Arts and Design
Make a Gypsy Skirt
Updated on June 27, 2017 Fayme Zelena Harper moreGreetings! I am an artist mostly but I like to write from time to time. I used to spend a lot of time on Hubpages, but now my life is full.
Contact Author My favorite gypsy skirt.
Free Step by step instructions
Many costumes call for a gypsy skirt. It’s great for belly dancing, peasants, gypsy costumes, prairie looks, romantic skirts, folk dancing, pirating, and witchy wear.
You can use earth tones, dark blues, and forest greens for Renaissance faires. Gothic belly dancing (raks Gothique) has basic black as a given, but you can also go with deep purple or burgundy (blood red).
Here’s how to make your own pattern.
Get a tape measure. It helps to have a friend measure you.
Decide if your skirt is going to sit at your waist or your hips. This pattern is for a skirt that sits at your waist. Decide how many tiers you want. This pattern has 4 tiers and is ankle length.
Decide if you want it floor length or just long enough to cover the tops of your gypsy boots or pirate boots.
Measure your waist. Then add 2″ worth of overlap. This is for fastening and ‘ease’. So if your waist is 22″, your strip of fabric would be 24″ long.
Ease is extra fabric added in to make a garment more comfortable.
Then, decide if you are going to use a drawstring, or elastic, or hooks and eyes or a zipper.
Since I wear mine at Renaissance faires, I always go with drawstrings. That way if I lose or gain weight, it will be adjustable. Gypsy skirts are heavy, and if you are on the thin side, 1″ elastic will hold it up. If you are well endowed all that extra fabric may make the skirt too heavy for elastic to hold it up. If you find the elastic not working, you can replace it with a drawstring instead.
Cut a strip of fabric for the waistband twice as wide as you want the waistband to be, plus 1 1/4″ for seams. Say your waist is 22″. You would cut a strip 24″ long (22″ + 2″ of ease, and 3 1/4″ wide).
Cut a piece of iron-on interfacing half that width and slightly shorter. Following directions on interfacing, iron on to one half of the waistband. Fold the waistband in half lengthwise with right sides together and press to mark the center seam. Iron each long side wrong side to wrong side 5/8″ along the length of the waistband. Now, with right sides together, fold waistband in half again, sew 5/8 seam along each end being careful not to unfold crease. That way when you flip the waistband right side out, the ends are finished.
Now, figure out how wide you want each tier. You can make your gypsy skirt with 3, 4 or 5 tiers. It is common the top tier to be the most narrow, and have each tier get wider as you go down, but that is up to you.
Each tier is a long rectangle. The first tier is 3x the waist length. The 2nd tier is 3 1/2 times. The 3rd tier is 4x’s. If you want a lot of tiers make each tier a foot longer.
If you want to, you can make the pattern with pattern paper or brown kraft paper on a roll. Or just figure out the size of each tier and cut the rectangles w/o a pattern.
As the tiers get bigger, your fabric won’t be long enough. So piece them together taking care to match stripes if necessary.
If you can’t remember how to gather fabric, check your sewing machine manual or a basic sewing book.
Pick up your first tier. With the short edges right side together, stitch a 5/8″seam 1/3 of the way across. The rest will be left open so you can get into the skirt. Press seam open. Baste and gather the top tier to fit the length of the waistband with right sides together, leaving 1″ of each end of waistband free to turn.
Using the same technique, add each tier. Remember, you gather only the top of each tier and sew it to the tier above it.
When all the tiers are added, hem the bottom with a shirt tail hem. (In other words, fold over twice 1/4″ each time and stitch by machine).
If you are going to add ribbon trim, sew it to tiers before joining the skirt together.
Now go back up to the waistband. Fold it in half so the outside is facing out. Re-iron it to lay flat. Then hand stitch the inner edge to cover all the raw edges of the first tier. If you are going to use hooks and eyes, add them now. If you are using a drawstring, use a seam ripper to carefully open the seams on each end just enough for the drawstring to go through for tying. Make the drawstring at least 20″ longer than your waist so you have room to tie a bow. Using a sturdy woven trim for the drawstring is much quirker than trying to make a drawstring.
Remember, a very full skirt will go straight out when you swirl. So don’t forget to wear harem pants and /or dance trunks under it.
Gypsy Skirt Sketch
Tips for beginners
1. Stick to 100% cotton or a 50/50 poly cotton blend for your first skirt. On a budget? Try dyeing old sheets in a vat of strong tea. Use instead of fabric.
2. Iron every seam. Otherwise things just won’t fit together right.
3. Never sew over a straight pin. Remove them before they get to the presser foot.
4. If you are really stuck email me and I’ll see if I can help you.
!8 Yards at the Hemline.
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sendingBirdy 2 years ago
About how long does this take?
BrightMarigold 2 years ago
If using a gathering foot would the measurements still be the same or would I have to figure out how much my foot gathers and figure the amounts that way?
streetsmartzz 4 years ago
Thanks for this Great tute..I just made a “practice one” as soon as I do the real thing I will be happy to post a picture
MissMersey 5 years ago
Totally enjoyed all your instructions. Very very easy to follow. Like having a friend face to face as we ‘talk’ sewing.
Have to go thro’ my stash for fabric. Fun times ahead
Danielle Lopez 5 years ago from Arkansas
This is such a cute idea. My husband and I love going to Renaissance Faires. I’ll have to make this for our next trip. 🙂
By all means start at the top and work your way down. That way you can try it on each time you do a tier. Fabric varies. Thin fabric will require a lot more yardage than a thicker fabric. I’m sorry you’ve had so many frustrations. As you are basting each layer, try it on and make sure it fits. Then make adjustments before you do the final sewing with tiny stitches.
jody 5 years ago
i made a 4 tier skirt and it is made out of 15 yards of fabric .. I made it from scratch before i even looked at your pattern (should have done that first ) . I made it first and then it didn’t turn out so i had to take it apart and start all over . well it seemed like every time i turned around i was adding more and more and more fabric to get it to loo and do what i wanted ..finally got it finished and i think i have to do the top part over cause it doesn’t feel comfortable it feels like i have a string across my buttock everytime i go to swish the skirt . so not sure what happened there .. when I made my skirt i started with 10 yards of fabric thinking that that would do a 20 yard skirt (wow was that alot of gathereing ) so my bottom tier was 20 yards and then my next teir was 10 yards and then my next two tiers were 5 yards and then top tier was 2.5 yards well it didn’t quit go around me for some reason i was missing like 2 yards of fabric . so i went and bought 5 more yards of fabric and made another 2 yard panel to add to the skirt and it went around me but like i said in the beginning the top part doesn’t feel right . Im thinking that part of my problem was that i started from the bottom and worked my way up instead of starting from the top and working my way down . not sure but im gonna try your pattern out and see if it works better for me .. thanks for posting it ..
HI Jade. First check out my article here: https://hubpages.com/art/Skirts-101 A one piece skirt could be a rectangle with one seam up the back and a 7″ zipper. It would probably need a waistband or facings though, which would make it more than one piece. Unless you made a sarong and wrapped it around your waist and fastened it by tying the ends together.
Jade 5 years ago
I love this patern and will have to try it out sometime. But the skirt I’m looking to make right now is just one piece, instead of tiers and I wanted somewhat of a fitted waist to it. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about this?
Don’t be scared. Just take it in baby steps.
tryandfeelme 5 years ago
I just started going to a great sewing class and im going to choose this skirt as my first project there!! im excited and sooooooo scared
inez 5 years ago
Thank you so much for the clear information!
I’m going to start my own skirt very soon now.
You are probably going to hate this answer Rae, but so much depends on how full you make it and how thick the fabric is.
Rae 5 years ago
Hello Maiden. I was wondering if, since I think we would at least be a similar size for shirts (I’m about a 50″ waist 5’8″ rough measure) You could tell me an estimate of how many yards of cloth you usually use for an ankle length skirt? I’m sure it will be a off some depending of course but just curious of a rough estimate. Thanks a bunch in advance
Hi Nemo. I made my skirt without a pattern but I recommend this one: http://www.folkwear.com/144.html If you browse through the major pattern books though, they usually have at least one tiered skirt pattern. Yes, you can wear skirts over skirts or petticoats, or harem pants to give a fuller look.
Nemo 5 years ago
So I am going to have themed b-day party and I’m buying a corset to wear over top of my skirt. Can you put a petticoat under these skirts to make it SUPER big? And is there a pattern I can use to cut out the fabric? Thanks.
Susan 5 years ago
Just what I was looking for.. thanks for the great instructions.. I love these tiered skirts.. There has got to be some gypsy blood somewhere in me!
Thanks Eranofu. I like to knit and crochet as well.
Eranofu 5 years ago from Europe
Gypsy cat 🙂
The skirts look marvelous, but I’m more knitter than seamstress. Great hub anyways. Hehe, love that cat tail. ^^
Sarah 5 years ago
that’s great !
AuthorFayme Zelena Harper 5 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA
Thank you princess. I just found two more photos of my daughters wearing the gypsy skirts I made them when they were children, so I’m going to add them now.
princesswithapen 5 years ago
This is awesome! I bet a lot of people ask you “Hey where did you buy this from”
I am going to pass this hub to a friend who loves to make everything herself including skirts, stockings, sweaters and a lot more. She will love it.
Ailuros 6 years ago
I’m an apparel design major and have been looking for a pattern to make my own gypsy skirt for belly dance, as I only have one black skirt that I’m eventually going to wear holes in. Your instructions are so very clear, and it has the volume that I’m looking for! Thanks for posting this, now I can make my skirt with confidence and without worrying that I’m going to wind up wasting a ton of fabric!
AuthorFayme Zelena Harper 6 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA
Thanks Barb. Good tip. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Value Village. But yes, you can repurpose fabric from yard sales or upholstery end lots. With so many yards in a skirt, it helps to look for discount goods.
Barb (Maya) 6 years ago
Thanks for sharing your knowledge on making a gypsy skirt!!! So generous and kind of you. I started belly dancing and Gypsy Roma several months ago and want to make my own gypsy skirt. One more hint for readers is to shop at thrift stores like Value Village for fabric super cheap and then make it for way less than buying fabric from a fabric store. Your directions are really easy to follow! Thanks so much.
LPogue 7 years ago from Missouri
I make a similar skirt, but I do not put the waist band on it. Great hub!
Cara Stein 7 years ago from Huntsville, AL
This is so cool! Thank you for these very simple, clear instructions. I’m new to hubpages, but this hub is the best I’ve read by far.
SilverGenes 7 years ago
I love skirts like this and am bookmarking your hub. Thank you for the instructions. They are so clear that I think I might just be able to do this without a problem 🙂
Malorie 7 years ago
Thank you so much for posting this!
My friends are ashamed that I’ve never been to a Renfaire so they’re staking me with them this year. I’m the theatrical type, so I’d never give up a chance to wear a costume! I was very excited about the option to wear gypsy wear, and I have multiple friends that are sewing experts. I might just have to try this!
AuthorFayme Zelena Harper 7 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA
Ramunt, what an excellent question. That would be true if there wasn’t a slit in the top tier. You can put a zipper there, but I just hook my waistband with a heavy duty hook and eye. Since I always wear harem pants or a slip under it anyway, no worries with people seeing through the gap.
TroyM 7 years ago
Hey, these are still in style all over 🙂 COol!
Rachael 7 years ago
Please answer ramunt’s question – it is mine too!
ramunt 7 years ago
Doesn’t the skirt have to fit over my hips? So doesn’t the waist band have to be at least as large as hips before gathering (which is larger waist + 2 inches).
Nell Rose 7 years ago from England
Hi, this is a great hub. I only found you because I was trying to find some links to my gypsy hub! now I have to go and read all your other hubs, they look great. My married name is Loveridge, because I married a gypsy, and I didn’t think anybody else had any gypsy type hubs. thanks this was great. Nell
Mariane 7 years ago
I loved it, maybe I will try do sew one for me! Tks to tell how to!
hillbillyhound 7 years ago
hi. i am taking a sewing course because i need basic sewing skills to learn how to weave. in my sewing course i need to sew an entire outfit for evaluation. i would like to do a gypsy skirt for everyday wear. does it flow out nicely when you spin? is it possible to make the tiers vertical? and can you suggest a top to go with it? i am horrible at fashion and need all the help i can get!! thank you so much for the free pattern as money is a little tight right now 🙂
joyce 7 years ago
I just made one out of a 5 yard vintage embroidered sari, it made a 10 yard skirt, i used both sides of the sari edges 5 yeards each side as the hem then just cut equal width sections and just sewed them together, I chose a faux silk, sari. they go for about $10 on auctions with about $10 postage sometimes cheaper.
Violetskies 7 years ago
wow. I’ve been looking for this forever. FINALLY I will make the skirt of my dreams!!
Joy At Home 8 years ago from United States
Gorgeous! I will try this someday, just as soon as I get a few half-done projects finished…most of them sewing related.
If you are sewing it by hand make sure you have good lighting and take frequent breaks to rest your hands.
Monica 8 years ago
I will be making a skirt by hand, i hope it works! any tips please email me! [email protected]
That is good to hear annie. Thanks for your feedback.
annie 8 years ago
I have used your pattern a few times now and my daughter and I love it! Thank you for posting this!
Yes Jen, go by the hip measurement. Each successive tier needs to be longer.
jen 8 years ago
So if you want the skirt to sit at your hips, is the formula for the tiers the same, but for the hip measurement instead (3x hips, 3.5x hips, etc.) or do you still go off of the waist measurement?
Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon
I am a gypsy at heart. Can’t wait to pull out my fabric pieces and try this skirt. Thanks for the info.
Lily 8 years ago
Omigosh!! Someone finally has instructions for one of these wonderful skirts for people like me, who have (ahem! cough, cough) spread a little!!!
I have seen patterns for dresses in this style. Check you local sewing shop for current patterns.
elli 8 years ago
hey – is it possible to make a dress in this style? i’ll be traveling around the country, and would like to make some simple dresses to wear while i’m in the car and out and about. the employees at the fabric store were not very helpful. how much fabric should i buy if i would like to make a five-six tiered dress? it will hopefully rest just below my knees.
thank you so much – your skirts are beautiful.
AuthorFayme Zelena Harper 8 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA
If I had never sewn before I would make a gathered apron first. That will give you a chance to learn to do gathers and ruffles and a waistband without investing a lot of time or fabric.
If you prefer to work with a pattern or want a choli, I recommend this pattern by Folkwear. http://www.folkwear.com/144.html It came out years after I made my skirt, but it has all the parts in one place.
xNefertiti 8 years ago from QLD
Hi, such a beautiful skirt! Do you recommend a first timer with no sewing machine skills attempting this skirt themselves? If so, do you know the conversion from yards to metres? Also, do you happen to have a pattern for a choli or some sort of top to wear with the skirt? It is a shame they are getting so expensive to purchase and I do need a costume.. Thank you for your time and for posting this brilliant and gorgeous piece!
Steph 9 years ago
on the 25yd skirt topic – I just tried on a 3 tier one a friend bought from India – amazing! It is fairly heavy, but not uncomfortably so. Made of a fine cotton, and it had an a-line slip of the same fabric sewn in…for modesty’s sake when spinning 🙂
thanks for the tutorial!
skyaglow 9 years ago
I love the skirt !
I’m a beginner but i am going to give it a try !
thank you so much
you look great in it too!!
Charlotte Gerber 9 years ago from upstate New York
Thanks for the information! I’m linking to you from a featured article I’m writing on LoveToKnow.com Costumes – Make Renaissance Gypsy Costume. Hopefully you’ll see some traffic to this hub from there!
You can never have too many skills.
Kia 9 years ago
This is really a nice hub. Not into making my own things but the way the ecomony looks I might have to learn.
To do that you would most easily switch to 3 tiers. Leave off the bottom tier as it has the most fabric. I don’t use patterns but all the major pattern books have patterns for gypsy skirts if you are more comfortable with that.
Tie a string around where you want the skirt to sit. (Around your hips). Measure from that line to the place you want the skirt to end (your ankles). Add a bit to cover your seams and hem. It’s easier to make it shorter if you goof than longer, so guess a bit longer.
Julie 9 years ago
I want to make this skirt BUT with 3 tiers and sitting on my hips. Also not so full around. It should be possible to make these alterations. What are your suggestions. Do you have a pattern or steps for such? Thanks! I’m trying to make a skirt I used to have.
thank you sooooooo much
it helps TONS….you’re the best!
Okay Michelle, I measured the hem just for you. The skirt in the above photo is 18 yards and a few inches around. No wonder it took me so long to sew that ribbon on. See the photo.
Hi. Yes, these go straight out when you spin. Always wear something underneath them unless that is the kind of attention you are going for
To answer your 2nd question, I never fussed with measuring the yardage; I used what I had on hand. What happened in recent years was a well known troupe came out with a 10 yard skirt and everyone had to have one. So I’m sure others thought, if 10 years are great 12 yards must be better. Are we up to 25 yards now? Holy finger cymbals Batman! Be warned, when you add more yards, the cost goes up as well as the weight of the skirt. I’m assuming those 25 yard skirts are made out of something really light weight (gauze or silk?).
What you may need to do is find a dancing friend and ask to examine their skirt. Or sometimes you can glean that info from EBAY ads.
Hope that helps.
me again…lol 9 years ago
ok…sorry…another question….what’s the yardage on this skirt? Is it the same as what’s called the 25 yard dance skirts I’ve been seeing (that also cost an arm and a leg?)
and thanks a bunch for sharing…b/c if this skirt is the one i think it is then you have just helped me save a ton of money!!! which makes you one of the most awesome ppl i’ve encountered!!! 🙂
michelle 9 years ago
do these skirts get a nice full “spin” ?
I do belly dance and need a full skirt that flys out and can be twirled, etc….nothing that hangs kind of straight when you turn….does my question make sense (it did in my head…lol)
kate setzer kamphausen 9 years ago
WOW this is helpful! The most helpful thing of all was the ratios you provided (which was the very thing stumping me): the first tier is 3X your waist, the second is 3.5X your waist, the third is 4X your waist.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
METOO 9 years ago
I’d love to try it and i need to see a pic first i alredy tried the Flikr thing but it kinda didn’t bring me to the pictures…. Please send them to me my email is [email protected] . PLEASE send them to me i love bellydancing in the village and i need some new skirts!!!
Thanks VERYVERYVERY much !!!!!!
AuthorFayme Zelena Harper 9 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA
Thanks Cherry. I bet you look lovely and they are so much fun to dance in.
Cherry 9 years ago
I finally tried this pattern for myself. It worked out very nice. I belly dance (well for my husband) and needed something to fit me properly. Thank You!!!
Marti 10 years ago from Grain Valley
Beautiful! My daughter would love this! Thanks for sharing!
I can’t get the photo to upload to Hubpages. Until I figure out what is happening, you can go ahead and see it here: http://flickr.com/photos/almostfamous/511591462/
I’ve made them for years. I’ll post a photo right now.
Me 10 years ago
Has anyone attempted to make this successfully? I do not want to cut up some fabric and not have it turn out. Did anyone take a picture?
AuthorFayme Zelena Harper 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA
I haven’t had anyone try this pattern yet, so if parts of it need explaining better, please let me know.