How to Make an Easy Petticoat

Petticoats are used under a dress or skirt to add volume. Traditionally petticoats are made with French seams or finished with ribbon. Using an overlock machine or serger for finished edges will cut down on time and make the petticoat-making process easier.

You will need to cut fabric for the waistband and three tiers of the skirt. Each tier will be twice the width of the tier above it.

Measure your waist. Use the measurement to cut a piece of two-inch wide elastic.

Multiply the length of the elastic by two to determine the width of the waistband. The first tier will be twice the width of the waistband. Repeat this process for each tier. Each tier and the waistband should be five inches tall with the determined width. For example, if your waistband is 25 x 5 inches, your tiers should measure 50 x 5 inches, 100 x 5 inches and 200 x 5 inches.

Lay the waistband and all three tiers on the table with the waistband on top, and each consecutive tier below. Fold each piece of fabric in half with right sides of the fabric together to make them each half as wide. Using the serger, sew the ends of the fabric together to create circular pieces of fabric.

Using the sewing machine, sew a basting stitch along the top of each tier one-quarter inch down from the top of the fabric.

Gather the fabric of the third tier by holding the basting stitch tight and sliding the fabric together. Continue gathering until the ring of fabric is the same measurement as the second tier of fabric. Lay the second tier on top of the third tier of fabric, right sides together. Pin the gathered edge of the third tier to the bottom edge of the second tier. Serge the fabric in place, removing pins before the fabric goes through the serger. Repeat this process to attach the second tier to the first tier.

Fold the top of the waistband in half so it is two-and-a-half inches tall with wrong sides of the fabric together so that the right side of the fabric faces out. Sew the ends of the elastic together with the serger to create a loop. Place the looped elastic into the folded waistband fabric. Place a few pins through the elastic and both pieces of fabric to hold the elastic in place. The fabric will be puckered.

Gather the fabric of the top tier until it is the same circumference as the waistband fabric. Put the waistband fabric on top of the first tier with right sides together. Align the bottom edge of the waistband with the top edge of the first tier and pin. Remove the pins through the elastic. Serge the edges together, removing each pin before the fabric goes through the serger. You may need to slightly pull the elastic open while sewing to prevent the fabric from puckering. Hold the waistband of the petticoat and slightly shake to make sure all the fabric is in place. Trim loose threads before wearing the petticoat.


You can alter the length of the petticoat by changing the height of each tier accordingly. If you do not own a serger, you can do all the sewing with a sewing machine, using a quarter-inch seam allowance. After the seams are complete cover the seams with a half-inch wide ribbon. Pin the ribbon along the seams, then sew along either side of the ribbon to secure it. Once the seam is completed, overlap the ends of the ribbon by one-quarter inch and fold the end under. Sew the end down. Folding the ribbon in half lengthwise then sewing it along the edge of the fabric can finish the edge of the petticoat. The ends of the ribbon should be treated as you did with the ribbon on the seams.

Things You'll Need

  • Serger
  • Sewing Machine
  • Tulle or crinoline
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Soft tape measure
  • Two-inch wide elastic
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Lynn Johnson is a textile artist, fashion designer, mother and small business owner. Johnson has been copy writing since 2006. Some of her work is published on sites like eHow. She writes about parenting, crafts, fashion, games and textiles. Johnson has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute and has attended Master of Fine Arts programs.