How to make your own Petticoat

Finals are over! Hard to believe –  I finally have my life back. Well, for a few days/weeks at least. Anyway, one of the first things I did after finishing all the handmade Christmas gifts was gathering loads and loads of tulle again and sewing together the second Petticoat. This time I didn’t forget to take pictures and could make a detailed tutorial.

Here we go:

THE MATHS (not as bad as it sounds)

First of all, you have to decide about the length and number of layers of your Petticoat.
For the length it’s best you measure the skirt/dress you want to wear your Petticoat with from waist to hemline. The Petticoat should be about 1 inch shorter than the dress.

Depending on how many layers you want your Petticoat to have, you need to buy about 4yrd of tulle.(I used 3,5m and got 3 layers á 56cm out of it). You can use other fabric, but tulle is quite stiff and helps your Petticoat to become more puffy. Tulle is also quite itchy, if you want to make a Petticoat for a dress you don’t want to wear tights with, you might consider sewing a little underskirt or make the first layer out of a softer fabric.
I just replaced the tulle of the first tier of all layers for a chiffon fabric. It’s more comfy, makes the Petticoat look really nice and does not look too bulky under the dress.

As soon as you have decided about the length and layers, you have to do a little math to know how much tulle you’ll need.
The Petticoat I made consists out of 3 tiers and a waistband. So if the skirt of your dress is 25 inch, you want your Petticoat to be about 24 inch long, so 3 tiers á 8 inch.

When you figured out how wide the single tiers are, you also want to know how long. As you can see on the scheme below, the length of the tiers doubles from tier to tier.
The top tier is about twice your waist circumference/ lentgh of waistband (about 2 yrd will do). So if you want your Petticoat to have 3 tiers, the bottom one will be about 8 yrd long. (Yeah that’s a lot of cutting and gathering, I know!)

Also, consider the seam allowance before cutting the tulle. For tulle you generally won’t need much seam allowance – a simple zigzag stitch on the fabric edge will do. With other fabric it might be about 0,5 inch/ 1-1,5 cm.  The bottom tier only needs seam allowance on one side if you’re hemming it with ribbon.

For the waistband I just used the ribbon I used for the hem.

So here’s a little scheme, which should also help with the general construction if you want to have more than one layer. My two layered Petticoat (picture at the end of this tutorial) differs a little from the two-layered Petticoat scheme (more on that later).

This is what my simple-layered Petticoat looks like. I wanted one that’s not too puffy. Whenever I want to add more volume, I wear the two-layered Petticoat under this one. The more layers, the puffier – makes sense, eh?


First of all, for sewing a Petticoat one starts from bottom to top. That is sewing together the pieces for the single tiers, hemming and gathering the bottom tier.
To sew together the ends of the top tier. You’ll need to add ribbon later on for the fastening.

After planning and cutting, start pinning the ribbon to the bottom tier. I used 1inch-wide creme-coloured satin ribbon. It’s fairly inexpensive and looks nice.

After pinning, stitch it down.

For the gathering, sew along the side of the bottom tier with straight stitches. Use large stitches and a tight tension, it makes it easier to pull the top thread to gather the fabric.

Lay the bottom tier around the middle tier. Makes it easier to gather the bottom tier to the lentgh of the circumference of the middle tier.

Makes sure you have the tulle right side to right side before pinning.

With pulling the upper thread start gathering the bottom tier until it has the same circumference as the middle tier.

If you don’t have enough room for spreading the fabric out in a circle, you can also fold both tiers in half and thus gather the bottom tier to the right length.

Pin everything into place and sew the tiers together. Before doing the same thing with the middle and the top tier, you need to hem the ends of the top tier.

As mentioned, for the waistband I used the same ribbon I used for the hem. For the fastening I used a simple hook closure. I made this with three hooks, so I can adjust the Petticoat to the length of the dress I am wearing lowering it down when I widen the waistband.

This was the simple-layered Petticoat. Last week I finished the second one. Two layers – even more tulle. Sooo much fun, haha.

For the second, two-layered Petticoat I came up with this scheme, since I didn’t have enough tulle left:

For max volume I can wear the first Petticoat on top of the other one. This way I don’t have just a single three layered one, which isn’t really suitable for daily use :) This is how the two together look like:

Voilá! It’s really simple and so so soo much cheaper than buying one. Have fun sewing your own Petticoat! May patience be with you! haha. (As mentioned before, Sinatra and red wine helps. Please just don’t spill it!)
If you have any questions, leave them  in the comments and I’ll promise to answer them asap.

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I love comments! Don't be shy - please say hello!

  1. hey glad I found your page, am planning to start making petti coats soon and I would be grateful for any advice you can give me

    • It really isn’t too hard, the planning might be a bit complicated (how much fabric, how many tiers and layers etc) but the sewing definitely isn’t. I think its a good project for a beginner. If you use tulle, you won’t even need to finish the raw edges or use bias binding. Tulle is normally one of the cheaper fabrics, so costs will probably be 20 dollars/euro or less.

  2. I love your tutorial! It was very clear and to the point with lots of pics. The only thing I don’t understand is how to make a multilayered petticoat. My brain will not process the diagram.

  3. wow!
    I have been searching some help to make petticoat for my 50’s dress.
    And that pink background pic make all clear to me! Thanks! ♥
    Now i will go and start sewing. ;D

  4. Great tutorial! I’m very new to sewing and the tiers all make sense. The part I’m having a little trouble grasping is the waistband and hooks part. Is there any way to better explain this or any links on how to do that and how it effects the length.

  5. BEST EXPLANATION OF PETTICOAT CONSTRUCTION!! geez. after browsing through dozens of websites, this is the first one that actually explained the freaking measurements!!

  6. Thank you for this! I watched so many videos and read so many other sites, but this is the one that made sense to me. Just finished my friend’s petticoat for her wedding and I’m pleased with the way it turned out! Thank you, thank you!


  7. Good tutorial, buy l am going to make my grandaughters petticoat for her wedding
    and it will be a straight skirt from waist to knee of 19″ then the layers will flounce at the front and trail down the back like a train effect. How go l do this? Your help would be appreciated. Elizabeth Farrell.

  8. I just finished my petticoat, which came out pretty good for my first time. The only problem I had was making the bunching even. Do you have any tips for my next one?

    • The gathers will turn out much more even if you use two rows of gathering stitching and then stitch in between these. That should do the trick. Also, using more pins helps, although it’s a bit of a nuisance with that much fabric! :) Good luck!

  9. This is a neat tutorial! I love poofy skirts, but what dress patterns do you think would work best with a petticoat like this? I have a few that might work, but I’m not sure. Most of my dresses are A-line and fairly narrow.

    • Hi Margaret! The best skirt for a poofy petticoat would be a circle or half-circle skirt. You can try and wear one under a A-line dress to give you a bit of volume, but if the petticoat is too poofy, this might give you a weird cone shape. Basically, everything that has a really wide hem works best. Also, circle skirts aren’t too bulky at the waist, so you can wear a lot of volume underneath without looking bigger than you are :)

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