Ever since I can remember (and, well, my memory is not the best one), I was fascinated by one festival not so far away from the town I grew up: The Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) in Leipzig. I loved the dresses and skirts, costumes and different styles. I have always loved black clothes, because black can create different looks and transmit various feelings and emotions, but also evoke different feelings in other people. Black is not only a sign of mourning, it can also present dignity and some kind of purity. I always liked the contrast between my naturally pale skin and dark colors, especially black. When I moved to Leipzig, I went to all WGTs, dressed myself in black (but not very fancy), took pictures and just enjoyed to observe. But from the beginning on (in 2009), I said to myself: one year, I’ll dress up and this will be awesome! As this years (2017) WGT may probably be my last year in Leipzig, I had no excuse anymore. And instead of buying or borrowing a costume, I wanted to made it myself. And not just one outfit, I wanted to make two with different background and style.
Graceful & Noble: a Frill Skirt
(find the How To below the pictures; adapted from Nachtkatze)
Thanks to averagepony and her boyfriend for spending hours and hours shooting me!
All measures are adjusted to my body; so the skirt is 1,05m long (41”) and suitable for a crinoline with a scope of 3,60m (141”).
What you need:
- 4 m (157”) black taffeta, 1,50m (59”) wide
- 9 m (354”) black tulle (I used the one for Carnival costumes, because it’s a strong tulle), 1,50m (59”) wide
- 9 m (354”) black cotton fabric, 1,50m (59”) wide
- approx. 500 m (547 yards) black yarn
- approx. 500 pins (only if you prefer to pin everything first and sew them later in a row)
- elastic band (I used 20mm[0.8”] wide)
- a sewing machine
- tailor’s chalk
As a first step, bring the taffeta into the right shape. This means that you have to cut it, so it will fit the length. As you need to insert a tunnel for the elastic band on top of the taffeta, you have to take this into account. So, I cut the taffeta at the length of 1,05m (41”) with 2 cm (0.8”) for the tunnel. And when you do this, you can also make a hem (approx. 1cm[0.4”]) on the bottom.
When you are very unsure whether the taffeta will cover the crinoline, you can also start to pin the taffeta on it, as I did. Since I do not have a dress form or else, I used a floor lamp.
BTW, I wanted to sew the crinoline on my own, but realized that there are cheap and beautiful options at the Internet.
In the next step, you cut the cotton and the tulle into stripes of 25 cm (9.8”). I cut one stripe and used this as a measure for all the others. It’s a good idea to double (take to layers) of the fabric, so you don’t have to cut the 1,50m (59”), instead only 75cm (29.5”). In the end you should have 36 stripes of tulle and cotton. It’s not a problem if some stripes are not exactly 25 cm (9.8”).
Now it’s time to sew the basis for the frills. Therefore, you need to sew together (on the short edge)
- two times 3 stripes of cotton
- two times 4 stripes of cotton
- two times 5 stripes of cotton and
- two times 6 stripes of cotton.
Repeat this for the tulle.
Now, it’s time to sew the appropriate ribbons together: meaning 3 stripes cotton with 3 stripes tulle; right side on right side. This means, that the nice side (the one without the seam) will appear, when you roll it up.
Keep one short edge open to roll the tube up.
After you rolled it up, you can close the tube. In the end, you have 8 tubes with varying length: two times 4,50m (4,9 yards), two times 6m (6,6 yards), two times 7,50m (8,2 yards) and two times 9m (9,84 yards).
Before I went on, I ironed all tubes for better handling:
After doing this, it’s time to mark the places where you want to bring the tubes on the taffeta. The first tube will be baste directly under the tunnel for the elastic band. All other tubes will be baste approx. 12cm (4.7”) under the other one, so they have a huge overlap. I used white tailor’s chalk, a tapeline and a long, straight cardboard to draw the lines.
If you have never made frills before, just like me, it’s a bit confusing. But I found a quite good technique ( I guess there are much better ones, but this worked for me).
First, you start with the shortest tubes and then with the 9m (534”) at the bottom. This makes in many ways sense.
I stretched out the taffeta and marked the half with the chalk. After this, I pined the half of the tube at the half of the taffeta. Afterwards, I pined the beginning and the end at the taffeta’s edges. It’s a simple calculation for the first two tubes: the taffeta is 4m (4,4 yards) long and the tubes are just 3m (3,3 yards), resulting in 1m (1,1) to ruche. I decided to keep some space on both edges of the taffeta, so I could sew the skirt together easily. I left approx. 5 cm (1.9”) on each edges, resulting in 10cm (3.9”) more fabric to ruche. The first frills will be rather big, because there is not so much fabric. But it’s getting tinier with increasing length of the tube. As you have two tubes of the same length, you can just adapt the pattern of the first tube or differ a bit. But it’s easier just to adapt from the one before. 🙂
After you have pined all tubes on the taffeta, you can start to sew. I preferred to sew on my living room floor, because I was afraid, the pins would get lost when the fabric is moved too much.
Be careful while sewing the frills, so you don’t sew frills together or something. When everything is ready, you can put the elastic band into the tunnel, using a baby pin, and sew the elastic band together. Before, bring the elastic band in the length that will fit your waist, because the skirt needs to “sit” on your pelvic bones.
After you have done this, sew the skirt together and also the appropriate frills. In the end, no one will see a seam anymore.
You are finished! It took me approx. 5 days to sew it. But I also did some breaks, because concentration is getting low very quick. It’s not very complicated to sew, but it’s a fight with a lot of fabric and also the sewing machine which may have some trouble with this loads of material. (I needed to clean my machine during the sewing process, because it was just filled with pieces of fluff and did not work correctly anymore).
I’m so happy with the result and it was fun to make the skirt. Taken together, the skirt costs approx. 100€. If you buy one, you’ll pay at least 150€, but those skirts don’t look very elaborate. The corsage cost like 20€, depending on where you buy it. For my accessories (the sun glasses, umbrella and purse), I spent 25€. The wig was quite cheap and I payed 13€; however, the quality is not too bad and I even could style it a bit. I did not wear special shoes, just comfortable ones (no one could see them).
Don’t be afraid of sewing this skirt or your own costume in general! It’s fun, you learn something and it’s such a good reward when you wear it, feel good and people appreciate your work!
Send me some pictures of your skirts!