Poodle skirts were very popular in the 1950s. Teamed up with a simple shirt, a scarf tied around the neck and some white bobby socks, they capture the essence of girls' fashion from a time when people went to the drive-in, sock hops and diners. The more ornate the skirt was, the more attention it garnered. Poodle skirts were often shown on the classic TV sitcom "Happy Days." Making a poodle skirt using a semicircle method is a fairly simple sewing project as long as you have some familiarity with using a sewing machine.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Sewing machine
- Medium-weight felt, 72 inches wide (any colour)
- Thread to match the felt
- 1 yard single sequin trim
- Poodle applique (optional)
- 1 yard 3/4-inch-wide elastic
- Straight pins
- Flexible measuring tape
Purchase 72-inch-wide felt for the skirt from a fabric store, in the colour you desire. Make certain it is medium-weight felt, not thin felt, or the skirt will not hold its shape well. If you are making a skirt for a young girl, purchase 2 yards. For an adult poodle skirt, you will need 3 to 4 yards (3 for a small/medium, 4 for a large/extra large). A toddler's skirt will require 1 yard.
Choose a poodle applique to apply on the skirt (if desired), along with the sequin trim. Do not buy individual sequins; you'll want to sew on sequin trim that is sold by the yard and is usually found in the ribbon and trim section in a fabric store. Purchase spools of thread in colours to match your fabric and trims.
Measure the waist and length for the skirt using the measuring tape. The length measurement should be from the waist down to the midcalf. Lay the felt down on a flat surface. If you are making a girl's skirt or a small or medium adult skirt, measure from the 72-inch top edge in the length measurement plus 1 inch and make a mark. Do the same thing from the bottom 72-inch edge of the felt. If you are making a large or extra-large skirt, do the same thing, but mark in from the left and right cut sides of the piece of felt. The area between the two marks will be the cut-out area for the waist.
Place the end of your measuring tape on the left mark you made and form a semicircle to the other mark, adding 5 inches to your waist measurement. For example, if your waist is 30 inches, use 35 inches of the measuring tape to form the semicircle. Mark where the tape hits the felt with a pen in a semicircle shape, so you know where to cut.
Place the measuring tape on the left mark you made for the length of the skirt on the felt in Step 2, and mark that measurement on the felt in at least 15 different spots, to form the shape of a semicircle. Use your eyes as your guide to connect these marks and make a full semicircular line on the felt.
Carefully cut the two lines on the felt. Bring the two long ends together, keeping the marked side of the felt to the outside. This is the back seam of the skirt. Sew a straight stitch down the felt using the sewing machine from the waist to the hem. Turn down 1 inch of felt at the waist, and straight stitch all the way around the waist except for 2 inches. This is where you will feed the elastic.
Cut a piece of elastic that will stretch 5 inches larger than your waist. Fasten a safety pin to one end and feed the elastic through the waist. Connect the ends of the elastic together by sewing on the sewing machine back and forth many times. Fold over the remaining 2 inches of felt at the waist and sew it closed.
Turn the skirt inside out. Your skirt is now complete, except for embellishing with the poodle applique and sequin trim. Machine-sew on the applique and trim, or use a hand-sewing stitch. Sew on the sequin trim in a curvy line starting at the poodle's neck (so it looks like a leash).
Tips and warnings
- Check your measurements carefully so the skirt length and waist are correct.
- Use sharp scissors for cutting felt; a uniform cut is mandatory because there is no sewn-in hem.
- Do not buy thin felt; your skirt will not hang well.
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