Well ok, here’s a ballet skirt tutorial

Some of you wanted more More MORE after that last post, so, what the heck, here’s a pretty simple way to make a ballet skirt using fabric from another garment, or new fabric.
This is not how I made mine, this is a Much Easier way that doesn’t involve using a dress form. (Because I figure if you have your own dress form you don’t need a tutorial right?)
First, get a skirt that you like.
Borrow one, buy one, use one you already have, whatever, this is your template.
Lay your skirt nice and flat on a piece of paper, trace the outline, and mark the grain line.
What is the grain line?
If you are asking that question, this project is beyond you.
Ok just kidding, here’s what grain is:
if you look at a piece of woven (Woven Not Knit) fabric, there are threads going up and down creating the length of the fabric and threads going across creating the width of the fabric. These are the straight-grain and the cross-grain.
We only care about the straight-grain right now.
On your skirt, you will see the grain. Yes you will. Keep looking.
Once you’ve traced the outline and marked the grain, voilà, you’ve got a pattern.
If your new fabric is sheer, lay it on top being Very Careful to match the grain, and cut it out.
Make the back longer if you want, make the whole thing shorter, whatever you like.
Serious about the grain lines.
Match them.
Not playing.
Why do we care about the grain? Because you’ll notice ballet skirts are cut not on the straight or on the cross but diagonally, on the bias grain. This is what allows them to skim your curves in such a lovely smooth way. Bias is what the ballet skirt is all about.
Here’s a diagram:


Ok, but what if you are not using fabric yardage, what if you have an old dress you wanna recut?
Same deal, make a pattern from an existing skirt.
Take apart your old dress, iron all the pieces flat, cut the pieces so you have squares or rectangles of straight grain fabric.
The grain is super important because you’re going to be piecing and you want straight seams not bias seams.
Bias seams are too much trouble for a little skirt like this.
Lay your pieces on your pattern, figure out the best way to fit them all together with the minimum amount of seams, then when you’re happy with the lay out, stitch the seams, press, lay on your pattern again, cut out the skirt.
Here’s a diagram showing how you might lay out the pieces, and how it might look all seamed and cut out.


French seams are awesome.
If you’re not up for that, stitch your seam, stitch beside it to reinforce, then use pinking scissors to pink the edge.
If you have a serger or overlock, stitch your seam then overlock the edges.

I like a chiffon rolled hem, where you press under your hem allowance and stitch right beside the fold, then you trim away the hem allowance, fold up your tiny tiny hem, and stitch through that.
This method is pretty and sturdy and doesn’t require an overlock.
Otherwise you could overlock it or do a regular rolled hem where you fold 1/4″ and then another 1/4″.
Whatever method you use, just remember to leave yourself enough hem allowance.

Waist ties:
Easy: take a length of ribbon that is the length of ties plus waist of skirt, match the middle of the ribbon to the middle of your skirt waist, stitch it along the waist, roll the ribbon twice so the waist seam allowance is enclosed, stitch, leave ends of ribbon hanging free for ties.
Hard: cut a strip of straight grain self fabric, the length of the ties plus the waist by 1 1/2″ wide, bind waist with 3/8″ seam allowance, press ties with seam allowance enclosed, top stitch ties.

Does that help at all?
Does it sound too bossy? I always worry about that.
Lemme know if you have more questions and how your projects go!

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in DIY, OMG outfits you guys!, You Asked for it and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Well ok, here’s a ballet skirt tutorial

  1. Rori roars says:

    Lovely play-by-play. But I stick with my original desire that you to start a ballet skirt business. Or, you know… just make one skirt and give it to ME! (Now THAT’S being bossy!)

  2. Nadine says:

    This is great! Disclaimer: I can fully sew. I really like your bossiness!

    Here’s MY request – the Yumiko Isabelle skirt. It’s Lycra on a yoke with an inverted pleat at the back. Your pattern-drafting expertise is vastly superior to mine, so I’d love to see what you’ve got. I’ve seen the skirts on real live professional dancers (watching a company class), plus photos online, but I’ve never got close enough to touch one (ie turn it inside out).

  3. Bossy is good. More sewing tutorials should be bossy. I could add that satin ribbon (which was all I had around when I made my skirt a while back) is slippy and slimy and slides around all the dang time. I’d go with grosgrain if I was doing it over again.

  4. diane says:

    Thank you so much! This is wonderful! Not bossy at all!
    Now I am going to go raid my closet and boxes and look for something to dismember and re-sew! (and when I finally get the time to do it, I will be so pleased!)
    Thank you, thank you!

  5. Thanks! They don’t make skirts for what I got.

  6. I love it how you encourage us to both dance AND sew! I’m dying to take some serious sewing classes, and even thought of trying to sell a few costumes for my studio – they always have performances in December.
    If I didn’t enjoy it so much, i’d tell you to get out of my head, AB!

  7. Pingback: I’m making a skirt. | Entrechat.

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