(AKA "How to make giant netting underskirt of doom.....)
HOW TO MAKE NETTING UNDERSKIRTS
Three of my POTO costume replicas has needed fluffy netting underskirts to get the right silhouette. These underskirt aren't too difficult or expensive to make, and they give the most amazing effect. Here's a basic "how to"- instruction that might help you create your own underskirt.
First you ned to define what silhouette and length is needed. For the Elissa costume replica I needed a black, floor-length underskirt with a hint of a bustle in the back. For the Masquerade skirt, on the other hand, I needed a round knee-length underskirt, and it even had to be sky blue. The Aminta skirt is somewhere in between, shape wise. The difference in making them is where the netting is attached and on what, but the ruffling is the same. I've used the Masquerade one as an example underneath. Why netting, you say? Because it's so lightly weight. You can add 20 meters without really feeling the weight. And it adds lots of "fluff". Also, it's no problem to sit down or go on as normal in your costume. The netting is very flexible. Something I proved once and for all by squeezing the Aminta costume into a fairly narrow theatre seat for 2,5 hours... The skirt was somewhat de-poofed later on, but it was easy enough to re-poof.
WHERE TO START?
Decide what kind of base you want to attach the "fluff" to. Usually it's a good idea to make a basic cotton circle skirt with a waistband, and attach the ruffles to that one. For each ruffled row I've used app. 6 meters of semi-stiff netting. Cut or rip the netting in half, so you have two six-meter-long lengths. Fold each of these lengths in two (again length-wise).
Gather the top (the fold) with an extremely long, double sewing thread, and pull so it wrinkles, making a fluffy tube of fabric. Do this with both strips of netting. When both are gathered, sew them together so it forms an even longer strip of "fluff". That's a length of 12 meters in total, for one row. It sounds insane, I know, but it doesn't feel or look that much when attached to the skirt. Remember too that the netting will flatten out after some time, especially if you sit in the costume.
Usually I attach the first row at the hem of the skirt, and work my way upwards. Pin down the ends of the ruffle to the ends of the skirt. Find, mark and pin down the middle of the ruffle to the middle-point of the skirt. You can either repeat this "finding the middle" until the whole ruffle is attached, or you can attach it as you please between the three reference points you've made.
To ease the sewing of the netting (sewing machines are not really fan of netting) you can put a ribbon or strip of fabric over the ruffles (where you're going to sew). You can either choose a decorative ribbon (I did that with the Elissa underskirt, very cool effect at the hem) or a plain one in the same colour as the netting. I often stitch the ruffles on before sewing as well, making the sewing machine job easier.
The whole Masquerade skirt is made up of various tulle fabrics, going from blue on the inside, and to pink on the outside. I chose to attach the ruffled netting layers to a turquoise netting skirt was sewn to the waistband. For the other costumes the netting underskirts are separate (thinking of sewing the Elissa one to the waistband, though).
For the Masquerade skirt it was enough with two ruffled rows at the hem, as the skirt itself contained multiple rows of tulle, and only needed some support to get a nice bell-shape.
For the Aminta underskirt, on the other hand, I added four of these 12 meter long ruffles to the cotton underskirt, plus an extra bit to the waistband in the back to get a hint of a bustle shape. It needs to be as long as the flounced skirt, or else the bottom row will turn inwards under the netting skirt. You want the opposite!
For the Elissa underskirt most of the emphasis is on the hem, and I've inserted two lengths of rigiliene (synthetic whalebone boning) in a tube at the hem to help support the round shape. But I've also attached big chunks of netting to the back and the hips, being pleated and attached to the waistband, to avoid a trumpet shape. It's the bell shape I'm aiming for. The main concept is to create maximum effect with each gathered netting layer. The stiffer and fluffier it is, the better it will support the layer above. Sometimes inserting two or three rows of rigilene might be a good idea too, to help support the round shape of the hem and the lower skirt. Rigilene can be sewn directly to the fabric, or you can make "pockets" for them by sewing a strip of (maybe decorative) fabric on top of the main fabric. You can also fold the main fabric to make such pockets. Remember though that since these netting skirts (at least for Phantom costumes) has a split all the way down, you won't create a full crinoline effect by adding rigilene. The ends will probably fold in. But it still adds a nice support to the hem.
WITH AND WITHOUT NETTING UNDERSKIRT
MY VARIOUS NETTING UNDERSKIRTS
MATERIALS USED FOR A NETTING UNDERSKIRT
*18-24 meters of netting in your choosen colour
*2,5 meters of your choosen fabric for the basic skirt
*Decorative or plain ribbons for covering seams (if wanted)
*And of course sewing thread...
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