Hello, Holly Valance {Sew Your Own Ruffle Skirt}

If you’re wondering who the heck Holly Valance is, or if you know who she is and are wondering WTF she has to do with a skirt, allow me to connect the dots for you.


I was a child of the 80s and had one of those frilly bed skirt things that sat under the mattress and made it really flipping hard to make the bed. Remember those? Tell me you do. I hated that bloody thing. Anyway, it was called a valance (hence the Holly). And now I’ve made one to wear on my body AND I LOVE IT. Look how fun it is!


I visited the idea for this a while back, but with a wrap skirt and a narrower frill. It was ok, but I didn’t love it. The frill was a bit conservative, the ties felt like they added too much faff and the fit was a bit narrow (which was a fail for side seam pockets), so it wasn’t all that comfortable.


I got a bit hooked on the idea again when I bought this fabric from Doops Designs. It’s just digital print cotton, about quilting cotton weight so nothing fancy. The print is the stand out though, right? I started browsing RTW for inspo, I knew I wanted something frilly but I didn’t want a wrap skirt this time. Was it possible to have curvy cross over front skirt pieces without the tie bit? Yeah. Although not as common and I couldn’t find a similar sewing pattern (they were all wraps). But I figured, why re-invent the wheel? I have skirt patterns that fit and I have my good old faithful curved waistband that I use a lot.


I liked the idea of starting the frill up high and more towards the centre front and away from the hip. I also liked the idea of increasing the width, so it was big and bold. There were two stumbling blocks: where to attach the frill at the waistband (on the wrap skirt it would start at the ties) and pockets. Would patch work?


Patch turned out ok! Please admire my pattern matching. I rarely take the time to do that but I’m glad I did here. I used the skirt pattern from McCalls 8033, which I’d literally just made so had the pieces handy. It gave me a fitted but not too fitted fit though the hip and I just walked my waistband pieces on top to make sure they fit. All I needed to change was add seam allowance on the skirt piece at the centre back for a zip. Easy. Here’s a quick and dirty tutorial if you’d like to do the same:


If you don’t have a skirt pattern, try one of the circle skirt calculators. Full circle will be very full (duh) and quarter will give a similar look to mine (and use less fabric). Change the front pieces so they curve and cross over each other, I curved the back pieces so they drop down at the back but you can leave it straight if you’d like. Your frill should be about 1.5 – 2 times the length of the curved skirt edges. I hope that makes sense. I did double and my frill was 5.6m. It’s a lot of gathering. Use two or even three rows of gathers and a bit of patience. I divided mine into quarters so it was easier to get the gathers evenly spread across the skirt pieces.


1. Firstly, stay stitch the top of the front and back skirt pieces. They are curved, so stretch out easily.

2. Next, add your patch pockets to the front of the skirt pieces (if you want them). Keep in mind the ruffle will mostly obscure one of them, so bigger is better.

3. Sew your skirt front and back pieces together at the side seams and finish the raw edges however you like. Finish the raw edges on the centre back (where the zip will be) and then stitch from the BOTTOM UP about 15cms. Leave the rest open for the waistband and zip later.

4. Gather and hem that big old frill. Try not to cry. Figure out which front skirt piece will go on top and which will go underneath. Pin that frill starting about 1.5cms (or whatever your seam allowance is) from the top – you want to just catch the edge of it in the waistband and then continue pinning it around the whole skirt. I didn’t take it all the way to the top of the under skirt piece because I didn’t want the added bulk. This is what it looks like underneath:


5. Once you’ve sewn the frill on, you can finish the raw edges, taking it all the way along the edge of the under skirt piece, beyond the frill. Then fold that down that bit and stitch in place, like a little hem. You don’t have to, no one will see it, but it keeps everything neat.


6. Frill is on! Yeah! Then cross your front skirt pieces over and baste along the top so it won’t move when you attach the waistband.

7. Assemble your waistband pieces. One side should be interfaced. I always use that as the front of the waistband, but whatever tickles your fancy. Sew the waistband fronts to the waistband backs so you have two separate waistbands. Then sew those together along the top. Pin and sew the front to your skirt (leaving the inside (or facing) of the waist band free). Press the seam up towards the waistband.

8. Sew in the zip with the appropriate foot. I used an invisible zip. Finish sewing that centre back seam.


9. Finish off the waistband. I flip the waistband over the zip so the wrong sides are facing out and sew another row of stitching next to the zipper stitching. It’s hard to explain and I haven’t got photos, but here is a good little tutorial.

10. Press up the seam allowance on the inside of the waistband, so it covers the waistband/skirt seam. Pin from the outside, making sure you catch the inside and stitch from the outside so everything is nice and enclosed.


And that’s it! You’re done! Enjoy your Holly Valance!


PS My tshirt is designed by Rachael Castle and is from the very good Dangerous Females.