Free Pattern: 3 or 5 Tier Skirt

Londa's 3 Tier Skirt Directions

 

This ‘math’ will configure a 3 tiered skirt – so popular today, and known in the fashion world as that “Bohemian” look.  You could easily make it 5 tiers as in the photo'd coral/pink skirt) , just by dividing the total finished length by 5 instead of 3.  The rest of the math would be the same, just adjusting for the 5 tiers rather than the 3.  I recommend 3 or 5 tiers – odd numbers – as this is just more design-wise pleasing to the eye.

Londa's Free Tiered Skirt

1.  Determine the DEPTH of Each Tier

Divide your total finished  length by 3 (for 3 tiers). 

To the Upper Tier, add 2 times the width of your elastic.  To each tier, add 1” to allow for  two ½” seam allowances.  

Example:  for a 30” finished length using 1” elastic:

  • 30” divided by 3 = 10”
  • Upper Tier:  10” + 2” (2 times 1” elastic width) + 1” (two ½” seam allowances) – 13” deep for Upper Tier
  • Middle Tier:  10” + 1” = 11”
  • Lower Tier:  10” + 1” = 11”

2. Determine LENGTH of Each Tier

Upper Tier:  hip (or largest girth measurement)  plus 6” wearing ease = A

Middle Tier:  A times 1.5 (for heavier fabrics) or times 2 (for lighter weight fabrics) = B

Lower Tier:  B times 1.5 or 2 (see above concerning fabric weight) = C

Example:  for 44” hips

  • Upper Tier: 44 + 6” = 50” = A
  • Middle Tier:  A (50”) times 2 (for light weight fabric) = 100” = B
  • Lower Tier:  C (100”) times 2 (light weight fabric) = 200” = C

3.  Determine the Width of Fabric you are using

Reason:  I need how many widths of my fabric (full or partial – it doesn’t matter) to get the length for each tier as figured above in Step 2. 

Example:  for 45” fabric


4. Determine the Yardage Needed

Take the information from Step 3 for each Tier times the Depth of each Tier to give you the inches of fabric required in yardage to purchase (for each Tier if mixing fabrics) – or add all together for yardage needed of one fabric.

                                                 Width        Number of pieces           Depth of        Linear Inches

                             Length      of fabric          needed to get length          each Tier          Needed

Upper Tier     =     _____     /    _____ =          _____________      x    ______”    =    ______”  

Middle Tier   =     _____     /    _____ =          _____________      x    ______”    =    ______”  

Lower Tier     =    _____     /    _____ =          _____________      x    ______”    =    ______”  

Example: 

                                                 Width        Number of pieces           Depth of        Linear Inches

                             Length      of fabric          needed to get length          each Tier          Needed

Upper Tier     =      50”    divided by   45”  =              2                  X                   13”  26” 

Middle Tier    =     100”                 45”   =                  3                  x                  11”   =  33”

Lower Tier     =      200”                 45”  =                  5                  x                  11”   =  55”

Upper Tier needs 26” – so buy ¾ yard

Middle Tier needs 33” – so buy 1 yard

Lower  Tier needs 55” – so buy 1 ½ yard  Actually 1 yard, 19” – but 1.5 is close enough!)

All of one fabric:  3.25 yards  will give you ample yardage.

Stitching Directions:

1.  Cut Tiers as you have configured.

2.  Press each tier into fourths crosswise to provide you with ‘keying’ up marks when joining the tiers

3.  With contrasting thread, machine baste down each pressed mark, through the single layer of fabric

4.  You need to ‘gather’ the top edge of Tier 2 and Tier 3.  The easiest way to do this is with your serger.  Use 2 needles.  Tighten the needle tensions quite high, increase the stitch length, and increase differential feed to the highest number. 

This is important:  serge a LONG chain – I’d say 20” or so of length before you start on the fabric, then chain another LONG chain once you are off the fabric.  Do not cut off much if any fabric as you serge – as you’ve only allowed for ½” seams anyway. 

5.  Keying up your quarter and half marks as marked in Step 3, gather and pin the top edge of Tier 2 to the bottom of Tier 1.  Adjust gathers by pulling the needle threads, or scotching fabric along the needle threads.  Pin.  Stitch.  Serge (regular 3 thread serging settings) to finish.  Press seam up. 

6.  Repeat Step 5 above to gather Tier 3 and attach to Tier 2.  Finish and press seam in like manner. 

7.  Join your big flat skirt into a tube by seaming – being sure to match the tier seam lines.  Finish and press one direction.

8.  Hem with treatment of your choice – allowing jus ½” for the hem allowance.

9.  Pull elastic around your hips as tight as possible.  Cut to this measurement.  Join into a circle by butting edges on a scrap of fabric and securely zig zagging.  Trim excess scrap of fabric away from behind. 

10.  Divide elastic into fourths.  Divide skirt top into fourths.   Key up these markings of elastic to skirt, placing elastic on wrong side of skirt, ¼” away from the top cut edge.  Pin.

11.  Stretch elastic and stitch with a basting length stitch close to this top edge of the elastic.

12.  Elastic side up at the serger, skim off the extended ¼” of fabric at the top edge and finish – taking care not to cut into the elastic.

13.  Flip elastic down into place.  Stitch through the elastic depth at the ¼ and ½ points. 

14.  With long length stitch, stitch through the elastic while stretching as many times as you desire – up to 2 more times…  For easy guideline, pull out the quilting guide in your machine accessory case, and guide edge along it after setting it to the distance from the needle you desire. 

15.  Steam elastic and let rest to recover.

To ‘Broomstick” Pleat: 

Put into washer on rinse and spin cycle only.

Lay out straight and gather up in your hands lengthwise to make a long cylinder.  Hold one edge and twist with the other.  Have a helper assist you in tying a string around the length.  Insert into a panty hose leg.  Dry in dryer with towels to cushion. 

Pull out, and hang to finish drying.   

Copyright  2006   Londa J. Rohlfing

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