Tutorial: The most awesome rainbow tiered skirt *ever*

30 Jun

A few days ago I was lurking around the internet, bored senseless, and not a single crafty project that sounded remotely interesting, then I stumbled across perhaps the most lovely skirt I’ve ever seen and I knew I had to have it. And so, I made one for myself!

Obligatory spin shot!

 

The San Diego LGBT Pride parade is coming up in about a month and I’m planning on marching in it. I just had to have this skirt in time for the parade! So that night I decided I was going to do it. I spent about 3 hours planning everything out and went to the store the very next day to get my supplies.

Turns out my 3 hours of planning was totally wasted! My initial measurements included over 1400 inches worth of fabric for the bottom tier! I also had wanted to copy the patchwork design of the original but I am not a patient lady. Thankfully the lady at the sewing counter suggested I just use strips of a single fabric (the poor lady probably thought I was going insane, I was sitting on the ground talking to myself and angrily scratching out numbers while looking at a million different quilting packs). Ok, so first simplification complete–this project seems more manageable now!

At this point I still planned on having about 1400″ of fabric for my final tier. I picked out my favorite fabric and calculated the costs. Over $60, ouch! Ok, so being a broke crafter I needed to bring that down a LOT. So instead of each tier being 1.5x the tier above it I figured I’d do 1.25x the tier above it. This brought my 1400″ final tier down to a “measly” 370–way more manageable. It also brought my costs down closer to $25, about what I’d pay in a store for a significantly-less-awesome skirt, which was easy to justify (especially after my initial estimate of costs, eesh!).

After congratulating myself on being both frugal and maintaining the inherent awesomeness of this project I spent the next 15 minutes or so having the sewing counter lady cut my fabric into chunks as small as 1/4 of a yard. All in all I spent over an HOUR just picking out fabric and figuring out exactly how much I needed. What’s worst is that I nearly forgot to grab extra thread on my way out! But I remembered before hitting the check-out lane and all was well. So, let’s give this thing a look, shall we?

Just after completion–I didn’t take it off all night!

Very tired, but so proud!

Outside in the sun

I tried to get progress shots of this but being so big and bulky it was pretty difficult, so this tutorial will mostly be words. if you need clarification just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to clear things up.

First, get your measurements. All the fabric I got came in 44″ lengths and I decided the easiest way to get my measurements was to do strips and just sew them into one longer strip, the seams mostly get hidden in the ruffles and even if the seams show…who cares? Cheaper is WAY worth it for this. The second measurement is how much of a yard I bought of the fabric.

  • Waist – 40″
  • Tier 1 (pink) – 50″ (1/4 yard)
  • Tier 2 (red) – 62.5″ (1.25x tier 1) (1/4 yard)
  • Tier 3 (orange) – 78″ (at this point I started to round the numbers) (1/4 yard)
  • Tier 4 (yellow) – 97″ (3/8 yard)
  • Tier 5 (light green) – 122″ (3/8 yard)
  • Tier 6 (dark green) – 152.5″ (1/2 yard)
  • Tier 7 (light blue) – 190.75″ (5/8 yard)
  • Tier 8 (dark blue) – 238.5″ (3/4 yard)
  • Tier 9 (light purple) – 298″ (7/8 yard)
  • Tier 10 (dark purple) – 372.5″ (1 and 1/8 yard)

To get my strips to the length I needed I cut everything into 4.5″x44″ strips, then measured my final length for that tier and evenly divided that amongst the strips. For example, tier 4 was 97″, I cut 3 strips and trimmed them to approximately 32.5″ each, then sewed them together to create the final 97″ strip.

Everything cut into strips and sewn to their final sizes

I decided to do the easiest step next: hemming the bottom tier. I did a simple fold, I didn’t even fold it under itself, though I may go back to hem it properly.

After that came the hardest part: figuring out how to ruffle 370″ of fabric @.@ I did it wrong TWICE before finally giving up and freehanding half of it. I used a basting stitch but pulled it far too tight. Despite the frustration I’m glad I started on the longest strip: every strip after it was easier and easier than the one before! By the time I got to the final strip I was breezing through them.

Ruffles, ruffles, everywhere!

After the disaster with the longest tier I (ok…my honey) devised a new way to “ruffle”: pleating! I divided each strip into smaller sections and pleated as I went. I started by folding my previous strip (let’s say dark green) and my current strip (light green) and pinning the very far sides together to keep them from coming apart. Next, fold everything in half and pin the middle of the light green to the middle of the dark green; I found the best way to do this was just hold the two sides together as high as you can and have a friend pin the bottom of the droops together. Continue this way to find the middles until you’ve pinned everything into more manageable lengths. I suggest using safety pins, by the way, because there’s a lot of movement involved in this process. Hopefully the following picture makes at least a little bit of sense!

Weird picture but the best I could take to show the pinning

When I was finally done sewing all of my strips together I added a strip of elastic for the waistband. I used the same pinning method but instead of pleating the fabric I pulled the elastic taut and allowed the fabric to scrunch itself up. Finally, I sewed the loooong seam up the back and the skirt was complete! It’s officially my favorite piece from my wardrobe :-)

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One Response to “Tutorial: The most awesome rainbow tiered skirt *ever*”

  1. Cara Chandler July 3, 2012 at 8:08 AM #

    Looks great!! I wish I could sew!

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