I just finished making one of these for myself and thought I would share how to make one  without needing to buy a pattern 😀 

   When made from white muslin they make a wonderful petticoat, giving an extra fullness to fuller skirts 😀   If you don’t need a petticoat, these make good skirts, too!

 You’ll need approximately 3 1/2 yards of material to make a ladies size, plus matching thread and enough 3/4″ wide elastic to go around your waist 🙂

  If you’re making a different size, you will need to find your hip measurement and then add about 15″ to that.  It doesn’t have to be exact.  Your skirt won’t fall apart if you add a few inches 😀

 Lengthwise, you should be able to lengthen/shorten the skirt by lengthening/shortening the 16″ piece. 


-Cut 2 pieces 27 1/2″ wide and 11″ long.  This is your front and back top piece.  Seam allowance and elastic casing are included in these measurements.  (You will see in the picture that these pieces look like the same width as the lower pieces–that’s because I messed up.  So this time just ‘do as I say, not as I did!‘ 😀 )

-Cut 2 more pieces 44″ wide and 12 1/2″ long.  Most fabric is 44″ wide when unfolded,  so just cut straight across the fabric.  You don’t have to unfold it to do this.

-Cut 4 pieces 44″ wide and 16 inches long.


Sewing Directions:

Next,  sew each set together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Sew both 27 1/2 inch  pieces together at the sides, both 44 x 12 1/2″ pieces, and then all four 44 x 16″ pieces.  You will end up with 3 loops…one small, one medium, one gigantic (-:  You can finish the seams with a serger or a zig-zag stitch if you want. 

Top Tier:

Make the casing for your elastic by folding over 1″ of the top of the smallest “loop”, and then press it with an iron.  Before you do this you may want to finish the edge with a serger or with a zig-zag stitch.

Stitch all the way around as close to the finished edge as you can (about 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the edge), leaving a 3 to 4 inch opening to insert the elastic.

Tip:  To make it easier to put your elastic in, press both side seams going the same way.  Then when you are putting the elastic in, it will slide right over the seams instead of getting caught in them. 

Middle Tier:

Now you need your ‘medium’ loop. With your machine on the longest stitch possible (most machines go up to a no. 4 length, even longer is better if you can), leave long tails and sew one row of gathering (long) stitches 3/8″ from the edge of the material.  Then sew another row about 3/8″ to 1/2″ from that.   Stop at the seams and then begin again on the other side of the seam. Remember to leave long tails at the beginning and the end. 

  Gather up the stitches and pin it (right sides together) to the bottom of the small loop  that you just put a casing in.  I like to put a pin right in the seams and then I wrap the tails around that pin to keep the gathers from falling out.  You can kind of see it in the picture, around the pink pin.

A 4-H judge taught us this trick, and I love it!  For the most even gathers, stitch in between your gathering stitches (using your 1/2″ seam allowance).  When we have all the tiers in, we will take out the bottom row of gathering stitches, which is fairly easy to do, and leaves you with very even gathers 🙂



Now your skirt will look like this 😀  Only your seam will not be in the front like that…it will be on the side where it belongs!  That was part of my boo-boo 😀


Bottom Tier:

   You are going to repeat what you just did, only this time you are taking the gigantic loop and gathering it to the medium sized one 😀  One small difference–only ‘break’ your gathering thread at your side seams. Just sew right over the seams that are in the center front and back.  In other words, you have four seams on this loop.  So you start at one seam, sew over the next, stop at the third.  Leave a long tail.  Start on the other side of the third seam, sew over the fourth, and come around again to the first seam where you began.

 To help evenly space your gathers, center the middle seams (the one’s that you’ve sewn over) on the middle tier before you start gathering.  That means you’ll have a seam directly in the center front  as well as in the center back.

 Once you have it all sewn together, your skirt will look like this:


 Hooray!  The hardest part is over 😀  Now you can finish the seams if you want, and then pull out the bottom rows of gathering stitches that will be showing.  They should pull right out if you break them at the side seams.  You can also press the seam upwards and topstitch 1/4″ all the way around both of the ruffles.  Topstitching is optional but sometimes helps the ruffles to lay better and gives it a more finished look.

Now it’s time to insert the elastic 😀

  Pin the end of the elastic to the skirt so that it doesn’t get pulled in.  If you have a really long piece of elastic you won’t really have to worry about this.

 Then with another large safety pin, thread it through your opening and all the way through the casing.

My favorite way of finding out how much elastic to use, is to try it on (while holding the elastic  so you don’t lose it!)  and then pin it where it feels the most comfortable.  Some people say to take your waist measurement and subtract 2-4 inches.

   Once you find the comfortable length, make sure, double check, and then triple check that your elastic hasn’t twisted in the casing somewhere 😀  Add about 1 1/2 inches to the elastic length, overlap it over the other end, and sew it together.  You can just do two vertical seams along the edges of the elastic, or do a something like this.

Let the elastic fall back into the casing…

…and stitch it closed.  You will have to stretch the elastic to get the fabric to lay smooth and straight.


 You can ‘stitch in the ditch’ if you want.  This is an extra precaution to keep the elastic from rolling.  Evenly space out the gathers of the skirt and then stitch right in the side seams, just where the elastic is.

Now you can hem it up to the length you want.  I serged the edge and then pressed it up about 1 inch on mine.


CONGRATULATIONS!!! You’re skirt is complete!


 Hopefully this tutorial is helpful!  If something doesn’t make sense, please, please leave a comment and let me know!  Questions help me clarify my tutorials 😀  Have fun!

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Tiered Petticoat/Skirt Tutorial
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22 thoughts on “Tiered Petticoat/Skirt Tutorial

  • March 8, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Thank you so much Jessica, for these practical tutorials. I plan to keep these for future reference.
    After all, I need to be a skilled old maid to keep up my reputation! 😀

    • March 8, 2011 at 7:43 am

      You’re welcome! Lol! Yes, I am trying to make sure my fellow spinsters are keeping busy 😀


  • March 8, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Shalom! I’m Beka and I’m 16 and I’ve been reading your blog. My grandmother has been making 3-tier (and also 2-tier )skirts for me very similar to these for many years(they call it prairie-style, I believe). the ones she makes are even wider (more comfy for cello-playing) and she has many variations. I must post them on my blog soon with a link to the tutorial here. BTW, what homeschool program do you use, I’m an AOP SOS student. Shalom Aleikhem.

    • March 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

      Thank you Beka! We would love that 😀

      We use a mixture of things for our homeschooling…Math on the Level for math, Dr. J. Wile’s books for science, etc 🙂 Thanks for commenting! I’ll be looking forward to seeing the link!


  • March 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I LOVE that skirt! I’d LOVE to make it!! It looks just a little bit hard, because I don’t have muslin 1), and I have never used a pattern in my life, ’cause I don’t know how! (Except to give me the right length for a skirt.) You should have that skirt as the next giveaway!!!! I’m sure everybody would enter!!!!

  • March 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    That’s a cute skirt!
    Thank you for joining my link party 😉

  • March 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Beautiful!!! Thank you! 🙂

  • March 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    That’s cute 🙂 Good job Jessica 🙂

    Here’s an idea for it…next time you make it, make it just a tinny bit shorter than your dress, and then put eyelet on the bottom. the it will ‘look’ like a petticoat, but it won’t be so hot 😀

    And also instead of elastic, maybe you could use a drawstring…you can pull it to size and make a little bow 🙂

    It would make a really cute skirt in denim fabric 😉

    And to all you sewers out there who always somehow seem to have crooked stitches, when you do your gathering stitch, you may catch the botton gathering stitch, which makes it where you can’t pull it out. What I’ve done in those cases… is to pull out where I can, and seam-rip the rest of the stitching that you’re suppose to pull out. 🙂

    also Jessica — I am sorry I have not sent those pictures of my dress yet!!! 😛 I just haven’t got around to uploading them on here … but I will soon, as I need to get the camera clean off for our trip to New Zealand. There, it’s out 😀 Yes… my dad, mom, Nathanael (10) and I are going to New Zealand for about 2 weeks. Leaving a week from tomorrow!! 🙂 (email me for more info if you ant it 😉 )

    Sorry for the long comment….well I shouldn’t even apoliogize, because I know just want you’ll say ” Oh, don’t worry ma’am, we *love* long comments 😀 😀 O:)


    Buenos Noches!!! (if you know what that means 🙂 it’s spanish 😀

    • March 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm

      Oh Rachel, seriously, I can’t take these long comment anymore! I hope you know that I am just kidding! 😀

      Don’t you worry ma’am, we certainly do love long comments!


      p.s. your trip sounds exciting! I’ll email you 😀

      • March 9, 2011 at 8:03 am


    • March 10, 2011 at 1:51 am

      Oh, Rachel! My dad went to NZ last year on a men’s trip and loved it! How exciting! I wish I could go. I love New Zealand!

    • June 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Rachel came to visit us, here in New Zealand! We had lots of fun together 🙂

      I love the skirt! One of these days, I’ll make one.

      Sayna 🙂

  • March 9, 2011 at 8:05 am

    😮 😛 hope that works 🙂

  • March 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Lovely 🙂 And so is your blog!

    The lace is a wonderful idea that I have used a time or two myself. To save money on buying large quantities of it I go to our Goodwill and Thrift stores and find the lace king and queen bed skirts and then cut the lace off and down to the size I’d like to use. The bed skirts are usually about $2 for all those yards of eyelet :o)

  • April 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Wow, this looks way easier than our pattern-less method! We’ll have to use this next time! Thank you=)

  • May 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    wow amazing <3 this is perfect for my pirate underskirt ! But can we add another tiers (like a fourth one to make it longer) ?

    • June 1, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Yes! Absolutely! I would probably make the fourth tier 1 1/2 to 2 times as full as the third tier 🙂 -Jessica

  • February 25, 2018 at 5:05 am

    Really great tutorial! I’m going to use it to make a couple of pioneer skirts. Thank you for posting it and including details.


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