A tiered skirt is constructed very simply: a tier is created with a rectangular piece of fabric, sewn into a loop. The tier below it is larger, typically 1.5x, which gives it the twirly factor. The tiers are sewn together with the top portion of the lower tier gathered into the same length as the tier above. You can have as many tiers as you have the fortitude to gather for.
Now, a specific project: To make a three tiered skirt with an elastic band waist (1” elastic), begin with a hip measurement and the desired length. Your fabric choice is up to you, keeping in mind that lighter fabrics are much easier to gather. If your materials are of different weights, use the heaviest ones on top. You can go with one type of fabric for all or mix it up with different patterns.
To determine the dimension of the first tier, add some inches to the hip measurement (suggest about 4” for a child, 6” for an adult) so that the skirt can be slipped up over the hips. Do not forget to add seam allowances on all sides (this goes for all tiers!) This is the long side of the rectangle for your first tier (measurement A on diagram below).
The short side of your first tier will be the desired length of your skirt (from waist down to wherever) divided by 3, plus 2.5” (for the elastic waistband casing). Cut the fabric to this size and then form into loop by sewing the two short sides together.
The second tier down will be your measurement A x 1.5 by the desired length divided by 3, which we will call measurement B. It is quite likely that you will have to piece this rectangular loop together in order to make up the measurement B length as most fabric does not come wide enough.
The third tier will be your measurement B x 1.5 by the desired length divided by 3.
With all of your fabric cut and sewn into loops, take the second tier loop and gather in the top edge to be equal in length to measurement A. Sew the gathered edge onto the bottom of the first tier.
Gather the top edge of your third tier to be equal in length to measurement B. Sew the gathered edge onto the bottom of the second tier.
To make the waistband casing, fold the top of the first tier in about 1 3/8” (finish the raw edge with a zig zag stitch, serger, or a double fold). Sew close to the finished edge (about 1 ¼” from folded edge) almost all the way around – leave enough space to insert an elastic, cut to a comfortable length. Sew edges of elastic together to make a loop. Finish sewing casing closed.
Hem the bottom edge of the skirt.
Once you have the method down, tiered skirts can be altered, embellished, and redesigned to create many different styles. Have fun with it, and don't forget to twirl.
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