This part is all about the petticoat. It’s fairly simple. That is I thought it would be. But let me show you this mess I made while figuring out the lengths each layer was going to be in this tier like petticoat. There are three layers, the layers are tiered kind of like a layer cake dress. But they have a high low kind of hem to it. Once you have the pattern for the top layer you can just add the inches to the petticoat as you see fit.
I messed up quite a bit in the measurements. It wasn’t until the final two times of placing and pinning that I finally pulled out 4 measuring tapes total. All pinned at the waist with the length I wanted them to be. Have the larger number at the top by the waist while the one is at the ground.
You need one tape in the front, one at the side, the final at the back. The fourth is just if you need to check the lengths and widths. You may not use it if you don’t think you need it. Below is a picture of my actual measurements used.
Place ribbon or twill tape at the marks on the tapes at where you want the layer to end. Keep in mind that it will have to be shorter if you add the ruffle edge at the bottom of the tier. I started in the front and then placed it at the back. Then adjusted the front and back until I had the kind of drape I wanted at the sides. Now pin this to the side tape. All my ruffles are the same length and width. So I made sure to make this 4 inches higher than I wanted it to end. Then put a mark on the tapes where the ruffle ends. Plan the distance from the ruffle edge to the next ruffle edge. I made mine equal all distance around. Then added my ribbon at each marking on the tapes where the next set of ruffles will go.
I followed the exact same path for the final tier, but making sure to make this one have a sixteen inch ruffle. When all the measurements were written down I went to work on something else. Coming back to my dress from I realized I wanted the back to have a little more of a longer train. So I started completely over with those measurements minus the front and had the outline I wanted. This was just in case I couldn’t make the second petticoat.
To make the pattern from the outline I placed a long and wide piece of muslin against my dress form and placed it at the waist with a curve and a few pleats to get some cute gathers at the waistline when done. The easier process for marking out the length would have been to choose a dark colored ribbon, one I could see through the muslin. Instead I used light pink which made it harder. I kept having to lift the muslin before I could mark. Which is doable but tedious. I cut this out. Marked out the waist. Then smoothed the edges before I made a mini mockup with the other muslin. I gathered it down and tried it on my dress form. The length and waist were great. The gathers looked cute at the waist. The hem draped beautifully.
I then transferred it to paper, twice. On the second copy I added the extra inches for the second layer. Transferred this to another paper. Added the extra length for the bottom layer. That is the easiest method I found. Fairly quick as well.
The big issue came up after this.
I have had a little mishap while making the tiered petticoat. The cotton wasn’t wide enough for me to cut the tiers into the shape I needed. So I kind of pieced them together out of all sorts of pieces. Even not on grain to get what I needed from the length available. As the store was out of the pattern I purchased the cotton in and I wasn’t going to mix the floral with paisley. Or something else completely. I already have two different fabric/patterns in this, I don’t need more. The flounces are all made with this gorgeous white with gold arrow like patterns made from a rayon.
By pieced I mean the bottom layer which I cut out first is in three pieces. The middle is in five pieces and the top layer is in three pieces. Not bad. But I forgot to add seam allowances on the pattern paper. Lack of sleeping, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue considering the petticoat is bigger. The most important thing I discovered is… The rayon white and gold tears on the grain!!!!
Fabrics that can tear on the grain are amazing for when you make ruffles in a petticoat or just ruffles anywhere. When it tears that eliminates the need to mark and cut out exactly 4 and a half inches two or three or even nine times depending on the amount of layers you have to your petticoat or skirt. And if the ruffle layer is more than five yards you can get pretty frustrated. I know. My first proper petticoat was 9 yards in just the ruffles. I didn’t know the fabric, shantung I believe, could tear on the grain. Not just that it was five layers. Which meant I marked out five ruffle widths up to nine yards in length! It was insane! I began to hate it after the first hour. If that wasn’t enough shantung is slippery to work with and frays like crazy. The cutting out was just as miserable. I have a scar from the callous I got on my knuckle.
Enough of that mini tirade, lets continue peacefully.
For the flounces of the top two layers I cut the final edge on the selvage to not only save me time but to also have a semi curly hem. I didn’t think it would be curly, but when I washed and ironed it the fabrics selvedge created a type of lettuce hem. Otherwise I would have used horsehair braid on all the layers.
The bottom flounce that is sixteen inches long has horsehair braid in the hem. I normally prefer the horsehair braid to be a good 2 inches in width, but for this petticoat I just grabbed the braid that was an inch. Since it is on the ground I didn’t feel the need to have it wider.
When all the different sections were cut for each layer I sewed the respective layer pieces together. Then flattened the seam and sewed it down. I followed the same instructions with each layer. Tore out each ruffle section and for gathering, which will be far prettier on this petticoat with this material I made basting stitches that I proceeded to pull to get the gathers nice and pretty.
Hint, when you get to the bottom ruffle sew the hem first with the horsehair braid. When using the braid you sew it down on the outside at the bottom first and then fold it under and stitch the hem. Much easier and I believe this is the process one should follow anyway. Plus it beats pinning the hem up twice. And will hopefully give it a little durability when it drags on the ground.
The ah-ha moment was over at this point. I didn’t expect the rayon to be as slippery as it was. It has a great feel, very soft, but it kept slipping as I sewed the gathers to the edge of the tier. My stitching isn’t straight, but by now I know that I am not happy with it and there wasn’t any way I was willing to sew it straighter. It isn’t that noticeable and it doesn’t bug me enough to redo this. It is pretty though and that is all that matters. After you sew the gathers to each tier you can stay-stitch the seam down so it is more sturdy. I usually just do a long running stitch for this, but I wanted it to be pretty so I went with the decorative stitch and used the same light pink embroidery thread for it.
Almost done at this point. Sew up each front seam inward once. By that I mean fold inward each side of the front and then sew it down. So when you sew up the center front seam and open seams up before sewing down all the edges are on the inside. Then when you pin the fabric together at the front sew it up and sew the seams open. This will make the opening at the top much nicer and it will lay flatter. That’s how I sew up every petticoat. Or skirt that doesn’t have an elastic waistband. When preparing the waistband you want to interface the cotton to help keep its shape. This will need to be cut with the grain of the fabric. Not on the bias. You don’t want this to stretch.
The final step is to sew all the layers together and to the waistband. Add your ties and you are good to go.
I have quite a few images of the final piece. Making up for what I lack in the making of portion.