How to Make a Crinoline Skirt

Updated February 21, 2017

Crinolines are traditionally worn under full-skirted dresses and full skirts to add fullness and maintain the overall shape of the dress or skirt throughout the day or evening. Most of us think of 1950s style dresses when we think of crinolines; however, they have become a trendy item to wear on their own now. Whether you need a crinoline for under a party dress or over leggings, you can make it yourself adapting basic instructions to get the look you want.

Measure your hips at the widest point. Using your soft satin or cotton fabric, cut a waistband twice this measurement by 8 to 10 inches wide. Most of us will need to cut two pieces, each the total hip measurement. Finish cut fabric edges with a serger or zigzag stitch. Seam your waistband at each side. Fold this in half, wrong sides together and stitch 1 1/4-inch away from the folded edge, leaving a 2-inch opening to thread elastic.

Cut your tulle into long strips. The width of these strips depends upon the overall desired length of the crinoline, but 6 to 10 inches will work for most crinolines. You will create two large loops of tulle or netting seaming as needed, right sides together. The loop for the lower tier should be approximately twice the length of that for the upper tier of the crinoline.

Stitch two lines of basting stitches, using your sewing machine's longest stitch length. One line should be approximately 1/4 inch from the edge and the other 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Take the bottom bobbin threads of each line of stitching and gently pull to gather the tulle or netting. Go slowly and carefully to avoid breaking threads. Reinforce your gathers with zigzag stitching. You can also use a gathering or ruffler foot if desired. Pin the first tier securely to the waistband and stitch into place when sewing a crinoline.

Repeat the gathering process for the second tier and stitch into place at the bottom of the first tier. You will need to gather the tulle quite tightly for this layer of the crinoline. For additional fullness, use two layers of netting for this process, gathering them together and stitching into place. Reinforce the seam with a tight zigzag stitch.

Stitch satin ribbon or bias binding around the lower edge of the crinoline. This is optional, but will prevent hosiery snags and discomfort. Cut elastic 1 to 3 inches shorter than your waist measurement and thread through the waist casing. Sew elastic ends together and finish the opening in the casing.


Play with colour in your crinoline, combining tulle colours if desired. Adjust the length of each layer or add a layer for additional length.


Wear a slip or stitch one into place to avoid scratchiness.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavyweight netting or tulle, about 9 yards of 72-inch wide for a below-knee length crinoline. Adjust amounts if you are making a short crinoline or using narrower yardage.
  • Less than a yard of soft silk, satin or cotton fabric
  • 1 to 1 1/2 yards of 1-inch wide elastic
  • Satin ribbon or bias binding, if desired
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
  • Ruffling or gathering foot for your machine, optional
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About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.