Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Twirl Skirt {Tutorial}

This is a fun twirl skirt that has MAJOR twirl potential.  I've made several of these for my daughter over the years and they are her favorites.  What I love about them is that they grow with her.  She is 8 and still wears the one I made her when she was 4!  

I hope you enjoy making them for the little girl(s) in your life!

OK, Ready?


fabric in 3 different colors/patterns (amount to be determined in Step 2)
coordinating thread
3/4" wide elastic for waist
miscellaneous sewing tools:
(pins, pin cushion, scissors, rotary cutter, sewing machine)


(*NOTE:  If math is going to make you woozy, just guess how wide the fabric for each of the 3 tiers should be and go for it! {Top: 7", Middle 6", Bottom 7" works well for most girls}  This skirt is cute a bit shorter or a bit longer.  My daughter still fits in hers 4 years later.  It's just shorter now. may now skip the math and head to Step 2!)

Step 1:  Figure out the width of the fabric for each tier.

(*NOTE:  I feel the need to mention that technically what you are figuring out here is the length each tier, but it felt weird to say you'll need a piece of fabric 45" wide and 7" long, ya know?  It made more sense in my brain to refer to the smaller number as the width.)

Measure from the natural waist to where you want the skirt to fall on the leg.  This will be the finished length of your skirt.  To figure out how wide to cut the fabric in each skirt tier, divide the desired length of the skirt by 3. 

Now, for each tier, you will add the seam allowances as follows:

To the top tier, add 1.625"
To the middle tier, add .75"
To the bottom tier, add 1.125"

For example, if you want the finished length of the skirt to be 15":

15" divided by 3 = 5"

Top tier:  5"+1.625" = 6.625" (this amount is now going to be called "A")
Middle tier:  5"+.75" = 5.75" (this amount is now going to be called "B")
Bottom tier: 5"=1.125" = 6.125" (this amount is now going to be called "C")

Step 2:  Figure out how much fabric you need.

I recommend using good quality cotton.  I buy mine at a local quilt shop.  You are putting so much time into making this skirt, you may as well use good quality materials. On the other hand, you can really use any kind of cotton.  So, use what you have if you need to!  I've never tried making this skirt with anything but cotton, but I'm sure you could!

(*NOTE:  Again, if math makes you nuts and you want to use my {Top: 7", Middle 6", Bottom 7"} then you should get:  10" of fabric for the top tier; 15" of fabric for the middle tier; and 31" of fabric for the bottom tier fabric. may now skip the math and head to Step 3!)
So here is how you figure your fabric needs.  The added 3 inches is to account for shrinkage when you pre-wash your fabric (giggle all ye Seinfeld fans).
For the top tier, you will need one "A" strip of fabric cut from selvage to selvage (in the example, 6.625").

Top Tier Formula:


I wouldn't go up to the cutting counter at a fabric store asking for 9.625" of fabric, though.  They might look at you funny.  Go ahead and round up to 10".

For the middle tier, you will need two strips of  "B" fabric cut from selvage to selvage (in the example, 5.75").

Middle Tier Formula:


Just one more equation to go!

For the bottom tier, you will need 4 strips of "C" fabric cut from selvage to selvage (in the example, 6.125").

Bottom Tier Formula:


Here is a visual, if it helps:

Whew!  The math part is over!

Moving on...

Step 3:  Go to the fabric store and choose your fabric!  
Have FUN!

Here are the fabrics I chose:

Step 4:  Cut fabric into strips.

Cut one strip for the top tier from selvage to selvage.

Cut two strips for the middle tier from selvage to selvage.

Cut four strips for the bottom tier from selvage to selvage.

Cutting my middle tier fabric...

Step 5:  Sew tier strips together

Top tier

With right sides together, pin strip together at selvages like this:

Using a 5/8" seam (to hide the selvage printing), sew strip ends together (remember to back stitch at the beginning and end of all seams):

Press seam open:

Middle tier

With right sides together, pin both strips together at selvages:

Using a 5/8" seam, sew strip ends together.  Press seams open.

Bottom tier

With right sides together, pin all 4 strips together, end to end at selvages.  Using a 5/8" seam, sew strips together.  Press seams open.

Now we will get the tiers ready for gathering and finishing!

Step 6:  Prep top tier.

On what will be the top edge of the skirt (if your fabric isn't directional, it won't matter which edge you use), fold over 1/4" (I just eyeball it) and press.  

Now fold that edge over 1".  Here is how I do it.  Using a quilting ruler and a disappearing ink fabric pen, I measure and mark 2" from the folded edge. 

Then, bring the folded edge up to that line and, voila! you have a 1" fold.  This will be the casing for the elastic.

Edge stitch very close to the bottom/inner edge, leaving a 1-2" opening.

On the right side of the fabric, on the remaining raw edge of the top tier, using a disappearing ink pen, divide the tier into four equal sections.

Step 7:  Prep middle tier.

On the top edge (again, if your fabric isn't directional, it won't matter which edge you use), using the longest straight stitch on your sewing machine, baste all the way around the tier, 1/8" from raw edge and then baste again all the way around at 1/4" from raw edge.
(*NOTE:  Do not back stitch when basting.)

Using disappearing ink, make marks at fourth intervals on the wrong side of the fabric on the basted edge and on the right side of the material on the edge that is not basted.  

Step 8:  Prep bottom tier.

Sew hem of skirt.  On the bottom edge of bottom tier, fold over 3/8" and press (I eyeball it). 

Fold over 3/8" again and press.  You can pin this down or not.  I do because since we are dealing with so much fabric, it just makes me feel better. 

Edge stitch close to the inside edge of fold.  I do this one of two ways.  

You can either do it like this:

Or, like this.  If you do it this way, you have to be careful to catch all of the hem in the stitch.  

Optional:  edge stitch again on the outside edge of the hem on bottom of skirt.

See?  Doesn't that extra stitch line add a lot to the hem?

Just like you did on the middle tier, on the top (raw) edge of the bottom tier, using the longest straight stitch on your sewing machine, baste all the way around the tier, 1/8" from raw edge and then baste again all the way around at 1/4" from raw edge.

Yay!  All three tiers are ready to go!

Now for the tortuous FUN part. Let's gather ruffles!

Step 9:  Gather bottom tier and attach it to middle tier.

Attach the basted edge of the bottom tier (with wrong side out) to the non-basted edge of the middle tier (with right side out) at each of the 4 marks.  For the bottom tier, this will be at each of the 4 seams and for the middle tier, it will be at each of the two the seams and the two marks midway between the seams.

Not the best picture, but I wanted to show part of what it looks like once the tiers are pinned together in the four spots we marked:  

Now that the tiers are pinned together, it's time to gather.  You will be working each of the four sections one at a time.  Start by pulling the top threads of the two parallel baste stitches.  (If you go to where you started and finished your basting stitches, you will see loose threads to start pulling on.)

Evenly distribute gathers.

Pin gathers to the middle tier before moving on to the next section to gather.

Now, repeat with the remaining three sections until all of the bottom tier is gathered and pinned in place.

Doesn't it feel like you just gathered MILES of ruffles??  Don't worry. Gathering and attaching the middle tier to the top tier is half as much work!  And, just to make you feel better, if cursing is going to occur during the making of the darling twirl skirt, it will happen during the gathering!  (Hopefully the kids aren't listening.)

Time to stitch!

Using a 3/8" seam, stitch with the gathers facing up, removing pins as you go.


Using a zigzag stitch, go over the raw edges to keep them from raveling.  

Speaking of raveling.  How is raveling different from unraveling?  Sounds like they should be opposites, but it seems to me they sorta mean the same thing.  Weird. 

Ok.  Press the seam up toward the middle tier.

Now topstitch on the middle tier fabric close to the seam.  

Before moving on, admire your work so far!  Isn't it pretty?

Step 10:  Gather middle tier and attach it to top tier.

Now you are going to do exactly what you just did in step 9 only you are attaching the middle tier to the top tier.  Do you want me to type it all out even though the instructions are identical?  Phew!  I didn't think so.

But, I will remind you to admire your work!

And what is this??  A new ironing board cover?  Gee, wish I'd done that before, rather than half way through, the tutorial.  The skirt looks so much prettier on this background, don't you think?

Step 11:  Finish the Waist!

The last step is to put the elastic in the skirt casing. 

Measure the waist of the lucky girl who will be wearing the skirt and subtract 2".  Cut the 3/4" wide elastic to this measurement.  (My daughter's waist is 20", so I cut an 18" length of elastic.)

Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic.

Thread the elastic through the opening in the casing.

Pull the elastic out through the same opening, being sure to keep both ends of the elastic outside of the opening.

Using a zig zag stitch, sew the two pieces of elastic together.  Trim ends of elastic.

Adjust the elastic so it is even in the casing stitch opening closed using a straight stitch.

You did it!  You made an adorable twirl skirt!!

I hope this tutorial has been fun for you and easy to understand.  If you have any questions at all or find any mistakes, please let me know!

Here are two of my favorite little girls in their twirl skirts:
(My daughter, Gigi in the blue and her bestie, Jillian in the pink)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Ironing Board Cover!

This morning I re-covered just about the most boring item in my house:  my ironing board.  I noticed how ugly and stained it was as I was taking tutorial pictures.  



Something had to be done and I have more Amy Butler Love Water Bouquet in Midnight than I know what to do with.

(The curtains were, well, a...BIG whoops!)

An ironing board cover would be a much better project for the Water Bouquet...don't you think?  

I found this tutorial and went to work.  It was a very easy tutorial and I love my Midnight Water Bouquet ironing board!  


Now, I am off to work on writing out my twirl skirt tutorial.  It's my very first tutorial and the details are stressing me out a bit.  I think I'll just bite the bullet and start writing!

And, oh, here's a jar of the yummiest raw honey in Arizona!