Bubble Skirt Tutorial

Update: I’ve since made the skirts a different way, which came out better: putting a line of thin elastic inside the bottom hem and using less fabric on top…Here’s a link to the tutorial.

Bubble skirts are so cute on little girls…especially girls around 5 years old…which means I have another 3 years until the first of my girls will hit her bubble skirt wearing prime! So I’ve got some time to practice my bubble skirt making technique. I had researched a few tutorials online, but didn’t find anything I thought would give the skirt the correct body and bounce, so I tweaked a circle skirt pattern to make the skirt I envisioned…and it came out pretty nicely, if I may say so myself!

I took a circle skirt pattern, then created a tube like inner lining out of a knit. The inner lining would draw the edges of the circle skirt in to create a bubble, but it would also have enough give, so that the wearer could still move around.

What you will need:

  • Fabric for the outer shell
  • a knit cotton or other knit material for the inside. I used an old t-shirt of mine.
  • Elastic for the waist according to the pattern you are using.

There are many circle skirt patterns out there, and if you have a favorite, use that one…my favorite is Dana’s – I love the simplicity of using wide elastic as the waistband.

However the length of the skirt needs to be adjusted for this pattern: because the bottom of the skirt is bubbled inside the skirt and attached to a shorter piece of fabric to create the bubble effect, you will need a little more length for the outer shell. So if you decide that your skirt should be about 7 inches long (for a little girl), you will want to make the circle skirt 9 inches long, and the inner fabric will be 5 inches long, resulting in a skirt that’s about 7 inches long.

I prepped the fabric for cutting:

The cut fabric looks like this (it’s folded in half, the other part of the doughnut is on the other side of the fabric):Serged the waist part of the skirt to prevent fraying while I was working on the other part…this isn’t absolutely essential, but it keeps things clean.Then I made a few strips of basting stitches around the outside edge of the skirt. That is a long stitch, with low tension. The purpose is that the bobbin thread can then be pulled and it creates a ruffling effect. You can see my Ruffled Diaper Cover Tutorial to see it used in making ruffles. So you will need to adjust your sewing machine to make a longer stitch, and reduce the tension, so that the thread will be easy to pull and reduce the risk of breaking. You don’t want to make one continuous strip of stitches around the whole edge of the skirt, but rather make 4-6 smaller ones. This is for two reasons: 1) it’s harder to ruffle the longer the thread is & 2) if the thread breaks, you will only have to re-stitch a smaller area. Here’s a picture of two of my strips overlapping:Then I pulled the bobbin thread for each of the strips and ruffled them:The final circumference of the bottom edge of the skirt must be divided over the lengths of the individual ruffled sections. To decide how long the sections should be when ruffled, I took a skirt of my daughter’s and measured the circumference of the bottom edge. It was 28 inches. I had made 4 different sections, thus 7 inches each. Measure each section to check if it is too ruffled or not enough (the below picture shows one section of mine too ruffled, as it was merely 5 inches). Tie knots at the end of each section to keep them ruffled while completing the other sections:Then I had the beginnings of a ruffled skirt:I sliced off the bottom of an old t-shirt (it felt wrong to cut through the legs of those giraffes…*sniff*). I cut off more length than I needed, because it’s easier to remove material, than it is to add back, right?Then I pinned the unfinished edge of the t-shirt loop to the ruffled edge of the skirt, with the printed side of the fabric inside.Depending on the circumference of the ruffled edge of the skirt, and the size of the t-shirt, there may be overlap. This doesn’t matter, as the inner lining of the skirt can’t be seen from the outside, so I just folded it over, to sew like that. Then sew the layers together. Don’t forget to change your sewing machine stitch back to a normal stitch, if you last used it for the basting stitch. I also serged the finished edges, but I don’t think this is essential, as this seam will be on the inside of the fabrics, and have practically no stress on it.Then I pulled the inside knit layer out and measured the length of the edge seam:Okay, the next step might be confusing, because I didn’t take the best pictures, but here goes: The skirt I was making had a waist circumference of 21 inches, so the inner lining waist also needed to be that size. So I measured out an 11 inches strip (to allow for seams) in the center of the waist edge of the knit fabric (the two sides together would be 22″, after the seams were sewn, about 21″). Then starting about an inch above the seam between the two fabrics.I cut diagonally from there to the edge of my 11 inch section on the waist part, like this:It doesn’t have to be perfect, because it’s just the inside of the skirt. I cut off both sides like that, then pinned them together to sew:It looked like this with the sides sewn together:Then I revered the fabric so it was right side out, like this:Then I pulled the knit fabric loop up inside the printed fabric layer, and lined up the edges to form the waist seam (I also squealed with delight, because yes, it indeed started to look like a little bubble skirt I envisioned…oh, how squee!):Then I pinned the two layers together (Because I used the edge of a t-shirt, I already had a finished hem there. You may want to finish the edge, either by ironing the edge under and sewing it, or serging it):Then I stitched the two waists together:And I was left with a finished skirt, minus a waistband:Following the directions in the pattern I was using, I attached the elastic waistband: And then I had my finished product! Cue more squealing! I was so sad that it was 11 pm and my daughter was sleeping, so I would have to wait until the morning to get her to try it on:It was seriously difficult to get a decent picture of her in it, since she was bouncing around, jumping up and down, and also squealing about how “C-uuuuuu-te!” the skirt was. Oh, little girls! Be still, my beating heart!Hopefully I was clear in my description, but if anything is confusing, or if I left something out, please don’t hesitate to ask!


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2 thoughts on “Bubble Skirt Tutorial

  1. Pingback: The No-Fail Bubble Skirt Tutorial | Project Me Happy

  2. Pingback: 3-in-1 Circle Skirt and Ruffled Halter Top Tutorial | Project Me Happy

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