How to sew a ballet skirt

Updated April 17, 2017

Classical ballet dancers wear delicate tutus and ornate dance dresses for performances. Dancers of all levels can add some beauty and feminine grace to their practice clothes with a light chiffon ballet wrap skirt. Wrap skirts are easy to make and can be designed or adjusted to fit may waist sizes. Chiffon fabric comes in many colours and prints and can be even be painted on. Skirts of different colours, lengths and prints can add variety to your dance wardrobe. The versatility and simplicity of these skirts means that they make excellent costume elements for group or solo performances.

Measure your waist. Wrap the tape measure around your waist and add some length for the skirt to overlap. Decide how long you want the skirt to overlap around your waist. Ballet wrap skirts should overlap a bit when worn around the body, but not so much that they bunch when you move.

Decide on the length of the skirt. Longer skirts can give an elegant aesthetic, but as they can hide some movement and make your alignment difficult for the teacher to see, some schools only allow shorter skirts. The ideal ballet skirt fully displays the movements of the legs. However, if your teacher doesn't have any restrictions for skirt length, you can make the skirt as long as you want. Use the tape measure to measure from the waist at the small of the back to the length you would like the skirt to be.

Cut the chiffon. Mark your measurements for length and width of the skirt with sewing chalk. Make the shorter ends of the skirt rounded and cut straight across the top, forming an elongated semicircle. Leave a little extra length to allow for the hemming. Wrap the fabric around you to make sure the chalk lines fall where you want the skirt to end and that the ends you have marked overlap to your desire. When you are content with the length, cut along the chalk line.

Add the ribbon. The ribbon should be long enough to wrap around the waist twice and tie in a bow. Once you have the desired length, lay the ribbon along the top of the skirt. The ends of the ribbon should be sticking out equally on each end of the skirt. Pin the ribbon to the skirt and use the sewing machine or needle and thread to sew the ribbon onto the skirt.

Hem the skirt. Fold a small length of the edges of the skirt under and pin. Sew along these lines to keep the fabric from fraying.


If this is your first time sewing, you can start by making a prototype skirt with a cheaper fabric or old article of clothing. Choose fabric for your skirt that moves and hangs the way you want. Some chiffon is too stiff for ballet skirts, so move it around in the fabric store to see if it has the quality you want.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Chiffon or polyester fabric
  • 1-inch wide ribbon
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing chalk
  • Fabric shears
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
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About the Author

Pamela Ann Ludwig has lived, worked and studied on five continents. Her articles can be seen online at various websites. She holds a Master of Arts degree in history from San Francisco State University and has experience teaching different dance disciplines as well as English to speakers of other languages.