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How To Sew A Petticoat: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

When you want to make a statement in a vintage-style dress, you need to have a petticoat, and you’re in luck because it’s really easy to make. Plus, you can customize a petticoat to your personal taste. Follow along with this step-by-step tutorial and learn how to sew a petticoat to give style and flair to your favorite dresses!

Petticoat on stand

A petticoat can turn a simple A-line dress into a real stunner. Let’s explore how to sew this fun and flirty garment!

petticoat tutorial guide

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Getting started with sewing a petticoat:

Dress before and after petticoat

A word about materials: I chose to use a knit fabric for the skirt pieces because that means I don’t have to finish any seams! You can use woven fabric if you like, but make sure to serge or zigzag any raw edges. Also, I chose a fine, soft tulle because I wanted my petticoat to be subtle. The harder the tulle you use, the puffier the petticoat, so keep that in mind when buying your fabric.

Step 1: Cut out all of your pieces.

I recommend using a rotary cutter for cutting the tulle. It’s a lot quicker and easier than cutting it with scissors!

Pin and sew petticoat

Step 2: Pin skirt pieces right sides together and sew down each side.

Make sure you press seams out.

Step 3: Sew each piece of tulle into a big loop.

Sew each piece of tulle down the short side, right sides together.

Gathering and Pinning Tulle

Step 4: Gather and sew tulle pieces.

Sew a gathering stitch at the top of the 6″x 216″ piece (we’ll call this the short piece) of tulle first. Pull the string on the gathering stitch until it matches the width of the 12″ x 108″ piece (we’ll call this the long piece).

Pin the gathered short piece to the long piece 6″ from the bottom (it should be right in the middle) and sew. Gather the long piece and pull the gathering string until the width matches that of the skirt piece. Make sure your gathers are even.

Pinning Tulle

Step 5: Sew tulle to skirt piece.

Pin the long tulle piece to the skirt piece right sides together and sew. When you are done, take out all of your gathering stitches.

Removing Pins from Tulle

When you’re done with this step, you should have something that looks like this.

Your petticoat is almost done! Isn’t it already gorgeous?

Fold over and sew elastic casing

Step 6: Sew the elastic casing.

Fold the top of the skirt down 1.5″ and sew. Leave a 1″ opening for the elastic.

Insert the Elastic and Close

Step 7: Insert elastic and close hole.

Pin a safety pin to the elastic and push it through the casing. Sew both ends of the elastic together and sew over the 1″ hole.  If you want, you can use 1/4″ elastic, it will cut down on the bulk at the waist.

Now go put your fancy new petticoat on underneath your favorite vintage-style dress!

Polkadot Dress With Petticoat on

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Susan Fulmer Yates

At my wedding. 🙂 Super cute!

Susan Fulmer Yates

At my wedding. 🙂 Super cute!


How do you recommend I buy the tulle? How much in total will I need?


You will need approximately 4 yards, give or take
It depends on your waist size

You can buy tulle at fabric stores; the bridal store I work at sells it by the yard

Jennifer Gottfried

I tend to disagree. You will need a lot more length to gather it for someone who is a size 22 with a 40″ waist and large hips, vs someone who is a size 4 with a 20″ waist with 24″ hips. You’d probably need 4x as much, at least, to accommodate the larger size. Also, the length of the petticoat and height of the person has a lot to do with how much, as well. A 5′ person who wants one that comes to her knees needs much less than a 5’11” woman who wants one to come to her knees.


You can buy tulle that is 108″ wide and you will need about a yard if you use these instructions You cut crosswise and you will need 2 strips of 6 inch wide (6X108 x 2) and one strip of 12 inch wide equals (12X 108) equals 24″ or 2/3 yard. Waist size doesn’t matter on anything except length of elastic. here is an example of 108″ wide tulle


My Quincenera, 26 years ago next week! So much fun!


We always wanted the skirt to be as full as possible. So, the tulle petticoat was washed, shaken to remove water and then dipped in a solution. I don’t remember if it was gelatin or starch. If you’re interested try it first with liquid starch.


I saw a vintage one not too long ago at an antique mall, oh how I wanted it for one of my dress forms, but it was very pricey and very yellow! Now I can make my own!


i’m sorry, but, for a more flattering affect, you should create the top section in lycra…. hopefully no elastic necessary at all…. this prevents excess bunching at the waist and midriff…. just a a suggestion! otherwise all else is good!


I agree that there seems a lot of bulk at the waist, especially if the dress is close fitting in this area as mine is. If you’re carrying a bit of extra weight too – less bulk in the waist area is a must. I would also make mine with a flat, stretchy band but am grateful for the tutorial. Can you specify which tulle to ask for as some is sharp & scratchy next to skin and some is softer? Thanks Vanessa

Mikee Yee

I want to make my petticoat much fuller; where on the petticoat do you suggest to add more layers? From the very top of the petticoat? Inside the petticoat itself?


Attach the tulle upside down, so the tulle has to fold over the stitching. That will make it “fluff’ more. Also, make the strips at least double the circumference of the circle where you are attaching; particularly on the lower layers. Finally, you can add another layer, I would suggest below the lower one.


When you say waist measurement do you mean all the way around? So the knit fabric would go around my waist twice before I put the elastic in?

Elizabeth Ward

How big a girl can go by these measurements of crinoline?


I’m sorry but this is really badly done it’s a mess


I agree it puts good petticoats to shame!


do you recommend a pattern?


No pattern needed:
1. Make or use a discarded cotton skirt with the flair desired and having a waist band (cotton or elastic) to fit having a slit opening and velcro, hook, or other closure (finish raw edges). A pattern here might be helpful.
You will sew the tulle to the right side of the skirt (outside, so cotton is touching legs)
2. Determine Tulle measurements: Three layers of tulle (or more depending on length) all the same vertical length work fine, but each needs to overlap the next. Put one layer very near the waist, and space the remaining layers 6 to 10″ apart. Adjust the tulle vertical lengths so they overlap by at least 1″. Use the skirt to determine layers and placement. (See options which may affect the qty of tulle needed.)
3. Mark a line for each layer on the cotton. Measure that line all the way around. Cut the tulle horizontal length ~double the measurement (longer on the lower layers if you want it fuller.
4. Sew some of the layers into circles. The tulle sewn below the skirt slit needs to be sewn into a very large diameter circle. The layers crossing the slit do not.
5. I don’t gather the tulle, but if you prefer that method then do that step now.
6. With the skirt hem to one side of you and the tulle hem to the other side (upside down). Pin each tulle strip to the appropriate line beginning at the waist or hem as desired. Also setting the edge at the slit edge as applicable. Sew with ~1/4″ tucks, or gathers and using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
More options: Cutting the tulle vertically double the desired length and folding will make it fluffier and less likely to catch on things; sew at the cut edges. I also shift it so the “bias” causes more fluff. Another option is to add bias binding on the tulle hem; it looks nice and reduces the snagging.


Is there another section to view the pictures in? They seem to be missing. 🙁


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