I have to admit, I’ve been putting off making a 25-yard skirt for a long time even though I love the skirt and many people requested this tutorial.
That’s because this skirt has too many hurdles:
- Lots of sewing
- Lots of fabric = expensive
- Too much calculating and planning (how many tiers? how long for each tier?)
- You need a serger or ruffler foot
I know these hurdles are stopping many people from making 25 yard skirts. 🙁
But the summer weather made me want to twirl in one of these skirts! 😀 So I sat down and revised my ideas over and over again to make a doable and economical tiered skirt without compromising the drama of the 25 yard hem. Specifically, my version is
- 60% less sewing
- Up to 40% less fabric
- You’ll get a free calculator to skip math & planning
- Don’t need a serger or ruffler foot
Too good to be true? 😉
I think it’s the easiest & cheapest 25 yard skirt to make! In this video, you’ll see how I made this 25-yard skirt. Let’s get started!
To make a 25-yard skirt, you need:
Lightweight cotton / cotton blend fabric – something very light like sheeting or broadcloth would be perfect. I am using 45in wide cotton poly blend broadcloth here, and it was the most inexpensive option at my local fabric store. The fabric is somewhat see-through, but when you have so much fabric gathered around, your finished skirt won’t be see-through. How much fabric you need depends on your skirt length and fabric width. Download the free calculator to find out exactly how much fabric you need.
Matching colour thread – I used this 500m/547yd spool of thread, and I had a plenty left when I finished the project.
1yd (1m) of 2in (5cm) wide elastic
2 1/4yd (2m) of 1/4in (5mm) wide matching colour cord
DIY 25 yard skirt
How is a 25 yard skirt made?
The construction of a 25 yard skirt is simple. It usually consists of a few tiers. I’ll use 4 tiers here. The bottom tier is – you guessed it – 25 yards long, and as you go above, each tier becomes shorter. The top of each tier is ruffled so that it matches the length of the tier above. And there’s a waistband at the top.
You can adjust the number of tiers and length of each tier to your liking, but in this tutorial, I’ll share with you the simplest and most economical way which is 25yds for the bottom layer, 12.5yds for the 3rd layer, 6.25yds for the 2nd layer, and 3.1 yds for the top layer. As you can see each layer is a half of the below layer, so it’s easy to remember.
So let’s start by measuring your skirt length.
Take your skirt length then add 3in (8cm) (for seam allowances for each tier) and minus 2in (5cm) (for waistband). Divide it by 4, and that’s the height of each tier.
For me, the skirt length is 85cm, add 8cm and subtract 5cm and I get 88cm. Divide it by 4, and the height of each tier for me is 22cm or 8 3/4in.
Free 25 yard skirt calculator
In this post, I’ll show you how to make a 25-yard skirt using 45in wide fabric. But you could be using 52in, 55in, or 60in wide fabric. So I’ve created a calculator to lay out exactly how much fabric you need, how wide each tier should be, and how many strips per tier you need etc. You can get it by clicking the link below and sign up for Sparkly Belly newsletter 🙂
Now there are 2 ways of cutting fabric for making a tiered skirt. The popular way is to get 12.5yd of fabric, and cut 2 strips for the bottom layer (because 2 of 12.5yd strips makes 25yds), and 1 strip for the 3rd layer, then ½ strip for the 2nd layer and ¼ strip for the 1st layer. This method is nice because you can get the longest strips from selvage edges and skip the hemming for those edges. But this leaves a lot of wasted fabric.
I was interested in spending less money on this project and minimizing waste, so this is how I went about it.
I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, which is the way the fabric came on the bolt, and first cut a 5.5in (14cm) wide strip using the whole width of the fabric. This will be the waistband later.
Then again, using the whole width of the fabric, I cut 39 strips that are 8 3/4in (22cm) wide which is the height of each tier for my skirt that I calculated earlier.
But here I thought cutting all these strips mean almost 100 yards of raw edges to be sewn and finished…. To reduce sewing I decided to skip that and used pinking shears. (affiliate link – I earn a little commission if you click this link and make a purchase, which helps keep this website free.)
Pinking shears cut fabric in a zigzag pattern and prevent fraying. Most of these edges will be on the inside, so the look wasn’t important to me. Of course, if you have patience, you can go ahead and do a rolled hem or use a serger.
By cutting fabric this way, I only needed 9.7 yards of 45in wide fabric, which is about 3 yards less than the other method and I have much less waste. Also, the grain of the fabric will be vertical on the skirt, which means your skirt is less likely to stretch out over time. If you use wider fabric, you’ll use even less yardage. Again, check the free calculator to see how much fabric you’ll need.
So we’ll start assembling these 39 strips. We’ll prepare long strips for each one of the tiers, then sew them together.
Let’s start from the top tier. Take 3 strips. Place 2 strips right sides together, and do a straight stitch at a 3/8in (1cm) seam allowance. Do the same with the other strip to connect the 3 strips.
Then at one end, cut off 24in (60cm) from the last seam with pinking shears so it won’t unravel. You don’t have to worry about other short edges, because we cut the strips from selvage to selvage.
Then bring the beginning and end of this long strip, place them right sides together and sew the ends together to make a whole circle. Here you have a 3 yd top tier.
Moving on to the second tier. Connect 5 strips plus the leftover piece from the first tier together at ends, and cut off 4in (10cm) from the last seam. Sew the beginning and the end of this 6.25 yard long strip, right sides together.
I’m showing this on a table in above pictures, but you can just sit at your sewing machine and have all strips by your side and match up ends there. It looks like a lot, but it’s really a simple process. 🙂
Next connect 10 strips plus leftover piece from 2nd tier, and cut off 8in (20cm) from the last seam and sew the ends together.
Finally connect 21 strips, and cut off 20in (50cm) from the last seam, and sew the ends together.
This section was easy, and it only took me about 30 minutes. Moving on!
Sew a 25 yard skirt
Now hem just one of the long edges of the 25 yard tier. This edge shows when the skirt is finished, so it’s best to finish it nicely by sewing a rolled hem.
I used a rolled hem foot (affiliate link – I earn a little commission if you click this link and make a purchase, which helps keep this website free.) here, and if you don’t have one, I recommend you get one since it’s very useful for making dance costumes! I use it all the time when I make circle skirts or hem lightweight fabrics. It makes a professional-looking hem! 🙂
Sewing a 25-yard long rolled hem wasn’t too bad either!
Now we’ll sew adjacent tiers together to make a skirt. Normally, before you sew adjacent tiers together, you’d have to gather the longer edge with a ruffling foot or by hand, which is another 50 yards of extra sewing. So I skipped this extra sewing like this. 😀
First, take the longest 25-yard tier and the second longest tier. Find those strips that you cut shorter in each tier, and match up the seam right sides together. And then try to match 1 whole strip of the longer tier into 1/2 of a strip of the shorter tier. So basically matching up the end of the strip from the longer tier to the fold line of the shorter tier.
Then take a roughly half way point of each strip and match them up. Then match up quarter points. You can just eyeball it.
Take it to the sewing machine, and start making about 1in (2.5cm) wide folds with your hands and as many folds as you need so that all the loose fabric of the longer tier disappears into neat pleats by the next pin.
Again, I just eyeballed these since even if the pleats are inconsistent, there’s just so much fabric going into this skirt and you won’t even notice that the pleats are inconsistent. Just make sure the edges of the right are aligned well. And simply do a straight stitch with a 3/8in (1cm) seam allowance.
Repeat this until you reach the end of the strips. Once you reach the end of the strip, match up a strip from the longer tier and ½ strip from the shorter tier again. Then make folds and keep stitching.
For the short strips, match them up exactly the same way.
This is the most time consuming part of this project, so put on good music or an audiobook and keep stitching. It may feel awkward to fold and sew at first, but you’ll get used to it and by matching fabric and folding pleats while you’re sitting at your sewing machine really saves time.
Once you get through this stretch of sewing, the rest will feel easy. Take the second tier, match it up with the third tier at the short strips, right sides together. Match up a strip from the third tier and ½ strip from the second tier, then halfway point and quarter points. Fold pleats and keep sewing.
Once that’s done, take the first tier and match up with the second tier. Sew them together by matching a strip from the second tier with ½ strip from the top tier and folding pleats.
Finally, take the waistband strip that we put aside earlier. Cut it down to your hip measurement plus 2in (5cm).
Here, you can make a simple elastic casing by simply attaching this waistband strip and inserting elastic and call it a day. But since we saved a lot of sewing time already, I want to show you how to take it up a notch and create an elastic waistband with drawstrings – a more professional look and non-roll, sturdy waistband 😀
At the centre of the waistband strip, mark 3/8in (1cm) tall slits that are about 1in (2.5cm) apart, from 1.5in (3.5cm) from the edge.
And sew button holes around them. It’s basically a narrow zigzag stitch with the shortest stitch length around the lines. And open up the button holes.
Fold 3/8in (1cm) from the top edge towards the wrong side and press. Do the same from the bottom edge. Then fold it in half and press again.
Then sew the short ends right sides together with a 3/8in (1cm) seam allowance to make a circle.
Take the bottom side of the waistband which is the side with the button holes, and mark halfway points, then quarter points and ⅛ points.
Take the top tier of the skirt and also mark 8 points.
Match up those 8 points right sides together, and just like we did for other tiers, stitch them together while creating pleats. Pleats here are likely narrower than the rest of the skirt, so make narrower and more pleats so the loose fabric disappears nicely.
Then fold the top edge of the waistband 1cm and fold it over to cover the stitches on the wrong side. Do a top stitch with a 1/8in (2mm) seam allowance and leave a few inch gap open at the back.
Take your elastic and figure out how much you need for it to be snug around your belt line. Add 1in (2.5cm) to it, and cut.
Insert the elastic through the casing using a safety pin. Once it’s gone through the entire casing, overlap the ends 1in (2.5cm) and sew the ends together, and close the waistband by doing a top stitch.
Now using a straight stitch, do a top stitch over the elastic waistband from 3/8in (1cm) from the top and another one from 3/8in (1cm) from the bottom.
Pull and stretch out the waistband while you sew. This keeps the elastic from rolling around inside the casing, AND creates a channel for you to add a drawstring in.
Take your string, and insert it through the channel using a safety pin.
Once it comes out, try it on and trim the string to your preferred length, and tie a knot at each end of the string. The drawstring makes the waistband sturdier and helps hold up this skirt that’s made up of yards of fabric!
And now enjoy your 25 yard skirt! It’s so exciting to wear your very own 25 yard skirt, and the volume and flow is amazing! It’s perfect for gypsy or ATS style of belly dancing. 😀
With all the shortcuts combined, the sewing was less than half of what it could’ve been had I done it the conventional way. Plus I saved about 3 yards for fabric and only spent $36 CAD ($29 USD) on fabric.
If you can find even cheaper fabric at thrift stores, that would make this project even more economical for you!
You can also mix and match different fabrics for this skirt. If you want to mix and match, you’ll need to know how many strips go into each tier, and my free calculator will tell you exactly how much fabric you need! Download the calculator for free by signing up for my newsletter from the link below!
The calculator looks like this:
Hope you liked this 25-yard tier skirt DIY, and if you did, please share it with your dancer friends!
And if you want to make more belly dance costumes, sign up for my free email course, Belly Dance Costume Making 101.
Thanks for reading, and keep sparkling! 😀
P.S. Thanks to all these tutorials for inspiration!
Royah – she’s got lots of lovely belly dance costume projects going!
P.P.S Pin this image for quick access!