Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Twirl Skirt

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Since I've been on a little girls clothes kick lately (what with this t-shirt and this dress), I thought it would a fun time to share this skirt tutorial I made for PR&P's Skirting The Issue earlier this summer.

Amaani had been asking for a skirt to 'twul-luh' (twirl) in for some time, and I thought a classic three tiered skirt would be perfect. I also thought it would be a perfect skirt to do a tutorial on since it's a flattering style for nearly everyone and quick to make.

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by

Although these skirts can be made with a variety of construction methods; I'm going to share a method that requires no basting or hand gathering. Sounds too good to be true? Well, there is a catch-- you will need a ruffler foot or  shirring/gathering foot-- these feet make it possible to ruffle one layer of fabric while stitching it to another. If you have a serger/overlocker, you can use a serger gathering foot as well. 

If you aren't friends with your serger just yet; you can check out my serger series and fall in love all over again. 

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by Make It Handmade

Once you get the hang of this construction method; you can change up the look of the skirt easily. Here are a few that I've made for my daughter. 

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by
Clockwise from top left:
 Neapolitan Dress  ~  Sunshine Skirt ~ Blue Gingham Bias Skirt ~ Happy 4th Dress

The instructions below are for a 2T size (20 inch waist), but this skirt is easy to adjust to any size (even adult). I'll share some tips at the bottom of the post for adjusting the size and making multiple skirts at once.  


1 yard fabric (will most likely have leftovers)
elastic (20 inches)


The cut list for this skirt is easy-- just 5 strips measuring 5" x WOF. Using the standard presser foot, sew or serge these together end to end (right sides together) to make a long, long roll of fabric. 
The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by
Now measure out 30 inches from your roll and cut. (This will be the first tier/waistband of the skirt).

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by

This will leave you with 2 rolls-- one short and one long.

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by


Switch your machine over to your gathering/ruffling foot. This is what mine looks like. There are many different types, and I encourage to look at the manual/instructions if you aren't familiar with yours. Generally, anything that goes under the metal guide will be ruffled, and anything that goes on top of the metal guide will not be ruffled.

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by

Making sure that right sides are together; put the long strip between the presser foot and your machine (on the bottom) and feed the short strip through the guide on your ruffler foot or gathering foot. The foot will gather the bottom (long strip) while stitching it to the shorter top piece. All in one step (see, I told you it was awesome!)

When you've finish stitching the first tier and second tiers together; you'll have something like this.

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by
Trim the extra strip off, and head back to the machine with the skirt and what's left of your long strip.  Keeping right sides together, align the bottom edge of the second tier and the long strip in the gathering foot just as before.  This time, make sure the skirt is on the top and the long strip is on the bottom. Stitch the second tier to the third tier.

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by Make It Handmade
You can see here that I made a mistake, and didn't have enough of the strip to for the entire third  tier. No matter! I just trimmed a few inches off. (I fixed the fabric requirements, so this shouldn't happen to you)

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by

Change back to your regular foot. Fold the skirt in half, right sides together, and sew or serge the raw edges together as shown. At this point, I also like to finish the hem of the skirt by using either a rolled hem or a traditional small hem.

The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by


Turn the top of the skirt under by a quarter of an inch, and then another inch to create a casing for your elastic. Leave a small hole for your elastic. Thread the elastic through, sew up the opening and the skirt is ready to wear! 

My daughter loves this skirt-- it's frilly enough for twirling...
The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by Make It Handmade
....while still being comfortable enough to tackle your big brother to the ground in.
The Twirl Skirt- Tutorial by Make It Handmade

But what about the teens and tweens?  To adjust for different sizes do the following:
  • Use Simple Simon's handy skirt sizing chart to determine the waist size and length. 
  • To determine the width of the strips to cut, divide the length by 3 and add an inch. So, for a 21 inch skirt, use 8 inch strip. 
  • To determine the length of the first tier multiply the waist measurement by 1.5. The elastic measurement should be the same as the waist size. 
  • Unfortunately, it's hard to say exactly how many strips you will need. A good rule of thumb would be to make sure that your strips add up to be 7 times as long as the first tier measurement and keep some  extra fabric handy to attach to your long roll of strips if it looks like you are running low. 
  • To make multiple skirts from the same fabric, simply keep adding strips to your 'long roll'. Any leftovers from one skirt can be used in the next, so there is very little fabric waste. 
I hope you give this skirt a try! Although it might take a little bit of practice, soon you'll be whipping these skirts out in just a few minutes with the help of your gathering /ruffling foot.