Bubble Skirt Tutorial with Free Pattern

Today, I’d like to show you how I make bubble skirts for my daughter. These bubble skirts have an elastic in the waistband, so no zipper or buttons. The tutorial below comes with a free pattern, which you can download here.

This pattern does not work with average age sizes. Instead, it starts from the exact measures of your child’s body, ensuring that the skirt has exactly the width and length it needs to have. The pattern should serve children from 0 months to about 6 years. Don’t be put off by the calculations below; they are even more simple than they appear! In each step, I’ve included the measurements I used for my daughter as an example.

The bubble skirt consists of an outer skirt which is gathered onto a lining. Bubble garments look best in rather light fabrics such as (double) gauze and lawn. Quilting weight also works well, but I wouldn’t go heavier than that. Knits are also to be avoided, as the stretch makes the skirt fall flat.

Below is a picture of the material you’ll use; measurements are explained in Steps A and B.

Okay, let’s get started!

Step A: Preparing the patterns and cutting the fabric
1. The pattern consists of four parts, each on one page. Start by cutting the contours of each piece, and then tape the pieces together as follows:

2. Measure the widest part of your child’s lower body; this is normally the hips. Find this size on the pattern, and cut the corresponding line. If your size falls in between lines, cut the next widest line. This will be the waist of the skirt’s lining.
Example: Norah’s hips measure 49 cm (19.3 inch) so I cut this line.

3. Decide how long you want the skirt to be. The easiest way to do this is to take a skirt from your child’s wardrobe with an ideal length, and measure it. Extract 0.5 cm (0.2 inch) from this number.
Example: I want Norah’s skirt to be 21 cm long. 21 – 0.5 = 20.5 cm
Example: I want Norah’s skirt to be 8.3 inch long. 8.3 – 0.2 = 8.1 inch

4. Measure this distance from the line you cut in Step 2, and find the closest line. Cut this line. This will be the bottom of the lining.

5. You now have half a pattern piece for the skirt’s lining. Cut it twice on the fold of your lining fabric.

Step B: Cutting the outer skirt and waistband
6. The waistband consists of two strips of fabric. Each strip is 7.5 cm (3 inch) wide. The length of each strip is calculated as follows: Add 7 cm (2.8 inch) to the size of the line you cut in step 2 and divide by two.
Example: I cut the 49 cm line. (49+7)/2 = 28. Each strip measures 7.5 cm by 28 cm.
Example: I cut the 19.3 inch line. (19.3 + 2.8)/2 = 11.05. Each strip measures 3 inch by 11.05 inch

7. The outer skirt exists of two simple rectangles which are stitched together at the sides. The width of one rectangle should be around twice the width of that of the waistband (see step 6). The length of each rectangle is the length of the lining (see Step 3) plus 4 cm (1.6 inch).
Example: Width of each rectangle: (28 x 2) = 56 cm. Length of each rectangle: (20.5 + 4)= 24.5 cm
Example: Width of each rectangle: (11.05 x 2) = 22.1 inch. Length of each rectangle: (8.1 inch + 1.6 inch)= 9.7 inch

Step C: Assembling the skirt
8. Stitch the two pieces of the lining together at the left and right side, with the right sides of the fabric together. Use a 1 cm (0.4 inch) seam allowance. Open seams and press. Do the same for the outer skirt pieces, and for the pieces of the waistband.

9. Then, we’ll stitch the bottom of the skirt. Gather the bottom of the outside skirt on the bottom of the skirt’s lining, right sides together, and stitch (1 cm / 0.4 inch seam allowance). Make sure that the seams you made in the skirt and in the lining (in Step 8) are matching. You can find a tutorial for perfect gathering here. Turn the skirt.

10. Next, we’ll gather the top of the outside skirt on the top of the lining. This time, however, with the wrong sides together. Use a seam allowance of 0.7 cm (0.3 inch).

11. Now all that is left to do is attaching the waistband. Start by folding one edge of the waistband in by 1 cm (0.4 inch) across the entire length, wrong sides together, and press well. Next, pin the waistband on the skirt’s lining, good sides together, aligning the side you did not just fold with the edge of the skirt. Stitch at 1 cm (0.4 inch) from the edge.

12. Finally, fold the waistband over to the outside of the skirt. Be sure that the fold you made in Step 11 just covers the line you stitched in that same step, and pin extensively. Stitch near the edge, all the way round the skirt.

13. We’re almost there! Take your seam ripper, and carefully open one of the side seams of the waistband just a bit. Take your elastic, put a safety needle in it at one end, and insert it into the waistband via the little hole you just made. Pull through the entire waistband, and when you’re back at the beginning, stretch the elastic somewhat so it comfortably fits your child’s waist, and stitch the ends of the elastic together.

14. Close the hole in the waistband again by hand. You’re done!


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