluff is attached to the bottom tier, they, together, are attached to the top tier, then sewn to the long edge of the waistband, just like in the tutorial.  The waistband is 2 x the waist measurement in length, and 2 x a tier in width.  (For Evey, the waistband was 38" long by 8" wide because her waist is 19 inches and the tiers are each 4" wide).  Repeat the process: fluff to tier, tier to tier, tier to waistband on the remaining long edge.  It looks like this. 

It's amazing how fluffy it gets!  This is just one side of fluff  and tiers before being sewn to the waistband.

Now it's just a matter of sewing the ends to each other, sewing a casing, and voila!  At least, according to the tutorials.  I, myself, topstitched the waistband, sealing it all together rather than leaving it open to the elastic casing.  Also, as you can see from this picture, it was a bit see-through.  (can you see my hand & ring?) I planned on having the girls wear leggings underneath, but for times when they weren't, I went ahead and added one more layer - a built in slip with the same fabric I used for the waistband.

The "look" I wanted with the skirts included tight little girl t-shirts, knee-length leggings, and converse chucks.  The weather was colder than expected, so jackets were added on-the-fly, but I was quite pleased with the overall look.  I found pink sparkle chucks for Evey that made me happier than is rational.  Lily's shoes had sparkly toes, and Chloe's were plain - unacceptable.  So Easter Eve I was gluing tiny jewels on Chloe's shoes so that she could sparkle too.  How much fun to have girls! 


Kathy said...

Too cute!! But the dance mom in me wants to sprinkle a few Swarovski crystals on them to add some more glitz ;o) hang around Athena's dance director long enough and you want to put them on everything!

Unknown said...

Oooh! Sparkles do make everything better!! But how do you get them to stick? I bought a special stuff called "jewel-it" to put the jewels on Lily's Belle costume because I really wanted it to work. They ALL fell off when I washed it by hand. Tell me more about the crystal thing - what size do you use? where is the best place to get them?

Kathy said...

I buy them here by the 10 gross (which is 1,440 you might not ever need that many but it makes them so much cheaper), the most common size we use is 20ss. I've tried all the adhesives, jewel it, gemtac you name it but the best (and most toxic)one is E6000 I squeeze some on a paper plate (don't use Styrofoam it will melt it)and use a wooden skewer to grab a little glue, then grab the stone. Be sure to ventilate it will give you a nasty headache after a while :) Even washing by hand I still sometimes lose them off her t-shirts, but they look so cute!

Unknown said...

BTW - anyone who may care - here is the cheapest website I found for Nylon Chiffon. It can be purchased by the yard flat fold or by the roll.

Unknown said...

Thanks Kathy! I love E600 - but had no idea that it melts through styrofoam!! That's crazy!!

Frisky Fiskies- said...

You should make more and sell them for $70 a pop! :~) I love it!!

Bronwyn said...

Hi Tamara. You made 3! That's a real achievement. Congratulations. Don't want to see pink chiffon ever again, I suppose. Thanks for the link, and for the confirmation that AFC-express is the cheapest in the land. My husband had a work trip to the US (from Australia) in February so I addressed an order from them to him in his NY hotel. He wasn't too impressed, but I got my chiffon! Now I think I need a ruffler foot too. Best wishes.

© 2012. Design by Main-Blogger - Blogger Template and Blogging Stuff