Latin skirt: using crinoline – tutorial

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For my Ballroom Dress (see inspiration here) I have decided that I would like to use crinoline to give shape to the hem of it. But this doesn’t seem to be something that is used in tutorials very much (at least not where the crinoline is visible on the hem of the skirt). The look that I am going for is something like this:

I have calculated that a dress design like this is likely to use approximately 30m of crinoline. So before I start on a project using that much material I thought I should definitely try a smaller project using it. 
This is where my Latin Skirt project started, and here is a tutorial of how I made my latin skirt. The choice of fabric for this is also slightly bizarre for me. As I mentioned in my Fabric sneak peak I have a leopard print polyester/spandex blend which I bought a little while ago. This is my wonderful feeling fabric to be used in this project. 
A nice bit of leopard print
The crinoline I am using is 150mm soft boning crinoline from a company called Trim-it which have a great selection of fabrics and trimmings. When it arrived it was a large bundle of crinoline (I hate to imagine what 30m of it will be like to deal with…)
The first task was to iron it out so that the folds are no longer present. Make sure the iron isn’t too hot otherwise you might melt the crinoline. I ironed it with a towel over the top. 

skirt_21      skirt_14

Then the method I used was to fold the crinoline in half across its width and sew down the edge (zig zag stitch) – I would now advise doing this in a different colour so it is easier to pull out later. This gives the crinoline a tube like structure instead of having a single layer of crinoline however this is personal preference, I think it looks prettier like that. 

skirt_22    skirt_23
Now you have the crinoline prepared for attaching to the skirt, lets talk about how the skirt was made.
I used a simple circle skirt pattern for this skirt (I have misplaced my measurements atm but I will edit them in when I find them again). 
The length of the skirt was approximately hip to just above the knee as it will flare out/up when the crinoline is added. Cut the fabric into a circle (removing a center section for the waist) I find it easiest to fold the fabric into quarters or 1/8ths to reduce the amount of measuring/marking required.
skirt_2    skirt_1
You will also need a waistband, this I made a simple rectangle (length of waist/hip measurements reduced a little to account for stretch) and about 10″ wide (so that it can be doubled over). Then sew the fabric together at the ends (right side to right side) I used the serger as it produces nice seams and copes well with stretch.
skirt_3   skirt_6
Now since the skirt design I am making will have a split up the leg I cut up my circle skirt (all the way to the center) make sure that the cut is perpendicular to the edges of the circle and not just randomly across the fabric… and then you want to curve the edge of the fabric so that you do not have an ugly right angle (it would also be very difficult to sew the crinoline onto a right angle)
The next stage is to attach the skirt to the waistband. I find the easiest way to do this is mark half and quarter positions on the waistband and the skirt and then (taking into account a gap for the slit) line up the quarter and halfway marks and pin the 2 fabrics right side to right side – with the waistband being doubled just pick a side to be the outside.
Then into the serger! You could sew this with a normal machine however you need a secure seam that would be able to handle stretch so the serger is sooo much easier (it also trims the edge as well so you get a very neat seam out at the end) Be careful not to trim too much off the edge of the fabric otherwise you could increase the waist of the skirt quite a large amount.
Well that is the main construction of the skirt, but you will see that it doesn’t exactly look marvelous when worn as the fabric just hangs straight down… but we’ll make sure that is rectified in a minute. As a note I would probably make the skirt pattern a little longer the next time I made it.
So now adding the crinoline… I tried this out first with a small off cut of crinoline and fabric just to make sure I didn’t ruin the skirt…

I attached the crinoline to the fabric using the serger (make sure to disable/remove the cutting blade!) and putting the fabrics ‘right side’ to right side. There is different advice about tensioning the crinoline, some say tension the fabric, I wouldn’t probably advise not to really tension either of them. Just try to make sure they aren’t pulling through unevenly. You might need to experiment a bit with how your sewing machine handles though.

Once the crinoline is attached try to remove the zigzag stitching that was sewn through the crinoline earlier on. Easy to do if you put a different colour thread in it. 

skirt_16   skirt_17

Then to secure the seam I would top stitch (either zig zag or double needle) along the edge by the crinoline. You can see I tensioned the fabric a little too much and you get a bump next to the crinoline. Not noticeable from a distance but best avoided.


Now what does that look like on the actual skirt…?

It was a little more difficult as I was dealing with over 4m of crinoline. I found it easiest to have the crinoline over my shoulder and feed it down to the serger. It may look a little weird but some of the best techniques do…


The only problem I had was with the very ends of the crinoline… Since they are not overlapping into any other crinoline it is a bit difficult to attach the ends and I have issues with the ends fraying/unraveling. I still haven’t really solved this problem but I have tried to sew them in quite tightly and cover the ends with fabric so they don’t spike you… But it’s not exactly ideal. 

But I am sooo happy with how this turned out. It really looks like something I would see on the dancefloor and it really didn’t actually take that long to make. Less than an evening in total.

Now you can see how the crinoline has transformed the fabric from just hanging off of the waistband to an lovely wavy body of skirt!


Hopefully this will help anyone else wanting to make a cheap but very effect skirt!


3 thoughts on “Latin skirt: using crinoline – tutorial

  1. Petra

    Hello Nikki, just one question about the crinoline. Is it possible to use it with non-stretch fabric to create this effect? Thanks!!!

    1. Nikki Post author

      Personally I’ve never used it with non stretch fabric, but I have seen it used to give shaping to non-stretch skirts, but all the things I’ve seen give a hidden rather than visible edge.

      For that method you do the following:
      Use the crinoline as a single piece (not folded) and sew it to the edge of the skirt (with the crinoline on the back side of the skirt sticking out beyond the edge). Then you fold the crinoline under so now the crinoline edge is enclosed by the skirt fabric, and topstitch the crinoline onto the skirt.

      If you want to have it visible below a nonstretch skirt – i think it should be possible since fabrics such as chiffon/satin are frequently used in ballroom dresses. You just wouldn’t have any stretch in the fabric (except possibly on the bias) so you would have to be careful not to distort the crinoline as you were sewing it to the fabric.

      I hope that helps!

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