Tiers of a Clown

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Help me. I’m obsessed with tiered skirts. It’s all I want to make. I’m a full skirt lover from way back, of course. I wear dresses with gathered skirts almost every day. I laugh in the faces of people that say gathers are unflattering on large hips. HA. Have you seen my 44″ beauties? Gimme more hip floof, I say.

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Why the tiers though? I don’t know. More twirling power? Fond childhood memories? I was born in the 80s, so remember stuff like this one:

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LOOK AT ALL THAT SKIRT! Tiered skirts have been around much longer than that, of course. Check out these lovelies:

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So. I’ve become a bit distracted with getting more of this in my life. I do have one pattern with a tiered skirt (McCalls 7834, which you can see here):

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But it only has two tiers and I was keen to try three, which meant a bit of an adjustment in height and maths. Still easy though. You can do it. My first version was entirely self drafted, a smocky fit and made out of amazingly light and floaty cotton/silk from Potter and Co.

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The fabric is 136cm wide and I used 4m in total. The top tier of the skirt is 2x the width of the fabric (one for the front and one for the back, gathered to fit), the second tier is 4x and the bottom is a whopping 6x. So much fabric. Felt like I’d gathered 11kms of fairy floss. But holy heck, it floats around like a cloud and I love it so much. Room for food and plenty of comfort. I used the same fabric in blue spot for the pockets and bias facing at the neckline.

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But was this enough? Nah. I needed something more fitted and maxi, obviously. This was my birthday dress but alas, I finished it a day late. Not a big deal, it would have been far too chilly for the movies and out to dinner at this time of year anyway.

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Ohmygosh, this fabric. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t gravitate towards florals as a rule, but hell – look at this. It was giving me allllll the hippy dippy love child vibes and I needed it in my soul. It’s a mid weight cotton (quilting weight, I guess) from Nerida Hansen, designed by Ayang Cempaka. It looks like it’s currently out of stock though.

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The weight of the fabric meant that I could do a more structured bodice and even though I’m mostly a boat-necked, sleeve having bodice kind of girl, I thought the sheer amount of fabric might drown me, so I used good old Butterick 6453 instead. I’ve made this in the past and it’s a nice, simple make. Do look at the finished measurements though (there’s a lot of ease, I’m generally a 16-18 in the Big 4 and this is a straight 14 with a smidge extra added to the princess seams, a total cheaters FBA).

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Anyway, I made the tiers here taller (obviously) to give me a maxi length skirt. Because the fabric is much heavier than the cotton/silk I used for the last version, I was conscious of not using quite so much. As it is, it’s ended up quite heavy! I might end up adding a waist stay to support it. The fabric is 140cm wide and I used around 70cms width for the front and back on the top tier, 2x the full width for the second tier and 4x the full width for the third. In hindsight, I think the 2nd tier could do with a touch more fullness but I’m not worried.

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Spring is coming, I can feel it. Can’t wait to wear my new boho babies all summer long.

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10 thoughts on “Tiers of a Clown

  1. Happy birthday! That skirt looks awesomely twirly! I really like the fabric, i love 60’s & 70’s crazy flower prints. I love the look of gathered skirts on you and i get inspired to make them for myself but then i remember i dont love them on me…
    I hope you enjoy your beautiful new dress šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, am a child of the 80s and have always adored tiered skirts. I actually have one that I bought in Japan when I was an exchange student there in 2008 that I would love to replicate. And I have several patterns with tiered skirts, too. The only downside is that they are fabric-eaters.

    I’ve never understood the whole “don’t add volume at the hip” idea. I mean, when I add volume, people can’t tell if the volume is the skirt or my assets. Whereas if I wear a fitted skirt, then it’s pretty damn obvious, right?

    Julia

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m on team hip floof! Sometimes I tell myself that it makes my waist look smaller to emphasise my hips, and sometimes I say ‘MAKE THEM BIGGER WHO CARES. BEHOLD MY MIGHT HIPS’. Depends on the day.

    I love this dress – I feel similarly about florals but the scale and scattered colourfulness of this is really doing it for me! And it looks like it’d be so fun to walk around in.

    Liked by 1 person

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