patchwork Twirler Skirt TUTORIAL

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The tutorial that follows below is the instructions to make any sized tired patchwork skirt you desire.  For those who choose to skip the math and would like a complete dress pattern, you can find a pattern for this dress at my Etsy.

The hardest part about this dress is not going bonkers while gathering the last layer. Make sure you have enough scrapes on hand, or head off to the thrift store for some pillow cases and free box goodies. Its best to have cotton-blends. Fabrics that have too much polyester will not iron well and do not make good patchwork. Try to find fabrics that are about the same weight, although this particular style is actually quite forgiving of odd ball pieces. And please note that I am using a 1/4" seam allowance. That mean each patch loses 1/2" in length as it is sewn.

A quick overview:

Tiered circle skirts like this one work by each successive layer being one and a half times longer than the last. Stitching together the patches is easy - you just sew the sides together to make a long chain of patches. All you need to figure out is how many patches go into your first layer, and then times that number by 1.5 for each layer you add. Sew the layers together by gathering the longer one and you have a skirt or dress that continues twirling long after you've fallen down.

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To begin:

**determine how many patches you are going to need before you cut anything. You need to know the measurement of the waistband of the skirt (however you choose to rig that up) or as I did above, the length of the bottom of the little halter top of a dress.
We shall call this measurement 'A'.

**determine the size of your squares. Mine in these photos is 3". That is too small! Unless you are very anal, I'd suggest at least 4" for a child's dress and 6" or more for an adult skirt. You most likely won't want to do more than 5 or 6 layers, so figure out how long you want your skirt to be and divide that by 6 (keeping in mind you will lose 1/2" per square for seam allowance).
Length of the patch minus .5" for seam allowance shall be measurement 'B'.

**Now you want to figure out how many patches are equal to your measurement A.

A divided by B = C

Sample numbers for you. In the above photos, the halter top is 22". The patches are 3"
A = 22"
B = 2.5" (3" minus 1/4" seam allowance times 2)

22" / 2.5" = 8.8 (Round this up to 9)

C = the number of patches you need to stitch together to equal the the measurement of the A.

With me so far?

**Your first layer of the skirt we will call D:

C x 1.5 = D

Sample numbers:
C = 9 patches

9 x 1.5 = 13.5 (round up to 14)

Thus you need 14 patches for your first layer.

**for your second layer (we'll call F)
D x 1.5 = F

**for your third layer (G)
F x 1.5 = G

** and so on for how many layers you desire. (But no more than 6, because that's just crazy).

** add up all of your totals to determine how many patches you need overall. And then go ahead and cut. And cut. And cut.

** stitch together your patches in lengths indicated by your D, F, G, ... measurements, and join the ends for form rings.

** to form the circle itself, gather the 2nd layer by stitching a row with elastic thread or by machine basting two rows and pulling the threads to gather. (Gathering is a skill you learn by practice, and luckily, you will have much with this project.) Stitch the top (gathered portion) of your 2nd layer to the bottom of your first layer.

** gather in each successive layer and stitch to the bottom of the one above. In this way, your circle gets bigger and your skirt gets longer.

** the last few layers will become ungainly - do not be scared! The proportions of what you are sewing are constant, only the length of the hem is increasing. It will take much longer to sew the last layer versus the first, but I'm thinking that if you've gotten this far, you won't be giving up.

 photo circlesmosaic.jpg

Measurements for a Toddler size 2/3:

22" chest
3" patch

22 divided by 2.5 = 9

first layer: 10 patches (I didn't increase the first layer because I wasn't thinking - d'oh)
2: 13
3: 21
4: 30
5: 46
6: 68

total: 188 square patches

(Just so you know, that is over 14 feet long.)

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  1. I was lucky enough to see this skirt in person and it is quite amazingly wonderful!

  2. Thank you so much for the tutorial. The dress and model both look wonderful!

  3. Thanks for the fabulous tutorial! My 9 yo DD saw this dress and went nuts! She wants to make it with me right away. Luckily we have plenty of scraps. Love the color combinations you use.

  4. That is really cute. How did you make the dress top? Or the top part of the dress? It is so cute, I am thinking of making a matching set for me and my DD. LOVE IT!

  5. Thanks all!

    For the dress top, I suggest you take a existing dress that fits and trace it out to make a pattern. Then you can determine where you want the layers to begin. Simpliest way.

  6. Starting a dress for my daughter tonight that is based on this tute. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together for everyone! Your daughter is gorgeous in it!

  7. I think I love you, and this is the first time I've ever even seen this. I followed the link from the crafster thread. Thank you so much!

  8. Wow! This is so much easier to understand than some of the other free instructions out there! LOVE your you mind if I link to you?

  9. I'd be honored, Brenda!

    btw, I think we got the exact same sewing machine for christmas - my dh was also sick of me cursing my old one ;)

  10. I've only been sewing for about two years. All I've sewn are quilts, a couple of quillows, and four stuffed bears. I have been considering taking the leap into clothing. I think this may be my first project. :) Thanks for the tutorial!


  11. I've been sewing for less than 2 years also - this circle dress is a great one to begin with :) Good luck, I hope you enjoy the project!

  12. This is so awesome! Thank you! Quick question... I want to sew a skirt for me using this method. I want to use 6" squares and the waist (with a 2" ease) will be 35". I think I will need 7 squares to get my measurement, X 1.5, which is 11 for the first layer. I end up with 89 squares for the last layer (6 layers)... does that sound right? If so... I'm going to be sewing my butt off forever. LOL!

  13. Depends on your seam allowance...

    If you are using a 1/2" seam allowance with 6" squares, yes, 7 squares will give you a 35" circumference. 11 squares will be your first row.

    My square counts per row:

    But, the patchwork portion of the skirt will only be 30" long - is that long enough?

    (btw, I love your blog and have bookmarked it)

  14. Thanks!! I have decided to do 8" squares and five layers. Am I wrong to think that after the seam allowances (1/4") that it will be 36" long? I took off 2.5" for seam allowances, plus another 1.5" for my waist band casing, making it 4" off total. I have since cut alllllllll the fabric and plan on getting started on sewing this weekend.

    Glad you enjoy my blog!!! I love yours too!

  15. 8" squares with 1/4" seam allowance brings each square to 7.5" x 5 (layers) = 37.5" (so a 1/5" hem will bring you up to 36".

    Sounds good!

    Good luck, I hope I get to see a pic :)

  16. I am head over heels in love with this dress! I'm in the process of making one for my little girl, and I had a quick question. How did you hem the bottom of the longest tier? Did you hem it before or after attaching it?

    Thanks in advance!

  17. tara, I usually hem before attaching the bottom tier. Much easier that way.

    And thank you!

  18. Thank you so much for these brilliant patterns and tutorials! I just made the patchwork skirt and peasant blouse in a few hours. I just did three layers on the skirt and used 5" squares, so it's not quite a circle, but very practical for everyday playtime.

    I found doing a search for "charm squares" on Ebay garnered me a bunch of beautifully matchy, precut squares of fabric, too. Nice for those of us without huge stashes of offcuts to use up!

    Thanks again, they've turned out really nicely.

  19. Three hours? That is pretty impressive!

    I'm glad the tutorials were helpful. I had a peak at your blog and I really like the tutu!

  20. Thank you for replying about the hem. I hemmed mine before starting all the gathering, and I was so glad I did once I started that process. I'm so, so happy with how the dress I sewed turned out. If you'd like, I just posted pictures and details on my blog.

    Thanks again for the fantastic tutorial. I see many more dresses like this in my sewing future!

  21. Cute. Now have to find little girl to make it for.

  22. Just made this!!! WOW it's ALOT of fabric, I kept thinking my measurements must be off........It turned out great!
    One thing I did that made it easier for gathering is I marked each ring into quarters with my fabric pencil. Then I sewed a separate gathering stitch for each quarter, matched them up to the next ring. That way my gathering would come out better distributed. I don't know how I would have done it, if I didn't do it that way. I also used a bigger needle and embroider thread and set my tension at the highest I could so it would help with the gathering. It worked out GREAT!!! Oh, and I started with the last layer, yeah, that big honking layer that you can stretch across the room!....hahaha
    Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial. It was very useful, and I will be making more of these in the future.

  23. I will most definitely be making one of these for my daughter (several over the years!)...thinking I might make matching ones for both of us out of some lovely red and pink calico I have....Hmmm....if I do, I'll post a link to the pictures! :-)

  24. I made two of these this weekend. Thank you so much. They are the most adorable things I've seen in a long time. Thank you from a fellow craftster.

  25. Ack.
    I'm going to make a big person one.
    one day soon.
    You rock.

  26. I LOVE the skirt and am about to make it for a friend's 3-yr-old. How did you finish the edges of the seam allowances to minimize fraying?

  27. I'm glad you like deb fahey! I serged the edges, but you can finish the edges with a zig zag stitch.
    good luck!

  28. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial! I just finished my skirt and couldn't be happier with the results.

  29. Hi again. I don't have a serger and am rather daunted by the idea of finishing ALL the seams with zigzagging. So, instead, I have been toying with the idea of "rag quilt" seam finishing as shown here: rag_quilt_5.htm

    You have a better eye for design than I do, what do you think of this idea? I don't want to ruin it. :-)

  30. Hmm, Don't know deb...It could be really cute. Or it could look like the wee one has her clothes on inside out. I'd suggest putting togehter the first two layers and then you'll know if you like it or not - it'll really be the gathering part that will let you know if its a good style or not.

    Otherwise, you can still do this project with unfinished seams anyway - cut them short and do a trim on them after every few washes and it'll be fine.

    Let us know what happens :)

  31. WOWZA! That is gorgeous!

    Thanks so much for sharing with us! Kinda reminds me of some of the stuff I've been busy making....

    The Patchwork Underground - Handmade Hippie Patchwork Skirts, Pants and other Clothing

    Thanks again!

    <3 erin

  32. Erin, thank you! I've been to your website before - great stuff!

    Y'all, check out Erin's blog too - something very cool happening over there :)

  33. i love this pattern...i am going to make one for a pregnant friend of mine in rainbow colors.
    but for my 1 year old daughter's birthday i made 3 skirts and attached them to some cute tanks from target that were on sale for 2.50!
    i LOVE them. and i LOVE quarter flats since my girl is so small, i only needed less than 3 quarter flats to make each one.
    so 6$ for each dress and its one of a kind and beautiful!
    she squealed when i put it on her. she loves clothes already. im in for it! haha.
    thanks so much for this awesome tute!

  34. thanks simply sarah! I scooted over to your blog - you are so very talented! And I love the wrap pants :)

  35. All I can say is WOW! That is beautiful! I wish I knew someone who could help me, I'm much too new to sewing to even think of taking this on myself.

  36. kelley, one of the nice things about this project is that it isn't technically difficult, but it does take patience. And you get a lot of practice on some basic techniques, like gathering ;)

  37. I had to tell you how much I enjoy all of your posts. I went crazy trying to find an easy peasant blouse, and I came across your blog. Thank you, thank you. It was so simple, I turned it into a long dress, added an elastic waist and viola I has a peasant dress. My daughter is going to be a pioneer for halloween.
    Now I was looking for a great skirt and I can't wait to make this one. Thanks again. By the way I'm on etsy too, Check me out.

  38. Can I ask if you use a serger for this? I made an adult rainbow twirl skirt based on your tute and it was a PITA because it frays like nothing else inside. I don't have a serger yet :(

  39. crystal, I do use a serger. Sorry :0

    You can finish the edges with a zig zag stitch, though, yes, it takes a whole lot more time. I've experimented with various enclosed linings for this skirt, but they really haven't worked well either. If I do come up with a lining that works well, I will be adding it to the tutorial.

  40. I too was just about to ask about using a regular machine b/c I don't have a serger yet :( I would love to know if you hear of a good way to do this pattern with a regular machine!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing work!

  41. Oh and another thing - I usually sew everything besides clothing so I guess if I'm wanting to start sewing clothes that a serger would be a useful thing to have around...

  42. our little family, sounds like you are angling to get a serger. This dress is infinity easier with a serger, however it isn't necessary. Finishing the seams is the issue so it doesn't become a mass of frays when you wash it.

    As far as getting a serger, they are relatively inexpensive now, especially if you buy second hand. I use mine all the time. It was completely worth it for me. However, for regular sewing, it isn't really needed. The difference would be if you want to get into patchwork clothes (because it's just easier to be able to finish the seams quickly) or if you want to sell clothing and will not be fully enclosing all seams. Not that unserger seams are inferior, but people who buy expect serged seams now.

    Good luck with your projects!

  43. Thank you for sharing! I saw your blog today, and made the skirt this evening. 2 years I have had this serger and I just figured out what the "ruffler" attachment was for.
    Wonderful project - and perfect for my quilting stash :-)

  44. I just found your blog today (a friend posted a link to your lip balm cozy tute), and I'm loving it. I especially love this skirt. I think I will have to make myself one. I am trying to imagine the length of the bottom tier on a 34-35" skirt, though! lol

  45. I really love this dress! The tutorial is wonderful. I have never done quilting before and I just started sewing two months ago so I am a newbie. I have fallen in love with sewing though and I would like to give this dress a try since I know my baby girl would love it too! I don't have a serger but I am up for the challenge. One question... how many different prints/fabrics do you suggest using? Your pictures look like about 10 different fabrics and I am trying to decide what looks fun vs. what is too crazy-busy. THANKS so much!!

  46. Miscellany Mom,
    This dress here is probably more like 20 different fabrics - I used scraps from so many different projects. Sometimes I had enough fabric for only 1 or 2 squares. Usually though I try to get at least 10 different fabrics, but I think the more the better. To keep it from becoming overwhelming, I like to have a common theme, a selection of just a few colours, or, like the dress pictured here, all warm toned colours.

    Good luck with your dress!

  47. Hi there. I've read this post on your blog since you've posted and I've finally been able to sit down long enough to work it.

    I'm making the skirt for my 3 year old.

    I have a serger, but do not have a ruffler foot for it. So I'm manually gathering.

    Not sure how long it's been since you've manually gathered, but I have a question on how to create even ruffles.

    Is there some kind of formula to do this in the most even fashion? Like do you divide layer one by layer two?

    I have the twirl skirt for girls (toys for tots) pdf from and it explains the manual gather and how it applies to the specific instructions, but not how you would adapt it to other measurements.

    Any insight will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much :)

  48. Glitzie Ritzie Boutique,

    I have never used a ruffler foot, so we're even there. I usually gather this skirt using clear elastic (
    which gathers quite evenly.

    As for doing a regular gather with basted stitches, even gathers has been a bit of a challenge for me also. This dress is huge by the last layer and I'm pretty certain you will be cursing me no matter what method of gathering, so I may as well admit that I can not really help with even distribution of gathers.

    What I do, though, with a manual gather is get it gathered into the proper length, secure the threads so they can not pull out, and just play with it until it looks even. Pretty technical, hey? I strongly urge you to look into the clear elastic - it may be just the technology that you need.

    Good luck. I'm sorry I wasn't much help :(

  49. I LOVE THIS! If only I had a gilr, not a boy. Too cute!!

  50. Vegbee -

    LOVE this dress SOOOO much. I was sad when the only twirly dresses i could find were $70 & up! UGH! I gave this a "trial run" yesterday (into the wee hours of today), and being a novice sewer, I had no idea what you meant by GATHERING. So, I just made mini pleats as I went along so that every 3 squares of the added row matched up to 2 squares of the previous row. (I have a stronger math inclination than sewing inclination). Anyway, It still works, so if you want to churn one out quickly, you can skip the basting/ gathering (which I've since researched online...sounds intimidating!).

    Another time saver or for those just doing a "practice run" is to sew together long strips of fabric, and then cut them to your preferred length. It's easy to make the pattern look random by flipping the 2nd row around and/or by adding additional strips after cutting the row of 9. Mostly it saves the time of sewing the individual pieces and is great for people who approximate like me. Just a thought :)

    Anyway, I LOVE the dress and would wear one myself...especially the ones I've seen on your site! My very TWIRLY 3 y.o. informed me this morning (after I'd coaxed her into the new dress) that, "Mom, I'd just like to wear my regular twirly dress" (which I'd found at a garage sale). I may resort to bribing her if she doesn't like the next one. HA.

  51. Melinda,

    Great tips, thank you! Btw, I used clear elastic to gather - much faster than the baste and gather.

    From other people having similar problems getting their dd's to wear the patchwork, I suggest playing eye spy with patterned fabric in the dress.

    With my own daughter, I've used scrap fabric from other clothing I've made for her and she likes, and scraps from old clothes of mine and dhs, and we've spent time looking at the fabrics and connecting them to different projects over the years. This is also a good game to play when dd is upset about something - to remind her of how familar and interconnected the fabric of her clothes are to her family.

    Okay, now I've rambled on...

    I'm glad you like the project. Have fun with the next one!

  52. Beautiful dress!I intend to make one, but am concerned about it fitting over the child's head. Did you use a zipper or leave an opening?

  53. anon,
    My bodice ties at the top over the shoulders. I've also done a button pinafore style. Look over here for ideas:



    Hope that helps. Good luck with yours!

  54. that didn't work right. Here is copy and paste links:

  55. I made one for my daughter's Easter dress... the top wasn't great, so I am converting it back to just a skirt. Also, if you don't have a serger, the easiest way to finish is to leave an extra seam allowance on the bottom (I use 1/4 inch seams, so I leave 1/2 inch on the bottom)- fold and sew a straight stitch for one seam allowance (so I would fold 1/4 inch over, press and sew in the middle), then fold that seam allowance over and stich again... This leaves the edges on the INSIDE of the seam. I use a French seam for linings and such.

  56. Regarding the top part of this dress: I'm planning to use an inexpensive purchased T-shirt in the correct size for my daughter. Saves me drafting a top (not a skill I've really developed!), will definitely fit over her cute little (giant) head, adjustable for length because you can attach the skirt at whatever point on the shirt gives you the right dress length.

  57. christie,

    Sounds good! My only concern is that the patchwork might be a bit heavy for the knit fabric and pull. Let us know how it goes please!

  58. All i can say is wow!!!! You have a lot of patience. Your work is beautiful.

  59. Almost my first sewing project and I am so satisfied!!!

    The only but were all those zig-zag sewing!!!

    Thank you

  60. Os Tartarouchos, I admire you gumption doing it all with the zig zags! It makes me feel good to know that you are happy with it - enjoy!

  61. I have been admiring this darling patch skirt for a few weeks now, and decided I would like to make dresses with patch twirl skirts for 4 of my grand-daughters (ages 7.5 yrs - 4 yrs) using some patriotic-colored fabrics; I kind of went crazy when I went to buy some supplemental fabrics. I sew sporadically these days, so I am constantly in need of tutorials - yours is quite useful. One quick question: can the strips of patches be gathered as strips and then joined, or is it necessary to sew the strips into rings, gather, and then joint the rings? Oh - and one more question - can the edges be pinked (no serger here) instead of zig-zagged?
    BTW - I have made rectangular blocks rather than squares (my chickies won't know the diff).

    Thanks for all the tips.

  62. I loved this dress and had the tutorial bookmarked for months. I made a crocheted top and my talented mom did the rest. I hope this link to the pic works... thank you so much for sharing!

  63. Anon,
    You have a beautiful girl! I love the way your dress is made, the crochet is lovely. The extra wide strip of green fabrics is great too - interesting and adds length. I'd like to incorporate something similar to future twirlers, if you don't mind. Thanks for sharing!

  64. I am not sure how I found your blog, but I am glad I did. I fell in love with this dress and was determined to make a couple for my little girls. I am not much of sewer. I own a fairly basic machine and my skills come from 8th grade home economics class. I usally only sew once a year when it is halloween costume time and thing don't need to be perfect or get a lot of wear. However, my husband said a new a hobby and sewing seems like a decent one. So I spent 5-6 night working on the patchwork dresses, and I love the result. Thanks for the tutorial, I will be sure to donate to your site for all your great ideas. Now I just need to figure out how you guys make those cute pants for your boy. My 18month old son could use some. Feel free to check out the dresses I made at

  65. I've got to try this! It is adorable I know my little girl will LOVE this dress! Thanks for sharing!!

  66. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial. I just finished one for my daughter this morning.
    Twirly Skirt

  67. Hi, I just wanted to comment that I used this tute for my daughter's birthday dress and just got around to posting pictures and so on. Thank you!

  68. Coming across your blog... I can only describe it as... I just feel like I won the lotto! You're so awesome... Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

    You made a significant change in my life... I just learned how to load a bobbin today- now for the easy part!

    Best of Luck in all you do!

  69. Oh, I've gotta try this. What a great way to use up all those left over fabric pieces, so nothing goes to waste!
    Thanks so much for working out the math formula. Knowing how to figure is the hardest part. I wonder though, do you serge around the edges of all those little squares or something to prevent fraying?


  70. Mary,

    Thanks for all you lovely comments!

    I do use a serger to stitch together the patches and to finish the gathered edges. With patchwork, the serger is a good friend.

    Otherwise, you can finish them in the traditional way with a zig zag stitch, of course, and some people just let it fray.

    These days all my seams are finished with the serger except for knits, though I actually think the serger is not necessary to regular sewing.

    hope you enjoy this project :) It's one of my all time favorites.

  71. Dear VegBee,

    Thank you for answering so quickly. Althoug I've been sewing for 20+ years, I've never owned a serger. At first I thought "boy, I must be wierd to have sewn so long and not have one". But when I started reading reviews, I learned I'm not the only one in this same boat.
    OK, I'm not entirely stupid (I hope, ha ha) but what do sergers do that regular sewing machines not do? Are they worth spending $500+ on? I just can't figure out why they cost 2x what a sewing maching does. My sewing machine even embroiders and was only $350.

    - Mary

  72. Mary, I'm not as big of a fan of sergers as others, I know that, but they are useful tools, and almost necessary if you are planning to sell handmade garments - people expect the seams to be finished with a serger. Besides finishing seams, they can also gather, a rolled hem, and do a number of specialty stitches, and have something called a differential feed which is enormously useful for sewing knits and fleece, since it gathers it slightly to prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape as you sew.

    In general, they do not replace your regular machine but sure enhance it.

    That said, I wouldn't recommend a serger for anyone unless they really need their seams professionally finished or have a bit of money to spend. Gathering, sewing knits, and such are easily accomplished with your regular machine and a bit of know how.

    But that's what I think :)

  73. I put the patches together via strip piecing...and it whips up quickly! I have made THREE of these in the past week, for three different little girls, and they all are twirling happily! Thanks for a great tutorial!

  74. Hi Vegbee,
    I'm about to start working on a patchwork circle skirt, but was just wondering how you would suggest making the waistband? Keeping in mind that i want to avoid a zip if possible!
    Thanks, Lisa

  75. Lisa,

    A simple elasticized waist works well. Start your skirt a couple inches bigger than you hip measurements and size your elastic by comfort.

    Have fun ;)

  76. It's been over a year since I purchased this pattern from you in Red Deer (craft sale in Library) It was my very first pattern ever attempted it turned out so cute, I learned I loved creating things and I vowed to get better at sewing so one day I could justify hunting the right colored scraps or buying what I needed to make the rainbow twirler...well it's been a year and I did it!!! I've come all the way from my husband threading my machine for me to easily enjoying sewing with confidence. I just finished it yesterday and my daughter refuses to get out of it even to sleep :D My Thanks to you, you planted a seed in me when you shared what you had, I cherished it enough to let it grow.

  77. Brooke! Congratulations, that is so exciting! My husband threaded a machine for me too just about 4 years ago and it thrills me to know that you've also found out how amazing being able to sew for your own is.
    I am going to be heading off to the markets soon with patterns and twirlers in tow, and hopefully some new stuff too. I have been anticipating my market entry with trepidation, but you've reminded me how much fun and rewarding it can be too. So a big thanks back at you, and hopefully we can meet again!

  78. I read many comments here... LOVE the pattern. I made it for my four year old yesterday and she is one happy kid. I've only been sewing for a couple weeks, but I'm feeling pretty comfortable with it. Here's the thing... I read about the gathering, and on the third row it became really tedious. I kept breaking my thread, etc. So, I zig zag stiched around some crochet cord and pulling was a snap, it made it so easy. I really recommend it. Thanks.

  79. Love this, thanks so much! I made a skirt version for a friend's little girl, that isn't born yet, in a 2T. How's that for way-too-early! lol

    On the bottom row, I used a rown of 40-whatever, folded lengthwise, and gathered. It made a nice ruffle and was easier than hemming the entire thing. I wish it fit me!!

  80. I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful tutorial! The skirt is very cute and was unbelievably easy to make, even for someone who really hasn't sewn since 7th grade Home Ec. ^_^ I tried out the pattern for my adorable niece and can't wait to see her in it!

    Here are some pictures, if you'd like to see: Thanks again!


  81. what do you do about the inside of the skirt? I made a skirt about 1 1/2 years ago and the inside is ugly and frayed terribly.

  82. Bluejay,
    I use a serger to finish the raw edges of the squares. You can also use a zig zag stitch.

    I also know of people have have lined their skirts (cut a circle skirt shape and attach to the waistband and bottom hem).

    For all seams not concealed inside a garment, a finished edge is usually used. Professionals will also finish all seams even those concealed.

  83. I am making this a skirt and not a dress therefore I don't have a top to sew layer D to. Do I sew together the patches for measurement C and then sew layer D to C? Wouldn't that add to the length? Could you please advise? Thanks so much!

  84. Jessica, if you are making a skirt, you want to do layers A to C or D, with the top layer as the waistband. Have a look at this tutorial for a break down of a tiered skirt sans patchwork:
    Good luck!

  85. VegBee you rock!! Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. I'm a jewelry, glass bead artist who wants to incorporate some sewing into my projects. This was my first attempt and your directions were perfect for this newbie. My daughter is thrilled with the skirt, not sure I'll make another one, especially with a satin liner. And you weren't kidding about the last tier, I'm not sure I've recovered completely yet =)

  86. Hi there, i am thinking of making this skirt for myself, it is going to be a long one, i have just pulled out the figures out of my head, but i just wanted to check i had the right idea. Lets say the skirt is going to be 2m/79" long, the first layer will be the waist band with elastic in it. i have worked out that the sqares need to be 13" that should include seems i think, so the end resulted squares will be 8" therefor the first layer will have 10 sqaures to make up a base of 80". therefore the total amount of patches is 216 for a six layer skirt.
    1st 10
    2nd 15
    3rd 23
    4th 35
    5th 53
    6th 80

    can u comment on this, i dont think i have this right, remember the size is just a practice size thks megs

  87. VegBee,

    Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I made a tiered dress for my little girl's birthday. I'm excited to see her twirl around! I didn't do the patchwork component, but just strips of fabric 4 inches wide that increased *1/5 each tier. It was really pretty simple to put together and looks great. Thanks again for the inspiration, and God bless.

  88. Gemmy,

    your math for the squares in each tier seems right no, but if you want to end up with 8" across for each finished square, start with a 8 1/2" square (with 1/4" seam allowance). Keep in mind this will also give you 40" in length, minus any extra hemming and if you include the waistband as part of the first tier, it will be even shorter.

    An adult sized twirler is a massive gathering project but they always look stunning. Good luck!

    Glad the tutorial translates well to basic strips and I hope your girl has an excellent birthday and much fun twirlin' :)

  89. Hey - I just wanted to thank you for your amazing tutorial. I am definitely not a confident sewer but the minute I saw it I really wanted to make one for my daughter. She wore it today and looked beautiful - there were tears at bedtime and she could only be persuaded to stay in her cot by letting her cuddle the dress! Just wanted to send some of the love your way. I wrote a post about my cack handed attempt but it has a great pic of her as well. All the best :)

  90. Thank you for your tutorial. I have just finished piling all my fabric squares up, awaiting my new sewing maching cottens to arrive and then im cracking on. Just to clarify, a serger is an over-locking machine isn't it? If i'm getting it correctly. Unfort all i have is a bog standard machine, so im gunna use pinking sheers and press instead. Thanks again from across the pond. Gemma xx

  91. Just finished making this dress! It turned out so cute, but WOW was it a long process! Thanks so much for the great tutorial!

  92. Hi, I have everything all cut out for this dress and am about to start sewing. I don't have a serger and am planning to zigzag like a crazy-woman (although I am still debating just pinking the seams and buying stock in fray check). ANYWAY, I saw that you used elastic thread instead of pulling your gathers by hand and cursing over and over when your threads break while being pulled through so many bulky seams. This idea of elastic thread sounds amazing to me, but I've never done it. How does it work? How much does it gather in? What type of stitch do you use? How do you know if it will gather enough to fit the layer above? Do you use it as the thread and the bobbin? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  93. Hello The McDiarmids,
    I do not use elastic thread to gather (though if you wanted to you could for a less accurate gather - more info on elastic thread here:

    I usually use clear elastic, which is like clear plastic stretchy strip sewn in like regular elastic. You can find more info about that here:

    Good luck!

  94. I finished mine at 3 am this morning. Bought the pattern over 2 years ago from you and started it then as well. Good thing I was making it to big to begin with cause it fits perfect! Thanks!!

  95. I just made one of these using old jeans. The gathering was harder, but it's soooo cute! Thanks for the awesome idea :)

  96. Do you remember about what size your daughter was when you made this or how old she was? My measurements seem off and I was hoping to compare to yours.

  97. Just made a skirt like this for my 6 year old, using 4 tiers of 5" squares, and your calculations to get me started. Oh the gathering!!! Don't know how you did it! She is utterly thrilled by it though, so thanks for this inspiration and guidance :-)

  98. Last fall I bought about a dozen knit tank tops that were being closed out for $1 each. I didn't know what I'd do with them, but I couldn't walk away from such a bargain. They're all little girl sizes and colors, pastels and sherbets in 2 to 6. Guess what I'm going to be using them for this spring. ;-) I think I'll just sew the skirt on a bit below the armhole and leave the rest of the tank inside instead of cutting it off. I think I also bought some panties at the same sale. I'll match them up to the dresses as a set.

  99. Forgot to mention -- I have a vintage Singer with a ruffler foot. Makes ruffles easy peasy. Trust me.

  100. I just finished this lovely project, and everybody is in love with it! Going to make one for my baby cousin now, and possibly another for my little darling.Thanks so much for this tutorial!

  101. Thank you for this wonderfully easy to follow tutorial, I have just made one for my daughter today and it turned out fabulous. Thank you for sharing this with us. bridal fabrics

  102. Cute knit tee shirts with the sleeves would be great tops for these skirts. They sure provide a great excuse to use my new ruffler foot. My problem would be , knowing how to measure the strips so that I could then gather and have the gathered strips be the length I need.

  103. Would love to make this skirt for the American Girl and Madame Alexander 18" dolls. Any suggestions? Thanks

  104. For an American girl doll you could just measure the waist and follow the same formula. You'll probably want small squares to look proportional, like 3 inch ones I'd guess. There are mini-charm packs that come in 2.5 inch squares if you don't feel like cutting out a bunch of pieces.

  105. Awesome tutorial! My skirt measurements are

    A. 39"
    B. 9"
    C. 8 squares
    D. 12
    E. 18
    F. 27
    G. 40
    H. 60

    A total of 1,485" or 124'!!

    I haven't even started sewing! I had precut squares fortunately so all I have to do is start sewing. I'll try to upload or link a photo when I'm done.

  106. Thank you very much for this tutorial! Math and I aren't the best of friends, so I used your info to make a spreadsheet.

    I started cutting 4" squares (most squares from my scraps) with the intention of making a patchwork skirt to match a batch of tank tops. Thanks to your tute, I now know a bit more fabric is needed to make the skirt! I only bought enough yardage to make the shirts, so the scraps after cutting out three tops and binding strips only left me with about a third of the squares needed to make the skirt. Now I just need to figure out how much more new yardage I need to get to complete that particular skirt.

    Looking forward to using this information a lot!
    Thanks again!