Thursday, October 23, 2014

Female Hobbit Costume: Skirt

This skirt began with confidence. "Sewing skirts is easy," I thought, "you just sew up some rectangles, and a waistband and closure, ta-da!"

That is, skirts like this are easy when they fasten with a zipper or buttons; an entire elastic waistband in a casing is about as easy as it gets. This front waistband of this skirt was to be a flat, normal waistband, but the back was to be elastic in a casing. I spent several days flip-flopping between different methods and theories of construction, at one point praising the feasibility of this style and at another agonizing over a possibly horrid waistband. I even took photos of this skirt at every step during construction to create a tutorial, but now the photos are more like a cautionary tale.

The Female Hobbit Costume Skirt is made of 2 yards of fabric stitched into a tube and hemmed. All of the raw inside edges are pinked. This was my first attempt at an inseam pocket, which I self-drafted and sewed without issue.

The top edge is gathered. I used front waist and back waist measurements, as our bodies are not symmetrical and tummies tend to stick out more than backs. The front half of the waistband correlates to the front waist measurement; the interfacing is catchstitched since I didn't have iron-on interfacing. The back half of the waistband is larger to accommodate the elastic. The total waistband circumference is the bust measurement and the skirt is meant to be slipped on over the bust.

Using the elastic casing method for this skirt wouldn't work because the seam allowances kept getting in the way and the non-roll elastic rolled so easily that just getting it through a few inches of waistband had it curled to such a degree as to be nonfunctional. I ended up using a zig-zag stitch to secure the elastic to the outer waistband. The hardest part then became stitching the rest of the waistband over the elastic. Stitching in the ditch and topstitching, both valiant efforts on my part, didn't work and the stitches had a hard time getting the waistband without getting the elastic.

The end result is, in my opinion, messy. Add in the fact that this elastic easily stretched out and became several inches too big for my client after a day of wear...I decided to take out the waistband, make the entire thing a flat, interfaced, normal waistband with either a zipper or button closure.

Do you normally fasten costume skirts with zippers or button closures? Have there ever been moments when your best-intended sewing plans completely fell through?


  1. Elastic doesn't really work well with heavy skirts in my experience. I think you would have been happier with cartridge pleats. Less bulk around the waist. I usually fastened my faire skirts with either large heavy duty coat hooks and eyes or a giant kilt style safety pin (if I needed to make the waist smaller and didn't have the energy to take it in). A couple of rows of eyes is a good idea if the waistband stretches throughout the day or shrinks LOL...


  2. Have made half elasticated skirts out of heavy fabric and the secret is to use a good quality strong 1 inch wide elastic and then when it is inserted sew through the waistband and the elastic (stretching as you go and using straight stitch) which sets the elastic in place and makes the waistband look more professional. I've never had a problem with the elastic stretching but I ensure I use strong elastic.