DIY Tutorial: Multi-Layered Tulle Petticoat (Make Your Own Rainbow Petticoat!)

First up, I have to say a huge thank you to everyone that’s emailed me with their DIY ideas. I’ve has a huge response and I’m really looking forward to sharing them with you over these coming weeks. Be sure to keep them coming!

I’m starting with this amazing underskirt tutorial byΒ Alexandra King, an independent designer from Somerset. Alexandra produces fabulous vintage-inspired dresses and accessories.

So without further ado, over to the lady herself…

Our wedding was four years ago now and was mainly DIY, bunting, vintage linens everywhere, pearls, candelabras, bath tub bar, my Mum grew the flowers and I made the dresses. I was so lucky being able to this that I had a couple to wear on the day.

I adore vintage dresses, old movies and obsess over French couture designs and techniques from the fifties. All of this is instilled into my designs which are mainly one of a kind cocktail, prom and party dresses bespoke made for my customers. I have also recently introduced a small bridal range.

This underskirt is the must have piece for that fabulous full skirted fifties look. It also makes twirling all that more exciting!

Supplies Needed

1/2 metre of fabric
3 metres of dress net or tulle (per colour/layer)
thread, elastic
bias binding (optional)
sewing machine
tape measure


Step 1: Take the skirt you plan to wear and measure it’s length. Divide this number by three, one third for the waistband and two thirds for the skirt.

Step 2: Measure and cut your fabric. Cut one piece for the waistband (also measure it to fit around your waist) and six pieces of tulle at the skirt length.

Step 3: Double the the waistband fabric over and sew the short ends together. Then hem it by folding the fabric and stitching it down. Repeat this to make a channel at the top to thread your elastic.

Step 4: Attaching the tulle. Take the tulle and with your fingers gather or bunch it as you sew it to the hem of the waistband. Overlap each piece by an inch or so and continue until you have filled up the waistband with your six pieces of gathered tulle.

Step 5. Thread the elastic through the waist channel using the paperclip and tie in a knot. This creates the elasticated waistband. And there’s your basic underskirt!

Step 6. If you want to sew more, you can trim the hem with ribbon binding. This stops the tulle being scratchy and from catching on your dress.

To make the petticoat a rainbow one, repeat the process and add more layers of different colours!



  1. Kylie

    So many petticoat tutes I have read… and THIS is the one I was actually looking for!! Thanks so much Kat!!! (Also for my mag it’s amazing!!) xxx πŸ™‚

  2. RachyLou

    Have bookmarked this tutorial! Me and my purple sewing machine are going to attempt it. Thank you Alexandra and Kat!! xo

  3. I’ve been looking for a petticoat like this for ages! I’ve actually commissioned the very talented Ann Swank (swank underpinnings) to make it for me – in fiery colours for my wedding! I think I’ll try this myself though, a short one for my 50s frocks.
    Thank you thank you!

  4. Looks so simple – very tempted to have a go myself. I do already own three fabulous petticoats though including a red chiffon one which is the one I wear the mostest so, yeah, probably don’t NEED another one. But what’s that got to do with it. I WANT one. Heh. x

  5. Bonny

    This came at exactly the right time.
    Its my birthday in December and I’m having a serious party with a Marie Antoinette theme. Ive been looking for a giant petticoat for weeks.
    Now I can make my own, as big and poofy as I want πŸ™‚
    Thanx Kat

  6. Cindy

    Ok LOVE this. I have a friend that inquiring about ME making this for her wedding. Question- The ribbon trim: Is it folded in half over the tulle and then sewn or is it just sewn on one side? Did you use regular ribbon (what size 7/8?) or a special binding kind? Everyone is right the ribbon trim REALLY makes the look and I would want that to be right

  7. Becky Shelley

    was making this for my daughter for her wedding .the first go around didn’t quite fluff enough. then figured you must have used your hip measurement as a unit of measure. 3 meters might be enough if you are 1 meter in circumference. ended up making a second using 3 times her hip measurement much more pouf . just letting you all know for more volume if your hips are bigger than 39 inches! but other than that thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Amber

    When adding additional layers of other colors, do you repeat the waist portion again or just the tulle? It’s hard to tell from the picture.

    If only the tulle is repeated, do I just sew above (rather than ontop of) the previous layer of tulle?

    Thanks for any help!

  9. Karen Anderson

    Thats fantastic, can’t wait to make my own. Thank you πŸ™‚ x

  10. Edie

    I am making costumes for a show and wanted the dresses to have matching petticoats. This tutorial is just what I needed. Thank you!

  11. Thank you so much! I have been scouring the internet for a tulle skirt to put under my potential prom dress to poof it out – you showed me that I could do it DIY, which is great because my budget is nearing its limit! You are a Godsend. Thank you so so so so so much!

  12. Lyn

    This was the pattern I’ve been scouring the net for!
    What a gorgeous effect with the ribbon- thanks so much!

  13. Just a quick question:
    Why do you cut the netting into 6 pieces? With the ribbon on it looks like a continuous piece of netting? And could you do it with just a continuous piece of netting if it’s about 3-4 metres long?
    If you could reply soon that would be great, I need to make an underskirt for my exam piece and it has to be handed in next Wednesday!
    But on another note, it looks absolutely brilliant and you look great!

  14. carolyn

    did you attach all tulle pieces together end to end? or do you layer them up and down the waistband? i couldn’t really tell by the picture. and….. if you are using them end to end, could you use just one long piece of tulle?

  15. Bree

    Wow! This is amazing!!
    I am still a beginner, and I have only made children’s clothes, for my one year old daughter. I was searching on Google for a tutorial to sew with tulle, and found this! I am going to use your tips to make a sweet little Christmas dress for her with a layer of tulle over a layer of solid fabric (haven’t even begun to figure out which fabrics or colors yet, haha). But then I want to make something for me! This tutorial is amazing!! And that rainbow skirt under your wedding dress is the greatest thing I have ever seen!!

  16. sami

    Just a question, what shape tulle do we cut? It just says the length not the shape. Do we divide the length if the waistband by six or do we cut 6 pieces of the shape of the skirt? Thanks!

  17. Marie Siegel

    I need to cut the hem on my granddaughter’s prom dress. It is multiple layers of tulle at different lengths and I am having a hard time cutting it evenly and smoothly all around. Is there a trick to it? Thanks…

  18. Christy

    I have seen a lot of comments on where you got the ribbon binding as well as why you cut it into separate pieces. I was wondering if there had a been a response to that. I’m going to make one for my 10th anniversary vow renewal. I got a 1954 pattern for buttermilk 8610 that I am making.

  19. Hi Ladies, so sorry I haven’t checked in on this post to see all of your questions. I’m so excited to hear that you’ve made some too!

    -Ribbon binding can bought from jaycotts here a whole roll should do.
    -On the pieces of tulle. Just cut 6 lengths of say 15″ all the way across the width of the fabric. In strips no shaping.
    -I don’t cut one continues piece as handling 10 metres of tulle can be a nightmare to cut evenly and I hate wasting any. Its harder to find a use for the shorter left over piece.
    – You can piece them all together but overlapping each piece as you gather it to the waistband works well. I then bind, stitch or fine overlock the hem if I don’t want the raw edges.

    Hope this answers some of your questions, Just so happy you all like it! x

  20. Fee

    Brilliant, I’ve been flicking through dozens of these tutorials to design a fifties inspired dress for my wedding in December, this will really help! I’m thinking green tulle with red ribbon trim. Thanks πŸ™‚

  21. Nicky

    I can’t wait to make this to jazz up a black dress to wear to a wedding – BUT – I’d like to use three colours, do I make three separate skirts, or do I join the tulle skirts to the same top part? I’m just getting into sewing and this will be the first clothing item I’m making… grateful of any advice please…

  22. Shawnna

    This is awesome! I’ve been liking for a tutorial to make a petticoat and this is by far the most helpful. I’m making a full skirted dress and need an underskirt to top it off!

  23. Eli

    To repeat Amber’s question (May 11, 2012 at 22:44), when attaching the additional layers (because lets face it, the layers are the best part) do you star again from the waist band or do you sew it to the same fabric. If that is the case, any tips on positioning relative to the first layer?


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