Black Petticoat


I made this petticoat to go with the cocktail dress I recently finished. The dress has the A-line ‘50s look, but without a little pouf, it’s not that apparent. I didn’t use a pattern, just winged it after reading some tutorials. So here’s how I sewed my petticoat, which may be a little different than the methods others use:

The sections


I drew this sketch to kind of map the petticoat structure. As you can see, the amount of layers doubles with each tier, beginning in one layer and ending in four at the bottom. This structure gives the petticoat it’s A shape.

Many tutorials have you measure out exact sizes, but I’m not patient enough for that. I cut out black cotton rectangles to form the top tier, ensuring that when sewn together, they’d fit over my hips.

I then added a few inches to the width and cut out the next tier. Then add a few more inches and cut out the next. Pretty simple.

Backward construction

I’m not sure if this is a normal thing, but I built my petticoat a little backward. I did start with the uppermost tier by stitching the side seams. I then used biased tape to act as the channel for elastic.

After stitching all the waistlines, I fed two pieces of ¼-inch elastic through the channels. This bunched the top tier so it rested right on my natural waistline.


Now this is where things get a little reversed. I then moved onto the bottom tier. After sewing the side seams on all four layers of tulle, I finished the bottom with black bias tape. I saw this in one of the tutorials I referenced, and I thought it looked awesome.

Then came the gathering. I gathered two layers of the bottom row, then stitched them onto one piece of the middle row. I did this twice to end with two skirts.

Finally, I layered those, gathered them and attached them to the top tier.

Sound confusing? It wasn’t as convoluted as it may sound. Working backward made putting gathered edges together and prevented the various layers from getting in my way.


Things I’d change

I wore the petticoat under my dress at my friends’ wedding, and it wasn’t comfortable. I want to go back and finished the inside seams with bias tape. I initially finished them with my serger, but that wasn’t enough to protect against the rough edge of the tulle.

In fact, my thigh is still healing! So, before I wear that thing again, I have that adjustment to make.

Additional thoughts

I also learned from this experience that tulle is a pain. It moves around a lot, and because the net has tons of gaps, pins don’t really hold the fabric pieces together.

That’s not to say I’m swearing off tulle forever, it’s just something I noticed.

The whole look

And for those who are curious, this is what the petticoat looked like with my dress (you can also check it out on my post about the dress). You can see how much fluffier and vintage-looking it is with the petticoat.



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