Full gathered skirts became popular in the 1950s and ‘60s with Christian Dior’s “New Look.” With the fullness shooting out from the waist, supported by a crinoline underlay, the full gathered skirt accentuated a slim waistline. Today, these voluminous skirts are making a comeback. Essentially, a full gathered skirt with a crinoline underlay is two full skirts, one over the other, attached at the waistline. The crinoline underlay is like a slip, or petticoat, that serves to hold the outer layer, the actual skirt, in a wide open position.

Things You'll Need

Part 1: Full Skirt

Prepare the skirt fabric. Measure your waist to the desired length of the skirt. Add 1 inch to this number for seam and hem. Cut the skirt fabric according to your measurement.

Hem the bottom by folding the cut edge under ¼ inch. Press with iron. Turn under again and pin in place. Machine stitch the hem.

Cut the waistband. Measure your hips at the widest point. Double that number. Cut an 8 inch wide strip from your skirt fabric according to your measurement. Set aside.

Prepare to gather the skirt. Divide the length of fabric into four equal sections and mark with a pin. Sew two rows of a basting stitch close to the selvage edge of the skirt fabric, breaking your stitch at each quarter point.

Attach the waistband and gather the skirt. Mark quarter points on the waistband and match them up to the quarter points on the skirt. With right sides together, pin the waistband to the skirt. Pull the bottom threads of your basting stitches to gather the skirt. Adjust the gathering evenly along the full length. Pin the skirt to the waistband. Machine stitch. Press seam toward waistband.

Seam the skirt. Machine stitch the side edges of the skirt, right sides together. Stop where the skirt and waistband meet. Press the seam open.

Part 2: Crinoline Underlay

Take the waist to the desired skirt length measurement you used for the gathered skirt to determine the length of the skirt and subtract two inches. This will be the length of your crinoline underlay.

Cut the tulle according to this measurement.

Prepare to gather the top of the tulle in the same way you gathered the skirt.

Gather the skirt and even out the gathers so that the waist of the crinoline underlay is the same as the gathered skirt.

Sew the crinoline underlay side seam.

Part 3: Attach the Two Skirts

Lay the gathered skirt over the crinoline underlay. Pin the underlay to the skirt at the skirt-waistband seam. Machine stitch directly on top of the skirt-waistband seam.

Finish the waistband. Turn under the ends of the waistband so they are even with the skirt seam. Fold the waistband in half, wrong sides together. Folding under the raw edge, pin close to the skirt and waistband seam. Press. Top stitch close to the seam.

Prepare the elastic. Measure your waist. Add 1 inch to that number and cut the elastic according to your measurement.

Insert the elastic into the waistband casing. Place the safety pin into one end of the elastic. Insert the elastic into the waistband casing, safety pin first. As you push the elastic through the casing, pay close attention to when the end of the elastic comes to the edge of the casing. When you see the end of the elastic, secure it to the casing with a pin. Pull the safety pin out the other end of the casing. Overlap the two ends of the elastic ½ inch. Machine stitch together. Readjust the gathered skirt and crinoline underlay around the elastic-filled waistband evenly.

Trim all loose threads.


  • You may want to make the waistband out of a satin ribbon instead of the same fabric as the gathered skirt. To do this, simply sew two strips of satin together along the long edge and follow the same instructions listed above.