I thought this post would be fast to write. I was wrong. Somehow I ended up with fifty photos and two thousand words written about this project. Oops…
Speaking of this project, it’s a new one! I saw the live action Cinderella film a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it, especially the costume design. It was stunning. Have I mentioned that I want to be Sandy Powell when I grow up? Because I do, she is really great.
I loved everything about the blue ball gown in the film. The shape, the color, the size, it’s gorgeous! But if I was going to put that amount of time (hundreds of hours) and money (hundreds of dollars) into a project, I would want to do something more original or something inspired by my favorite paintings.
So instead I decided to make a short party dress inspired by the gown in the film. This will fill my need to make something blue, sparkly and ruffly, while not eating up months of time.
And because I fell in love with a silvery fabric (it was on a really good sale – irresistible!) I’ve decided to make a dress inspired by the ball gown from the original animated film as well. So that’s TWO Cinderella inspired dresses. And of course they require an obnoxious ruffly petticoat to go underneath them, which is what this blog post is about!
This was my fabric haul. I also had some glittery organza bought many years ago, and ordered a yard of silver lamé online. In total, seventy dollars of raw materials for two dresses and a matching petticoat – not too bad! That includes notions and beads as well, but i’ll share those in another post since they weren’t used for this petticoat.
My materials for the petticoat included: ten yards of blue netting, two yards of opalescent lamé, three yards of glitter organza, one yard of silver lamé, a yard of polyester shantung, a WHOLE spool of thread, and two yards of hooping wire.
When the fabrics were figured out it was time to decide on the layers and do some petticoat math. I’m making a petticoat with has six layers, and each layer has three tiers.
The first tier is a piece of netting that gathers at the waist and gets longer towards the back. The second is a strip of netting which gets gathered at the top and sewn to the first tier. And the final tier is made from fabric strips, with a rolled hem and gathered top.
The normal “petticoat math” is that each tier should be two or three times wider than the last. So if tier one is three yards wide, tier two should be at least six yards wide, and tier three should be at least twelve yards wide (before gathering).
Unfortunately I ran low on fabric and had to make some sacrifices which resulted in some of my strips being shorter than they should have been. I have a few very non-ruffly ruffles on certain layers 😦
There are six layers (labeled 0-5 because I made a mistake and was too lazy to rewrite things haha) worn over a hoop base. Each layer gets longer and wider as they go. A few layers are the same length but most are a half inch to an inch longer than the last to account for the volume the layers beneath it provide.
I wrote all my petticoat math out before. And I had a list of everything that needed to be cut and from what fabrics.
Before cutting the the fabric for the layers I decided to make the hoop base. This is just to enforce the elliptical shape of the skirt and also prevents the skirt from getting tangled in my legs. This isn’t a big problem with shorter skirts, but I figured it couldn’t hurt either.
I made a pattern very similar to pannier patterns, with a flat front and large back. But instead of the flat side facing my hips, it would be at the front.
I rolled the bottom edge over by a half inch, then over by one inch. This creates a channel to feed hooping wire through.
I did up the front seams and added the hooping wire. Now you can really see the shape!
The top got properly gathered and I had a functional base!
On a whim I made a four inch ruffle from netting and sewed that onto the bases hem. This will give me the correct length to start building off of.
I could have made the fabric part of the base longer, but then it would show if I decided to spin in the skirt. And the whole point of this petticoat is to have majorly wonderful spin factor, with most of the volume coming from ruffles.
I should also mention that the petticoat base has a eight inch slash down the back which will be how I get the petticoat on and off.
This is it with the netting ruffle sewn on!
Now it was time for cutting the netting! As I mentioned above I wrote out everything I needed to cut ahead of time so I could do it in one go. When each piece of netting was cut it was put in a pile, then pinned to a label. I think I’ve said this several times before but it’s still true, organization is VERY important in petticoat making.
I also cut out all the strips for the soon-to-be-ruffles. For these I used a sharpie to mark all the lines, then zoomed through them with good scissors. I’m still scared of rotary cutters, which is unfortunate, they would have made this process a bit faster!
When the fabric strips were cut they also got labeled right away!
After all the cutting was done it was time to begin sewing! Actually that is a lie, before sewing anything I made ten bobbins of thread. Which didn’t end up being enough, I think I went through eighteen before this project was finished.
When it was time to sew the first thing I did was sew all the netting strips together with french seams. Then they got pinned back to their labels. I repeated this process with all the fabric strips because it’s way easier to get that out of the way at the beginning.
And then it was time for hemming. A lot of hemming…
I did a one quarter inch rolled hem, by eye, for all of the fabric strips. I don’t have a hemming foot for this, so I do it manually by running the fabric through the machine twice.
First the edge gets turned over by a quarter inch and sewed down.
Then it gets turned over again and stitched down as close to the edge as possible.
And this gets repeated for about a hundred yards of fabric! I’m not even exaggerating with that number. These are the lowest tires for layer one and two (the shortest layers) fully hemmed.
Once those are hemmed it’s time for gathering! There are lots of ways to make ruffles, but I do mine by pushing the fabric underneath the presser foot as I go. These don’t make the most visually pleasing ruffles, but it’s relatively fast and gives me a lot of control over how dense the gathers are.
And that gets repeated until sixty yards of fabric strips are turned into pretty little ruffles.
Then the ruffles are sewn onto the strips of netting.
Ideally the tops of these would be finished with bias tape or a serger. But because this petticoat is for personal use and I don’t need it to be super durable, i’m just top stitching the ruffle to the netting.
Except for layer two and four, because lamé is is so prone to fraying. Those layers have organza ribbon topstitched over the raw edge.
And that gets repeated until all the ruffles are attached to netting layers!
This process took me a few days and I didn’t have enough desk or drawer space to store my piles of ruffles. So they got pinned onto my then unfinished, uniquely you dress form and I had this bizarre looking ruffly statement piece in my sewing room!
The tops of the netting strips were gathered down and sewn to the top layer of each tier.
And lastly, the tops of each layer get gathered down to twenty five inches. Now you can see some real progress as these get built up over the form!
This is layer 0 with a glitter organza ruffle.
This is Layer 1, also from glitter organza. You can tell that it’s longer than the last layer, which was intentional.
Layer 2! This layers ruffle is made from silver lamé.
Layer 3, the last layer of glitter organza ruffles.
Layer 4 is made from the opalescent lamé which I love. It’s so pretty. At this point I realized a little problem, the back of the dress actually had less volume than the front! Which is the opposite of what I wanted.
So I decided to make my petticoat be two separate pieces. The second piece would be attached like a backwards apron, with the tulle being heavily gathered in the back instead of all the way around.
Which meant I could finish off the waist of this skirt! Some of my measurements were a little off on the tiers which resulted in me having to lower the center front and back to get a smooth hemline. This meant I couldn’t do a traditional rectangular waistband, instead I had to make something curvy with a pointed back and front.
But that’s okay. Curvy waistbands are pretty fancy and I think it ended up looking intentional.
I draped a mock up waistband over the petticoat, then copied it to paper and added seam allowances.
I cut it out from polyester shantung and backed it with fusible interfacing.
I used my machine to stitch a guideline a half inch away from each edge, then turned those edges inward.
The edges got stitched down and my waistband was complete!
I stitched it onto the petticoat and
it was almost done! It wasn’t close to being done.
Once I declared it finished I realized it was very flat near the waist. This is bad. I wanted a lot of volume near the waist. Not only does added volume near the waist give a more accurate silhouette, it also makes your waist look smaller by comparison. And I wanted a really small looking waist.
So I cut strips of leftover netting and stitched them together. Then I hemmed them with half inch wide horsehair braid and gathered the tops down to ten inches. I made two of these, one for each side of the skirt.
I hoisted up the top three petticoat layers and pinned them out of the way. I find this picture so amusing, it looks like a petticoat disaster gone wrong.
Am I doing it right?
I pinned the horsehair additions to each side and sewed them down. These added soo much volume, I love it!
And now the skirt had a much different, less A-line shape, which was perfect!
That was before adding the second petticoat, which i’ll talk about making in a second.
This is WITH the second petti overtop, it adds a lot of volume to the back!
Now it came to making the second petticoat…or petticoat fluffer…or reverse apron, whatever you call it! All I did was cut a large rectangle of netting which the lower two tiers got attached to (these tiers were originally assembled for layer five). Then the top was gathered down to around twelve inches.
I made the waistband from a strip from a rectangle of shantung. It was folded like double fold bias tape, but cut on straight grain.
Here are the folded strips. The top one is actually the lining for the first petticoats waistband.
Then eyelets were stitched on both sides.
Because of how it was folded there was a pocket between the layers. The raw edge of netting was inserted into that pocket, then it was sewn shut. And it was done!
And because I didn’t show it earlier, here is the first petticoat with the lining pinned in place. It got sewn on shortly after, then eyelets were stitched in as a closure.
I was originally going to have it button closet, but i’m wearing this over a corset, so there is some size fluctuation depending on how tightly i’m willing to lace, which wouldn’t pair well with buttons.
And the question i’m sure is on everyones mind, does it pass the twirl test? I think it does but i’ll let you decide for yourself, because I have a short clip of it in action posted here.
Final Notes: After draping the skirt to go over this, I don’t think the back has enough volume. Eventually i’ll make another horsehair/netting ruffle and sew it onto the “reverse apron” which will fix this. I would have done it before posting this, but i’m out of white horsehair and pink would look out of place!
Also the method covered here can be used for a full length version of Cinderella’s petti. Though I would highly suggest using a small hoop as a base, which I did with my Christmas Angel Petticoat. Otherwise the petti will tangle between your legs really easily. You should also use petticoat netting or organza for construction, they are both stiffer and provide a lot more volume than the crappy netting I got from Joanns. They can be bought in bulk here.
I think that’s it! Thank you for reading!