Bustle Skirt

Posted by sumo on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Bustle Skirt
My name is Sumo (or Summer, if you want to get more formal). I take up a little piece of the blogging world over at Sumo's Sweet Stuff. I've got three little ladies that I love to sew for, so I am excited to share this bustle skirt tutorial with you.
Sumo's Sweet Stuff
For the tutorial, I will give you the measurements I used for my three year old, along with instructions on how to adapt the measurements to whatever size you would like to make.
- Fabric: I used fabric from the Lost & Found collection
* For size 3T I used: 1.5 yards of Pink Lost & Found Main, 1/4 yard of Pink L&F Damask, 1/4 yard of Pink L&F Round, 1/4 yard of Black L&F Stripe, 1/4 yard of Black L&F Dot
- Elastic for waistband
- Sewing machine & accessories
You need to start off with some skirt measurements. You can use a skirt pattern you already have (I recommend doing this, makes it much easier!), or you can use a skirt that you already have for measurements. For this skirt, I measured the width of a skirt my daughter already owns. It was 18" wide. I wanted the skirt to be much more full, so I doubled - plus a couple of inches - the width to be 40" wide.
I decided to have two separate pieces for the top panel of the skirt, and two separate pieces for the bottom panel of the skirt. This makes it easier to create your bustle. For the top panel of the skirt, I used about my original measurement for width, and used a width of 20". The total length of your skirt is up to you; I wanted mine about 16" long, so I made the top panel length 5" and the bottom panel length 12". This gives me a little extra for seam allowance and hemming.
So here is what I have cut total:
- top panel: 20" wide x 5" long (cut 2)
- bottom panel: 40" wide x 12" long (cut 3)
Only two bottom panels are shown in this picture.
Now it's time to cut the ruffles for the bustle. Again, this is going to be measured based on the size of your skirt. My measurements are for size 3T. You can adjust yours accordingly to the width and length of your bottom panel.
- top ruffle: 4.5" long x w.o.f. (cut 2)
- bottom three ruffles: 3.5" long x w.o.f. (cut 2 of each)
For a nice, full ruffle, you generally want to cut your width to be two times the width of what you are attaching the ruffle to. Since my width is 40", I need my ruffles to be about 80" wide. That is why I have to cut two of each of my ruffles. Standard fabric is between 42"-44" wide, so I need about double that to achieve my desired ruffle.
The top ruffle is a longer length because you will be losing a bit more of the length when you attach the top and bottom panels together.
Let's get sewing!
All seams are 1/4".
Join the two pieces of each of your ruffle together. Serge or zig zag your seams to prevent fraying.
Serge or zig zag the top and bottom width of each of your ruffles. Hem up the bottom width of each of your ruffles. Be careful if you have a directional print!
Run a gathering stitch along the top of each ruffle. Set your stitch length to the longest length. Do not backstitch at the beginning or end. Leave a few inches of thread at the beginning and end to help with gathering.
Take one of your bottom panel pieces. Hem up the bottom as you did each of your ruffles.
Now it's time to start attaching your ruffles. Find the middle of your bottom panel piece. Pin the middle of your top ruffle to the middle of the bottom panel piece. (This was easy for me since my middle was where I'd joined the two strips). This will help you to gather your ruffle evenly on each side.
Gently pull on the bottom thread on each side to evenly ruffle your fabric towards the middle. Pin in place along the top edge of your bottom panel.
Sew the ruffle in place.
Measure from your ruffle to your finished hem. Place a pin in even measurements where your remaining ruffles will go. (Sorry for the blurry picture). This is generally 2-3 inches. Make sure that the ruffles will be overlapping slightly at the tops of each ruffle.
Attach each ruffle.
Set this bottom panel aside.
Get one more of your bottom panel pieces, and fold it in half length wise. In the middle, about 1.5" down, make a small cut.
Use your rotary cutter and ruler to make a diagonal cut. Doing this folded over will ensure that each side is cut evenly. This is going to be the overlay on the back that will allow your ruffles to peek through.
Here's your overlay so far.
Next we're going to line the bottom edge of the overlay. Cut strips of fabric the width of each diagonal edge of your overlay. I wanted it to be about an inch long, so I cut it two inches long and ironed it in half, length wise. Pin the raw edges to the raw edge of your overlay.
Sew it down. Repeat on the other side. Where the strips meet in the middle, sew together. Zig zag or serge all raw edges.
Doesn't it look nice?
Lay out your ruffle bottom panel with your overlay on top of it - wrong side of overlay facing right side of ruffles. Pin across where top edges meet. Sew a gathering stitch along the top.
Now it's time to bring in the top panels.
Lay one top panel right side facing up, with your ruffled bottom panel's right side facing the top panel. Pin the middles together with raw edges matching up. Gather evenly on each side until you can pin the ruffled panel to the top panel along the top edge. Pull gently so that your thread does not break!
Sew the panels together. Zig zag or serge your edge.
Flip the top panel up, and top stitch along where the panels meet.
Here's your finished back panel. Are you loving the ruffley goodness?
Attach your front top panel piece to your front bottom panel piece using the same methods: hem up the bottom panel piece, run a gather stitch along the top, attach to top panel, and top stitch where panels meet.
Let's attach the front and back panels, shall we?
Line up the edge of the front and back panel pieces. Pin them together, making sure that your ruffles are all laying down.
Sew together. Zig zag or serge the edge.
Repeat on the other edge.
Zig zag or serge along the top edge of the skirt.
Iron down and pin in place the fabric to make a casing for your waistband elastic to go through. I generally do about 1.5" but it depends on how wide your elastic is. I use 3/4"-1" elastic.
Starting on the back panel of your skirt, sew along the bottom edge of your fold, leaving a two inch opening. This is where you will insert your elastic.
This is not necessary, but I also like to stitch all along the top edge of the fold as well. This seems to give the elastic a nice casing, and it is less likely to twist around.
Measure the waist of who the skirt is for and cut a piece of elastic to this length. For my 3 year old daughter, it was 20".
Use a safety pin attached to one end to guide the elastic through the casing. Overlap the elastic about an inch and sew it together. Sew together your two inch opening.
You are done!
Bustley, ruffley goodness!
Put it on your adorable little lady, and snap a bunch of pictures to capture the cuteness!
View from the front.
Doesn't it just make you happy?
Little sister needed one, too of course.
Now my ladies are all set for Christmas outfits!

Category: Apparel


  1. This is just so adorable. Thank you. I am hoping I can create one for my granddaughter!
    by AnniMarie
    March 30th, 2012 at 7:01 a.m.
  2. Just love, love, love, this skirt. Can't wait to make it for my triplet granddaughter's!!
    by Cherry
    February 09th, 2015 at 7:41 a.m.

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